How to increase serotonin levels with these simple tips and foods
Serotonin is the hormone responsible for boosting your mood and making you feel happy. It is produced both in the gut and in the brain. However, the most useful one is the one produced by the brain. Most people don’t know how to increase serotonin levels naturally. However, serotonin release by the brain can be triggered by simple things such as smiling.
Some foods have been highly associated with increased serotonin levels and they shall be discussed in detail but before then….
Here are 9 tips on how to increase serotonin levels naturally
1. Enjoy some sunlight
Have you ever wondered why most people suffering from depression are encouraged to get out more? This is because getting some sunshine and a bit of fresh air are the best ways to boost your serotonin levels and instantly boost your mood.
For introverts, this might be difficult at first, but if you start with one day at a time, it will pay off in the end. If your schedule allows you and the weather is fine, try starting by taking a morning walk outdoors, even on a cool day. This is a sure way to boost your mood for the rest of the day.
2. Make an appointment with your masseuse
According to research conducted by experts, there is healing power in touch. Generally speaking, massage helps you relax all your muscles and the brain too. This, in turn, helps to relieve stress by triggering the release of serotonin by the brain leaving you feeling happy and less depressed.
This is why it is advisable for you to get regular massages especially if you work under too much pressure or if you are feeling stressed out. Individuals who are at a higher risk of getting depressed (especially if they have a history of depression or if it runs in the family) are advised to get regular massage sessions to help them control it.
3. Reduce your sugar intake – or totally eliminate it if possible
When feeling stressed out, it is common for you to have a strong craving for sugar. This is what normally leads to the emotional eating of chocolate, candy, or other junk food mostly rich in sugar.
However, this craving is just your body’s reaction as it tries to produce more serotonin in an attempt to calm your stress. Eating sugar leads to the production of insulin which, in turn, aids in the transfer of tryptophan to the brain leading to the formation of serotonin.
However, eating too much sugar on a regular basis will eventually lead to insulin resistance and addiction to sugar causing the opposite effect and resulting in diabetes type II.
Therefore, if you have to take sugar, try to consider sweeteners that have zero calories, do not feed the Candida, do not raise your blood sugar levels and are beneficial to your health.
4. How to boost serotonin levels by Exercising regularly
Getting physically active is known to naturally boost your mood by triggering the release of serotonin levels. The best thing about this is that you don’t have to invest hours and hours at the gym. Just find a way to make it more fun by incorporating your hobby into the exercise routine.
For example, you can try going for dancing classes, or engage in a dance workout routine. Moreover, you can also engage in a physical exercise by playing your favorite outdoor game such as soccer or tennis.
This way, you will be able to boost your serotonin levels while having fun and stay fit (talk about killing three birds with one stone)!
5. Focus on inner healing and general wellness
A good way to encourage a natural boost of serotonin levels is seeking inner peace. If you choose to focus more on your emotional healing you will achieve better results than when you try to run away from reality.
Be optimistic in everything that you do. Avoid things that trigger depression. Is it the picture of a lost loved one (or your ex?), is it a scar that reminds you a tragic accident or a traumatizing event in your life? Try to avoid such triggers, seek to counsel if possible and move on.
Once you are at peace with yourself, your brain will naturally boost serotonin production.
6. Try boosting other “feel-good” hormones
Serotonin is not the only hormone that can help you feel good. Therefore, if your serotonin levels are too low, you can encourage its release by boosting the production of other “feel good” hormones which will, in turn, trigger serotonin production.
For example, cuddling triggers the release of oxytocin (which is actually known as the “cuddle hormone”). In fact, it can be more powerful than serotonin. It is triggered when you feel love, comfort, and trust.
Therefore, if you would like to boost your mood, try spending more time with your loved ones. Sometimes, just giving them a phone call is enough to boost your mood.
7. Get enough sleep
Failing to get enough hours of sleep is a good recipe for keeping yourself on the verge of a breakdown any time of the day. Sometimes you don’t have to book an appointment with your counselor or take a cocktail of antidepressants to help relieve stress.
Maybe all you need is a few hours of sleep to help you relax. Being stress-free encourages the brain to function better and this, in turn, aids in the release of serotonin to help boost your mood and leave you feeling stress-free.
Sleep deprivation is generally associated with high levels of depression and it can take a toll on your mood for the rest of the day. If you are not in a position to get an average of 6 to 8 hours of continuous sleep, try to find a way to compensate by taking an afternoon nap at least to give your brain enough time to relax and help boost your mood.
8. Re-visiting your happy place
A happy place is that one place in your memories that always makes you happy. Research has shown that thinking of happy times whether they happened in your past or you are envisioning them in your future, can help boost serotonin release and leave you feeling happy.
When feeling stressed out, try jogging your memory back to a time you were truly happy. Try to re-live the experience and reconnect with what you were feeling at that particular moment. As a result, you will find yourself smiling.
9. Try winning for a change
Depression is highly associated with loss. It could be the loss of a loved one or losing in a win-or-lose decision. This leads to low serotonin levels in the brain. However, winning boosts serotonin production in the brain leaving you feeling happy and energetic.
Foods that increase serotonin
When it comes to increasing your serotonin levels by eating, it is important to understand that foods rich in serotonin DO NOT increase the serotonin levels.
This is because the serotonin present in the foods is incapable of penetrating the blood-brain barrier – a system set up by the brain to keep off foreign substances.
Therefore, eating foods rich in serotonin is not a guarantee that they will boost your mood. That said, foods rich in serotonin include:
- Hickory nuts
The only way to boost your increase your serotonin levels through foods is by eating foods rich in tryptophan. Tryptophan is a precursor for serotonin and increased levels of tryptophan trigger the release of serotonin.
Here are foods rich in tryptophan to help increase your serotonin levels:
Eggs are rich in proteins. This protein is essential for boosting the levels of tryptophan in the blood plasma. As a result, this will increase the chance of serotonin production. It is advisable to include the yolks when cooking so as to maximize the benefits.
Cheese is another great source of proteins. In fact, to maximize on the protein source, it is advisable to prepare mac and cheese. Since it involves a mix of milk and eggs which are both sources of tryptophan, you are able to capitalize on the benefits.
Seafood is always a good recommendation to include in your diet. In fact, the Mediterranean diet – which is largely advocated for by the American Health Association – largely comprises of seafood. All types of seafood are rich sources of tryptophan and other proteins.
4. Fermented foods
All fermented foods such as yogurt contain probiotics which help in establishing an internal balance between the beneficial and the harmful bacteria in the intestines.
Excessive harmful bacteria results in negative side effects which generally lead to the accumulation of toxic substances that exert stress on the brain leading to depression.
Speaking of fermented foods, it is common for most people to “drink away their problems” turning to alcohol to try and suppress their stress. However, alcohol actually has the opposite effect on your mood.
Most diet drinks and some brands of alcohol contain artificial sweeteners with aspartame. This ingredient is notorious for reducing the levels of serotonin by inhibiting its uptake by the brain and also the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin.
Most beverages and soft drinks contain caffeine. Although the relationship between caffeine consumption and serotonin levels is complicated, it can be confirmed that increased consumption of caffeine over time can lead to desensitization of serotonin eventually causing resistance.
However, it is also important to note that eating foods rich in tryptophan does not give 100% guarantee of serotonin production by the brain. In fact, eating tryptophan-rich foods can be only as effective as eating foods rich in serotonin.
On the contrary, research has shown that protein actually blocks the formation of serotonin. Results obtained revealed a significant decrease in tryptophan and serotonin levels hours after eating foods rich in protein. Even small amounts of proteins in the diet resulted in a decline in serotonin production.
Okay, so far it seems like we are going around in circles chasing a mirage, but luckily there is a way to trick the body into producing more serotonin – and the answer is carbs!
More carbs with less guilt
Serotonin production is a good excuse for you to start eating carbs guilt-free. This is because studies have proven that increased consumption of pure carbohydrates can trigger the release of serotonin by the brain.
This is why most people tend to binge on starchy carbohydrates or sweets in an attempt to relieve stress.
While it is difficult for tryptophan and serotonin obtained from foods to enter the brain, there is a way you can strategically get tryptophan into your brain and boost your serotonin level – and the solution does not lie in what you eat but how you eat it.
It is advisable to occasionally eat pure carbohydrates to avoid blocking the synthesis of serotonin.
This revelation came as a shock to many considering how many diet commercials pump into our heads that carbohydrates should be eaten in extreme moderation. Carbohydrates have been highly associated with obesity and how they make us fat.
This has encouraged most of us to largely reduce our carbohydrates intake. But, can this be blamed for the increased levels of depression especially among teenagers? This is just a something to think about since no research can be used to back up this hypothesis.
Make it a habit to occasionally spend a day eating carbs only. However, you should not overdo this since excessive consumption of carbohydrates in form of sugars and sweeteners can ultimately lead to resistance.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for making you feel happy. Diminishing levels of serotonin in the brain leads to increased stress and depression. Therefore, increasing serotonin production in the brain can help you boost your mood.
There are some people who recommend serotonin supplements. However, I would not recommend using supplements if there are simple ways to naturally boost your serotonin levels without the help of drugs.
All you have to do is run a reality check on yourself. Look for what triggers stress or depression and deal with it instead of hiding behind anti-depressants. Eat foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables to boost your vitamins.
Also, read more about how to increase serotonin levels naturally. Get out more and meet new people, attend all the social events you can since socializing creates a connection that results in feelings of love, trust, and comfort. Engage in fun physical exercises, get some morning sun or get enough sleep – and if all doesn’t seem to work, try smiling!