If you experience low moods, anxiety, depression and poor sleep I'm about to share with you 8 top hacks to boost your happy, feel-good hormone serotonin naturally!
So let’s get into it!
Firstly its important to understand what exactly is serotonin?
Serotonin is a nervous system communicator, mostly known as “the happy hormone” as it regulates happiness, anxiety and mood. Research shows that high serotonin in the brain generally means happier moods, while low serotonin may be linked to an increased risk for depression, anxiety and sleep issues. But serotonin not only supports your mood, but is also required for digestion, libido, memory, bone health and restful sleep. So when serotonin is low, any or all of these processes can be affected.
So it’s kind of a big deal!
The good news is that you can support your body's natural happiness hormone by understanding what causes low serotonin levels, and learning effective lifestyle hacks to increase your levels!
What causes low serotonin levels?
Low levels occur when your body doesn't produce enough of it, when serotonin is being broken down too quickly or when there aren't enough serotonin receptors in the brain.
This can be caused by:
- Chronic stress & HPA dysfunction
- Methylation dysfunction
- Hormonal imbalances
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Alcohol and drugs
- Poor gut health
- Poor diet
- Essential fatty acid deficiency
Now let’s look at how you can naturally increase serotonin levels with a few changes in your lifestyle!
Heads up: Everyone is different, for some it may be a gradual improvement, for others, cases may be more severe and require practitioner support.
Here are 8 Serotonin Hacks For Better Moods, sleep + less anxiety!
Hack 1: 20-30 minutes of sun exposure daily!
One way to boost serotonin levels is by exposing yourself to sunlight. Sunlight contains a type of light called "blue light," which stimulates special cells in our eyes that send signals to the brain's "suprachiasmatic nucleus" (SCN). The SCN is a part of the brain that regulates our circadian rhythms, or our natural sleep-wake cycles.
When the SCN is activated by blue light, it sends signals to other parts of the brain to release more serotonin. This is why we often feel happier and more energized on sunny days - our brains are literally being bathed in a chemical that makes us feel good!
Sunlight on our skin also increases our body’s production of Vitamin D and it turns out that vitamin D also plays a role in the production and regulation of serotonin in the brain. In fact, studies have shown that people with low levels of vitamin D are more likely to experience depression and other mood disorders.
One reason for this is that vitamin D helps to activate the enzymes that convert the amino acid tryptophan into serotonin. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that our bodies can't produce on their own - we have to get it from our diet. But even if we're consuming enough tryptophan, we still need adequate levels of vitamin D to turn it into serotonin.
So, in short, the sunshine vitamin D is important for serotonin production and may help to support healthy mood and emotional well-being.
Hack 2: Exercise regularly!
Exercise stimulates the bodies release of chemicals called endorphins, which are known for their pain-relieving and mood-boosting effects. Endorphins are often referred to as "feel-good" chemicals because they can make us feel happier, more energized, and more motivated.
But endorphins aren't the only chemicals that our bodies produce when we exercise. Research has also shown that exercise can increase the production of serotonin in the brain, along with being a potentially low-risk treatment for depression.
So, how does exercise boost serotonin? One theory is that exercise stimulates the production of tryptophan, an amino acid that's needed to make serotonin. Tryptophan is found in many protein-rich foods, but it's also produced in the body. When we exercise, our bodies use up some of the tryptophan that's stored in our muscles. This triggers a chain reaction that ultimately results in the production of more serotonin.
Go for a walk, do yoga, pilates or dance to your favourite tunes, it doesn't matter how you moving your body, just choose movement you enjoy!
Hack 3: Increase tryptophan foods
Tryptophan is the amino acid that is required for serotonin production; to get tryptophan we need to be eating more chickpeas, wild caught salmon, pumpkin seeds, organic eggs, turkey, and bananas - all of the delicious things.
Hack 4: Switch the coffee for a Matcha
One of the unique properties of matcha is that it contains a compound called L-theanine. L-theanine is an amino acid that's been shown to have a calming effect on the brain. It can help to reduce stress and anxiety, improve focus and concentration, and promote a sense of relaxation.
But how does L-theanine in matcha BOOST serotonin?
Research has shown that L-theanine can help to increase the production of serotonin in the brain. One study found that participants who consumed L-theanine had significantly higher levels of serotonin in their brains compared to a control group. This suggests that L-theanine may play a role in regulating serotonin levels and improving mood.
Additionally, matcha also contains a small amount of caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant that can help to improve focus and energy levels. But when caffeine is consumed in combination with L-theanine, it can have a synergistic effect.
The L-theanine can help to counteract some of the negative effects of caffeine, such as jitters and anxiety, while still providing a boost of energy and alertness.
This is a great excuse to switch the coffee for a Matcha such as our Luna’s Matcha and feel the natural boost in energy & moods.
Hack #5: Improve your gut health
Did you know that 90-95% of serotonin is made in your gut?! Supporting your gut health is VITAL for your emotional health. Inflammation in the gut will inhibit the production of serotonin.
So how can we reduce inflammation in the gut? Reduce your intake of inflammatory foods such as refined carbohydrates, fried foods, sugary processed foods + alcohol. Instead focus on a whole-foods nutrient rich diet to feed good gut bacteria is key. Reducing stress + managing blood sugar levels will also help reduce inflammation too.
Hack 6: Consume more Omega 3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil help to regulate the release of serotonin. Low levels of essential fatty acids can impair serotonin receptors and result in low levels of serotonin. So consuming wild-caught fatty fish such as salmon and sardines along with flax seeds and hemp, chia and sesame is important. If you're not eating oily fish at least 3-4 times per week, a high quality fish oil supplement may be necessary.
Another easy & convenient way to get more omega-3's into your diet is by consuming more seeds! Sprinkle a product like Earth Seeds onto any meal for an easy boost in your fatty acids to support serotonin levels!
Hack 7: Reduce stress
When you're stressed, your body produces stress hormone cortisol. And guess what? Cortisol depletes serotonin. So start reducing daily stress by doing things such as exercise, meditation, breath work, dancing and enjoying more you-time will save your serotonin.
Hack 8: Eat more Turmeric
Turmeric is a powerful herb amazing at reducing inflammation (which is a known cause of depression) and also has shown to raise serotonin!
Try drinking a turmeric latte blend such as Luna’s Gold daily (see below) which also contains adaptogenic herbs maca and shatavari specifically formulated to support your stress response, and boost moods too!
That's 8 hacks to help boost your serotonin levels for better moods, more restorative sleep and less anxiety.
Remember, your body has an inherent ability to heal itself.
And given the right nutrients, herbs, diet and lifestyle - you can naturally restore balance emotionally and mentally.
Want more support naturally balancing your hormones for better moods, energy & symptom-free cycles? Come and join my course Master Your Cycle for step by step guidance!
Omega 3 + Vitamin D + Sunlight