Eat Tryptophan-rich FoodsAlthough serotonin isn’t directly found in food, you can eat tryptophan-rich foods. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that the brain and body use to turn it into serotonin. Tryptophan is found in high-protein foods, such as turkey and salmon. However, simply eating plenty of tryptophan-rich foods isn’t enough to help naturally increase serotonin levels. Tryptophan-rich foods are generally even higher in other essential amino acids and these other substances are more likely than tryptophan to cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB) or the protective shield that controls what compounds enter the brain from the bloodstream. Healthcare professionals believe that eating carbohydrates with tryptophan-rich foods can help more of this essential amino acid enter the brain.
Take ProbioticsHealthcare professionals recommend adding more probiotics into your diet as another natural way to increase serotonin. Taking probiotic supplements or eating probiotic-rich foods, such as yogurt and fermented foods like kimchi or sauerkraut, can trigger the release of tryptophan into the bloodstream.
Get Enough SunlightSeveral research studies have demonstrated that serotonin can typically be lower during winter and higher during summer. Scientists have also found that, because serotonin can affect our mood, changes in serotonin levels during different seasons may actually be associated with seasonal affective disorders as well as other brain and mental health issues also associated with the seasons. Scientists suggest that the skin may be able to synthesize serotonin.
Do Exercise and Physical ActivityExercise and physical activity can also trigger the release of tryptophan into the bloodstream from the brain. It can also reduce the number of other essential amino acids. This can ultimately help create an excellent scenario for more tryptophan to penetrate the BBB and enter the brain from the bloodstream.
Take SupplementsAccording to healthcare professionals, taking dietary supplements can help trigger the release of serotonin by increasing tryptophan. However, make sure to talk to your healthcare professional before taking any new supplements to prevent further health issues. Also, make sure to tell them if you are taking any over-the-counter or prescription drugs/medications, vitamins, and minerals, as well as any herbal remedies. Choose supplements made by a well-known manufacturer that can be researched for reports on the quality of their products. Supplements can naturally help increase serotonin levels, including:
Pure TryptophanTryptophan supplements have more tryptophan than food which can make it more possible to penetrate the BBB and enter the brain from the bloodstream. A 2006 research study suggests that tryptophan supplements can also have an antidepressant effect in women but further evidence is still required.
SAMe (S-adenosyl-L-methionine)Taking SAMe supplements also seems to help increase serotonin levels which can help improve symptoms, such as depression. However, it’s not recommended to take it with any other supplements or drugs/medications that increase serotonin, including certain antidepressants and antipsychotics.
5-HTPThe substance 5-HTP can penetrate the BBB and enter the brain from the bloodstream to trigger the release of serotonin. A 2013 research study demonstrated that 5-HTP supplements were as effective as antidepressants in people with early symptoms like depression. Other research studies on taking 5-HTP supplements to help naturally increase serotonin and reduce symptoms of depression have ultimately demonstrated mixed results.
Get a MassageMassage therapy can also help naturally increase serotonin as well as dopamine neurotransmitter or chemical messenger that controls mood and various other functions in the brain and body. Getting a massage can also help decrease cortisol, a hormone that is released by the brain with stress. Although you can visit a licensed massage therapist, this may not always be necessary. A 2004 research study evaluated 84 pregnant women with depression. The women who received massage therapy twice a week reported feeling decreased symptoms of depression and had increased serotonin levels.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, or chemical messenger, associated with mood and a variety of other functions in the human brain and body. Serotonin helps promote positive feelings and social behavior, control appetite, support learning and memory as well as regulate our circadian rhythm or sleep-wake cycle. Serotonin deficiencies can cause a variety of brain and mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, sleep problems, fatigue, abnormal appetite and cravings as well as nausea and digestive problems. In the following article, we will discuss natural ways to increase serotonin, including eating tryptophan-rich foods, taking probiotics, doing exercise/physical activities, and taking supplements, among several others. – Dr. Alex Jimenez D.C., C.C.S.T. InsightSerotonin is a well-known neurotransmitter that plays an essential role in various functions of the brain and body, including mood and digestion. This chemical messenger helps promote positive feelings and social behavior, control appetite, support learning and memory as well as regulate our circadian rhythm or sleep-wake cycle. However, serotonin deficiencies can also cause several health issues, including anxiety, depression, sleep problems, fatigue, abnormal appetite and cravings as well as nausea and digestive problems. In the article above, we discussed natural ways to increase serotonin.
The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, and nervous health issues or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We use functional health protocols to treat injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We also make copies of supporting research studies available to the board and or the public upon request. To further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900.Curated by Dr. Alex Jimenez References:
- Raypole, Crystal. “6 Ways to Boost Serotonin Without Medication.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 22 Apr. 2019, www.healthline.com/health/how-to-increase-serotonin.
- Wikipedia. “Circadian Rhythm.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 9 Dec. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circadian_rhythm.
- Gotter, Ana. “What Is Tryptophan?” Healthline, Healthline Media, 25 Jan. 2018, www.healthline.com/health/tryptophan.
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Additional Topic Discussion: Chronic PainSudden pain is a natural response of the nervous system which helps to demonstrate possible injury. By way of instance, pain signals travel from an injured region through the nerves and spinal cord to the brain. Pain is generally less severe as the injury heals, however, chronic pain is different than the average type of pain. With chronic pain, the human body will continue sending pain signals to the brain, regardless if the injury has healed. Chronic pain can last for several weeks to even several years. Chronic pain can tremendously affect a patient’s mobility and it can reduce flexibility, strength, and endurance.
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The information herein on "Functional Neurology: Natural Ways to Increase Serotonin" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, or licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
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