Our bodies produce several neurotransmitters that can affect our emotional and mental health. One, in particular, is serotonin. Most of you are probably familiar with this brain chemical due to its ability to bring forth a positive feeling. In addition to uplifting our moods, this neurotransmitter can also affect our sleep, appetite, memory, and other bodily functions. The good news is that you can do various methods to help your body produce this feel-good hormone. Here are some ways to boost your serotonin levels.
1. GO OUT
A common cause of the winter blues or seasonal affective disorder is the decrease in sunlight during fall and winter, which leads to a drop in your serotonin levels. Keep in mind that vitamin D can help stimulate the production of serotonin. Thus, getting some sunlight can boost your mood and promote optimum bone health. For this reason, you need to expose your skin (without sunscreen) to the sun. The duration may vary depending on several factors such as your skin tone and location.
In addition to sunlight, vegans can also get vitamin D from fortified products and mushrooms (exposed to UV light). Another option is to take vitamin D supplements. But, you have to consult your doctor to avoid overdose.
2. EXERCISE REGULARLY
Almost all of us are familiar with the mood-boosting effect of exercising. Basically, the positive feeling occurs due to the upsurge of dopamine and serotonin levels. The best part is that you don’t need to perform extraneous workouts to reap this health benefit. According to a study, doing moderate intensity exercises for about 20 to 30 minutes can already uplift your mood for approximately 12 hours.
However, not all types of exercises can provide a feeling of euphoria. Most studies have noted that aerobic workouts like running are one of the best ways to boost your serotonin levels. Nonetheless, you have to choose enjoyable exercises that you can regularly do to gain this benefit.
3. BUILD A HEALTHY GUT
Although your brain and digestive tract are far from each other, these body parts can communicate with each other. Thus, if you’re nervous or anxious, you may experience digestive problems. Likewise, your gut’s health may also affect your mood and mental health. In fact, your gastrointestinal tract produces about 90% of the serotonin in your body.
One way to build a healthy gut is to consume probiotic and prebiotic foods. By consuming these products, you can ensure that the good bacteria in your digestive tract is growing and proliferating. Remember, these beneficial microorganisms can help improve your mood and immune system.
4. EAT THE RIGHT CARBS AND PROTEINS
Your diet can also affect your body’s ability to produce feel-good hormones. Basically, tryptophan is necessary to create serotonin. The best plant sources of this amino acid are soybeans, walnuts, and mushrooms. But, before the brain can produce serotonin, you need to increase your insulin levels so that tryptophan can cross your blood-brain-barrier. This is one explanation you experience sugar craving when you have low serotonin levels. However, not all carbohydrates are beneficial. Eating a lot of refined and highly processed products can lead to health problems like diabetes. Thus, consuming complex carbohydrates is one the best ways to boost your serotonin levels without harming your health.
5. GET A MASSAGE
As you know, constant stress can harm your body in numerous ways. One health problem you may experience is hormone imbalance. Basically, when your body is under too much pressure, there will be an increase in cortisol (stress hormone). When this occurs, the levels of your happy hormones (serotonin and dopamine) will decline, leading to depression. Fortunately, getting a relaxing massage is a good way to fight constant stress. According to one study, massage therapy can lower cortisol levels by about 31% and increase serotonin levels by 28%.
Other anti-stress activities you can do are yoga, journaling, and socializing with family or friends. Meditation is another excellent option. This mind-calming practice is known to improve your mood, focus, and other brain functions
Overall, if you’re feeling a bit blue or gloomy, you can try tweaking your daily habits and do the above-mentioned ways to boost your serotonin levels and feel good. However, if the negative emotion is already affecting your day-to-day routine, consulting your doctor is the best course of action. This is especially true if you’ve noticed signs such as irritability, anxious feelings, loss of appetite, and sleeping too little or too much.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:
- How to Increase Serotonin without Drugs (NCBI)
- Massage Therapy and Serotonin (NCBI)
- Mood-Boosting Effects of Moderate Intensity Exercise (University of Vermont)
- Gut Flora and Serotonin Production (CALTECH)