Now that the festive season is behind us and February is already setting in, it’s time to support mental stamina and keep our mood boosted and balanced,
Feelings of depression and anxiety are associated with low levels of key neurotransmitters in the brain. Serotonin and dopamine, in particular, help to regulate your mood. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter or hormone produced in the intestines and the brain. It has a wide variety of functions in the human body, it helps us with impulse control and pain relief. It also is a precursor to the sleep hormone melatonin and plays a very important role in good sleep but it’s best known for its mood balancing function.
As a neurotransmitter, serotonin transmits messages between brain cells. Not only does Serotonin have an impact on mood balancing, happiness and anxiety levels. Life’s stressors can inhibit our ability to maintain optimal mental and physical health. These feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and disinterest may be accompanied by symptoms of irritability, nervousness and difficulty sleeping.
Serotonin is also produced in the intestines. In fact, most of the body’s serotonin is in the gastrointestinal tract, where it helps control and regulate bowel function and movements. And so too does the reverse apply – What’s going on in your gut will affect your mood, another reason to focus on good gut health. What’s more, Low serotonin can increase the severity of other health problems such as Heart disease, dementia, migraine and headaches, asthma and fibromyalgia
Can you relate to experiencing any of the following symptoms of low serotonin levels?
Individuals with low endorphins will also have trouble controlling their emotions and will tear up very quickly. When individuals are not producing endorphins, they will have chronic pain and lack of pleasure in anything they do.
Serotonin is the precursor to the sleep hormone melatonin. Individuals who struggle with insomnia but see improvement when they take melatonin are most likely deficient in serotonin
Are you constantly lethargic?
When dopamine is low, the individual will have slower movements and a low overall drive toward goals.
When an individual is deficient in both dopamine and serotonin they will often experience a combination of depression, slowness of movement, lack of drive, compulsive behaviours and cravings. These individuals will commonly turn to sugar or other unhealthy vices to cope with stress.
To optimize your serotonin levels, Here are the biggest lifestyle factors involved in reducing serotonin levels to support both the gut and the brain;
- Address Chronic Stress,
- End your ongoing cycle of inadequate sleep,
- Correct poor blood sugar stability,
- Be conscious of Vitamin B, Magnesium, Vitamin D and Omega 3 deficiencies.
- Turnover a sedentary lifestyle and
- Refrain from unhealthy choices that cause brain inflammation.
What are the Best sources for boosting Serotonin?
There is a lot of information on the web about foods that boost serotonin, however, we want to avoid foods high in carbohydrates that throw off our blood sugar.
Here Are 8 Great Methods For Raising Your Serotonin Levels;
1. Healthy Sun Exposure
Vitamin D deficiency can affect those with neurodevelopmental disorders and intellectual disabilities due to too much time spent indoors. Sunlight exposure stimulates vitamin D which is critical to the function of the central nervous system. Vitamin D acts in the body to maintain homeostasis, boost immunity and scavenge free radicals – The sunlight stimulates serotonin production. A lack of sunlight exposure dramatically lowers serotonin production causing Seasonal affective disorder and other depression-related conditions.
2. Get into gardening.
Microbes in the soil have proven to increase serotonin levels. This is why gardening is one of the best hobbies for your mood. Going to the beach, forest or playground and getting in the sand works great too!
3. Move into a great mood
Walking, running and resistance training all help to boost up your serotonin levels. Exercise beats antidepressant medications in every clinical trial.
4. Tune into your intuition and Gratitude.
Focusing on positive thoughts has been shown to increase the brain’s serotonin levels. Decide to stay upbeat despite your circumstances. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, Focus on some deep breathing. Practising empathy and the ability to control your thoughts through meditation and prayer will help you make life so much more enjoyable.
5. Magnesium & Omega 3 Fatty Acids:
Our lifestyle habits leave our bodies susceptible to toxins that disrupt neurological processes. These are anti-inflammatory and have a positive effect on brain health and help fight high levels of inflammation which essentially trigger those damaging mood swings. Magnesium helps to modulate stress hormone levels in the brain which can have a direct impact on neurotransmitter levels.
- Avocados are a dense source of nutrients containing vitamins, minerals, phytosterols and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s alone has been shown to support heart and brain health and slow the progression of neurological dysfunction. Making avocados part of your daily diet regimen can help keep your blues at bay by providing critical nutrients needed to stimulate serotonin and dopamine pathways, decrease fatigue, increase cognitive function and improve mood.
- Nuts and seeds like almonds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, chia and flax seeds are packed with healthy omega-3 fatty acids, linoleic acid (LA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which support brain function). These nuts and seeds regulate blood sugar levels and are rich in B vitamins and magnesium, which reduce anxiety and your risk of depression.
- Dark chocolate, 70% cacao or greater, is an excellent source of magnesium. Magnesium relaxes the nerves, relieves muscle tension and reduces excitability and irritation.
6. Dry brushing.
Dry brushing is a technique that removes toxins by opening up pores and promoting lymphatic flow beneath the skin’s surface. In addition, getting massage therapy can be extremely uplifting and rejuvenating!
7. Enjoying an Epsom Salt Bath.
Epsom Salts remove toxins from your body and better absorbs magnesium through the skin. Magnesium absorbed from an Epsom salt bath stimulates serotonin production to improve your mood.
8. Vitamins B6 and B12
Essential for the creation of neurotransmitters, chemicals in our brains that affect our mood. Without enough of these vitamins, your production of neurotransmitters could be inhibited.
- Good sources of vitamin B6 are beans and peas, meats, wild-caught fish, green leafy vegetables, bananas, sunflower seeds, potatoes, sweet potatoes, salmon, chicken, beef, turkey, and tuna.
- Vitamin B12 is found in animal products such as grass-fed beef, wild-caught fish, eggs from pastured chickens and grass-fed, raw cheeses.
- Folate is a naturally occurring B vitamin that has been linked to depression. Folate is needed in the brain for the synthesis of norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine. Foods high in folate include spinach, beans, broccoli, beef, fish, cheese, and eggs.
For further support, Other serotonin supporting supplements include;
- L-Theanine: L-Theanine is a naturally occurring, biologically active, free-form amino acid that provides relaxation support by supporting neurotransmitter levels.
- Rhodiola: This adaptogenic herb acts as a monoamine oxidase inhibitor. It blocks the enzymes in the body that break down serotonin which keeps more serotonin acting in the brain and body.
- St Johns Wort: St Johns wort acts to block the reuptake of serotonin and increases the number of receptors.
- 5-HTP: This is the best molecule for boosting serotonin levels naturally, this is because it’s easy for the body to convert 5-HTP into serotonin.
*Please always consult your doctor or health care practitioner prior to starting any new supplement or medication.