We recently talked about the 4 neurotransmitters that improve overall happiness and health. Serotonin was one of these and it helps regulate mood, appetite, and sleep.
It’s responsible for releasing that “happy” feeling we get after eating certain foods and doing certain things. Serotonin gives us the feeling of contentment, satisfaction in the simple things, the “feel good” chemical.
The serotonin in your brain is released by the amino acid tryptophan. Amino acid tryptophan is what our body uses to produce melatonin and serotonin. The serotonin then has a calming effect on both your body and mind, which can be used to help with depression and anxiety.
Regulating Serotonin Levels by Healthy Eating
While serotonin can be affected by a variety of factors, including stress and exercise, what you eat also has a significant impact on serotonin levels. We underestimate the effects of what we put in our bodies has on our well-being as a whole.
In order to activate serotonin production, we need to eat foods that are rich in tryptophan (which is made up of mostly proteins). Protein is something to look at always including in our diet in some way. This can include eggs, poultry, salmon, nuts, seeds, and bananas.
I have been loving to cook lately. It allows me to connect with people I love, be creative, learn about my health, and enjoy the process of accomplishing something. I am just now diving a bit deeper into what foods make me feel good and what don’t. I have never been a health nut but as I continue my recovery journey, I keep finding what I put into my body has a huge effect on how I feel throughout the day.
Here are five of the best serotonin-boosting foods:
Eggs are one of the best sources of tryptophan. They are also a good source of protein, choline, and B vitamins. Choline is important for serotonin production, while B vitamins help to convert tryptophan into serotonin.
An egg recipe I made recently that was a hit with my family who was visiting is a Make-Ahead Sausage & Egg Casserole. Add some extra paprika before popping it in the oven and it is one delicious way to boost your mood!
Poultry is another good source of tryptophan. Dark meat poultry, in particular, is a good source of nutrients. Some good options include chicken, turkey, and duck.
My go-to recipe for chicken would be TACOS. I love making all types of tacos, enchiladas, salsas, any Mexican dish really.
Two of our favorites lately:
Salmon is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for serotonin production. The fatty acids help to increase serotonin levels and improve mood. This type of fish can also help reduce anxiety because they are rich in nutrients such as vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids.
Check out this incredible salmon recipe – Jerk-Spiced Salmon & Quinoa Bowl with Mango Vinaigrette. I probably make this once a week. We love it!
4. Nuts and seeds
Nuts are a good source of tryptophan, as well as other nutrients that support serotonin production, such as omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins.
Seeds are also a good source of tryptophan. They are especially rich in nutrients when eaten raw.
Good sources of mood-boosting nutrients:
- Walnuts (beneficial for serotonin production and known to lessen symptoms of depression)
- Flaxseeds (omega-3 fatty acids)
- Sunflower seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sesame seeds
Try throwing any of these seeds or nuts in this awesome Granola Bar recipe.
Bananas are a good source of mood-boosting nutrients, including tryptophan and vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 is important for serotonin production, as it helps to convert the amino acid into serotonin. Bananas also contain potassium, which also can help to regulate mood.
Other fruits containing high levels of serotonin are strawberries, plums, pineapple, passion fruit, and pomegranates.
Top your cereal, yogurt, or oatmeal in the morning with some bananas or other fruit high in tryptophan and B6.
Or try making these Banana Brownies that are a dessert staple in our house!
Eating these serotonin-boosting foods can help to improve our mood and calm us down. They are a great way to fight off anxiety and depression and can help us feel more relaxed and at ease.
And boosting your serotonin levels naturally can help if you’re feeling down or struggling with a mental health condition. Do some research, choose a few mood-boosting recipes, and see how your mood and well-being shift over the next few weeks. Keep a journal and track the positive changes!