Studies have shown that serotonin is found not only in humans and animals, but also in plants and fungi. It is found in the gastrointestinal tract of humans and animals. Most of the serotonin present in the human body is located in the cells of the gut, where it regulates the intestinal movements. In the brain, it is synthesized in serotonergic neurons, where it regulates the mood, appetite, sleep, and cognitive functions like memory and learning.
This chemical plays a major role in controlling aggression, depression, and general mental health. It has been observed that the level of serotonin is on the lower side in women than in men, as women make less serotonin than men. This is the reason why women get depressed quickly than men do. Therefore, it is important to maintain optimum levels of this chemical in the body. There are ways to increase serotonin naturally, the biggest benefit of which is that the levels stay higher for a longer period.
With approximately 18.8 million Americans affected by depression and getting addicted to all kinds of anti-depression medication, it is important to note the ways to boost the levels of this chemical in a natural manner. Even if it is mild depression, it should not be overlooked, and measures should be taken at the earliest.
Trytophan is an amino acid which is present in protein-rich foods like turkey. It converts to 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5HTP) and later into serotonin when consumed. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter which is responsible for giving a feeling of joy and happiness. When its levels are high, an individual feels optimistic and his confidence level is also on the higher side. The reverse is the case when the serotonin levels have dropped and the person begins to crave for sugar. Foods rich in protein such as dairy products, meat, nuts, etc., help you maintain the optimal levels of this chemical in the body. The other advantage of increased 5HTP in the body is the improved quality of sleep.
Stay Clear of Fad Diets
Fad diets like 'low-protein', 'low-calorie', etc., are high in sugar and low in protein. This leads to serotonin depletion in the body and increased sugar cravings. However, after the consumption of sugar, the serotonin levels increase, albeit only for a very short period and the body again goes into the sugar-craving mode. This becomes a vicious cycle. Studies have shown that vitamins and minerals also have a direct effect on the levels of this chemical. Therefore, it is important that you follow a well- balances diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and proteins.
The intake of oxygen increases after a good workout which is important in the formation of serotonin. Studies have shown that people who have been exercising all through their lives are less susceptible to depleted levels of this chemical. Therefore, exercising for as little as 20 minutes a day would prove beneficial for maintaining the levels of serotonin.
This chemical in the body increases in bright sunshine while melatonin levels increase when there is no sunlight. Hence, it is a good idea to take a quick small break towards late afternoon and head for a walk in the sun. Often it has been observed that towards the fag-end of the day, a lot of people crave for carbohydrates. However, a walk in the sunlight may prevent this craving.
If this chemical is low in your body, it is advisable to get a thyroid check done. It may be the thyroid which is probably playing havoc with your serotonin levels. Also remember to eat healthy protein-rich food in order to stay happy.
Disclaimer: This PsycholoGenie article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.