• Maya Kale

Foods to boost your serotonin levels

Updated: Sep 10, 2021

What is serotonin, and why is it important?

Serotonin is a mood-enhancing chemical in the brain, which impacts feelings of well being. It is also a way to regulate hunger and improve sleeping patterns. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that carries signals which helps regulate many bodily functions. Low serotonin levels in the body often lead to mental health disorders such as clinical depression. There are multiple ways in which one can boost their serotonin levels, and one of the easiest and most natural methods is to be mindful of the food we eat. Food plays a major role in determining our mood because many foods contain tryptophan, which is important for producing serotonin.

Some of the foods which help to do so are -

  1. Salmon: Salmon is a rich source which contains tryptophan. Salmon also contains vitamin D, which plays a vital role in maintaining healthy bones, which in turn helps aid serotonin production.

  2. Nuts and seeds: These are a healthier alternative for vegetarians, and are a natural source of tryptophan. These also have a large amount of protein in them which boost serotonin levels as well.

  3. Milk and cheese: these contain a great amount of tryptophan, and have an added bonus of calcium which makes our bones and teeth stronger/healthier.

  4. Pineapple: pineapple contains plenty of tryptophan which boosts the serotonin levels in the brain. Additionally, pineapples contain large amounts of bromelain which is a protein that helps our bodily functions.

Other foods which contain vitamin D can also be considered, because vitamin D activates the tryptophan in our body, hence increasing our serotonin levels. Some good sources of vitamin D are -

  • Cod liver oil

  • Fortified orange juice

  • And many different types of yoghurt

Lastly, even though there are many food items which can boost one's serotonin levels, there are also foods that can LOWER these serotonin levels. Some of them being -

  1. Alcohol - it lowers the levels of serotonin in an individual's body to a large extent and should be avoided.

  2. Artificial sweeteners/soda - these tend to increase energy levels, but in the long run they lower the levels of serotonin in the body, and should also be avoided. It is a common misconception that sugar can make you “happy”, but these foods decrease the rate of serotonin in your body.

  3. Caffeine - it temporarily provides energy to the body and may elevate your mood, but it can also create a caffeine addiction, and withdrawal can definitely lead to low serotonin levels.

Writer: Maya Kale

Illustrator: Sarah Samad

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