Serotonin ‘The feel good hormone’
During and after exercise our bodies naturally produce a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin functions as a neurotransmitter in our central nervous system carrying signals along and between nerve cells (called neurons.)They are also found in your intestines and brain.
Serotonin is commonly known as ‘the feel good chemical’, due to the main role it plays in regulating our mood, appetite and sleep and is therefore considered one of the most important chemicals our body produces and important to learn about, if we are going to feel our very best. When someone is not feeling the benefits of serotonin, its commonly because the body a) does not produce enough of it or b) that serotonin is not being used efficiently and we have issues with the speed of absorption (either too fast or too slow).
THE GOOD NEWS IS There are a number of easy ways we can increase our serotonin levels naturally:
Many foods we eat contain an amino acid called Tryptophan. Tryptophan produces serotonin and is found in a number of protein sources such as turkey, chicken, fish, nuts and milk. A high fiber diet which contains fruit and vegetable may also help as this will keep gut bacteria clean and in-turn produce more serotonin.
2. LIGHT EXPOSURE
10 -15 minutes a day of direct sunlight can help boost serotonin levels as well as vitamin D.
Multiple studies have shown that exercise can boost serotonin levels naturally. This is because exercise releases endorphins, which are known for relieving pain and stress throughout the body and in-turn producing more serotonin to regulate our mood. Typically 150 minutes of cardio based exercise and 100 minutes of strength based training per week are recommended for adults. Serotonin produced during exercise is what people mean when they describe the ”runners high”
Massage therapy has been increasingly used in the treatment of boosting serotonin. This is because massage promotes a release of serotonin and a decrease of the stress hormone cortisol
As Serotonin plays such a huge role in our overall wellbeing it is important to regularly check you have the right balance by assessing your mood or by getting blood tests 2-3 times a year and implement the options above to boost your level and start feeling your very best again.