Serotonin is recognized as the happy chemical that has a wide variety of functions in the human body, as it contributes to a person’s wellbeing and happiness. Serotonin transmits messages between nerve cells and is thought to be an active participant in constricting smooth muscles.
As the partner of melatonin, serotonin helps regulate the body’s sleep-wake cycles and the internal clock.
Described as a neurotransmitter, serotonin is produced in the intestines and the brain. It is present in the blood and central nervous system. The chemical is thought to play a role in a person’s appetite, emotions, and motor, cognitive, and autonomic functions.
But it hasn’t been determined if serotonin affects directly, or an overall role in the nervous system coordination. Although serotonin is known as the neurotransmitter, it is also well-known for:
- endorsing good sleep by helping regulate circadian rhythms
- Helping control your appetite
- Promoting learning and memory
- Helping promote positive feelings and prosocial behavior
Additionally, if you have small levels of serotonin, you might experience:
- The feeling of anxiousness, lows, or depression
- Being irritable or aggressive
- Have sleep issues or feel fatigued
- Feel impulsive
- Decreased appetite
- Experience nausea and digestive issues
- Crave sweets and carbohydrate-rich foods
Research has found links between serotonin and bone metabolism, breast milk production, liver regeneration, and cell division. Serotonin influences the brains cells directly and indirectly:
- Bowel function – the majority of the body’s serotonin is found in the gastrointestinal tract. Here it regulates bowel function and movement and plays a part in reducing the appetite while eating.
- Mood – Serotonin impacts your levels of mood, anxiety, and happiness in the brain.
- Clotting – Serotonin is released by platelets when there is a wound and contributes to the formation of blood clots.
- Nausea – Your gut produces more serotonin when you eat something toxic or irritating so that it can get rid of the toxins through diarrhea. This will also stimulate the nausea area in the brain.
There are several natural ways to boost serotonin levels. Continue reading below on five ways to increase serotonin naturally.
While you can’t directly get serotonin from food, you can get tryptophan, which is an amino acid that is changed to serotonin in your brain. You’ll find tryptophan in high-protein foods, such as turkey and salmon.
Research also shows that eating carbs along with foods with high tryptophan may help the hormone into your brain. Eating foods that contain amino acids help the body produce serotonin, and these foods include salmon, eggs, spinach, and seeds. Here are some snack ideas to get you started on naturally boosting your serotonin:
- Whole-wheat bread with turkey and cheese
- A few nuts with oatmeal
- Salmon with brown rice
- Plums or pineapples with your favorite crackers
- A glass of milk with peanut butter and pretzel sticks
When you exercise you trigger the release of tryptophan int your bloodstream. Exercising can also decrease the number of amino acids produced, which creates an ideal environment for more tryptophan to reach your brain. The goal when you exercise it to get your heart rate up with aerobic exercises such as swimming, biking, brisk walking, jogging, or gentle hiking.
- Bright Light
Research advises that levels of serotonin tend to be lower in the winter and higher in the summer and fall. Spending time in the sunshine helps to increase serotonin levels. To get the most out of natural light, make sure to spend at least 10 to 15 minutes outside each day, and take your physical activity outside to boost the serotonin brought on by exercise.
Dietary supplements could help jumpstart the production of serotonin by increasing tryptophan, such as probiotics. Research suggests getting more probiotics into your diet will help enhance tryptophan in your blood, which will help it reach your brain. You can take probiotic supplements, or eat more probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt.
Massage therapy will help increase serotonin and dopamine; another neurotransmitter related to mood. A massage also helps decrease cortisol, a hormone your body produces when stressed.
You can see a licensed massage therapist, but also a 20-minute massage from your partner twice a week could help you feel less anxious and depressed and increase serotonin levels.
Serotonin is a significant chemical and neurotransmitter in the human body. It can distress everything from your mood to your bowels. If you are feeling low on serotonin, the above are great natural ways to boost your serotonin.