Serotonin is a monoamine neurotransmitter primarily found in the gastrointestinal tract, platelets and central nervous system of humans and animals. It has been estimated that an adult human body contains about 5 to 10 mg of serotonin, 90% of which is in the intestine and the rest in blood platelets and the brain. This brain chemical is especially beneficial in the promotion of overall well-being and happiness. Serotonin affects various brain functions and interacts with many other neurotransmitters.
Serotonin is, thus, responsible for may basic functions such as mood regulation, thoughts, aggression, appetite, sexual desire, and wake and sleep cycles. Serotonin plays an essential role in treatment of depression. Serotonin is a chemical that helps preserve a "happy feeling," and seems to help keep our moods under control by managing sleep, soothing anxiety, and relieving depression.
Low levels of serotonin
Low serotonin levels may provoke different unpleasant states of the body and mind. For example, people with low serotonin levels may experience problems with concentration and attention. Usually these individuals seem to be poorly organized and they are gradually sliding into depression. If the serotonin levels continue to drop people may feel chronic fatigue accompanied with sleep disturbances, changes in appetite, emotional sadness, different unusual body sensations (like hot flushes or headaches), loss of personality and odd behavior.
How to increase serotonin?
Changes in the appetite may include a total loss of appetite or intense craving for sweets and carbohydrates. This symptom is a perfect guideline for rising the serotonin levels naturally, as it occurs when the brain is trying to make more serotonin. Natural ways to increase serotonin include changes in the diet plan.
Protein rich foods are rich in amino acids and tryptophan that is especially important for increasing the levels of serotonin. Protein rich foods like turkey, chicken, eggs, milk products, cereals, and nuts are extremely rich with serotonin. Omega-3 fatty acids may also increase the serotonin levels. Foods like tuna, sardines, salmon, herrings and other sea food, may be great addition to the healthy diet plan.
Carbohydrates are also known to boost the serotonin levels in the body. Foods rich in carbohydrates are whole wheat bread, white rice, barley, oatmeal, cereals, grains and spaghetti. Vegetables like cabbage, mushrooms, potatoes, broccoli, spinach and lettuce, are also welcome. Fruits rich in carbohydrates are apples, oranges, pineapples, strawberries, apricots, blueberries, bananas, figs, grapes and raisins.
Besides the proper diet, exercise and stress management is extremely important to keep the body and mind in a perfect balance. Physical exercise will increase serotonin levels while the meditation, and other relaxation techniques, helps the body to relax.