What is serotonin? + Tips on foods that can help.
Serotonin is a chemical messenger that’s believed to act as a mood stabilizer. It’s said to help produce healthy sleeping patterns as well as boost your mood. Studies show that serotonin levels can have an effect on mood and behavior, and the chemical is commonly linked to feeling good and living longer.
But for a more natural approach to possibly increasing your serotonin levels, you can try eating foods that contain tryptophan. It is known that tryptophan depletion is seen in those with mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.
Cheese is another great source of tryptophan. A yummy favorite you could make is mac and cheese that combines cheddar cheese with eggs and milk, which are also good sources of tryptophan.
Pineapples are a major source of bromelain, a protein that can reduce the side effects of chemotherapy as well as help suppress coughs, according to some research. Combine pineapple and coconut with chicken for this delicious piña colada chicken recipe.
We’re on a mission to stop the suicide stats.
Every 40 seconds, we lose somebody to suicide. Healthline is on a mission to support people living with mental health issues and suicidality. Here’s how you can get involved.
6. Nuts and seeds
There’s a reason why the Thanksgiving meal is usually followed by a siesta on the couch — turkey is essentially stuffed tryptophan.
Serotonin and your diet: Does it work?
So the common belief is that by eating foods high in tryptophan, you can boost your serotonin levels. But is this true?
Serotonin isn’t found in foods, but tryptophan is. Foods high in protein, iron, riboflavin, and vitamin B-6 all tend to contain large amounts of this amino acid. While high-tryptophan foods won’t boost serotonin on their own, there’s one possible cheat to this system: carbs.
Cause the body to release more insulin, which promotes amino acid absorption and leaves tryptophan in the blood. If you mix high-tryptophan foods with carbs, you might get a serotonin boost.
The tryptophan you find in food has to compete with other amino acids to be absorbed into the brain, so it’s unlikely to have much of an effect on your serotonin levels. This differs from tryptophan supplements, which contain purified tryptophan and do have an effect on serotonin levels.
While they can’t compete with supplements — which you should not be taking without approval from your doctor — the foods listed above contain high amounts of tryptophan.
Other ways to boost serotonin
Food and supplements aren’t the only ways to boost serotonin levels.
- Exercise. ResearchTrusted Source
- Sunshine. Light therapy is a common remedy for seasonal depression. ResearchTrusted Source
- Positivity. Research shows that facing daily life and your interactions with others with a positive outlook can significantly boost your serotonin levels. As the Spice Girls once sang: “All you need is positivity!”