Easy and Natural Ways to Raise Low Serotonin Levels Print E-mail

 

 

Copyright © 2007 Mary Ann Copson

 

 

Research indicates that in the United States 60-80% of the people, especially women, have low serotonin levels. You don’t have to get caught in the low serotonin cycle of hopelessness and despair. You can alter your low serotonin levels by carefully orchestrating your foods, activities and daily routines and habits.

You alter your brain chemistry, manipulate your neurochemical profile and affect your body’s physiology every day by what you do and don’t eat, what you think about, and how and where you spend your time. Through your daily behaviors and the environments in which you spend your time, you create your biochemical profile and this is reflected in the emotions, energy, thoughts, actions, and psychological states that either bring you into peak performance or that block your best functioning.

You have an enormous power to shape your inner world – your experience of life. What you do every day, what you eat, when you eat it, what activities you engage in and when you engage in them, what kind of environment in which you live and work – everything you do and do not do – shapes how you feel, think and how you experience your life.

You can create the range of emotions, energy levels and intellectual and creative functioning that you want. You can learn how to use what you do and do not do everyday and how you do it to create inner strength, hope, joy, mental alertness, and enthusiasm. By designing a life that keeps your biochemistry in balance you can maintain a state of optimal wellness, vitality and performance. When you understand the optimal physiological requirements of your body operating at its best, you can design your lifestyle to provide the diet, exercise, behaviors, thoughts, scheduling, and environment to support and nourish this optimal state of functioning in your body.


1. Serotonin levels are increased by a carbohydrate rich diet.

When you eat carbohydrates it results in a rise in insulin levels that acts to usher the amino acid tryptophan into the brain. Tryptophan is the precursor to serotonin. One and a half ounces of carbohydrate food (1/4 cup of oatmeal or a piece of sourdough bread) will significantly boost brain levels of serotonin. The healthiest carbohydrates to use are whole grain, low glycemic index carbohydrates such as barley, oats, buckwheat and carbohydrate rich vegetables such as yams, sweet potatoes and squashes. Fruits and most other vegetables have a neutral effect on brain chemistry.

2. Eat the kinds of protein that favor serotonin production.

These proteins are high in the amino acid tryptophan: chicken, white flakey fish, lean cuts of pork, veal, cottage cheese, lamb, low fat cheeses, low fat milk and dairy products, soy and legumes.

3. All meditative activities raise serotonin levels.

 

Spend time in a natural place such as a forest, park, mountains, or seashore.

Prayer, meditation, positive visualization boost serotonin levels and your feelings of well being, relaxed concentration and peace.

Engage in low arousal, highly meditative and internal spiritual practices that relax you.

Try relaxing activities such as hobbies or crafts.

4. Engage in exercise that increases your heart rate somewhat but not significantly.

Strolling, yoga, non-aerobic swimming, bike riding when done at least 4 days in a row a week will over a period of 60 days increase your baseline serotonin levels.

5. Have a regular wake sleep cycle.

The production of serotonin for the next day requires at least 7 continuous hours of sound high quality sleep the night before.

6. Get out in the sun at least 30 minutes in the morning and for 2 hours throughout the day.

Sunlight burns off melatonin produced the night before. The presence of high levels of melatonin consumes serotonin. Sunlight suppressed the production of melatonin and allows your serotonin levels to rise during the day. Without the exposure to adequate natural light your melatonin levels will be higher and your serotonin levels will be lower.

7. Eat a meal with high level of proteins that contain tryptophan and follow that by a carbohydrate snack two hours later.

This will act to drive the lingering tryptophan into the brain and set up the production of greater amounts of serotonin the next day.

8. Do things that revitalize you and let you feel good.

Take a low activity, high relaxation vacation with your family or by yourself with plenty of time to slow down.

Listen to classical music, light rock, folk or easy listening music.

Visit a museum, go to the theater, the symphony, or watch TV or films about love stories, comedies and other feel good movies.

Engage in long, deep conversations with one or two other people.

Clean and organize your environment.

Read: Self-help books are especially complimentary.

 

 


Mary Ann Copson is the founder of the Evenstar Mood & Energy Wellness Center for Women. With Master's Degrees in Human Development and Psychology and Counseling, Mary Ann is a Certified Licensed Nutritionist; Certified Holistic Health Practitioner; Brain Chemistry Profile Clinician; and a Health, Wellness and Lifestyle Coach. Discover ways to positively affect your neurotransmitter profile at http://evenstaronline.com/brainchemistry

 

 

 

 

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  • Hi John,

    I looked at the use of tryptophan in depression during my degree studies and didn't come across any research looking at the timing of protein and carbohydrate consumption - in fact the research base is very small in general although what there is has been quite encouraging.

    It would seem likely that loading with protein/tryptophan and then having a high carb meal an hour or two later would increase serotonin levels in the brain the most. Eating protein and carbohydrate together would attenuate the blood sugar rise and decrease the amount of insulin released and thus the amount of tryptophan transported across the blood-brain barrier (BBB) into the brain.

    Like 0 Short URL:
  • Guest - Jo

    I am coming off antidepressants and it is hell, particularly the moodswings- extreme rage and tearfulness.
    The article is very interesting but we don't have enough sunlight where I live for two and a half hours a day, we have many days without any - did you mean daylight?
    Also I can't make myself sleep soundly for seven hours a night - I have chronic disturbed sleep and nightmares.So I don't know haw I could get around that.

    Like 0 Short URL:
  • Hi Jo,

    I suffer from chronic depression and SAD and find that cloudy days are almost as bad as the dark inter days so for me it really has to be bright sunlight to get the benefits. Any light is better than none though so getting outside for walks might help - exercise obviously helps depression as well. Adrenal fatigue due to chronic stress and other factors, as well as blood sugar imbalance/hypoglycemia, are sometimes contributors to poor sleep patterns. Good luck!

    Like 0 Short URL:
  • Guest - Joe

    RE: Lacking sunlight

    I grew up in Alaska and Washington state; both places seriously lacking quality direct bright daily sunlight... especially Seattle!

    You can buy an expensive light therapy setup or use an equally well designed system I created... I call it Plant Therapy!

    Since we are much like plants (we need Sunlight, water, good nutrients) I used several inexpensive flourescent wide spectrum and speciality plant lights to do the trick.

    I set these up as a sort of close proximity light bank and did not have to worry about the heat nor excessive UV woes from the tanning booths.

    Since some of these light frequnecies are very short it is helpful to keep your light bank close to you.

    Use this setup while doing and active enlighting meditation and you will seel rapid change for the better.

    Joe Rollins

    Like 0 Short URL:
  • Guest - Joe

    Sorry all... I wrote the last post on my cell phone and noticed a few spelling errors and can't go back and edit them. >:(

    Like 0 Short URL:
  • Guest - Ashley

    I have done a lot of research on depression and seritonin levels. If you struggle with anxiety disorders you should stay away from caffine because it triggers depressive moods. Seritonin is eliminated when you have large amounts of caffine. Also being in natural light is more helpful with moods. So far I have been caffine free for 2 months and so far so good.

    Like 0 Short URL:
  • Guest - Bridgette Winford

    I have never suffered depression in my life, and realize how lucky I have been. With menopause, on came depression, chocolate cravings and weight gain. My entire family is insulin resistant, obese, and diabetes runs rampant in my family and several member have died from the disease, I cannot consume over 25 grams of carbs a day, in order to keep my weight down and control my hypoglycemia, and they must be very low glycemic index foods, like broccili, green beans, asparqus, and so on. Any ideas of modifications to raise my serotin levels?

    Like 0 Short URL:
  • Bridgette, you don't mention whether your diet contains the major sources of the amino acid tryptophan, such as poultry. An adequate intake of tryptophan is essential to maintain serotonin production.

    Like 0 Short URL:
  • Guest - Mrs.ITS

    I have noticed lately that I have had what I call very uppy downy moods swings, not severe just enough to where I notice it. I have to have my coffee in the morning, otherwise I'm pretty Grumpy, I don't know if it's the fact that I want my alone time, or the coffee, or both. Any how my Doctor says I probably have dysthymia. I use to be very good at meditating and yoga, but have fallen away with my new Massage Therapy business, Husband and Daughter(all with in 2 yrs). We are doing our best to be Gluten Free, have less Dairy and be all around healthy (hubby's allergies) we quit eating pork, and he dosent like an abundance of chicken... we dont drink soda, I could go on but you get the point. I guess its all here I just need to make the time, but any food suggestions would be appreciated greatly. Thanks to the writer of the Article and to all the comments and Suggestions, Good Luck and God Bless us all with higher Serotonin levels!:-*

    Like 0 Short URL:
  • Guest - Alegra

    Was prescribed anti-anxiety tablets a week ago, but they are unopened. I felt the doctor pushed me into taking them. Meditation and diet was never discussed. I have a gut instinct not to take them, and instead find a natural way of boosting serotonin levels.

    Started meditating yesterday. The results in just one day is amazing. I've taken control of so many unresolved issues today already. I meditated on "emptying my mind", so worries and thoughts aren't making me procrastinate and aren't placing me in that depressive cycle.

    Thanks for the tip on caffeine, Ashley. That's the next challange :-)

    Like 0 Short URL:
Comments (21)Add Comment
 1 2 > 
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written by jesse gury, October 07, 2008
like to know how to rise my serotonin levels
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written by christina, November 02, 2008
this is a really powerful article and something
that i will take great comfort and inspiration in.
its amazing how simple things can be.
Maff
...
written by Matthew Hogg, November 04, 2008
Hi Christina,

I'm glad you found this article useful. It seems you're not the only one as it has been the site's most popular article for some time now!

I myself have struggled with low serotonin as well as seasonal affective disorder (S.A.D). I've found many of the recommendations in this article particularly meditation, exercise (I can currently manage a round of golf), getting to bed at a sensible time and getting sufficient natural light exposure.

If the measures in this article don't help you to improve as much as you'd like you can also try nutrients and herbs such as 5HTP, St John's Wort and Rhodiola rosea. Vitamin D may also be helpful particularly in winter(as might light therapy).
0
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written by Debra Cantrell, December 07, 2008
Hello Mary Ann,
I really enjoyed and greatly appreciate this article. Although I would never again eat a dead animal or dairy, you have given other information that is going to help me immensely overcome and teach others more about this needless suffering. I am a firm believer in healing thyself but still have much to learn. It is people like you that are willing to take the time and to tell the truth about these types of illnesses that will help to heal the world. Thank you so very much, Debra Cantrell, I owe you much.
0
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written by vishal v, August 06, 2009
I always remain silent to rise my serotonin level. I talk less to be more at peace. smilies/smiley.gif
0
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written by Jamie lin, December 29, 2009
Hey there. I've been struggling with severe and aggressive anger problems lately. I also suffer depression. I always expect the worst and dwell on the past and it's really been putting a tamper on my relationship. My boyfriend has just about had enough but continues to put up with my antics. I used to be heavy into sports and excerise and enjoying nature. I drink nothing but soda and I smoke regularly. And after highschool I stopped The outdoors fun and sports in there entirety and now work 30-40 hours a week and see little to know excersize. Do you think this is my problem? Do u think the information in this article will be somewhat helpful for
me?
0
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written by sibhekinkosimoyo, February 05, 2010
i want to take this tyme to say thank you to whoever is behind this article.i suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder.but this article has ginen me a million reasons to believe that i can live my life normally and i do not need to sitdown and wait for the medication to do all the work.but instead i have discovered that it all lies with me.i have got the power to bring healing to myself.THANK U VERYMUCHÂÂ
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written by EternalSpirit, March 01, 2010
Thank you for posting this article.

I am a firm believer of natural healing. I believe that deliberate life style that promote well being has the ability to prevent and cure illnesses. Therefore, I meditate at least fifteen minutes a day. I am 90% raw vegan and 10% vegetarian. I rock climb for days a week. I run about 3 miles once a week. I also make art. I volunteer. I spend time with my loved ones. Moreover, I enjoy fun activities, such as dancing. A combination of all of these deliberately chosen life style provides me with a very healthy and optimize mind, emotional state, spiritual state and physical well being.

Best,
Su Wai

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written by cynloohoo, June 02, 2010
I'm reading a book called "Balance Your Brain, Balance Your Life" and it's really interesting. It definitely addresses the issue of various Neurotransmitters and how they truly affect our overall health and well-being. Dr. Chris Renna is one of the authors. I don't know the doctor or the place he practices, I just saw it online and thought it might help me. I haven't got to the 28-day program yet, but so far I'm really intrigued.
0
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written by Korie S, July 08, 2010
This article is very informative! Thank you for it! I have depression and I exercise regularly and I always feel so energized and good afterwords. Also the sun always makes me feel good, I already do most of this stuff, but I am looking for something that is maybe a little different to do to be happy!! smilies/cheesy.gif If anyone knows feel free to email me! Thanks again! Korie1019@yahoo.com
0
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written by John from NJ, September 07, 2010
Is it okay to pre-load during breakfast and lunch with high-protein meals containing tryptophan and then switch to a high-carb meal for dinner? Would that get the serotonin flowing? It's so complex to manipulate, well for me it is lol. HELP. How do I manipulate it? smilies/cheesy.gif
Maff
...
written by Matthew Hogg, September 08, 2010
Hi John,

I looked at the use of tryptophan in depression during my degree studies and didn't come across any research looking at the timing of protein and carbohydrate consumption - in fact the research base is very small in general although what there is has been quite encouraging.

It would seem likely that loading with protein/tryptophan and then having a high carb meal an hour or two later would increase serotonin levels in the brain the most. Eating protein and carbohydrate together would attenuate the blood sugar rise and decrease the amount of insulin released and thus the amount of tryptophan transported across the blood-brain barrier (BBB) into the brain.
0
...
written by Jo, October 29, 2010
I am coming off antidepressants and it is hell, particularly the moodswings- extreme rage and tearfulness.
The article is very interesting but we don't have enough sunlight where I live for two and a half hours a day, we have many days without any - did you mean daylight?
Also I can't make myself sleep soundly for seven hours a night - I have chronic disturbed sleep and nightmares.So I don't know haw I could get around that.
Maff
...
written by Matthew Hogg, November 06, 2010
Hi Jo,

I suffer from chronic depression and SAD and find that cloudy days are almost as bad as the dark inter days so for me it really has to be bright sunlight to get the benefits. Any light is better than none though so getting outside for walks might help - exercise obviously helps depression as well. Adrenal fatigue due to chronic stress and other factors, as well as blood sugar imbalance/hypoglycemia, are sometimes contributors to poor sleep patterns. Good luck!
0
...
written by Joe, November 09, 2010
RE: Lacking sunlight

I grew up in Alaska and Washington state; both places seriously lacking quality direct bright daily sunlight... especially Seattle!

You can buy an expensive light therapy setup or use an equally well designed system I created... I call it Plant Therapy!

Since we are much like plants (we need Sunlight, water, good nutrients) I used several inexpensive flourescent wide spectrum and speciality plant lights to do the trick.

I set these up as a sort of close proximity light bank and did not have to worry about the heat nor excessive UV woes from the tanning booths.

Since some of these light frequnecies are very short it is helpful to keep your light bank close to you.

Use this setup while doing and active enlighting meditation and you will seel rapid change for the better.

Joe Rollins
0
...
written by Joe, November 09, 2010
Sorry all... I wrote the last post on my cell phone and noticed a few spelling errors and can't go back and edit them. smilies/angry.gif
0
...
written by Ashley, November 18, 2010
I have done a lot of research on depression and seritonin levels. If you struggle with anxiety disorders you should stay away from caffine because it triggers depressive moods. Seritonin is eliminated when you have large amounts of caffine. Also being in natural light is more helpful with moods. So far I have been caffine free for 2 months and so far so good.
0
...
written by Bridgette Winford, December 10, 2010
I have never suffered depression in my life, and realize how lucky I have been. With menopause, on came depression, chocolate cravings and weight gain. My entire family is insulin resistant, obese, and diabetes runs rampant in my family and several member have died from the disease, I cannot consume over 25 grams of carbs a day, in order to keep my weight down and control my hypoglycemia, and they must be very low glycemic index foods, like broccili, green beans, asparqus, and so on. Any ideas of modifications to raise my serotin levels?
Maff
...
written by Matthew Hogg, December 11, 2010
Bridgette, you don't mention whether your diet contains the major sources of the amino acid tryptophan, such as poultry. An adequate intake of tryptophan is essential to maintain serotonin production.
0
...
written by Mrs.ITS, February 26, 2011
I have noticed lately that I have had what I call very uppy downy moods swings, not severe just enough to where I notice it. I have to have my coffee in the morning, otherwise I'm pretty Grumpy, I don't know if it's the fact that I want my alone time, or the coffee, or both. Any how my Doctor says I probably have dysthymia. I use to be very good at meditating and yoga, but have fallen away with my new Massage Therapy business, Husband and Daughter(all with in 2 yrs). We are doing our best to be Gluten Free, have less Dairy and be all around healthy (hubby's allergies) we quit eating pork, and he dosent like an abundance of chicken... we dont drink soda, I could go on but you get the point. I guess its all here I just need to make the time, but any food suggestions would be appreciated greatly. Thanks to the writer of the Article and to all the comments and Suggestions, Good Luck and God Bless us all with higher Serotonin levels!smilies/kiss.gif
 1 2 > 

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Last Updated on Thursday, 17 March 2011 11:48
 

 

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