Tap to Read ➤

Foods that Raise Serotonin Levels Naturally

Puja Lalwani May 4, 2019
Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter and hormone in the body. There are numerous foods that you can consume and other important tips that you can follow to increase low levels of this hormone, all of which have been discussed here.
If you find yourself feeling low, unhappy, depressed, or bored, and end up feeling better after a salty or a sugary treat, it is likely that you are experiencing low serotonin levels. So, what is serotonin and what does it have to do with your mood? Moreover, why does eating that bar of chocolate have you feel better immediately?
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the human body that is often referred to as the 'feel good hormone'. In essence, it is a neurotransmitter, which when present in appropriate levels in the body, can have you feel positive and energetic.
With low serotonin, you are likely to feel out of energy and depressed (which unleashes a lot of other emotions such as loneliness, boredom, anxiety, etc.) Then, you go and grab that pastry or donut, down it and find yourself feeling better.
After a couple of hours, you're back to feeling low, and again, you eat something that will give you an instant 'high'. This is what also commonly leads to weight gain; eating just for the sake of eating, not when you are hungry. The cause for all this is low serotonin levels in the body.
Now, while that sugary treat will give you instant gratification, there are certain foods that are known to increase serotonin and keep it that way in the long run. These foods are not temporary solutions to your low mood, but permanent ones.
While food is not the only way you can increase serotonin levels, it is a very important aspect that keeps you going, keeps you positive, and allows you to function by providing clarity of thought. These foods have been discussed here, under specific nutrient groups.

Group 1: Proteins

Protein-rich foods contain an amino acid called tryptophan; an important amino acid that is converted to serotonin in the brain. Moreover, such foods also help deal with weight problems.
The list of foods rich in tryptophan and protein have been enlisted here.
● Fish (salmon, tuna)
● Poultry (eggs, chicken, turkey, veal)
● Lean meat (pork, lamb)
● Soy products (milk, beans, nuts)
● Dairy (low-fat milk, cheese such as cottage cheese, yogurt)
● Legumes (peas, green beans, black-eyed peas, chickpeas, black beans, lentils, lima beans, kidney beans)
The dairy in this group also provides calcium, another important nutrient required by the body to synthesize serotonin. The vitamins in legumes are also essential in ensuring that your serotonin levels are brought back to normal.

Group 2: Carbohydrates

You might argue that the chocolate and the pastry and your favorite donut along with a dish of pasta or risotto are all carbohydrates that are necessary to boost serotonin. However, as has been mentioned earlier, all these simple carbohydrates give you a temporary result, what is popularly known as a 'sugar rush'.
Once this rush wears out, you are back to your original state of mind. As such, what you need are complex carbohydrates that digest slowly, get into the blood, and are transported to the brain to elevate the levels of serotonin.
Another important role of carbohydrates is that they enhance insulin production that enables tryptophan to reach the brain quicker. This is why it is important to first have a protein-rich meal and follow it up with some carbohydrates, say about 2 hours thereafter, to allow tryptophan to reach the brain and convert into serotonin.
What comprises these complex carbohydrates? Here is a list of some foods that will help.
● Whole-wheat crackers
● Brown rice
● Nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans)
● Vegetables (yams, sweet potatoes, squashes - a very rich source of carbohydrates)
● Dark Chocolate (in limited amounts)
● Barley
● Fresh fruits
● Buckwheat
● Oats
● Air-popped popcorn
Another important tip to get rid of the lethargy and increase serotonin naturally is to avoid all those high calorie foods that you used to rush for whenever unhappy. You are all aware of the effects of such foods. They only add to your misery after you have eaten them.
Also stay away from caffeine as much as you can. If you can't give it up completely, reduce the amount you consume. Avoid the sodas completely, and try to consume only your mandatory morning cup of tea or coffee. Avoid it during the rest of the day.

Other Important Measures to Raise Serotonin Levels

As mentioned earlier, the aforementioned foods are not the only way you can increase serotonin. They play an extremely important role in doing so, but without certain other measures, they may not be as effective. What else can you do to ensure that you find yourself feeling positive and ready to deal with all that life gives you everyday?
Here are some measures that might prove beneficial:
Exercise : The most important measure apart from feeding yourself right is to get that body moving. Now if you have a negative association with exercise, you are obviously not going to enjoy it. Try performing different types of exercises in groups.
Join yoga, Zumba, aerobics, kick-boxing, aqua aerobics, or dance class to enjoy it thoroughly. Swim, cycle, trek, or simply walk if you want to enjoy it alone. However, ensure that you exercise at least thrice a week to get that feel good hormone flowing in your body.
Relax : Whatever your idea of relaxation is, engage in it. Whether it is listening to music, watching a light movie, going shopping, reading, painting, cooking, or meditating, give some time to only yourself.
Your brain needs a break from all those thoughts you have flooded it with. It is difficult to switch off completely, but a regular diversion from the mundane is always welcome.
Sleep : Even if you have trouble falling asleep, make sure you are in bed at a fixed time. Sleep plays an important role in serotonin production, and without it, not only your mind, but your body gets affected too. Once you establish a routine, you will get the necessary 6-8 hours of sleep daily.
Get Enough Sunlight : Sunlight is known to increase the levels of serotonin hormone. Spending about half an hour in the sun every morning will not only give you your necessary vitamin D, it will also rejuvenate and revitalize you greatly, so that you can face your day with energy and a clear mind.
All of us tend to ignore our body and its needs in our daily rut. Just remember that the more you ignore your body, the greater trouble it is going to cause in the future. Pay attention to it, give it time. If you find yourself feeling low and worn out everyday, it is a sign that your body needs attention because the serotonin levels may have plummeted.
Consume the aforementioned foods that raise serotonin levels and follow the other tips. You are bound to feel better in a few weeks. If you don't, it is advisable that you visit your physician so that the root of the problem can be addressed.
Disclaimer: This is for informative purposes only, and does not in any way attempt to replace the diagnosis of a doctor. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.