People often associate serotonin with a positive mood. It is a chemical found in the brain, intestines, connective tissues and blood of the human body. It transmits information across the nervous system and plays a vital role in brain function. Research links reduced level of serotonin with memory problems, low mood and depression.
More study is to be done on how serotonin works. It is believed that serotonin acts as a mood stabilizer, produces a healthy sleep pattern and makes you feel good and live longer.
No food directly contains serotonin. Serotonin foods contain tryptophan. Tryptophan is required to synthesize serotonin. Research has shown that consuming a diet low in tryptophan also drops the level of brain serotonin. Thus, eating food that contains tryptophan can boost up the level of serotonin.
What is Tryptophan
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is required in the body for the production of serotonin. It also plays an essential role in healthy sleep and brain function. People with mood disorders such as anxiety and depression show tryptophan depletion. Our body cannot make tryptophan, and we need to take it through our diet. Including food sources that contain tryptophan naturally increases the level of serotonin.
- Eggs – Egg is a complete food. It contains all essential proteins to boost up the level of tryptophan in blood plasma.
- Egg yolk is rich in biotin, choline, tyrosine, omega-3 fatty acids and is extremely rich in tryptophan along with other essential nutrients. So do not leave the yolks.
- The fried egg makes a less healthy option, so we advise you to consume poached or boiled egg, as it does not contain added fat. You may even make an omelette and eat it with salad.
2. Milk – Milk contains the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan. In addition, milk is an excellent source of calcium that is required for our bones and teeth. If you are watching the intake of saturated fats, we advise you to choose low-fat milk.
3. Cheese – Another rich source of tryptophan is cheese. In addition, it is a rich source of calcium that strengthens bone and teeth. Vitamin B-12 present in cheese helps in the proper functioning of the nervous system.
Apart from cheese, buttermilk, curd and other milk products also are a good source of serotonin.
4. Soy Products – Not just soy products are a good source of tryptophan; they are also an excellent source of protein other nutrients.
5. Nuts and Seeds – Almost all nuts and seeds are a source of tryptophan. It has been found that eating seeds and nuts lowers the risk of cancer, heart diseases and respiratory problems. That is why it is advised to have a handful of seeds and nuts every day. Sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds contain a fair amount of tryptophan. Nuts that are a good source of serotonin are cashew nuts and peanuts. Nuts and seeds are also excellent sources of vitamins, antioxidants and fibre.
6. Turkey – Turkey, is stuffed tryptophan. It is relatively low in cholesterol and saturated fat. Chicken also contains the same amount of serotonin as turkey and so can be substituted.
7. Salmon – Apart from being a rich source of tryptophan, salmon is also rich in other nutrients such as Omega 3 fatty acids. It helps lowering blood pressure and balances cholesterol.
8. Pineapple – Pineapple is a rich source of bromelain. It also contains tryptophan that improves serotonin in the brain.
9. Banana – Banana contains L-tryptophan. L- tryptophan in the brain converts into 5-HTP. 5-HTP is converted to serotonin as well as melatonin.
Other serotonin foods include oats, seafood such as fish oysters, crabs, tuna, and vegetables such as garlic, carrots cabbage, spinach, potato beans, onion and tomatoes.
Gut bacteria play a vital role in boosting serotonin level. This is why it is advised to consume a high fibre diet that is good for healthy gut bacteria.