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6 Ways to Increase Serotonin Naturally

 

 

By Diane Hanson

 

If you don't feel satisfied after eating, get tired easily or feel depressed for no apparent reasons, low serotonin levels may be the culprit behind your problems.

 

Serotonin is a very important neurotransmitter (brain chemical) that is involved in many vital body functions, especially in the regulation of mood and sleep.

Natural serotonin is produced by your body during the digestion of foods that contain the amino acid, L-Tryptophan. Low serotonin levels can occur if you eat an unhealthy diet of processed and packaged foods, stress, lack of adequate sun exposure, substance abuse or you have digestion problems that could interfere with the absorption of amino acids.

You can increase serotonin levels naturally in your body through diet change, exercise, exposure to bright sunlight and supplements.

 

How to Boost Serotonin Levels

1. Turkey

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is found in all protein foods. When you eat a protein source containing tryptophan, with a small serving of carbohydrate, all amino acids except tryptophan are cleared from the bloodstream. This allows tryptophan to cross the blood brain barrier freely and make serotonin.

 

Ever wonder why you relaxed and even sleepy after eating turkey? Turkey is one of best protein foods that boost serotonin levels. A turkey sandwich on whole grain bread for dinner is a great way to increase serotonin levels naturally.

 

These protein-rich foods are also high in the amino acid tryptophan, and hence help improve serotonin levels – chicken, fish, lean cuts of pork, veal, lamb, cheeses, milk and dairy products, soy and legumes.

 

 

 

2. Dark Chocolate

Cocoa is rich in antioxidant and polyphenols. It can also help raise serotonin levels in the brain, but make sure you don't eat too much or your blood sugar will crash a few hours later. Opt for 70% and higher cocoa chocolate.

 

 

 

3. Exercise

Exercise increases serotonin production. Exercise not only improves your physical health, it is also a natural stimulator of  'feel good' hormones including dopamine and serotonin. Aim for 15-20 minutes of exercise everyday. Gentle exercises such as strolling, taichi or yoga are just as good. It makes you happy and feel relaxed.

 

Meditation also boosts serotonin levels and your feelings of well being, concentration and peace.

 

 

 

4. Sunlight

Bright light suppresses melatonin production. High levels of melatonin decreases serotonin levels. Without the exposure to adequate sunlight, your melatonin levels will be high, thus lowering your serotonin levels. Lack of adequate sunlight exposure in winter may be one of the causes of Seasonal Affective disorder (SAD).

 

 

 

5. Sleep

Serotonin production for the next day requires at least 7 continuous hours of undisturbed good quality sleep. To help you sleep better, avoid stimulants such as coffee, tea or caffeinated beverages in the afternoon. Try to make your bedroom as comfortable and sleep-inducing as possible. Taking a relaxing warm bath, listening to soothing music or having a glass of milk often works for people with insomnia.

 

 

 

6. 5-HTP Supplements

The popular dietary supplement, 5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan (5-HTP) is promoted as a treatment for insomnia, depression, migraine, obesity and attention deficit disorder in children. It helps some people, but I suggest rhodiola, which slows the process of serotonin breakdown.

 

 

If all of the above-mentioned ways don't work for you, talk to your doctor. He may suggest antidepressant drugs like Lexapro, Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil to increase serotonin levels in the brain.

 

increase serotonin naturally

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