When it comes to happiness, serotonin plays a big part. Serotonin is a hormone, which contributes to the regulation of numerous body processes and it carries out its most well-known function in the brain.
In the brain, serotonin acts as a neurotransmitter, sending vital messages which stimulate nerve cells.
Well-regulated serotonin levels are essential for your brain and your mood. A study by Washington University, focusing on the relationship between depression and serotonin, found that depression and mental illness occur if serotonin is missing.
Serotonin has a positive impact on virtually every aspect of your physical well-being. It plays an essential role in controlling your appetite, as it helps regulate the enteric nervous system and even affects the cardiovascular system, helping with the contraction of blood vessels.
You don’t need to be on any medication to increase your serotonin levels. There are plenty of natural ways to boost serotonin and your happiness. These include:
There’s a reason why experts advocate early morning walks to start your day. Recent studies show a strong correlation between light exposure and serotonin levels.
Boost your mood when the afternoon slump hits by treating yourself to a lunchtime walk and be sure to eat your lunch outside.
A comprehensive review demonstrated a relationship between exercise and mood, showing that exercise had that antidepressant and anxiolytic effects.
In the United Kingdom, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, which works on behalf of the National Health Service and makes recommendations on treatments according to the best available evidence, has published a guide on the treatment of depression. The guide recommends treating mild clinical depression with exercise rather than antidepressants. This is because the risk-benefit ratio for patients with mild depression is poor when using antidepressants.
Exercise also improves the mood of those in subclinical populations as well as in patients.
The third factor that could play a role in raising brain serotonin is diet. Eating foods that contain the essential amino acid known as tryptophan can help the body to produce more serotonin.
Serotonin isn’t found in foods, but tryptophan is. Foods high in protein, iron, riboflavin, and vitamin B-6 all tend to contain large amounts of this amino acid. High tryptophan foods include nuts, seeds, tofu, cheese, red meat, chicken, turkey, fish, oats, beans, lentils, and eggs.
Your best chance at achieving a serotonin boost without using supplements is to eat the listed foods often, along with a serving of healthy carbohydrates, like rice, oatmeal, or whole-grain bread.
4. Gut Microbiome
At least 80-90% of serotonin produced in your gut, therefore, it’s important to keep it healthy and happy. Consuming a high-fibre diet loaded with a variety of whole foods will help to feed and grow the good bacteria in your gut, and weed out the bad.
Probiotics are a great supplement. However, they should not replace the role that food has on your gut bacteria.
5. Say “No” to junk food
Eliminate foods that negatively alter gut bacteria. These include artificial sweeteners, trans fats, and processed or refined sugars.
Higher intakes of fast food may well increase risks of depression by causing poor health in general.
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