Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine or 5-HT), also called the “feel good hormone,” is a neurotransmitter responsible for a variety of mind (mood) and body functions. They are brain chemicals that communicate information throughout our brain and body. They relay signals between nerve cells, called “neurons.”
Neurotransmitters are essentially brain chemicals that communicate information throughout your brain and body. They send signals from one nerve cell to another. Some of the serotonin in our body is manufactured in the brain, and thought to affect almost ALL of the nearly 40 million brain cells. And even larger amount of serotonin is manufactured in your intestines in the enteric nervous system, also called the “gut brain”.
In fact, 90% of your serotonin supply is found in your digestive tract and blood platelets.
Serotonin has a calming effect on your mind (the brain in your head) AND your body (your gut brain or the enteric nervous system lining your digestive tract).
You may feel butterflies, nausea or a sinking feeling in your gut… those “gut feelings” we hear so much about actually have a physiological basis! And nerve cells in your gut use serotonin to send messages (like gas, bloating and digestive pain) to literally train your brain, so that you can learn which foods to eat or avoid.
When looking at the affects of serotonin, you become aware that there truly is a mind-body connection.
Serotonin plays an essential role in:
- The regulation of your appetite
- Your body temperature
- The tone of your blood vessels
- Your perception of pain
- And the health of the mucus membranes of your stomach and intestines
Anyone who wants to increase serotonin naturally can do so in a simple manner, but it will take a lot of hard work and tenacity if you really want to see some positive results.
There are many pharmaceutical drugs out there today that have the sole purpose of increasing the amount of serotonin in the body.
The problem with using unnatural drugs to increase the release of serotonin in the body is that you could easily end up addicted to the pills and not caring about anything else in your life.
It goes back to the old saying of why you would go out and fly a kite when you could just sit on your couch and pop a pill.
If you want to increase serotonin naturally, you will need to make some big changes in your life that dramatically affect your physical fitness and diet.
You need to get plenty of vitamins and nutrients from your daily meals if you want to feel good about yourself because, after all, you are what you eat.
7 ways to increase serotonin naturally
- Eat a meal that is high in slowly digested carbs such as oatmeal, whole grains, beans and lentils. Stay away from highly refined and processed foods like white bread, muffins, bagels, candies and sugary, low-fiber cereals. Eating slowly digested carbs will release insulin into your bloodstream, which in turn will cause tryptophan– the amino acid from which serotonin is made–to freely enter your brain and increase your serotonin levels.
- Get more light. In a study in the “Archives of General Psychiatry,” patients suffering from depression felt noticeably better after receiving light treatment. When the treatment stopped, serotonin levels decreased by 20 percent and the patients’ depression reappeared. Dr. Michael Terman of Columbia University says exposure to light stimulates serotonin stores in the nervous system and works in a way similar to Prozac. Clinical light therapy sessions can be expensive and hard to come by in some localities, but even going outside more, increasing interior lighting and minimizing your use of sunglasses can be effective.
- Decrease your stress. “Dr. Bob Arnot’s Revolutionary Weight Control Program” says that “stress robs the brain of serotonin.” Exercise, especially aerobic, and meditation are effective stress relievers and help to keep away the need to relieve stress with junk food.
- Sleep longer and better. Serotonin levels are replenished during your sleeping hours. To get a better night’s sleep, eat your bigger meal at lunch and eat lightly at dinner. Avoid too much protein right before bed. This will allow you to not only sleep sounder, but will aid weight loss goals by forcing your body to burn fat stores instead of recently ingested food.
- Take a vitamin B supplement. Vitamin B is necessary for serotonin production and is quickly used up during stress and times of high energy output. If your diet is rich in green vegetables, whole grains and dairy products, you’re probably getting enough. But if your nutrition is inadequate, consider taking a B complex supplement (the various B vitamins work best in your body when taken together). Pay particular attention to your intake of vitamin B6, which affects the rate at which tryptophan converts to serotonin.
- Increase your calcium and magnesium. Both nutrients are important for serotonin production. Eating plenty of nuts, dairy products and green vegetables should give you an adequate supply of both, but consider taking a supplement if your diet is lacking.
- Decrease caffeine, alcohol, sugar and artificial sweeteners. These stimulants may make you feel good temporarily, but they are poor substitutes for serotonin, the real “feel good” natural chemical your body produces. They also can make it harder for your brain to balance your moods. Artificial sweeteners also can interfere with your body’s natural hormone operations.
Increase serotonin naturally to remove depression
The main reason that most people seem to be depressed these days is that they don’t want to take the time and effort needed to exercise on a daily basis. Everyone seems to want to find the easy way to do things and that is generally the opposite of what you need to do.
You should never go with any easy, quick options during the day because those are the ones that are going to hurt you in the long run. Always try to give up a little happiness now if you want to feel much better in the future because that is the only way to truly become happy in the long run. You can almost look at a change in your diet and thirty minutes of daily exercise as an investment into your happiness of the future.
You need to change your lifestyle
Changing the way you live is the best way to increase serotonin naturally, so you should not hesitate to get started on your new path as soon as possible. Start eating more fruits and vegetables on a daily basis if you want your body to feel better. You will also have more energy to exercise once you change your diet for the better.