Among the foods we should eat to increase our serotonin levels, we can consider the following:
- Foods rich in tryptophan: Since serotonin is formed from the amino acid tryptophan, it is important to eat foods containing this component to enhance the formation of serotonin. Nor should we forget that the body also produces melatonin, which together with serotonin, it is necessary to control the cycles of sleep and have a good mood.
Foods rich in tryptophan have specially an animal origin, such as fish, milk, eggs and meat, all of them very rich in proteins. We can also obtain this component from plant foods, especially vegetables, whole cereals, seeds and nuts. (More information on foods rich in tryptophan)
Serotonin rich foods are those that contain more protein: dairy, eggs, legumes and nuts.
- Foods rich in protein and carbohydrates: Foods that contain tryptophan are protein-rich foods such as meat, milk and eggs, all of animal origin. Sometimes too much emphasis is given on the need to base the power to increase serotonin in excessive consumption of animal protein.
Unfortunately, animal foods are also rich in cholesterol, so that an excessive intake of animal protein can be responsible for an excessive accumulation of this product in the body.
We may also obtain tryptophan eating vegetables. Most of them are very rich in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates have had a bad reputation on the grounds that it is supposed that its consumption can lead to obesity. Today it is thought that this idea is wrong, so it is considered that carbohydrates are necessary to keep sugar levels stable and provide the feeling of satiety needed to the brain.
This group of foods can not be ignored if we do not want to make the mistake of basing our food intake of excessive animal protein.
- Essential fatty acids: They play an important role in the formation of hormones and the functioning of neurons and chemical transmissions. Although they do not directly produce serotonin, they help maintain mental balance and avoid depression or to improve or assist in the treatment of diseases such as schizophrenia.
Among the plants that contain essential fatty acids, we have evening primrose, whose seeds together with sunflower seeds, contain the highest proportion of serotonin. Evening primrose oil, taken in capsules, may help increase levels of this component in our body.
(More information about the properties of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids)
Unsuitable products to increase serotonin levels
Among them we have to mention the stimulants , like caffeine, alcohol and foods high in refined sugars.
Taking certain drugs such as alcohol or caffeine can dramatically reduce levels of serotonin. The same can happen with drastic reduction of complex carbohydrates.
On the other hand, eating too many refined sugars (cakes, pies, candies, sugary foods, etc) only produces a feeling of fullness at the moment. This is followed by a pressing need to eat more when sugar levels in the blood drop dramatically after awhile.