Serotonin foods are believed to boost serotonin levels in your brain and can simply make you feel happier.
Serotonin is the neurotransmitter- a natural chemical in your body that provides a chemical connection between the neurons of the brain. A neurotransmitter helps different parts of your brain communicate with each other. It affects your mood and way of thinking significantly, regulates sleep, reduces pain and appetite, generally calms you down and improves your mood.
In different studies, low serotonin or serotonin deficiency has been linked to carbohydrate cravings, sleep disorders and insomnia, addictive behaviours, aggressive behaviours, lack of concentration, migraine, obesity, anxiety and depression.
Just like most anti-depressants help raise serotonin levels in your body, certain healthy foods have the ability to decrease or increase serotonin and those that increase serotonin make you feel good.
However, the connection between foods and serotonin is a little more than simply eating serotonin foods. In other words, simply eating foods that contain serotonin won’t do the trick. Your body does not get serotonin from foods directly, but prepares serotonin from tryptophan amino acid in protein. Calcium, magnesium, essential fatty acids, folic acid- folate and other B vitamins also help serotonin production.
Do not concentrate only on proteins to increase serotonin levels in your body as this may potentially affect your brain chemistry and serotonin production negatively.
Complex carbohydrates along with protein will do your mind good, your body will be able to metabolize serotonin foods much better- tryptophan works very well with complex carbs.
Whole grains such as oatmeal and whole wheat trigger a slower and longer release of insulin that lowers blood levels of most large amino acids except for tryptophan. Blood glucose remains stable and serotonin rises slowly without any of the instant spikes and crashes by simple sugars.
Omega 3 fatty acids also play an important role in stabilizing your mood and keeping your brain healthy. They are found in fish oil, flax seed oil and walnut oil.
You do not want an instant spike in your blood glucose and serotonin levels followed by a crash, so it is best to avoid processed high glycemic index foods such as white flour or those that are rich in simple sugars. High glycemic foods that boost serotonin like white breads and potatoes cause spikes and drops in insulin and blood sugar levels. They may affect your mood badly after a short period of feeling great.
Please be aware that too much stress can deplete serotonin in your body and in the long-run it becomes really hard to produce serotonin. So try and reduce stress by meditating and exercising regularly.
Foods that Increase Serotonin:
Serotonin foods include chicken, turkey, red meat, cottage cheese, salmon, tofu, peanuts, prawns, almonds, eggs, brown rice, soy foods, green leafy vegetables, wheat germ, granola, legumes, peas, corn, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, nuts, beans, kiwi, pineapple, plums, tomatoes, dates, broccoli, cauliflower, avocado, spinach, grapefruit and cantaloupe.
• Turkey contains tryptophan and essential amino acids that are required to increase serotonin levels in your body. This is partly why you may feel relaxed after eating turkey.
• Oily fish such as sardines, salmon and herring as well as mackerel and fresh tuna (not canned)- Omega 3 fatty acid and tryptophan.
• Whey protein- improves blood glucose levels and increases serotonin levels by increasing the plasma Trp-LNAA.
• Protein rich eggs also include amino acids and essential fatty acids to produce serotonin, they are actually ranked very high in serotonin foods list.
• Flaxseed oil- Omega 3 fatty acids and tryptophan.
• Buckwheat- vitamin B and tryptophan.
• Banana- high in tryptophan.
• Dark chocolate- has a high content of cocoa solids that contain alkaloids- theobromine and phenethylamine and they are linked to healthy serotonin levels in your brain.
• Tofu, like other soy products is rich in tryptophan and Omega 3, both proven to combat the blues and the depression.