In today’s era the stress is proving lethal for the human mind and lifestyle. Although our body in itself has the power to regulate our mood and help in leading a stress free life with a miraculous hormone called Serotonin. Serotonin is also known as “Happy Hormone”. So, to reduce stress and anxiety we should know ways to boost serotonin so that we can lead a better life.
The ways to boost serotonin can be natural which includes diet, meditation, and exercise or medicinal which includes medicinal help like antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, etc.
Ways To Boost Serotonin
Serotonin is produced in our body from an amino acid called tryptophan.
Chemically, serotonin is known as 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT). It acts as both a
neurotransmitter and a hormone in our body. The role of a neurotransmitter is to exchange messages via neurons from the brain to the rest of the body.
Serotonin plays a crucial role in carrying out many functions of our body, which includes –
❖ Hunger and digestion
❖ Memory and learning
❖ Sexual health
❖ Bone health
90% of the serotonin is produced by the gut and is released into blood circulation where it is absorbed by the platelets. Only 10% of the serotonin is produced by the brain cells. It is made from an essential amino acid called tryptophan, which is not produced by our body. Tryptophan is obtained from the food we eat. So, one of the ways to boost serotonin is to eat tryptophan rich foods like fish, eggs, cheese, nuts, etc.
What are the signs and symptoms which tell us that we need to learn the ways to boost serotonin? They are as follows —
● Depression and mood swings
● Sleep disorder
● Anxiety and stress
● Digestive problems
● Obsessive compulsive disorder
● Panic disorder
● Phobias, fear, low confidence
How to increase serotonin?
There are different ways of increasing serotonin which includes —
SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) are types of antidepressants. They increase serotonin levels in the brain simply by blocking reabsorption of the chemical. Examples of SSRIs are Prozac, Zoloft, etc.
Supplements like St, John’s wort, probiotics, ginseng, tryptophan, SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine), etc also help in elevating serotonin levels. But remember if you are on medication of any kind then make sure you consult your physician before taking any such supplements as it can raise serotonin levels which might prove harmful.
How to Boost Serotonin Naturally?
Well as discussed along with medication or supplements there are some natural ways to boost serotonin, that includes following things —
● Exposure to sunlight — not getting sunlight regularly can lead to mood disorders. So, it is advised to get at least 10-15 mins of sunlight daily for better mood.
● Meditation — helps in relaxing your mind, helps in reducing stress and depression.
● Exercise — always helps in elevating mood as well as relaxing it. Exercise helps in releasing both serotonin and dopamine. Thus, makes you feel happy and confident.
● Diet — salmon, eggs, tofu, turkey, pineapples, oats, nuts, whole seeds, etc are high in tryptophan. So these food items help in production of serotonin.
● Socializing — meeting people from different walks of life gives new experiences and this excitement and curiosity is one of the factors that helps in stabilizing mood with serotonin.
● Pursuing hobbies like painting, dancing, writing, traveling, etc. — hobbies
are something which shows a person’s interest and passion. So, if a person spends time on something which makes him happy, it automatically releases serotonin and thus stabilizes the mood.
How Serotonin Works?
Serotonin is a hormone and a neurotransmitter too. It performs many vital functions in our body. The optimum range of serotonin is 50-220 nanograms per milliliter. They are as follows –
- Uplifting The Mood: As we all know that serotonin is also known as the Happy Hormone or feel-good hormone because it elevates and uplift a person’s mood. It is seen that in conditions like anxiety, stress, depression, anger, etc serotonin levels are low. Due to which a person feels sad, gloomy, irritated, etc.
- Decreases Hunger – 90% of serotonin is absorbed from the gut only. It has a tendency to reduce appetite. So, if serotonin levels are high in case you are taking supplements it reduces appetite and helps in weight loss. Weight loss industry supplements use it directly or add tryptophan.
- Promotes Good Sleep – serotonin along with dopamine promotes the quality of your sleep. Not only that serotonin also helps in releasing melatonin hormone which is important for sleep-wake cycle.
- Healing – serotonin plays a crucial role in wound healing. It is released by platelets in blood and acts by contracting the blood vessels so that the blood flow decreases at the site of the injury, thus promoting blood clotting which is an essential step in healing.
- Bone density – excessive levels of serotonin can lead to osteoporosis that can lead to brittle bones and fractures too.
- Sexual health — serotonin as a hormone along with dopamine regulates the desire of sex in both men and women.
During the discussion of the functioning of serotonin we came across another chemical called Dopamine. They both seem to be related to each other. Let’s see how?
Relation between Serotonin and Dopamine :
Serotonin and dopamine have few similarities and they work together but in some situations, they act opposite too. But before discussing the relationship between them, first understand what is Dopamine?
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter and helps in releasing chemicals called epinephrine and norepinephrine in our body. Dopamine plays a very pivotal role in the reward system of the human brain and body movements coordination. The optimum range of dopamine is under 30 picogram per milliliter.
Similarities between Serotonin and Dopamine:
- Both are neurotransmitters, meaning they send messages from CNS to body parts.
- Both are known as happy hormones or feel good hormones as they both have capacity to regulate the mood of an individual. Dopamine is associated with the reward system of the brain, meaning whenever a person achieves something or gets appreciation or positive feedback for any activity then dopamine is released and helps in feeling a person satisfied, happy, confident etc. Similarly if a person is surrounded by an unfavorable condition then, that means his body is producing less serotonin and dopamine. Due to which that person feels low, sad, gloomy, stressed,depressed, etc.
- Serotonin and Dopamine both are important for sexual drive in male and females.
Differences Between Serotonin and Dopamine:
- Both serotonin and dopamine have antagonistic effects on hunger. Serotonin decreases hunger while dopamine increases hunger and is usually associated with binge eating because eating good food is like a reward for us.
- Serotonin helps in digestion and sleep, whereas dopamine helps in movement and their coordination.
- Serotonin lack leads to depression, anxiety whereas Dopamine lack leads to low confidence, feeling of worthlessness, tremors in old age. Dopamine containing drugs and medicines can convert into drug addiction too.
- 90% of the Serotonin is stored in the Gastrointestinal tract or gut and 10% in the CNS, whereas Dopamine is stored in CNS.
But what happens if we have too much serotonin in our body? Well, then we suffer from a condition called Serotonin Syndrome. Serotonin syndrome happens when there is an additional amount entering the body via medication, supplements, or excess dosage of medication. Diet and natural ways can not lead to serotonin syndrome.
Symptoms of serotonin syndrome are –
● Nausea and/or vomiting
● High BP, heart rate
● Irregular heart beat.
Nature has its own way to fight the odds in life and serotonin is one such chemical in our body, others are dopamine, oxytocin, etc. The role of serotonin is multidimensional as it stabilizes our mood and also affects sleep and digestion as it acts as a hormone and neurotransmitter. So, the ways to boost serotonin are also the ways that can help us in leading a healthy and balanced life. Exercise, a balanced diet, sunlight exposure, pursuing hobbies, etc all help us to have a happy and positive life as they help in releasing serotonin in our body.
Also Read: Don’t Know How To Manage Anxiety? These Simple Tricks Can Help.