Serotonin Releasing Diet

Serotonin is often referred to as the “happiness hormone,” despite the fact that it is a neurotransmitter. However, it certainly does increase feelings of happiness, relaxation, and well-being. Serotonin regulates mood and sleep, among other functions, such as appetite.  When our body releases serotonin, we experience the calm feeling that everything is going to be all right. It eases our anxiety and aggression, allows us to sleep better, focus, and maintain a positive outlook on life.

So how do we release serotonin in our bodies? Tryptophan is the basis for conversion into serotonin. Many proteins contain tryptophan (you know, that amino acid that makes you feel sleepy after eating turkey), and consuming foods rich in tryptophan will contribute to the release of serotonin. So, if you aren’t eating these foods already, take a look at the list, and incorporate them into your diet.

Foods High in Tryptophan

Red Meat                                                 Cheese

Poultry- such as chicken or turkey     Milk (including soy milk)

Fish                                                          Eggs

Seafood                                                   Carrots

Dried date                                                Mushrooms

Sea weed                                                 Mustard greens and seeds

Parsley                                                     Watermelon

Papaya                                                     Turnips & Rutabagas

Onions                                                      Beets

Celery                                                      Sweet peppers

Squash                                                     Dried apricots

Limit your consumption of sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. These stimulants produce temporary highs in mood and energy, and cause you to “crash” afterwards. Regular intake of these stimulants creates an ongoing cycle of ups and downs.

In addition, exercise releases those “feel good” hormones, giving you a natural high and happiness after working out. If you exercise frequently, you will enjoy the ongoing benefits of serotonin. You will also begin craving exercise, rather than caffeine and other stimulants. Exercise is not just about looking good, but feeling good.

If you incorporate tryptophan rich foods in your diet, eliminate stimulants, and exercise regularly, your mood and sleep routine will improve, your anxiety will be eased, and you will feel more relaxed.

Check out my recipe for Carrot, Ginger and Pear Soup, which incorporates 4 of these tryptophan rich foods!

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