Serotonin

In Blog, Health, Nutrition, Podcasts by Wendy Christien

Serotonin allows for the resynchronization of our brains so that we can be fresh and alert every morning. It also gives us the ability to rest, regenerate and find serenity. 

Serotonin, which is involved in functions surrounding sleep, appetite, mood, and memory, helps to produce the electricity required for rest and sight.

Too much serotonin can make us nervous, apprehensive, distracted, and sensitive to criticism.

Low levels of serotonin can make you feel over tired, out of control and unable to have restful sleep. Without enough serotonin our brains don’t get recharged and rebalanced properly which impacts brain function and our ability to think clearly.

Depression, mood disorders, chronic insomnia, night sweats, addiction and binge-eating can all be due to low serotonin.

Hormonal deficiencies can exacerbate a serotonin imbalance, so it is important to make sure that your hormone levels are optimal if you are struggling with any of these symptoms.

The precursor for serotonin is the amino acid tryptophan, which is produced in the digestive tract, so maintaining a healthy digestive system is necessary for adequate production of serotonin.

Be cautious of taking tryptophan as a supplement if you are using an antidepressant as there can be interactions. 

Very often we crave refined carbohydrates and salty snacks when our serotonin levels are low, but instead of reaching for the carb-heavy foods, try increasing tryptophan rich foods such as avocado, chicken, duck, eggs, pork, turkey, wheat germ, game meats such as veal and venison, salmon, tofu, cottage cheese and ricotta cheese.

Some people with low levels of serotonin may also experience allergies and they may be sensitive to foods with high levels of histamine. Foods to avoid in this case would be:

  • Additives and colorants
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Preserved meats
  • Ice cream
  • Yoghurt
  • Pre-packed foods and deserts

Leftovers can also be high in histamine so should be avoided if allergies are a problem.

Environmental pollutants, chemicals, and pesticides can disrupt the balance of serotonin so where possible avoid exposure. Rinse your fruits and vegetables well before eating them, avoid plastic bottles and do not microwave food in plastic containers.

In summary, to boost serotonin levels naturally you can do the following: 

  • Eat a healthy diet – pick foods from the list above and balance your diet with enough fruits and vegetables for optimal neurotransmitter levels.
  • Aerobic exercise – this is helpful when serotonin levels are low. A minimum of thirty minutes three times a week should be enough to maintain adequate levels and promote a sense of wellbeing.
  • Meditation or mindfulness – these boost serotonin levels by providing stress relief and promoting a positive outlook.

Referenced from Dr Eric Braverman’s Book The Edge Effect.

Listen to my interview with Brad Kirsten from Radio Cape Pulpit on 10 February 2022 to learn more. Listen to my next interview on Thursday at 7.45am