Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that acts in the brain, establishing communication between nerve cells, and can also be found in the digestive system and in blood platelets. This hormone is produced through an amino acid called tryptophan, which is obtained through food.
Serotonin is a hormone that acts by regulating mood, sleep, appetite, heart rate, body temperature, sensitivity and intellectual functions and therefore when this hormone is in a low concentration, it can cause a bad mood, difficulty sleeping, anxiety or even depression. One way to increase the concentration of serotonin in the bloodstream is to consume foods rich in tryptophan, to exercise regularly and in more severe cases, to take medication.
What is serotonin for
Serotonin is very important for several functions of the body, so it is very important that the amounts of this hormone are in balance.
1. Acts on bowel movements
Serotonin is found in large quantities in the stomach and intestine, helping to control bowel function and movements.
2. Regulates mood
Serotonin acts on the brain regulating anxiety, increasing happiness and improving mood, so low levels of this hormone can cause anxiety and lead to depression.
3. Regulates nausea
Serotonin production increases to help eliminate toxic substances from the intestine, for example in cases of diarrhea, and this increase also stimulates a region of the brain that controls nausea.
4. Regulates sleep
Serotonin also stimulates regions in the brain that control sleep and awakening.
5. Blood clotting
Blood platelets release serotonin to help heal wounds. It leads to vasoconstriction, thus facilitating blood clotting.
6. Bone health
Serotonin plays a role in bone health. Significantly high levels of it in bones can lead to osteoporosis, which makes bones weaker.
Signs that serotonin is low
The low concentration in the body can lead to the appearance of:
- Moodiness in the morning;
- Drowsiness during the day;
- Alteration of sexual desire;
- Willingness to eat sweets;
- Eat all the time;
- Difficulty in learning;
- Memory and concentration disorders;
In addition, the person may also feel tired and run out of patience easily, which may indicate that the body needs more serotonin in the bloodstream. There are some foods, such as bananas, salmon, nuts and eggs, which are rich in tryptophan, an essential amino acid for the body, which has the function of producing serotonin in the brain, also known as the happiness hormone, which contributes to the feeling of well-being.
In addition, serotonin is an essential neurotransmitter for maintaining important functions in the body, such as controlling mood swings, regulating the sleep cycle, maintaining mental health, decreasing anxiety and helping to regulate appetite. Serotonin deficiency has been linked to mood disorders, depression and anxiety, as well as insomnia, bad mood, memory loss, aggressiveness and eating disorders.
To contribute to the feeling of well-being and happiness, it is important to include in the diet some foods rich in tryptophan, however, more scientific studies are needed to determine how much to eat. These foods are:
- Animal origin: cheese, chicken, turkey, eggs and salmon;
- Fruits: banana, avocado and pineapple;
- Vegetables and tubers: cauliflower, broccoli, potatoes, beets and peas;
- Dried fruits: nuts, peanuts, cashews and Brazil nuts;
- Soy and derivatives;
- Seaweed: Spirulina and seaweed;
This list contains some of the richest foods in tryptophan, but in addition to tryptophan, these foods also contain calcium and magnesium, which are two very important nutrients to ensure proper serotonin production, as well as improving their action in the body.
In addition, some studies have shown that intestinal flora can also influence behavior and mood, as well as tryptophan and serotonin metabolism. For this reason, it is believed that the consumption of probiotics may improve serotonin levels and improve mood and well-being. See more about probiotics and the foods that contain them.
Foods rich in magnesium and calcium
To ensure greater production of serotonin and improve its action, in addition to eating foods rich in tryptophan, you can also increase your intake of foods rich in magnesium and calcium, such as cheese, dried fruits, spinach and beans.
These foods should be consumed throughout all meals of the day, to keep serotonin levels close to ideal. In addition to food, carrying out activities such as the practice of physical exercise in the open air and meditation, help to avoid mood disorders, emotional disorders and have a more balanced body, physically and mentally.