Description and Benefits of the Serotonin Diet
Recently, a new type of diet’s been unveiled that aims to prevent (or help fight, as the case may be) depression and anxiety. Yes, the serotonin diet exists.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that has a determining influence on our mood and our appetite. Therefore, having low serotonin levels is the origin of depression and depressive states.
It’s very common that, during the day, we’re able to maintain a healthy diet, or follow a diet that we have marked with the intention of losing weight.
However, when the afternoon falls, it is usual to feel an unstoppable desire to eat sweet products, and it will be very difficult not to fall into temptation. This is due to a drop in serotonin levels .
Reasons to go on the serotonin diet
Unlike popular “miracle” diets, the serotonin diet doesn’t involve dietary restrictions or difficult-to-follow guidelines. Its dietary model simply suggests eating more foods that promote serotonin secretion.
So, why go on this diet? Well, basically because it promotes physical and mental well-being. It’s very useful if you’re constantly subjected to stressful situations, anxiety, or depression. Let’s look at what it consists of.
The serotonin diet, nutrition
In fact, there are no foods rich in serotonin, or that contain serotonin. However, the amino acid tryptophan is the precursor of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Therefore, consuming foods rich in tryptophan, the production of serotonin is guaranteed.
In addition to consuming foods rich in tryptophan, it is necessary that your diet contains vitamins C, B1, B6, B9, and B12, calcium, and zinc to promote the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin.
Therefore, it is necessary that your diet is rich in products such as whole grains, sardines in oil, nuts, seeds, produce, and seasonal vegetables.
In addition, the synthesis of serotonin is activated in the presence of oxygen, so that physical activity activates its production and stimulates endorphins, which are natural relaxants that also generate the feeling of well-being.
Examples of food
Some of the foods that can contribute to greater production of serotonin are the following:
- Bluefish: this kind of fish provides tryptophan, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids that stimulate the conversion of serotonin-rich foods
- Meat: we must give priority to lean meats, such as chicken, turkey, or rabbit, for their contribution of tryptophan and B vitamins
- Eggs: inside this food, the yolk is especially rich in tryptophan and in vitamins of group B
- Dairy: dairy products provide tryptophan, calcium, and magnesium
- Legumes: some like soybeans, beans, and lentils are the legumes that provide more tryptophan
- Whole grain cereals: the presence of carbohydrates promotes the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin. In addition, they are a good source of B vitamins.
- Nuts and seeds: pistachios and almonds provide large amounts of tryptophan. In addition, nuts are rich in magnesium. On the other hand, seeds, such as pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or pine nuts also provide zinc.
- Seasonal fruits: they provide vitamins, calcium, and magnesium. In particular, pineapple, and banana have the most tryptophan.
- Seasonal vegetables: these products provide magnesium, vitamins, and carbohydrates with a favorable glycemic load
- Dark chocolate: it should always be consumed in moderation, but chocolate is a pleasant way to raise the level of tryptophan and magnesium
How to increase serotonin levels naturally?
To contribute to the serotonin diet, you can do some exercises that increase the levels of this element naturally.
By way of example, abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing (also known as deep breathing) alone has the capacity to produce changes in the brain, since it promotes the secretion of hormones such as serotonin and endorphins. In addition, it improves the tuning of rhythms between the two cerebral hemispheres.
In addition, you can do high-intensity exercise for at least 15 minutes a day, which will increase your serotonin levels. You can also do relaxation exercises, such as yoga, which favors the aforementioned abdominal breathing.
Going outdoors and sunbathing will also help increase serotonin levels. The sun is key for our body to secrete serotonin. Therefore, in winter, try not to wear sunglasses so that your eyes absorb more sunlight and try to get some sun every day, even if it’s just for 15 minutes. Everything combined provides you a diet rich in serotonin.
Finally, try to sleep for at least eight hours. Try to relax to have a good night’s sleep, as this makes the levels of serotonin and melatonin stay at adequate levels.
When you don’t sleep properly, the levels of these hormones are altered and also our appetites increase considerably. Therefore, it isn’t just necessary to eat well, but also to sleep well.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Shabbir, F., Patel, A., Mattison, C., Bose, S., Krishnamohan, R., Sweeney, E., … Sharma, S. (2013). Effect of diet on serotonergic neurotransmission in depression. Neurochemistry International. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuint.2012.12.014
- Peuhkuri, K., Sihvola, N., & Korpela, R. (2012). Diet promotes sleep duration and quality. Nutrition Research. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nutres.2012.03.009
- Haleem, D. J. (2012). Serotonin neurotransmission in anorexia nervosa. Behavioural Pharmacology. https://doi.org/10.1097/FBP.0b013e328357440d