How to Boost Serotonin
Serotonin, otherwise known as the happiness neurotransmitter, acts in the brain to uplift mood and fight out anxiety and depression. Though the body naturally produces it, you can do plenty of things on your end to increase levels of this important brain chemical. Even doctors usually encourage doing so, especially for patients prone to depression or seasonal mood disorders. Keep reading to find out how to boost serotonin and ward off the blues.
1. Get some sunshine. Studies have found out that the longer you stay outside and expose yourself to natural light, the more your body is inclined to produce serotonin. According to the research, the body has more serotonin during the summer than the winter. This is also probably why we feel happier during a day spent at the park or beach, rather than a day spent indoors watching TV. So for an instant mood lift, step outside during the daytime or open your curtains to let natural daylight in.
Get some exercise. Though this may sound like a clichÃ© from any health brochure, research has found that exercising can boost levels of tryptophan, a substance needed for the body to create serotonin.
2. Also, the mood-lifting effects you get last long after the actual time spent exercising, meaning that even a short 30-minute brisk walk can have a lasting positive effect on your day. Start with exercise intensity levels that you can manage, instead of pushing yourself too hard to the point of feeling worn out. Studies have found that as long as you exercise regularly, serotonin is released continuously. This means that you dont have to worry about how intense your exercise regimen is as long as you stick to a regular routine.
3. Boost your protein intake. Proteins contain tryptophan, which, as mentioned above, is required for the body to produce serotonin. Choose protein sources that contain less fat, such as lean meats or fish. A diet rich in nuts, eggs, and dairy products like cheese and milk can easily provide you with the right amounts of tryptophan.
4. Choose whole grain foods over simple carbs. When revamping your diet, remove the simple carbs, that is, anything made from white flour, white rice, and sugar. Stick to complex carbohydrates like brown rice, whole wheat bread, legumes, and nuts. Go for vegetables too, which often contain fiber. Tryptophan found in proteins is more readily converted to serotonin when eaten with complex carbohydrates.
5. Consume foods that contain healthy fats. Not all fats are bad, and the body needs a certain amount of fat to function properly. Do your body and your serotonin levels a favor by consuming healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to have a correlation with serotonin levels. Foods rich in such fats are fish like salmon, fish oils like cod liver oil, and certain nuts, seeds and seed oils. Among these are flaxseed, walnuts, chia seeds and soybeans. Supplements containing fish oils can also help.
6. Pass on the caffeine and other stimulants. Caffeine, found in coffee, black tea, and energy drinks, stifles serotonin production. If youre a coffee addict or if you consume energy drinks regularly, try to drink just one cup a day after a meal. Also, energy drinks come with high amounts of sugar so steer clear of them.
7. Consider taking supplements. If you want to step up your serotonin a little further, a number of supplements can help. Herbal supplements include rhodiola, which helps slow serotonin breakdown and keeps it in your body longer. In addition, St. Johns wort can help your brain produce more serotonin. In fact, physicians actually prescribe it for anxiety and depression. It is important that you inform your doctor or pharmacist if you are planning to take supplements in case of bad reactions with certain medications. Other supplements you can take are L-tryptophan and 5-HTP (5-hydroxytrptophan), which directly increase levels of tryptophan, a necessary building block for serotonin.
Now that youve learned how to boost serotonin levels in your body, following these simple tips can help you avoid feeling anxious or depressed. Put them into action to lead a happier, fuller life.