Popularly called the “happiness hormone,” serotonin is a chemical substance produced by the brain, more precisely in the brainstem. Responsible for inhibiting a series of negative feelings, such as aggressiveness and bad mood, this neurotransmitter plays an extremely important role in health.
According to studies, serotonin also acts in the regulation of sensory pathways in the body, such as the pain pathway. Thus, it can be used to treat conditions such as migraine by preventing the onset of headaches.
When the production of this substance is at a low level, it is possible for the individual to suffer from complications such as depression, mood disorders, PMS, and insomnia. Therefore, maintaining an adequate level of serotonin is essential for human well-being.
The good news is that in conditions where the patient does not have a condition that requires drugs prescribed by a doctor, the hormone can be amplified naturally. Check out how:
How to increase serotonin:
The way we eat can directly affect the level of serotonin in the brain. For the brain production of serotonin there is need for ‘raw materials’ (called cofactors) fundamental to its synthesis, as examples: tryptophan (amino acid), magnesium, calcium (minerals), vitamin B6, folic acid (vitamins).
These nutrients can be found in different foods:
Brazil nuts, walnuts and almonds;
Oat and rye.
For being the most responsible for the production of vitamin D, which acts in the strengthening of bones, functioning of the immune system and in regulating mood, the sun also helps in the production of serotonin. This happens because the vitamin impacts the metabolism of tryptophan, an essential amino acid in the human body, generating an increase in the happiness hormone.
It is recommended to sunbathe 15 to 20 minutes a day, with exposed arms and legs, without applying sunscreen. To avoid the harm of the UVA rays, it is recommended that the sun exposure occurs before 10am and after 4pm.
3. Physical activity
According to a study conducted by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence in the United Kingdom, physical exercise is able to promote antidepressant and anxiolytic effects on the brain.
Although this result is found in different types of activities, the research revealed that aerobic exercise was shown to be the most effective in producing serotonin. According to the scientists, the increase in heart rate during exercise can raise levels of the hormone in the brain, which, when associated with endorphin production, helps to improve mood.
4. Positive thinking
A Canadian study has revealed that changes in thinking, whether self-induced or through methods such as psychotherapy, can cause an increase in serotonin. Using a technique involving positron emission tomography, the researchers analyzed levels of the hormone in the brains of patients undergoing positive mood induction.
The results revealed that reported levels of happiness were positively correlated with serotonin production, while negative feelings showed a drop in the hormone in the right anterior cortex region.
5. Exposure to light
This practice is already considered a standard treatment for seasonal depression, very common in countries with cold weather and shorter days, because exposure to light is one of the ways to stimulate the production of serotonin. According to research done in association with a hospital in Melbourne, Australia, the level of the substance is higher during the day, regardless of the season.
Another study conducted on women revealed that when they are exposed to bright light, the reduction of amino acids such as tryptophan in the brain is blocked, demonstrating that there is a relationship between bright light and the serotonin system. Thus, avoiding spending too much time in dark environments can help produce the hormone.
6. Relaxing activities
Stress is one of those responsible for the production of the cortisol hormone. When not regulated, this substance can cause complications such as loss of muscle mass, increase in blood pressure, and blockage in the production of serotonin.
Thus, reducing stress levels has a positive effect on the amount of the happiness hormone produced by the body. Activities such as meditation, for example, can be an alternative for keeping calm and slowing down the fast pace of everyday life.