Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a major role in mood, sleep, appetite, and sexual function.
It’s often called the “happy hormone” because it’s closely linked to feeling good. Low serotonin levels are linked to depression, anxiety, and insomnia. To treat depression, doctors will often prescribe Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) to make serotonin more available to the brain.
Recent research has also indicated that eating a high diet in tryptophan may help increase serotonin levels. Tryptophan is a common amino acid converted into serotonin for our neurological systems. Tryptophan depletion is correlated with depression and anxiety, probably due to the associated drop in serotonin.
While it’s unlikely that boosting dietary sources alone can improve your mood drastically, eating a balanced, healthful diet may keep your emotions more stable, help you sleep better, and significantly improve your overall health.
Great Foods That Contain Tryptophan
– Poultry (turkey, chicken)
– Nuts and Seeds
– Legumes (beans and lentils)
– Whole grains (such as brown rice and oatmeal)
– Meat (beef, pork)
– Fish (salmon, tuna)
– Fruits (bananas, apples)
The carbs in oatmeal, rice, and whole-grain bread may also help boost serotonin levels by stimulating insulin release, which promotes amino acid (tryptophan, for example) absorption.
Eating a high-fiber diet with lots of fruits and vegetables has been shown to improve digestion and metabolism, fuel healthy gut bacteria, and reduce inflammation – all of which are important for maintaining healthy serotonin levels and uplifting your mood.
Other Ways to Increase Serotonin
In addition to eating a healthful diet, it’s essential to get plenty of exercise and exposure to sunlight.
Regular aerobic exercise releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. Sunlight exposure helps the body produce vitamin D, linked to better moods.
Anxiety and depression can also be treated with medications, supplements, and therapy. Improving your diet and nutrition is just one step you can take to feel better, but it’s a crucial one.
A slight enhancement of your mood could be just enough to get you on the right track to building better habits and feeling better and healthier.
Mental health is just as important as physical health, and no one should ignore it. If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or insomnia, please consult a healthcare professional.