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Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that acts in the brain, establishing communication between nerve cells, and can also be found in the digestive system and blood platelets. This molecule, also known as the "happiness hormone" is produced from the amino acid tryptophan, which is obtained through food.
Serotonin acts by regulating mood, sleep, appetite, heart rate, body temperature, sensitivity and cognitive functions and, therefore, when it is in a low concentration, it can cause bad mood, difficulty sleeping, anxiety or even depression.
One of the ways to increase the concentration of serotonin in the bloodstream is to consume foods rich in tryptophan, practice physical exercises regularly and, in more severe cases, take medication according to the neurologist's guidance. Check out some tips to increase serotonin.
What is serotonin for
The main functions of serotonin are:
1. Regulates mood
Serotonin works in the brain to regulate anxiety, increase happiness and improve mood, so low levels of this molecule can cause anxiety and lead to depression.
2. Regulates sleep
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that also stimulates regions in the brain that control sleep and awakening.
3. Acts on bowel movements
Serotonin is found in large amounts in the stomach and intestine, helping to control bowel function and movement.
4. Regulates nausea
The production of serotonin increases when the body needs to eliminate toxic substances from the intestine, such as in cases of diarrhea. This increase also stimulates a region of the brain that controls nausea.
5. Blood clotting
Blood platelets release serotonin to help wounds heal. Serotonin leads to vasoconstriction, thus facilitating blood clotting.
6. Bone he alth
Serotonin plays a role in bone he alth, and its imbalance can have a negative impact. Significantly high levels of serotonin in the bones can make bones weaker, increasing the risk of suffering from osteoporosis.
7. Sexual function
Serotonin is a substance that is related to libido and, therefore, changes in its levels can alter sexual desire.
Low serotonin symptoms
The low concentration of serotonin in the body can lead to the appearance of signs and symptoms, such as:
- Mood in the morning;
- Drowsy during the day;
- Change in sexual desire;
- Desire to eat all the time, especially sweets;
- Difficulty in learning;
- Memory and concentration disorders;
In addition, the person may still feel tired and run out of patience easily, which may indicate that the body needs more serotonin in the bloodstream.
In the presence of these symptoms, it is important that the doctor is consulted so that the most appropriate treatment can be initiated, which usually involves an improvement in diet and the use of tryptophan supplements, in some cases.
In more serious cases, where serotonin insufficiency has a great impact on the person's life, causing depression or excessive anxiety for example, it may be necessary to take more specific medicines.
Foods to increase serotonin
Some foods rich in tryptophan, which serve to increase the production of serotonin in the body, are:
- Black chocolate;
- Lean and low-fat meats;
- Whole grains;
In addition to these, foods rich in omega-3, such as salmon, sardines, trout and nuts, are good sources of serotonin. It is recommended that these foods be included in the daily diet in small portions and several times a day.
A good option is to have a banana smoothie for breakfast, have a grilled chicken breast with tomato salad for lunch, and have 1 glass of red wine after dinner. See more examples of foods that help increase serotonin.