This post is similar to my post Emotions and Symptoms because your emotions are affected by your serotonin levels. Although this post will be more scientific and relate to what foods are best to eat to increase serotonin levels.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, meaning it is a chemical messenger, sending and receiving signals / messages from around the body. It is located in the brain but also is produced from specialised cells in the gastrointestinal tract (it does not travel between the two). Serotonin’s main purpose is to regulate signal intensity and in turn this regulates our basic function and mood.
In short, when serotonin levels are low, we are depressed and when they are high, we are happy.
Your gut produces around 80-95 percent of serotonin in your body and changes in your serotonin levels can affect your gut as well as your brain.
Roles it can have on gut function include:
- Contractions in our intestines
- Mobility of bowels – how fast food moves through your system
- How much fluid, such as mucus, is secreted in your intestines
- How sensitive your intestines are to sensations such as pain and fullness from eating
- Acts on the guts nerves to signal pain, nausea and other gut problems
- Influences how full we feel, therefore how hungry we are feeling
Exercise and relaxation techniques like meditation can alter your serotonin levels enough to have a positive impact on your symptoms. Scientists have found that even sunshine can alter your serotonin levels – no wonder people like to holiday somewhere sunny in the winter months!
There are also foods that can improve with your serotonin levels.
Serotonin-rich foods include:
However, your body needs an amino acid named, tryptophan in order to produce serotonin. The foods below contain this amino acid:
- Some cheeses, including Cheddar
Your vitamin intake can also affect serotonin, the most important are thiamine (vitamin B1) and folic acid (vitamin B9), two components of Vitamin B Complex.
Deficiency symptoms, relating to digestion in the vitamins above include nausea, stomach pains and a poor appetite.
Food sources containing, Thiamine, Vitamin B1:
- Brown Rice
Food sources containing, Folic Acid, Vitamin B9:
- Green, leafy Vegetables (spinach, broccoli)
- Bananas (forget about an apple a day, have a banana!)
There are more foods I could add to each list but I have tried to keep the list for foods best for your stomach and as always if you have a food intolerance, allergy or any unwanted symptoms with any of the foods above it is best to avoid them – choose something else on the list to try, otherwise supplements are readily available, just make sure you keep to the correct dosages.
I hope this has given an insight into how food can impact our mood.