Serotonin: The “Feel Good” Hormone

Serotonin: The “Feel Good” Hormone

The following is from a website called Puristat.com and is a bit of information on Serotonin. Most people are familiar with Serotonin, knowing it has something to do with your brain, happiness, blah blah blah. What you’re about to read will surprise you. Did you know that most of your serotonin isn’t found in your brain, but in your GUT!? 

Serotonin: The Brain-Gut Connection

Another vital aspect of our digestive system is its role in the production of serotonin – the body’s natural “Feel Good Hormone”. Over ninety-five percent of the body’s serotonin is found in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, which has been called the body’s “second brain”1 because of its role in serotonin production and so many of the body’s vital functions. In fact, serotonin levels have been linked to everything from autism to constipation.

Serotonin is a key player in the functioning of GI tract muscles, causing the contraction of our intestines, and triggering the gut nerves which signal pain, nausea, and other GI problems. As well, it influences the functioning of the cardiovascular, immune, and renal systems. This amazing hormone also regulates aggression, appetite, cognition, mood, sexual behavior, and even sleep.

A neurotransmitter (chemical by which nerve cells communicate with each other or with muscles), serotonin is manufactured in our bodies from the amino acid tryptophan, which is derived from the food we eat. Diet, then, influences not only the state of our digestive system and overall physical health, it also has a profound impact on memory, mental clarity, mood, and even the foods we crave; these functions are all regulated by serotonin.

  • The Mayo Clinic found that serotonin plays a key role in controlling depression.2
  • The Brain, Behavior, and Immunity journal reports that tryptophan, the amino acid from which serotonin is manufactured, assists in memory retention as well as maintaining a good mood, especially among people with a family history of depression.3
  • University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center research sheds light on how serotonin works to suppress appetite.4

Optimal nutrition and digestion is crucial to the production and function of serotonin and that, in turn, plays a vital role in everything from our mental health to our ability to get a good night’s sleep.

Diet Is Vital to Serotonin Production

Nutrition is vital not only to our physical health; it’s necessary to a properly functioning digestive system capable of producing sufficient amounts of serotonin. A diet of “real food” – one rich in organic fruits and vegetables and free of trans fats, refined wheat and sugar – goes a long way toward preventing the build up of toxins in the colon. And when it comes to serotoninproduction, the importance of raw foods for their nutrient value and serotonin-boosting properties cannot be over stated.

Our bodies require serotonin as well as tryptophan, the amino acid from which it is manufactured.

Tips for Ensuring Adequate Serotonin Levels

  • Eat foods rich in calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B to help with serotonin production.
  • If you cannot get fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, opt for frozen over canned.
  • Omega-3, omega-6, and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) are required for serotonin production. GLA is found in black currant seed, borage, evening primrose, and hemp seed5 oils. Click here for a list of omega-3 and -6 sources.
  • Healthy carbohydrates and proteins help metabolize foods high in the agents responsible for serotonin production.
  • Avoid white flour and sugar carbohydrates. The boost they provide in serotonin levels is temporary and quickly followed by a crash.
  • Foods in which completely formed serotonin can be found include bananas, kiwis, pineapples, plantains, plums, tomatoes, and walnuts.
  • Foods rich in tryptophan include almonds, bananas, beans, cheeses (particularly Cheddar and Swiss), chicken, eggs, fish (especially high-oil fish such as herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines, and tuna), milk, peanuts, soy foods, turkey, and yoghurt.
  • Digestive enzymes and probiotic supplements can assist with full nutrient absorption from the above food sources, thereby increasing overall nutrient intake.

The passage above is an excerpt from: http://www.puristat.com/braingut/serotonin.aspx

I think it’s fascinating! I had to share it with you all. It just goes to show that what you put in your body really does impact more than your weight/ fitness level. 🙂

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