How to Naturally Increase Your Serotonin Levels
Serotonin is a naturally-occurring chemical neurotransmitter. It transmits signals both along and between nerve cells in the brain, blood, and the gastrointestinal tract. Research indicates that it is responsible for contributing to your overall sense of happiness and wellbeing in a number of ways. It is responsible for maintaining a balanced mood, and low serotonin levels are believed to lead to depression and anxiety. It has also thought that serotonin levels affect social behavior, appetite, digestion, sleep, memory, libido, and sexual function. Clinical research has proven the efficacy of improved serotonin levels in treating depression, nausea, and migraines, as well as possible other diseases such as obesity, chronic pain, and Parkinson’s disease.
While prescription medicines such as SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, can be used to increase serotonin levels, there are also a number of natural ways to boost your serotonin and increase your overall happiness.
- Eat for Happiness
Your body actually synthesizes serotonin naturally from the essential amino acid tryptophan. Foods that are high in protein, iron, vitamin B2, and vitamin B6 also tend to have high levels of tryptophan. Some of these foods include sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, salmon, tuna, and mackerel, eggs, milk, cheese, meats, spinach, broccoli, watercress, mushrooms, and fermented food such as sauerkraut. You can boost your absorption of tryptophan even more by eating these tryptophan-rich foods together with healthy carbohydrates including whole grains, quinoa, amaranth, millet, or buckwheat. These sources of high-protein carbohydrates will give your serotonin levels an additional boost.
- Think for Happiness
The proven value of positive thinking actually has a solid basis in scientific research. A study by the Department of Psychology of the University of Montréal found that self-induced changes in mood influenced brain chemistry including serotonin levels. This means that if you consciously decide to think happy thoughts or remember happy experiences, you can actually boost your serotonin level and increase your overall feeling of happiness.
- Exercise for Happiness
Exercise not only makes you healthier, it increases your levels of both serotonin and endorphins, another group of happiness-related chemical neurotransmitters in your brain. Aerobic exercise, such as running or cycling, have the highest impact on serotonin, however yoga and other types of exercise work beneficially, too.
- Seek Sunlight for Happiness
Exposure to strong, natural sunlight has been found to boost mood and reduce the incidence of depression, particular SAD, or seasonal affective disorder. It specifically works in a way similar to many prescription antidepressants to increase your levels of serotonin. So take time to get outside, even in winter, to enjoy the sunshine!
- Take Natural Supplements for Happiness
A number of natural supplements have been shown in research studies to raise serotonin levels, fight depression, reduce anxiety, and increase overall happiness. SAMe (S-adenosyl-L-methionine) and CBD (cannabidiol) are two of the most popular, inexpensive, and easy to attain natural supplements proven to increase serotonin.