It’s finally feeling like fall here in New Jersey (current temp: 51 degrees!!!), and I’ve been hibernating all day. I’ve actually had a long list of things to do, but luckily none of them required me leaving my house past 10:30AM. (Yes, I’m into lists now). So here we are. It’s 9:13PM, I’m in the coziest socks I own, and I decided to write a post called “What is Serotonin?”
I’m in a snuggly mood and found myself wondering about the chemicals in our bodies and how powerful they are. Everything we do in life from our environment to the foods we eat affects the balance of these chemicals, thus altering the state of our well-being. Sometimes when in such wonder I get lost on a digital quest for knowledge and information. In today’s research, I found myself intrigued by serotonin and learned so much that I didn’t know! Ah. Knowledge. Power. #wellness
What is Serotonin?
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the body. This means that it’s a chemical that sends messages and signals between brain cells and other nervous system cells. It is produced in both the brain and our intestines (I found this so interesting!). While serotonin is commonly thought of as a brain neurotransmitter, 80-90% can be found in the gastrointestinal tract. Our digestive system plays a huge factor in our overall health, and some even suggest that almost every disease starts in the gut. We must keep our guts healthy, folks!
The most common property of serotonin is that it balances and regulates our moods; it creates a “feel good” feeling. (Yes, please) I learned it does much more than just regulate our moods, though. Serotonin is also responsible for our appetite, digestion, sleeping habits, social behavior, memory, and even our sex drive. Studies have found links between serotonin and bone metabolism, breast milk production, liver regeneration and cell division. That is one powerful chemical, guys! Low levels of serotonin typically result in depression, anxiety or obesity. Anything that is feel-good, sleep-good, look-good, live-good – I’m in!
I immediately wanted to learn how to naturally boost serotonin levels. The following tips will not only make you feel happier, but can also improve your mental focus, memory and overall well-being. All because of our new best friend serotonin.
5 Ways To Increase Serotonin Levels
Being exposed to light naturally kicks up our bodies serotonin levels. Spending time outside (even on cloudy days) will improve your mood. This is why spending time in daylight is suggested for those with seasonal depression. 20-30 minutes will do the trick! (As if I even need another reason to spend more time outside anyway?) 🙂
- Get More B Vitamins
Two particular B vitamins- B6 and B12– are especially useful when it comes to naturally boosting serotonin levels. They are known for improving our mood and boosting the amount of serotonin in our brains. I take a liquid form of B12 everyday.
We probably all associate tryptophan as the thing in turkey that makes you sleepy on Thanksgiving (at least I do). But there’s more to it than that. It’s actually an amino acid found in many foods including eggs, lean meats, dairy nuts and seeds and it’s needed to synthesize serotonin. Basically, it’s vital in order for our body to produce serotonin.
An estimated 75% of Americans are deficient in Magnesium. Whoa. Magnesium plays a vital role in our bodies, and helps regulate our serotonin levels. It can be found naturally in dark leafy greens and fish, but it is powerful in supplement form as well.
Any amount of cardiovascular exercise produces endorphins and changes serotonin levels. Can we just admit that working out actually does feel good?
I think it’s important to monitor our emotions and moods regularly. They can be easier to change than we think. If you’ve been in a funk, are feeling “blah” or unmotivated, it could be likely you’re in need of a serotonin boost. Follow the steps above to boost your serotonin naturally and get those feel-good vibes. I’m particularly interested in how it affects our digestion and will be thinking about this in the weeks to come.
I’ve been laying in such a weird position while typing this every muscle in my body is either tight or asleep. It’s the weirdest feeling. ~Research cramps~ I am going to force myself to stretch or do some yoga right now so my back doesn’t feel broken anymore. (I hope it’s not). Hopefully moving will boost my serotonin levels too, ya know???