If you are experiencing mood swings, depression, panic attacks or finding that you are having trouble sleeping, then it is possible that you have a serotonin deficiency. Before you go reaching for the drugs or serotonin supplements, you might want to first try focusing on your diet, and eating serotonin-rich foods that boost your serotonin when eaten in the right way, for a more natural approach.
What is serotonin?
To understand serotonin deficiency it is important to understand what exactly serotonin is and how it works in our bodies. Serotonin is a chemical messenger that is responsible for stabilising our moods and for controlling our sleep patterns. When levels of serotonin are low, it can have an overall affect on our mood and behavior. When stores are lacking, it can lead to depression and other mood disorders.
What happens when we are serotonin deficient?
When serotonin levels are good and the neurotransmitters are working as they should be, then it will balance out the stimulating neurotransmitters such as dopamine, stopping them from firing in the brain. When serotonin levels are adequate in the brain you will be positive, happy, confident, and easy-going. However when you have a serotonin deficiency, you can become negative, obsessive, worried, irritable, sleepless, or depressed.
The belief that eating serotonin-rich foods will help to boost serotonin levels is only partly true. It is actually not serotonin that is contained in foods, but the amino acid tryptophan which is the amino acid that serotonin is synthesised from. As well as high- tryptophan foods, you also need to consume carbs if you really want to experience a boost in serotonin levels.
The reason for this is that the way carbs are processed in the bod means that there is a release of insulin, which promotes the absorption of amino acids, and leads to tryptophan remaining in the blood. This tryptophan that’s left behind contains a larger portion of the blood’s amino acids, thus increasing the chance of it being absorbed through the brain and having a positive affect on your wellbeing.
So when it comes to boosting serotonin through diet, start thinking about your favourite carb comfort foods and eating them in combination with high-tryptophan foods to really have an impact.The following foods listed below contain high amounts of tryptophan. To experience a true serotonin boost without using supplements, eat them frequently along with a serving of healthy carbohydrates, such as brown rice, oatmeal, or whole-grain bread.
Legumes contain a power house of complex carbohydrates which send your brain the necessary components to produce serotonin.
The comfort food of many, cheese is a great source of tryptophan. We only eat organic cheese from grass fed cows and goats cheese is one of our favourites.
Salmon is also considered a high tryptophan food- this is also easy to pair with carbs such as rice or potatoes, making it a good boost for your brain.
4. Dark Chocolate
There is a reason you crave chocolate when you are feeling blue! Dark chocolate increases serotonin levels in both the brain and the digestive tract, making it a great brain boosting food choice.
5. Organic Eggs
Eat both the whites and yolk of the egg along with a piece of toast or in a sandwich to get a tryptophan boost. Frittatas or quiche are also a good way to get in your eggs as well as carbs to really make a difference to your serotonin levels.
All of these contain tryptophan, so eat a handful every day to keep your serotonin levels high and also experience other health benefits that come from these nutritious powerhouses.
It is commonly known that tryptophan is in turkey, which might explain why you feel sleepy after your Christmas dinner!
Other Ways To Boost Serotonin
If you have very low levels of serotonin, then you might want to consider supplementation of pure serotonin (under you doctor’s direction). If you prefer the natural route then along with having a tryptophan-rich diet, you should make sure that you exercise regularly, get plenty of sunshine each day, have massages and practice positive thinking. All these activities will surely help to boost your serotonin levels.
You can get plenty of all these things at our Thailand Bootcamp holiday- as well as the enjoy foods that boost your serotonin which are on our menu- so book your trip to Chiang Mai and really see a boost in your mood and energy levels.
Walderhaug, E. et al. Interactive Effects of Sex and 5-HTTLPR on Mood and Impulsivity During Tryptophan Depletion in Healthy People. Biological Psychiatry, September 15, 2007. 62:6.