What does serotonin do for the body?
Serotonin is a chemical that carries messages between nerve cells and is mainly produced in the brain, lungs, and gut. It is also released in the blood and works by attaching to serotonin receptors, or 5-HT receptors, present on certain cells.
Serotonin plays an important role in many processes throughout your body:
- Stabilizes mood and behavior
- Promotes a sense of well-being
- Helps learning and memory functions
- Regulates sleep
- Regulates appetite
- Regulates blood pressure
- Regulates body temperature
- Regulates bowel movement
- Helps heal wounds
What happens when serotonin levels are low?
Symptoms of low levels of serotonin include:
- Anxiety, restlessness, nervousness
- Aggressive behavior
- Reduced appetite or overeating
- Low self-esteem
- Difficulty with learning and memory
- Disturbed or lack of proper sleep
- Chronic pain
- Fast heartbeat
Severe cases cause the symptoms above, plus:
Some of these symptoms can be very serious. Call your doctor right away or go to an emergency room.
3 ways to increase serotonin
If you have symptoms of low serotonin, consult your doctor about treatment options. There may be multiple factors causing your condition, and your doctor will be able to recommend the right treatment for your specific case.
Low serotonin levels may be treated with medication, but changes to your diet and lifestyle can also help you boost serotonin naturally. Before trying a supplement, new diet, or habit, make sure to talk to your doctor.
Antidepressants and supplements, including probiotics, may help jumpstart the production of serotonin in your body.
Eggs: Serotonin is formed from an amino acid called tryptophan, which can be found in high-protein foods like eggs. Eggs are a complete protein source since they contain all the essential amino acids in the right proportion.
Pineapples: Pineapples are rich in tryptophan, which helps raise serotonin levels.
Nuts and seeds: These are also rich in tryptophan and loaded with nutrients that provide other health benefits in addition to increasing serotonin levels.
Milk and cheese: Milk and cheese can boost serotonin levels and are also a good source of calcium.
High-fiber diet: Eating plenty of vegetables and fruits can help improve your gut health. Fiber helps promote the healthy balance of good bacteria in your body, which is linked to adequate levels of serotonin.
- Exercise: Ever wondered why you feel so good after exercising? That’s because physical activity releases serotonin in the body and can help improve mood, bone health. It can also help prevent conditions like diabetes and high blood cholesterol. It’s important to find a workout that you feel comfortable doing, whether that’s cycling, running, walking, hiking, swimming, or playing a sport.
- Exposure to bright light: If you have ever experienced the winter blues, it’s because the low exposure to sunlight during gloomy weather can cause a decrease in mood. Exposure to bright light helps increase serotonin levels. So if you can, spend some time in the sun every day. Apply sunscreen to lower the risk of sunburn or heat rash. And while natural light is the best, you can also use light therapy boxes to get similar benefits if going out isn’t possible due to the weather.
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