How To Increase Serotonin, The Happy Hormone

    Serotonin is a neurotransmitter with a wide range of functions in our body. The happy hormone keeps us physically and psychologically fit. In fact, keeping balanced serotonin levels helps keep depression at bay.

    What Is Serotonin? 

    Serotonin is a chemical substance produced by our nerve cells. It is a neurotransmitter that sends signals from our nerve cells to the brain. Besides the brain, our gut and blood platelets also contain this chemical. Ample levels of this chemical enable our bodies to carry out their functions efficiently.

    Why is it called the happy hormone? The reasons are simple; Serotonin helps with:

    • Regulation of the functions of smooth muscles
    • Balancing of the sleep-wake cycle
    • Controlling of appetite
    • Regulation of emotions
    • Balancing of mood

    Perhaps you can imagine what happens when levels of serotonin go low. From anxiety to depression, appetite disorders to sleep disturbances, lack of serotonin unquestionably causes havoc in the body. 

    The Chemical Nature Of Serotonin

    Serotonin is also a hormone. The chemical name of this hormone is 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT). It is not released as a ready-made product. Instead it is synthesized by our bodies via a chemical reaction. The main ingredients for its production are:

    • Tryptophan, a protein component
    • Tryptophan hydroxylase, a chemical reactor
    • Niacin

    Reactions of these elements result in serotonin production. Tryptophan is an amino acid derived from the protein part of our diet. Foods rich in tryptophan include items such as red meat, dry fruits, cheese, chicken, fish, eggs and chocolate. Now you perhaps know why you relish chocolate or get happy after eating a steak.

    The Functions Of The Happy Hormone

    Happy hormone serotonin is found in the brain, gut, and blood. It affects a wide range of body functions and psychological or cerebral functions. The primary function of serotonin is that it acts as a neurotransmitter, signaling nerve impulses between the infinite nerve connection, both within and outside our brain. Some of the significant functions of serotonin include:

    • Regulation of gut motility and controlling of the appetite
    • Effects mood by controlling anxiety and creates a feeling of both happiness and well-being
    • In case of injury, serotonin helps blood clot when released from platelets at the site of trauma
    • Regulation of our sleep patterns and the inner circadian rhythm

    Serotonin has a definitive role to play in alleviating depression and anxiety. Depression, generally characterized by low mood and energy levels, is often tagged with an imbalance of hormones or neurotransmitters in the body. Serotonin plays a crucial role in maintaining this balance. 

    What Happens When Happy Hormone Levels Go Low?

    We want serotonin levels neither high nor low. To preserve a balanced functioning in the body, optimal levels of the hormone are a must. Too high serotonin levels have a link to osteoporosis, a bone condition where the bones become weak and fragile. High levels of serotonin are also associated with an inhibition of sexual function. Low levels may drive you to binge eat; that is why people resort to food cravings when depressed. 

    Some other symptoms that show you have low levels of happy hormone include:

    • poor focus
    • poor memory and loss of retentivity
    • low self-esteem
    • food cravings for sugary or starchy foods
    • aggressive behavior
    • sleep disturbances

    5 Ways To Increase Serotonin In Your Body

     Here are different ways to increase serotonin levels in your body:

    1. Physical Activity

    Different types of exercises help in increasing levels of serotonin in the blood.  Swimming, walking, running, or bicycling are some that can help 

    2. Food

    We know low serotonin causes food cravings of all sorts. It is best to consume foods that may help in balancing levels of tryptophan in the body. Protein-rich foods are especially important as they are high in tryptophan and can help achieve an average balance of the hormone. Did you know bananas are naturally high in serotonin? (Maybe that’s why chimps remain happy with their bananas!). Eat a banana or two next time you feel low. The fact remains that serotonin cannot cross the blood-brain barrier. Eating foods high in tryptophan is vital because making it available in times of need will improve serotonin synthesis anywhere in the body, be it the brain, gut or the blood

    3. Seratonin Supplements 

    Many dietary supplements are available as over-the-counter sources of serotonin. They are easy to take and convenient to include in our fast-paced lifestyle schedules 

    4. Bright Light 

    Spending time outdoors seem to increase serotonin levels. This may be a reason why outdoor excursions help boost your mood. The fact that seasonal affective disorder gets better with light therapy has proposed that the same might help boost serotonin levels and cut back on depression 

    5. Mood Induction Therapies

    Psychotherapy or self-induction protocols that help divert thought processes can help balance the happy hormone levels. 

    The human body is all about a balance of chemicals and hormones. Anything with high or low levels disturbs its functioning and that is when diseases appear. Normal levels of serotonin are essential to keep us fit from head to toe. Controlled emotions, optimally functioning gut, healthy sleep patterns go a long way in maintaining a balanced physical and psychological state. This will increase serotonin

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