Since we were kids in school, we have been told that it’s important to eat a balanced diet for healthy teeth and growing bones. Somehow the message was lost on the importance for our mental health.
- Today we know there are certain foods that boost serotonin, which can improve mood, mental health and outlook on life.
Serotonin is a “feel good” neurochemical. Found throughout the body, though primarily in the digestive system, healthy levels of this chemical messenger play a role in how we feel emotionally.
It has an impact on the amount of restful sleep we get, behavioral choices we make and, as a result, influences the quality of our day-to-day lives.
- There is even data that suggests low serotonin levels might be a factor in mood disorders.
In fact, one of the most common and effective treatments for depression is to increase a person’s serotonin with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a type of antidepressant prescription medication.
Beyond just mood, serotonin is also important for:
- Good digestion
- Effective blood clotting
- Bone density
- A person’s sex drive
With so much to gain, it makes good sense to look for ways to naturally increase our stores of serotonin.
- Before diving into the menu of foods with the potential to boost serotonin levels, it’s important to note that living a well-balanced lifestyle in both mind and body will help maintain proper amounts of the neurochemical.
Make sure to incorporate the following activities into your daily routine if you want to know how to boost serotonin naturally:
- Adopt a positive outlook
- Exercise regularly
- Practice meditation
- Get plenty of sunshine
- Maintain healthy gut bacteria with a diet rich in fiber
Though there are supplements, one of the best ways to naturally produce serotonin is to eat foods that contain tryptophan, an amino acid that helps in the production of the “feel good” neurotransmitter.
Along with omega-3 fatty acids that can help reduce inflammation in the body and vitamin D for strong muscles, salmon also contains a healthy dose of tryptophan to boost serotonin.
Eating at least two servings of salmon a week will provide an adequate amount of tryptophan.
2. Turkey and Other Poultry
Many people know that turkey is chock full of tryptophan, but chicken and goose can also be good sources of the amino acid. Turkey is also a favorite way to get a lean boost of protein.
Yes, we’re all relieved that our morning staple of eggs makes the list, but remember, the way we cook things can make a difference in how healthy they are.
Try eating more hard-boiled or poached eggs that have less butter or other fats added to them for a healthier start to the day. Hard-boiled eggs are also outstanding as a snack in the afternoon.
Sweet and refreshing, Pineapple is not only good on its own, but can be an excellent way to garnish and enhance the flavor other foods. As a bonus, pineapple is loaded with bromelain to help curb inflammation in the body.
5. Cashews, Seeds and Other Nuts
While cashews, seeds and other nuts may not have as much tryptophan as some fish and meats, they are a good source of the amino acid, healthy fats, and protein that everyone, including vegetarians, can enjoy. Many nuts and seeds are a welcome alternative to meats for vegans and vegetarians as sources of protein.
6. Tofu and Soy
Soy products, like tofu and soy milk, are also excellent protein alternatives that contain good amounts of tryptophan to boost serotonin and mood. They are often used as meat substitutes for those observing a plant-based diet.
7. Milk and Cheese
Both milk and cheese products contain tryptophan and make good additions to many meals, though, as with all foods, moderation is key. Fortunately, they are widely available in low fat options for people looking to maintain a healthy weight.
Not only does this leafy green veggie come with tryptophan, but Spinach is also an excellent source of iron, which can help in boosting energy levels. Spinach can be eaten raw in salads or cooked as it still retains the necessary amounts of the amino acid to receive the mood boosting benefits.
- Managing a well-balanced lifestyle and eating the right foods to boost serotonin production doesn’t have to be hard, though it might take a little practice at first. Simplicity is key.
Because serotonin is a feel-good neurotransmitter, everyone can benefit from increased levels in the brain and body. Those who are already happy will be even happier.
For others recovering from addiction or mental health issues, boosting mood and increasing happiness will aid recovery and decrease the chances for relapse.
Along with a good diet, remember to get outside, exercise, stay positive and avoid alcohol, drugs and other substances that can deplete healthy stores of serotonin.
Before you know it, you might just feel like a completely new person.