Serotonin is a chemical substance produced by the human body. It transmits signals throughout the nerves, so it functions as a neurotransmitter. It is synthesized from tryptophan.
Experts consider its main function to be the maintenance of stability of the emotional state of each person. A serotonin deficiency leads to depression.
It also helps in the contraction of smooth muscles, such as the transmission of nerve impulses and regulation of the body’s circadian processes.
Serotonin is produced in greater amounts in the gastrointestinal tract. However, it can also can be found in blood platelets, the brain and the central nervous system.
Since there are abundant amounts in the body, it has a strong influence on a variety of physical and psychological functions.
For example, when its levels decrease dramatically, it causes serious negative moods like irritability, stress and depression.
The last one mentioned is very worrying, because it can worsen with time and become an illness.
What Are the Symptoms of Serotonin Deficiency?
The deficiency of this neurotransmitter tends to carry with it many consequences for physical and mental health, although identifying it is sometimes hard.
However, when it lead to depression, a series of symptoms develop. Therefore, you should consider the following as warning signs:
- Constant negativity
- Sense of anxiety
- Obsessive or strict behavior
- Impatience or irritability
- Profound sadness or unhappiness
- Low self-esteem or lack of self confidence
- Difficulty sleeping
Read more: The 10 Best Foods for Fighting Insomnia
What Causes Low Serotonin Levels?
Serotonin levels decrease when not enough sources of tryptophan are added in the diet along with other essential vitamins and minerals.
It’s common for difficulties to present themselves due to the consumption of excessive alcohol, caffeine and artificial sweeteners.
Chronic stress, anguish and similar emotions do not allow the brain to produce the necessary amounts of this neurotransmitter.
In addition, this substance is stimulated by sunlight. Therefore, there’s a greater tendency to be depressed in the winter.
How to Prevent Depression and Increase Serotonin Levels
One of the key elements of fighting depression and stimulate serotonin production is adding special foods to your diet.
These will improve your sense of wellbeing and provide some additional benefits to your body.
Proteins and essential fatty acids from blue fish increase the production of this neurotransmitter. In addition, they decrease the inflammation that blocks its activity.
These types of fish include:
Moderate consumption of meat brings abundant amounts of protein and carbohydrates to the body. This allows it to facilitate tryptophan absorption.
Meats such as chicken, turkey and pork have large amounts of this amino acid.
Eggs, especially the yolk, are rich in tryptophan and essential minerals that improve your emotional health.
Milk and its derivatives increase your sensation of well being. Meanwhile, they decrease cortisol levels that are predominant in stress and depression.
Plus, they are a significant source of essential amino acids, tryptophan among them.
Enjoy dairy products such as:
- Greek yogurt
Beans are excellent alternatives to better your emotional health and decrease depression. Overall, they’re a source of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals that increase serotonin levels in the brain.
In addition, a handful of nuts can decrease stress, depression and the sense of fatigue. Their essential fatty acids give your body energy and improve physical and mental performance.
Furthermore, they’re a great source of magnesium. This is a mineral that promotes your body’s relaxation in order to relieve the effects of stress and fight off sleeping problems.
Read more: 7 Reasons Why You Should Eat More Nuts
Finally, delicious dark chocolate is the best food to alleviate depression and all kinds of emotional difficulties.
It contains the perfect dosage of tryptophan, especially when its made up of more than 60% darkchocolate.
In addition, it’s a significant source of antioxidants. These molecules help inhibit the negative effects of free radicals.
In conclusion, although depression is influenced by many factors, adequate levels of serotonin are essential for overcoming it. It’s very important to obtain it through a specific diet and continuous practice of good habits like meditation and exercise.