It is no secret that various foods can contribute to our health and overall wellbeing. Eating balanced and healthy diet is important for our body to maximize on all essential nutrients while supporting healthy mind at the same time. There are some foods that enhance production of serotonin levels in our brains naturally. They include:
- -Fish-oil, rich in Omega-3 fatty acids (such as wild salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, and anchovies, which are even higher in omega-3 fatty acids than other fish)
-Healthy fat, such as coconut oil
- Foods high in protein, especially proteins high in tryptophan, like free range turkey
- Eggs. They can increase blood plasma levels of tryptophan. Complete egg, with yolk included is rich in both tryptophan and tyrosine, which are major contributors to antioxidant content of eggs.
- Cheese is great source of tryptophan that helps increase serotonin levels.
- Soy products are rich sources of tryptophan. Tofu can be substitute for protein in many recipes which is great meat alternative for vegetarians and vegans.
- All nuts and seeds are rich in tryptophan. Only a handful a day is required in order to lower your risk of cancer, heart disease and respiratory problems. They are good source of vitamins, antioxidants and natural fiber.
While the foods listed above don’t contain serotonin, they contain tryptophan which is essential amino acid. Eating foods high in tryptophan will not increase serotonin levels on its own, but if eaten with carbohydrates, such as rice, oatmeal or whole grain bread, it might increase levels of serotonin in the body. The way this works is that carbohydrates make body to release more insulin which in turn encourages amino acid absorption and leave tryptophan in the blood.
Serotonin is a chemical produced by nerve cells in our body. Body uses this chemical to send signals between nerve cells throughout the body. It is mostly found in the digestive system although it is also throughout the central nervous system and in blood platelets. Serotonin is converted from the essential amino acid tryptophan. This amino acid enters our body through diet and is commonly found in foods such as nuts, cheese and red meat. Low levels of tryptophan amino acid can lead to lower serotonin levels and in a result, a person can suffer from mood disorders such as anxiety or depression.
While serotonin in the brain regulates anxiety, happiness and mood, low levels of it are being linked with depression. Increased levels of serotonin, brought on by medications are linked with decrease of sexual desire.
Serotonin is found mostly in body’s stomach and intestines. It helps control bodily functions and bowel movements. It is also part of the reason why people become nauseous, as the chemical increases in the blood and stimulates the part of the brain that controls nausea. The same chemical is responsible for stimulation of parts of the brain that control sleep and waking. It depends on what area in the brain is being stimulated and which serotonin receptor is being used in order for someone to be either asleep or awake.
Serotonin in blood is found in blood platelets and helps healing of wounds. Serotonin causes arteries to narrow and increases formation of blood clots.
It also plays major role in bone health as significantly high serotonin levels in the bones can lead to osteoporosis, that make bones weaker.
Serotonin helps regulation of mood naturally. When a person has normal serotonin levels, he or she feels more calm, focused, happier, emotionally stable while at the same time being less anxious. Low levels of serotonin have been linked to anxiety and insomnia.
To summarize, serotonin is a natural mood stabilizer that impacts every part of your body, from your emotions to your motor skills. It is considered to be a chemical that helps sleeping, eating and digesting. Low levels of serotonin are linked to depression, anxiety, healing of wounds, stimulation of nausea and maintenance of bone health.