What Does Serotonin Do?
Serotonin is a crucial chemical for increasing mood and decreasing anxiety. Researchers have found a clear connection between low serotonin levels and increases in depression, anxiety, and other mental health challenges. Besides being helpful for mental health, serotonin also improves digestion, sleep, and bone health. Consider these 4 tips for boosting serotonin levels.
1. The sunshine vitamin
Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin for a couple of reasons. First, the body produces vitamin D in response to sun exposure. Second, research has found that vitamin D can boost a person’s mood. Experts report that going outside for just 10-15 minutes each day has a significant impact on serotonin levels and moods. For people who live in overcast climates, investing in a light therapy box may be useful for increasing light exposure.
2. Eat your carbs
Carbohydrates often get a bad rep. But eating nutrient-dense carbohydrates is a crucial part of overall health. Carbs are the macronutrient that helps people stay energized. Carbohydrates also take tryptophan to the brain, which contributes to serotonin production. Too many overly processed carbs, like sugary desserts and salty snacks, can make people feel sluggish and have an opposite effect. Instead, choose nutrient-dense sources of carbohydrates such as whole-grain bread, whole-wheat pasta, and fruits and vegetables.
3. Exercise regularly
A consistent exercise routine is linked with both increased moods and improved sleep habits. Both these factors are part of decreasing anxiety. Regular movement increases endorphins and helps the brain become more receptive to serotonin. In some studies, women who experienced depression and anxiety had a significant reduction in negative symptoms simply by participating in a regular exercise plan.
4. Try a supplement
Consuming foods high in the amino acid tryptophan can increase serotonin levels. When consumed, tryptophan converts to 5-HTP, a brain chemical that aids in serotonin production. People can find tryptophan in salmon, eggs, spinach, seeds, nuts, and even soy products. However, some people may still struggle to get a healthy level of tryptophan in a daily diet. In these cases, adding a 5-HTP supplement may be beneficial.
What else can I do for anxiety?
Anxiety thrives in fixating on the past or present. People with anxiety can work on staying in the present through meditating, journaling, or speaking with a trusted friend or mental health professional. In some cases, an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication can also be beneficial. For more information about managing anxiety, speak with a healthcare provider.