What is Serotonin?
Serotonin is a chemical that helps to relay signals from one area of the brain to another. Although it is made in the brain, over 90% of serotonin is found in the gut. From mood and emotion, to sleep and digestion, serotonin impacts every part of your body. A deficiency in this calming neurotransmitter results in anxiety, depression, poor digestion and insomnia. Here are 6 ways to boost serotonin levels naturally.
Most serotonin exists in the gut. Changes in intestinal bacteria play a role in psychiatric conditions, like anxiety and depression. A healthy gut decreases the perception of stress by boosting serotonin levels.
Spending some time in the sun raises serotonin levels naturally. The brain produces more of the mood-lifting chemical on sunny days than on dreary days. Lack of sunlight and low serotonin levels are important in the development of seasonal affective disorder. Get some sun and make sure to wear your sunblock!
B vitamins play a critical role in brain health and the manufacture of all neurotransmitters in the brain. The body needs Vitamin B to make tryptophan, an essential amino acid necessary for the production of serotonin in the brain.
Deep and thoughtful meditation raises 5-HIAA, an acid in the brain that is necessary for the production of serotonin in the brain. Meditation also inhibits brain activity in the stress-producing amygdala and prefrontal cortex.
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Vitamin C acts as a natural antidepressant because the body needs a healthy dose of Vitamin C to convert tryptophan into serotonin. Low levels of tryptophan result in low levels of serotonin, leaving you feeling stressed out and a little blue.
After a relaxing massage, the stress hormone cortisol decreases, and both dopamine and serotonin levels increase. Although it is not clear whether it is the massage itself or simply physical contact, massage increases serotonin and will improve your mood.