The latest way to lift your spirits isn’t drugs, but by chomping on foods which release the feel good hormone serotonin.
Meeting deadlines. calming toddler, tantrums, paying increasing bills stressful situations are piling up in your life…if you feel like you are a hamster in an ever-shrinking wheel….
What to do???
Reaching for the nearest wine bottle/chocolate bar/bag of crisps/bottle of tranquilisers/packet of cigarettes….will only make you feel better short term before you sink back to reality …. and feel….not great!
Maybe you need to eradicate imbalance in the body by adopting a healthy diet, which will naturally boost serotonin levels?
With these at their optimum, you feel joyful, energised and more able to cope with life’s daily challenges…
The importance of serotonin to our mental wellbeing is widely underestimated.
I have noticed a huge increase in the number of women in their 30 and 40 with slight depression… some are prescribed Prozac and were looking for a more natural and effective solution. The drugs still have their place, but that so much can be done as a dietary level.
The science bit!
The latest scientific research on serotonin is based around the work receptors- molecules of protein- to which serotonin may attach, causing a physiological response. We know that two particular receptors (5HT1A and B) play a role in causing anxiety, depression, aggressive behaviour, impulse control and food craving.
But what exactly is serotonin and how can you tell if you are deficient.
It’s a chemical produced in the human body that’s found in a wide variety of tissues, particularly the lining of the digestive tract, where it inhibits acid secretion and stimulates muscles in the intestinal wall, adding digestion. It also acts as a neurotransmitter, helping to send messages to the brain to control states of consciousness and mood.
Optimum levels of serotonin lift moods, promote relaxation and leave us feeling satisfied and restful. On the other hand, depression, OCD, PMS and some eating disorders are all associated with depleted levels of serotonin.
Cravings for food rich in simple carbs, like bread/pasta or sweets, are an attempt by your body to quickly raise serotonin levels, so this is a real sign that you are deficient. It is often thought of as our “happy hormone,” especially because its production increases when we’re exposed to natural sunlight. And let’s face it, after months of being stuck indoors, most of us are battling low serotonin levels.
Eating this type of food also perpetuates the cycle of bingeing, as altered serotonin concentration causes difficulties in impulse control. That explain why you can’t never stick to a diet…
To feel better, you need to choose foods that high in tryptophan – an amino acid which aids the production of serotonin in your body.
(turkey, chicken, eggs, fish and shellfish, salmon ,nuts and seeds, pineapple, tomatoes, beets, oat, kiwis, plums, bananas, chickpeas}
- Never skip breakfast, as it causes blood sugar levels to plummet and unbalances all your body’s chemicals, including serotonin
- Sock up with food like mung beans, rye bread, shellfish and millet, all of which are serotonin boosting foods due to the high level of tryptophan
- Keep meals simple to help the digestion, and therefore stimulate
- Calm your brain with a B vitamin
I recommend that my patients keep a B-complex at their desk during times of stress. High total intakes of vitamins B6 and B12 are associated with a lower risk of depressive symptoms over time in community-residing older adults,Vitamin B6 in particular supports the production of serotonin in the brain.
- Get plenty of Exercise– Researchers have found that exercise boosts serotonin. Even gentle exercise like walking and rebounding can boost your immunity and mood.
- Get massages and other forms of body work– We’ve heard about the healing power of touch, but now research backs it up! it increases serotonin by 28% and decreases cortisol (the stress hormone) by 31%.
- Have fun in the sun– Early morning sunlight is more intense and this can boost your body’s production of melatonin in the evening. Serotonin converts to melatonin for a great night’s sleep. Getting outside for a 20-minute walk in the early morning sunlight can boost your mood and improve your sleep!
- Reduce Stress– prolonged physical or emotional stress produce adrenaline and cortisol, which interfere with serotonin. It’s very common in today’s modern world to try to fit an overwhelming amount of work and errands into a day or week. This creates chronic stress. Shifting your lifestyle and adding more relaxation into your week can make a huge difference.
- Eliminate sugar (or at least drastically reduce sugar)– If you have low serotonin, you may have intense cravings for sugar. This is your body’s way of trying to increase serotonin because eating sugar produces insulin, which helps tryptophan go into your brain. However, too much sugar can eventually cause addiction to sugar, insulin resistance, hypoglycemia and type 2 diabetes. Instead, satisfy your sweet tooth in a healthy way (don’t feed your candida ) it will benefit your health!
- Serotonin supplements like specific amino acids, vitamins, minerals and herbs increase serotonin levels, helping depression and other brain-related disorders. (At Make Me Feel we can give you all the help you need)
- Natural supplements such as saffron, 5-HTP, Vitamins B6 and B12, and Folate can help to support healthy serotonin levels.
Your Vitamin D
Vitamin D—which we synthesize from UVB exposure—allows the conversion of tryptophan into serotonin.
I recommend getting most of your vitamin D from the sun. It’s better regulated that way, and you get the added benefit of lots of natural light. If you need or want to supplement (probably a good idea for most people during the colder seasons when sun exposure is low), look for a high potency formula.
If you haven’t jumped on the meditation bandwagon by now, you clearly haven’t read up on all of its benefits. regular meditation can lower your blood pressure and boost your serotonin levels, 30 minutes is all it takes to help improve symptoms of depression.
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid required for the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin. 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is an intermediate amino acid derivative in this process. Acting as a neurotransmitter, serotonin controls functions relating to mood, behavior, appetite, and sleep. The compound 5–hydroxyindoleacetate (5–HIA) is
measured in urine as a marker of serotonin metabolism. When this compound is elevated, it indicates higher than normal turnover of serotonin with potential depletion of tryptophan as
a result. Low levels of 5-HIA may indicate inadequate production of serotonin. 5-HTP can be used as a dietary supplement to increase production of serotonin as therapy for individuals who are depressed, have sleep problems, or chronic pain such as fibromyalgia. Serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (Prozac, Zoloft, etc.) often lead to elevated 5 HIA.