One real life thing I struggle with on a daily basis is severe depression. I am fairly certain that the chief cause of this depression is physical which is why I have been researching it as best I can and taking action (without the use of antidepressants) to do what is necessary to combat it. And one of the best ways to do this is to boost serotonin.
Serotonin is the happiness chemical. It elevates our mood and gives us energy. It is derived from the amino acid tryptophan and it is the precursor to melatonin (meaning it can also help you sleep better at night).
5 Ways to Healthfully Boost Serotonin
Below are a few of the most helpful ways I’ve found to boost serotonin.
1. Eat complex carbs.
Consuming simple carbs like sugar or white bread are sure fire ways to boost your serotonin quickly for the short run. However, they also boost your blood sugar levels and cause a host of other problems. For this reason, they are best avoided.
Complex carbs, on the other hand, also boost serotonin, but they do not adversely affect sugar levels (well, unless you overdo them). This includes things like a medium sized sweet potato, beans, apples, half a banana, an orange, and so on.
This is why I love Trim Healthy Mama. It embraces all the food groups that our bodies need–including carbs! Fat is great, but carbs are necessary as well.
2. Get lots of vitamin D.
The best way to get vitamin D into your system is to enjoy time outside in the sun! 98% of sunlight is absorbed through the eyes (2% through the skin), so avoid wearing sunglasses when you’re in the sunlight. If you’re driving, roll the windows down because most of the beneficial stuff is blocked by glass. You also want to aim to be out in the sun for 30 minutes (the minimum) to 2 hours (the ideal) a day.
During the winter months or for those who work indoors when the sun is shining, you can use full spectrum light bulbs or keep a 10,000 lux lamp on your desk.
Another (though inferior) way to get vitamin D is by taking high quality vitamin D supplements.
3. Input omega-3 fats.
The SAD (Standard American Diet) is chock full of omega-6 fats, so there’s no need (and, in fact, an excess) there. But omega-3 fats are typically severely low. Which can cause depression and the blas.
To increase serotonin, amp up your omega-3 intake. I do this by taking a lot (3 capsules daily) of omega-3 supplements and eating wild-caught salmon. You can also eat cod liver or take a high-potency fish oil.
4. Eat protein.
Protein is crucial to the human body in many ways, including elevating serotonin levels. Aim for free-range poultry and grass-fed meats as well as eggs and a quality whey protein.
You don’t have to go to the gym and you don’t have to do yoga or an intense workout video (unless you like to), but find SOME kind of exercise you like. Maybe go for a walk each day or ride your bike. It doesn’t really matter what the exercise is, just find one you enjoy and do it.
And there you have it! These are the most helpful things I’ve found to boost serotonin. But, I know there’s more! If you have something to add to this list, please share in a comment below.