It’s Not You, It’s Probably Serotonin: Boost Your Happy Hormone Level

01 Feb 2020

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Have you been feeling down in the dumps lately? Do you feel like you’re a perpetual pessimist with no reason to be happy? If yes, chances are your serotonin levels are too low.

Dubbed as the ‘happy hormone’, serotonin is a neurotransmitter and hormone found in your brain, blood, and digestive system. This chemical messenger also helps you sleep better, controls cravings and aids smooth digestion. Therefore, this hormone is essential for both your physical and mental well being.

Although we need more research to find out exactly how serotonin affects our mood, studies have successfully linked low serotonin to mood disorders and depression [1]. Serotonin is your body’s natural feel-good chemical and when its levels are low, you’re more likely to face attention difficulties and anxiety. You may also feel irritable, moody, depressed, and have irregular sleep and eating habits.

How can you increase your serotonin levels? A deficiency of vitamin B6 and amino acid tryptophan can affect the production of serotonin. A dip in serotonin is also likely to follow a spike in the stress hormone cortisol. Hence, eating a nutritious diet with appropriate lifestyle changes can promote healthy serotonin levels. 

5 Ways To Boost Your Serotonin Naturally

1. Eat Right: Eating foods that contain the essential amino acid tryptophan allows the body to produce more serotonin [1]. Tryptophan can be found in foods such as eggs, cheese, turkey, nuts, salmon, tofu, and chocolate.

However, tryptophan alone can’t boost your serotonin levels. It needs carbs to be absorbed. Carbohydrates cause the body to release more insulin, which promotes amino acid absorption. Therefore, a healthy balance of tryptophan-rich foods and carbs can help you get a serotonin boost.

2. Exercise Regularly: Regular exercise can work wonders in improving one’s overall mood. Cardiovascular exercise or ‘cardio’ gets your heart racing, which helps boost the production of serotonin and endorphins [2].

Whether you prefer swimming, jogging or tennis, working out goes a long way in keeping you happy. To stay motivated, choose an activity that you love and enjoy.

3. Soak In Some Sun: Sunlight has the potential to kickstart your brain’s serotonin production. Studies have found that people had higher serotonin levels on sunny days than on cloudy ones [3]. Research also shows a clear link between exposure to sunlight and seasonal depression with low serotonin levels [4].

So head out and soak in some sun; take a walk in the park or just laze around under the sun reading a book and listening to your favorite songs.

4. Manage Stress Better: As mentioned above, stress affects the production of the happy hormone. So, anything that can help alleviate stress and anxiety can boost your serotonin levels. Mediation is a practice you can adopt to wind down and feel more in control. Studies have found that any form of meditation raises the levels of 5-HIAA [5], an acid that the brain needs for the production of serotonin. Meditation also helps combats the influence of stress hormones.

Remember, it is important to take a break once in a while to decompress and slow down. Read a book, take a nap or get a massage, self-care means different things for different people. 

5. Consider Supplements: Natural supplements are safe and can help you increase your serotonin levels through the amino acid tryptophan and vitamin B6. They boost the overall energy levels in your body too, making you feel fresh and more positive.

Mental health issues are complex and it takes more than just supplements, regular exercise or meditation to address the issue at hand. Reach out to your loved ones, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

 References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4728667/
  2. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01890/full
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12480364
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17582745/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/789821

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