Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, chemical substances that transmit nerve impulses across synapses (spaces in between nerve cells or neurons). In a nutshell, serotonin is best known as the feel good hormone that helps to elevate mood and decrease feelings of sadness. There are many other roles that serotonin plays in the body which are listed below, along with natural ways for each of us to maximize and boost body serotonin!
Important Roles Serotonin Plays in Body
- regulates sleep
- muscle contractions
- endocrine regulation
- regulating aging
- bone metabolism
- wound healing (serotonin is a growth factor for some types of cells)
Natural Ways to Boost Serotonin
1. Eat More High Quality Protein (Especially in the Morning instead of Carbohydrates):
Organic, natural and nitrate/antibiotic free turkey & chicken, low on the food chain wild fish, plant protein protein powder smoothie, cottage cheese, assorted nuts and seeds, organic cheeses, cage free eggs, and beans all contain generous levels of tryptophan
More About Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is present, in different amounts, in all protein foods. This amino acid is the building block for the neurotransmitter serotonin. Turkey is one of your best protein foods that increase serotonin levels. The fact that people often report feeling very relaxed and even sleepy after eating turkey is testament to how much tryptophan it contains. Turkey is also rich in essential fats, and these are supplied in a balanced ratio.
2. Flaxseeds/ Flax oil: Flaxseeds are great foods that raise serotonin levels because they contain both tryptophan and high levels of omega 3 fatty acids. Make sure you are consuming freshly ground flaxseeds, not entire seeds, for they are not absorbed and broken down in the body.
3. Exercise & Body Movement:
Exercise is a natural stimulator of many important “mood” hormones, including serotonin and dopamine. Even walking outside briskly for 15 or 20 minutes of each day will naturally release these feel-good hormones that are so vital to feeling happy and calm. Double down by doing so in the sun and catch those important vitamin D rays!
4. Avoid the stimulant cycle: Caffeine, sugar, and alcohol.
of us get trapped in the stimulant cycle which give us a false and short lived sense of rush and feeling satisfied. These substances temporarily give you a lift, but actually deplete and blunt valuable hormones in the long run, as well as suppress the immune system. Eat a cold crisp apple instead.
5. Wild fish and seafood: Fatty fish like wild salmon, sardines and herring are rich in oils containing the essential fats EPA and DHA. Both of these long chain fats have been shown in trials both to smooth the mood swings of bipolar disorder and to ease regular depression.
6. Use High Grade Essential Oils:
Raise your serotonin levels by using calming, relaxing or uplifting essential oils such as Lavender, Chamomile, Wild Orange, Marjoram, Melissa, Bergamot, Balance–specific to the doTerra Essential oil blend which (has blue tansy) and Serenity. For more information on Essential Oils, visit here
7. Sleep 7-9 Hours:
Quality sleep is far more important than
quantity. Force yourself to get up early, but allow for a rejuvenating nap midday if you need it (just don’t exceed one hour).
UV is important because UV light absorbed through your skin produces Vitamin D. Vitamin D plays many roles in your body, including promoting serotonin production.
9. Whey Protein: Whey has been shown to regulate appetite, improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar levels, bolster the immune system and has been shown to be the ideal protein source to use around workout time.
10. Remembering Happy Events:
All you need to do is remember positive events that have
happened in your life (or watch a funny film or movie. Even watching cute animals. . . if they make you happy. . . .works!) This simple act increases serotonin production in the anterior cingulate cortex, which is a region just behind the prefrontal cortex that controls attention.
Research has shown that serotonin levels increase after massage therapy. Researchers don’t know if it’s the human contact or the actual act of massage that increases serotonin.
12. Consume Foods Rich in Vitamin B Complex:
The brain needs
B vitamins to make neurotransmitters with a calming effect and serotonin. Cereals, whole grains, potatoes, pork, liver, kidney beans, chicken, wheat germ, bananas, peanuts, eggs, mushrooms, watermelon, grapefruit, shellfish and dairy products are all excellent sources of B vitamins.
13. Consume Foods Rich in Magnesium:
Magnesium is an essential mineral known to relax muscles and nerves. It increases energy levels and activates the B vitamins necessary for serotonin production. Almonds, spinach, cashews, soy milk, black beans, peanut butter, whole-wheat bread, avocado, potatoes baked with skin, cooked brown rice, raisins, apples and raw carrots are great sources of magnesium.
Sources: Marksdailyapple.com, healthyeating.sf.gate.com, mnn.com, nurturinginstincts.com, psychologytoday.com, muscle-health-fitness.com, medicalnewstoday.com, serotoninandlaminine.com, McCalister College.edu, Bristol University (England).