Did you know that serotonin is known as the ‘don’t worry, be happy’ soothing neurotransmitter. It plays multiple roles in the brain’s biochemistry and is a critical component in facilitating sustained and deep sleep, maintaining a balanced mood, self-confidence, social engagement, and a healthy appetite.
Additionally, it helps decrease our worries and concerns and is associated with learning and memory.
- Exercise is a serotonin intervention – it boosts serotonin in your brain. Multiple research studies have demonstrated that exercise is at least equally effective at increasing available serotonin as serotonin-enhancing medications are, and in some cases exercise is more effective. Adding an element of nature ie going for a walk in the park will also boost this serotonin intervention tenfold!
- Much of the serotonin in your body is produced in your gut, so strategies designed to optimise gut production of serotonin could certainly go a long way toward optimising your mental health. Make sure you are taking a quality probiotic, properly hydrating, and eating a brain-healthy diet. I use SYMPROVE probiotic drink, available at WholeFoods.
- Nutrition: There are two ways that certain foods can increase serotonin levels. Foods high in simple carbohydrates, such as pastas, potatoes, bread and popcorn, typically increase insulin levels and allow more tryptophan (the natural amino acid building block for serotonin) to enter the brain, where the brain cells can convert it to serotonin. The calming effect of serotonin can often be felt in thirty minutes or less by eating these foods. This may be one of the reasons simple carbohydrates are so addictive. They can be used to make you feel happy, but can also cause high blood sugar levels that over time can contribute to memory problems. We recommend complex carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes, apples, blueberries, carrots, and garbanzo beans, as a healthier way to boost serotonin. Brain serotonin levels can also be raised by eating foods rich in L-tryptophan, such as chicken, eggs, cheese, turkey, beef, salmon and tuna, tempeh, beans, lentils, spinach and other dark green leafy vegetables, pumpkin and chia seeds, and nuts. Many people may unknowingly trigger cognitive inflexibility or mood problems by eating diets that are low in L-tryptophan.
- Dietary Supplements that provide vitamins B6, B12, and folate, as well as concentrates of saffron can help support healthy serotonin levels.
Happy Sunday Kids!