Serotonin helps to create the “happy molecule” in our brains resulting in a wonderfully happy and positive mood.
A brain that has high levels of serotonin, helps to regulate appetite, behaviour, sleep, libido, memory and learning. Meaning, on the contrary, if you have low levels of serotonin, then all of the above are directly affected. Even worse a low level of serotonin is linked to depression.
One way to boost serotonin is through drugs, namely antidepressants. But resorting to this is the last case scenario as messing around with antidepressants can lead to all sorts of side effects.
Fortunately, there are a few simple dietary hacks that can effectively increase serotonin.
Whilst some foods do naturally contain serotonin, there is no evidence that these foods actually transfer serotonin to your body and as such, they will do nothing to boost your mood.
There are a handful of foods that do not contain serotonin but work by a variety of mechanisms to increase serotonin naturally.
The spice turmeric contains the active ingredient curcumin which readily crosses the blood-brain barrier and increases levels of both serotonin and dopamine.
Interestingly, turmeric works so well that it has proven to be as effective Prozac for depression.
Dark chocolate, is always popular, especially on a cold winter night however did you know it also works as a natural mood enhancer? Dark chocolate increases serotonin levels in both the brain and the digestive tract.
The digestive tract? Why do we need serotonin there? Surprisingly, 95% of serotonin resides in the gut and not in the brain
Another plus factor about dark chocolate is that they are significantly less processed as well.
People with low serotonin levels commonly have low levels of DHA, which is an omega-3 fatty acid that forms an essential structural building block of the brain. it also contributes to healthy hair, skin and nails and is often a suggested food for those about to take exams or enter situations that require large amounts of brain power.
Cold-water fatty fish, such as salmon that’s high in omega-3 fatty acids can help to raise serotonin levels.
Fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, and unpasteurized sauerkraut naturally and Kambucha tea contain psychobiotics, probiotics that help establish a normal balance between good and bad bacteria in your gut.
An overabundance of bad bacteria creates toxic byproducts called lipopolysaccharides which can have numerous negative side-effects on your brain, including lowering serotonin levels and even causing depression. That's why it's crucial to have a balance in your gut as this largely affects your serotonin levels and overall mood.
Interestingly, stress, sugar, artificial sweeteners, pharmaceuticals, chlorinated tap water, inflammation, and even antibacterial hand soap can disrupt your intestinal balance. So, looking after your gut is also a lifestyle choice, that when mixed with diet hacks, can increase your serotonin levels.
For more on this top read this helpful blog written by Be Brain Fit, here