Recently, I read an article in HealthKeepers Magazine on Serotonin. I shared with you Part I last month. Now let’s continue with Part II and learn ways to boost Serotonin.
Increase the amount of tryptophan-rich foods in your diet. Your body utilizes tryptophan to produce serotonin, increasing the amount available and improving both mood and sleep. Proteins such as garbanzo beans, nuts and seeds tend to have high amounts of tryptophan. Other proteins particularly high in tryptophan are eggs, Atlantic cod or perch, raw soybeans, milk, yogurt, cheddar or parmesan cheese, cottage cheese, chocolate, oats and sunflower or pumpkin seeds. Also dark chocolate has been found to increase serotonin levels.
Consider replacing a carbohydrate binge with a high-protein snack or a piece of fruit, such as a banana. Carbohydrates are necessary, not only for energy, but also for serotonin levels, but they are tricky. Eat too much of them and you gain weight. Eat too few and your energy levels will drop. People who are sad or depressed often reach for foods rich in carbohydrates because the body knows that carbs will increase serotonin levels. However, many people tend to overdo it and are unable to stop at just a few bites.
Avoid “quick fixes” such as sugar, caffeine and alcohol. While these may provide a short-term boost in mood and energy level, the long-term reliance on sugar or stimulants will have a negative effect on your body’s ability to regulate serotonin levels, which may lead not only to mod fluctuations but digestive irregularities.
Physical touch can increase serotonin levels. Serotonin helps regulate dopamine, and an excess of dopamine can lead to aggressive and sometimes violent behavior. Everyone needs hugs and touching to maintain serotonin levels, so hug friends, loved ones and even your pet, often.
Expose yourself to sources of natural light. The amount of sunlight you receive each day is directly related to the amount of serotonin in your brain in a positive way. Our bodies and our brains need sunlight in order to metabolize calcium, absorb vitamin D and regulate sleeping patterns. If you live in a northern climate or you are indoors for most of the day, consider using a light box, which is a form of artificial sunlight you can use indoors.
Think positively. Science has shown that your thoughts have an effect on your brain’s biochemistry, and so making a concerted effort to see things in a more positive light can help increase serotonin. This is a cascading positive effect because optimism has been found to be inversely correlated with the risk of developing heart disease. In short, the more optimistic you are, the less likely you are to develop one of the top causes of death.
HealthKeepers Magazine December 2011