Serotonin is one of the many chemicals in your brain. But it is very peculiar. It affects your mood a great deal. However, the only way your body can produce adequate amounts of serotonin is when you eat foods containing the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan (Trp) is the precursor of serotonin; it is an essential amino. Foods rich in Trp include eggs, salmon, seeds, and spinach. These foods can boost your serotonin production naturally. Aside from your brain, serotonin is also present in your blood, connective tissues, and intestines. It causes the contraction of your blood vessels and functions as a neurotransmitter; transmitting information across your nervous system, among many other things.
You need serotonin for your overall wellbeing and health. Experts associate serotonin closely with a positive mood. However, your brain is quite a complex organ. So it is not as simple as if you have serotonin, then you’ll be happy. There must be a balance of all the chemicals in your brain for it to function properly. Anyways, more research is ongoing to discover more about serotonin and how it works. But one thing sure is that low serotonin causes mood disorders. It even plays a vital role in depression. If you have once had depression, low serotonin can affect you more. Aside from this, low serotonin in your brain may also cause memory problems. So you see how important it is to eat foods rich in Tryptophan. Without tryptophan, serotonin level is bound to be low, and mood and memory disorders are inevitable.
What You Should Know About Serotonin
Serotonin is many things. One of them is being a neurotransmitter (chemical messenger). Its major work is to stabilize your mood. Aside from boosting your mood, experts say that it also helps your body to establish a healthy sleeping pattern.
Studies have shown that your mood and behavioral patterns would vary with your serotonin levels. With adequate amounts of serotonin in your body, you have a higher chance of feeling good daily and having a long life.
You can take tryptophan supplements to boost your serotonin. But these days, people are beginning to appreciate natural approaches better. As such, you can try increasing your serotonin naturally by getting tryptophan from your diet. This means eating tryptophan-rich foods.
Experts tell us that tryptophan deficiency is a common finding among those that have mood disorders like anxiety and depression. The reason for this is clear. If your diet is low in tryptophan, the serotonin levels in your brain would drop.
However, as we have said before, there is more research going on about tryptophan, serotonin, and mood-related issues. Experts want to know how far-reaching the effects of tryptophan-containing foods are on serotonin levels and mood. We are sure that they have a profound effect, but we are yet to confirm just how far-reaching those effects are.
Foods Rich in Amino Acid Tryptophan
Tryptophan is the primary precursor of serotonin. You can find it in protein-rich foods. Meat is the most well-known protein source in the human diet. But then, there are lots of vegan and vegetarian protein sources too.
If you want great dietary tryptophan sources, the following foods are good options:
Salmon is an oily fish. It supplies your body with good amounts of omega-3s. This type of fat is very vital for health. It supports strong bones, eye function, strong teeth, healthy muscles, and healthy skin.
Aside from Tryptophan, salmon also contains lots of D vitamins. Eating just two portions of salmon weekly should give you as much tryptophan as you need.
Eggs are good and healthy. However, the different ways of preparing and cooking eggs can affect their healthfulness. Some ways are simply healthful, while others are not so healthful.
For instance, frying adds lots of fats to eggs. This makes it less healthful. Poaching or boiling, on the other hand, adds no additional fat. So you can make an omelet or eat your egg with salads. These are good and healthy light meal options.
These include chicken, goose, and turkey. Lean poultry like chicken breast usually has high-fat and low-protein contents.
Dark-green leafy veggies like spinach can give you lots of tryptophan. You will also get lots of iron from spinach. Your body needs iron for making healthy RBCs.
We all know that milk is a great protein source. But aside from that, it also gives your body a great dose of calcium. Calcium is necessary for building healthy teeth and bones. However, low-fat milk is always better than the full-fat variety.
6. Nuts and Seeds
Seeds are loaded with great nutritional values. While they may not have as much Trp as poultry, salmon, or eggs. They also supply great amounts of tryptophan in their own right. Nuts are good protein sources too. They not only contain tryptophan and other aminos, but they also contain fiber and healthful fats.
7. Soy products
Soy-containing products, such as soy sauce, tofu, and soya milk can also give your body the tryptophan that it needs. They are indeed good options for vegans and vegetarians.
Other Important Factors for Serotonin Production
Carbs are the main energy source for the body. But you must eat nutrient-dense carbs. Those are more healthful than carbs that contain just empty calories. Some great carb sources include starchy veggies, fruits, as well as whole-grain pasta, and bread.
Most of the serotonin in your body is produced in your gut. But then, some more serotonin is made in your brain.
Now, even if you have enough Tryptophan, your body still needs carbs to transport it from your gut to your brain. Your body also needs carbs to create serotonin. As such, tryptophan-rich foods are better off when you eat them alongside carbs.
Aside from eating enough carbs, a few other tips to boost your serotonin include the following:
- Stay hydrated by drinking lots of fluids. This keeps your energy levels up and supports your brain function.
- Maintain good gut health. Since most of your serotonin is produced in your gut, gut health is very vital for serotonin production. Probiotic- and prebiotic-rich foods play a vital role in gut health, among many other factors.
- Sunshine can trigger serotonin production. So you may need to get yourself under daylight daily to improve your mood.
- Exercise regularly. This has lots of benefits for physical and mental health. It reduces depression risks. It also provides a rapid mood boost by releasing endorphins
In conclusion, the amino acid tryptophan is very vital for serotonin production and mood balance. But then, you also need carbs (as part of a balanced diet), proper hydration, sunlight exposure, and regular exercise to support serotonin production from tryptophan.