Serotonin is a vital neurotransmitter found in the brain, which is largely responsible for regulation of multiple functions in the body. Besides playing a vital role in communication of messages between the areas in the brain, it is also involved with sleep, inhibition, vasoconstriction, appetite, sexuality, moods such as anger, depression, aggression, and many other crucial functions. Under the normal circumstance, a small amount of 10mg circulates in the body, and is sufficient. However, if it drops or malfunctions, the effects may be profound.
Low level or malfunctioning of serotonin is known to be associated with several disorders, namely, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, fibromyalgia, tinnitus, irritable bowel syndrome, migraine, and most importantly, clinical depression and aggressive behavior. Such conditions are usually treated with drugs and medications that block the re-absorption of serotonin by the neurons and thus, increasing the availability in the body. However, as medicines and drugs are toxic in nature, they tend to give way to serious side effects, compelling the individual to compare the benefits associated vs the risks involved. Thankfully, there are several ways to increase serotonin without the use of drugs. Applying the natural methods to increase serotonin shall reduce the dependence on drug medications and also assist in achieving long term results. Some of the methods are mentioned below –
- Exposure to bright light – According to the Journal of Neuroscience and Psychiatry, exposure to bright light is known to be an effective treatment for increasing a person’s serotonin level. The ideal way is to get at least thirty minutes of exposure to sunlight. Alternatively, if exposure to sunlight isn’t possible, bright light boxes specifically meant for this purpose may also be brought from a pharmacy store.
- Physical Activity or Exercise – Indulging in physical activities and exercise is known to be a natural stimulator for the mood hormone – “serotonin”. Engaging in at least 30 minutes of exercise every day shall do the needful. It is not necessary to perform hard core exercises. Simple exercise activities such as swimming, cycling, jogging, stretching, yoga and brisk walking all possess the capability to enhance the level of serotonin. Aerobic exercises are also known to be extremely beneficial.
- Positive attitude – it may sound corny, but studies have indicated that distress and unhappiness are closely related with low levels of serotonin. Therefore, choose to maintain a positive attitude and think optimistically. Learn to swap the negative thoughts with positive ones. It may take practice, but gives way to effective results. It also must be mentioned that positive attitude is also known to have a protective effect on the overall well being, and also promotes decreased risk of cardiovascular diseases.
- Right source of carbohydrates – Consuming carbohydrates is considered to be an effective way to increase the level of serotonin. However, it should not be in the form of junk food items. You should consider eating items rich in complex carbohydrates such as found in brown rice, whole grains, whole meal pasta, fruits and vegetables to encourage the production of serotonin in the brain.
- Quality sleep – According to the Integrative psychiatry studies, getting insufficient sleep may also be a probable cause behind low levels of serotonin. Therefore, you should ensure to get enough sleep. However, quality sleep is much important than quantity sleep. Compel yourself to wake up on time, and you may take a short nap in the afternoon, if required. Make sure that your body gets at least quality night sleep of five to six hours every day. Simple breathing exercises may also be performed to assist the body relax and get a proper rest.
- No stimulants – many of us tend to depend on various stimulants and compulsorily include it in the diet. Few examples are coffee, tea, alcohol, sugar, caffeine, soda based drinks, etc. These stimulants are definitely known to escalate the level of serotonin, but then they also deplete the necessary and valuable hormones in the body in the long run. And this may lead to sleeping issues and depression problems in the future. It is recommended to limit the above stimulants to one or two cups a day.
- Protein rich diet – Add protein rich food items to your ever day diet, as they are known to be a rich source of an amino acid named tryptophan, which converts the chemicals in the brain to serotonin. It must be mentioned that tryptophan can only be obtained by way of consumption. Cheese, eggs, chicken and turkey are probably the highest tryptophan containing protein rich food items. Other protein rich food items which may lead to increased serotonin levels and must be included in the daily diet are bananas, seafood, fatty fish, walnuts, avocados, soy protein, meat, brown rice and tomatoes.
- Meditation – researches have proven that meditation is also known to replenish the level of serotonin. Spending few hours with the kids, listening to music, relaxing and praying with closed eyes for few minutes every day may assist significantly to increase the level of serotonin. Getting a regular soothing body massage is also known to offer effective results.
- Eat fat – many people tend to completely eliminate the intake of fat. However, it must be mentioned that essential fatty acids are extremely essential for the basic hormonal processes. You should include plenty of dairy items and eggs in your diet. Other good sources of fat are tuna, mackerel and salmon. The vegetarian heads can choose flaxseeds, nuts, avocados, almonds, olives, walnuts and seeds.
- Get a life – Needless to be mentioned, but a dull and boring life is assured to open up the box of problems. Make your life exciting, fun and stimulating. If things are like “valley of tears”, initiate steps to improve things. Spend quality time with family members and friends, take on a study, learn a new skill, develop interest in new activities and insights, and more. It must be mentioned that if you stay happy, good hormones are boosted and the level of serotonin is increased.