Brain Health Basics: Serotonin
What is Serotonin?
Serotonin is both a hormone and a neurotransmitter ( a chemical which helps brain cells communicate) which regulates numerous processes in the body.
In your brain’s control centre, serotonin acts as a neurotransmitter and acts as a messenger substance for the excitation of your nerve cells.
This neurotransmitter helps regulate sleep and appetite, mediate moods, and inhibit pain.
Serotonin ensures that all information processed in the brain runs smoothly and correctly.
If the hormone is present in too small a dose, these processes can become unbalanced, which potentially affects your body and your mood.
Happiness and Serotonin
Known as the “happiness hormone” a well-regulated serotonin is super important, for the brain and your mood and it is also able to influence other areas of your physical well-being.
Research supports the idea that some depressed people have reduced serotonin transmission and low levels of a serotonin byproduct have been linked to a higher risk for suicide.
How is Serotonin Made?
Since about 95% of serotonin is produced in the intestine, it is very important that it is healthy in order to be able to produce the hormone.
Many people choose to rely on pre- and probiotic powders, drinks or supplements to keep their digestive tract alert.
Fermented food such as kimchi or sauerkraut can also be helpful as well as ensuring you are eating a wide variety of vegetables and plenty of fibre.
Since serotonin, for example, is formed from certain amino acids, you should try to ensure that you get enough of them in your diet.
This includes, in particular, the amino acid tryptophan, which is found in particular in foods such as nuts, fish, seeds, tofu, cheese, red meat, chicken, turkey, oats, beans, lentils, and eggs.
You can read more on the science of serotonin and tryptophan here.
How Do You Boost Serotonin
You want to support your well-being naturally and do something for a normal serotonin level?
Then the following nutrients are just right for you. Make sure that you take in enough of these in your diet.
Vitamin B6 contributes to normal mental function. Good vegetable sources include avocados, cabbage, green beans, and lentils. Good animal sources are poultry, liver, and fish.
Vitamin D which can be ingested through a balanced diet and can also be formed under sunlight, is essential to support your immune system and is also associated with mood in initial scientific studies.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish such as salmon, mackerel, and flaxseed and oils also contain a lot of omega-3.
These healthy fats contribute to the structure of healthy brain cells and are among the most important nutrients for brain health and functioning.
Dr Clara Russell