We have all experienced those days when we felt a little down, cantankerous, agitated, or uneasy. Have you ever wondered why you had any of these feelings? There could be several reasons, but maybe it is something as easy as a low level of serotonin. Let’s explore what serotonin is, why it is important, and how we can increase levels when necessary.
Serotonin is most commonly known as the happy hormone. It plays a vital role in the “happy hormone.” It plays a vital role in stabilizing our mood, offers a sense of well-being, and happiness, while it also helps to decrease feelings of distress and concerns. When our serotonin levels are low, we may have melancholic feelings and when our levels are high; we may feel tranquil and have serene emotions.
An interesting fact about serotonin is about 95% of serotonin is produced in the lining of our gastrointestinal tract (GI), which is where it manages the movement of our intestines. The other 5% is processed in the brainstem, where it communicates prompts between nerve cells in our brain.
Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy blood test to test for serotonin levels, but there are symptoms that would indicate if levels were low. The symptoms of low serotonin include:
- Abnormal sleepiness
- Restless sleep
- Low appetite
- Stomach issues
- Craving for carbs and candy
We have covered the negative effects of having low serotonin levels. There are many benefits serotonin can offer us that include:
- Promotes good sleep by regulating our sleep-wake cycle that repeats every 24 hours
- Helps synchronize our appetite
- Encourages knowledge and memory
- Assist with stimulating positive feelings and social acceptance
There are several ways you can increase your serotonin levels, some choices are with specific foods, which include:
The protein that eggs have can boost blood plasma levels of tryptophan. The yolk part of the egg contains many nutrients that are beneficial for our health which include tryptophan, choline, biotin, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Cheese is a great source of tryptophan.
Allow me to clarify what tryptophan is and how it is beneficial for our health. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that has several intentions such as nitrogen balance in adults and growth in infants, but it is also crucial in creating neurotransmitter serotonin.
Pineapples contain a protein called bromelain, which helps reduce the side effects of chemotherapy and helps suppresses coughs.
Tofu is a good that is made of condensed soy milk and is then pressed into solid white blocks. There are several health benefits with tofu including being another great source of tryptophan and provides us an excellent calcium boost
Not only is salmon rich in tryptophan, but it also contains other nutritional benefits that provide help balancing cholesterol, lowers blood pressure, and is a source of Omega-3-fatty acids.
- Nuts and seeds-
All nuts and seeds have tryptophan. There have been studies that indicate eating a handful of nuts a day can decrease the risk of cancer, heart disease, and respiratory problems. Nuts and seeds also provide great sources of fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants.
Turkey is full of tryptophan, which as we have already seen is beneficial.
Besides the various foods that have been discussed, there are many other easy ways to stimulate serotonin levels, which include:
- Exercising can trigger the release of tryptophan into our blood and decrease the amount of other amino acids. The type of exercise could be swimming, bicycling, brisk walking, jogging, light hiking, or any other aerobic exercise
- Spending time in the sunshine can increase serotonin levels. To have the most benefits you should get at least 10-15 minutes outside every day and you could take your physical activity outside for an additional serotonin boost.
- Supplements- If you attempt to take new supplements, it is important to check with your healthcare provider first to ensure you won’t have any negative interactions with medications you are currently taking. A few possible supplements you could try are pure tryptophan, St. John’s Wort, Probiotics, Vitamin B12 and C, and Magnesium.
- Get a massage-
Massage therapy can increase serotonin and dopamine levels. Dopamine is another mood-related neurotransmitter. A massage can decrease cortisol, which is a hormone the body produces when under stress.
- Mood induction-
When you think about things that make you feel good and happy, you can increase serotonin in your brain. This encourages the enhancement of our mood overall. Remember, that our moods are multiplex and are not easy to alter. Things you can try are:
- Imagine a memory of when you felt a great amount of joy.
- Remember a positive time you had with loved ones.
- Look through a photo album of happy times you had in the past.
- Be positive-
When we think positively, we are decreasing the cortisol in our brains and creating serotonin.
- Reduce stress-
We need to teach ourselves to relax our minds and give ourselves the break we deserve. We need to care of both our mental and physical health.
- Yoga and meditation are known to lift our moods and can improve symptoms of mild, moderate, and treatment-resistant depression. Meditation is known to trigger parts of the brain for understanding, self-care, and emotions, problem-solving, adapting, and increasing awareness.
- Music therapy has been suggested by researchers that music could increase neurotransmitters such as serotonin. Listening to music typically has a relaxing effect on people.
- Dance therapy has been shown to increase blood serotonin levels in those who try dancing. Dance therapy has also been suggested to use as a complementary behavioral approach to pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy in some individuals with mood disorders.
Thank you for visiting my site today. I hope your week is going well and you are staying safe from any risk of coronavirus. I am doing much better with this as I have not left the house in several days partially because the number of cases where I live seems to increase every few hours and it terrifies me. Please never forget that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love , comfort, and many positive vibes!