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Serotonin is the happiness hormone. Let’s look into its action on mood and how we can increase its levels naturally, through diet and lifestyle..

Are you sad? Go out for a walk in the open air… maybe this up until now has just seemed like common sense advice, but there’s much more behind it. As demonstrated by science, in this way it is in fact possible to increase serotonin levels, which is a neurotransmitter known to all as the good mood hormone. So let’s try to better understand why serotonin has earned this name and, above all, what our natural allies are for increasing its levels.

Serotonin, what it is and why it is important for body and mind
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in the regulation of various biological processes underlying behavior, mood, sleep-wake rhythm, memory, gastrointestinal functioning, it regulates also pancreatic secretions and appetite and can contribute to vasodilation (Bamalan et al, StatPearls Publishing, 2023). High levels of circulating serotonin help to counteract the risk of depression and susceptibility to depression. Not only that, thanks to serotonin the mood improves, as does the sense of well-being and this also brings benefits for the health of the body, offering greater protection against diseases and even greater longevity. A sad mood, however, is associated with an increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases (Young et al, J Psychiatry Neurosci., 2007).

Can covid 19 also affect serotonin?
It seems so. In particular, long covid is associated with a reduction in serotonin levels due to the increase in inflammation (Wong et al, Cell, 2023). Long covid, we remember, is that condition that occurs even months after recovery from COVID 19 and which is characterized by an increase in inflammation and very diverse symptoms such as tiredness, mental fog, irritability, weakness, respiratory problems and cough, right to name a few. It is believed that it is precisely the reduction of serotonin that explains some neurological symptoms connected to long covid, such as an alteration of memory (Wong et al, Cell, 2023). Hence the importance of counteracting inflammation. This can be done by following, for example, the dictates of the Mediterranean diet, with a high intake of extra virgin olive oil, fruit, vegetables, legumes and whole grains, not missing green tea, which with its polyphenols reduces inflammation, and omega 3, contained in fatty fish but also in flax seeds, chia and purslane, also capable of reducing inflammation (Hong et al, Nutrients, 2022).

How to increase serotonin naturally with lifestyle
It has been observed that exposure to light, preferably intense natural light, increases serotonin levels (Young et al, J Psychiatry Neurosci., 2007). It is important to remember that even in winter and on cloudy days, outdoor light can reach and exceed 1000 lux, which never happens indoors where 500 lux is barely reached (Young et al, J Psychiatry Neurosci., 2007). Another way to increase serotonin is through exercise. And if this happens outdoors even better, as in this way it is possible to also combine the benefits of external light (Young et al, J Psychiatry Neurosci., 2007). Through stress reduction, yoga has also been shown to bring important benefits to mood, increasing serotonin levels (Woodyard et al, Int J Yoga, 2011).

How to increase serotonin naturally with diet
Some foods are naturally rich in tryptophan, an amino acid which is also the precursor of serotonin (Young et al, J Psychiatry Neurosci., 2007). These foods are bananas, pineapple, plums, turkey and milk, but also seeds, chilli and sweet pepper, hazelnuts, tomatoes, kiwis and, in smaller quantities, strawberries, pomegranate, chicory, lettuce and spring onion (Sansone et al, Innov Clin Neurosci, 2013 – Briguglio et al, Nutrients, 2018). Probiotics are also important, as they have been shown to increase levels of tryptophan, from which the body synthesizes serotonin (Wallace et al, Annals of General Psychiatry, 2017).

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Baba Voss

A Prolific Writer, Vast In Series of Publications Basically on Politics, Entertainment, Sport, Life Style, Fashion, Business, Technology, Health, History etc.

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