Good days, bad days, energetic days, sad days… wouldn’t it be good to arm yourself with something that will bring a more constant sense of All Things Bright And Beautiful! Maybe you’ve tried the positive thinking route, the affirmations or NLP (Neuro Lingusitic Programming), but it all still feels rather contrived and mechanical rather than coming from within?

It might just be you need to be boosting serotonin levels. Low brain function impacts our mood considerably and can be the trigger for all sorts of behavioural characteristics: depression, overeating, hostility, alcoholism, aggression… all the way to committing crimes and suicide.

And as we all know, any one of these states can have a spiralling effect in the wrong direction. We need to guard against this and get a bit more of what makes us feel elevated and positive. And serotonin is just the thing for that!

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Benefits of higher serotonin levels

So how about we spruce up the levels with a little help here and there? It is even observed in monkeys that increasing levels of serotonin makes them more social, and more caring for one another. How can we go about creating more for ourselves?

A bout of personal success is a good start to boost confidence and raise serotonin levels. But unfortunately, similarly, a personal downfall will deplete the stock levels. Since life is about ups, downs, yin and yang and lots of contrast, we can’t rely on a steady stream of good fortune to keep us bubbling along.

Boosting serotonin through healthy lifestyle

Carbohydrates

Reaching for food to upgrade your mood is a pretty instinctive thing to do. The problem is it’s all too easy to turn to the soft, refined, simple carbohydrate kinds when we’re looking to perk ourselves up.

If you’ve done that a few times you’ll be well aware the hit is short lived. All that is left is the crash and a horrible sluggish feeling. And if this isn’t bad enough, it’s a surefire way to pack on the pounds too.

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But what type of carbohydrate? Those that take time to chew, that absorb slowly and allow the digestive system to process the natural tryptophan amino acid and send it steadily to the brain. Try foods such as oatmeal, wholegrains, nuts, eggs, fish and hard beans.

Prostaglandins

These aren’t hormones we hear talked about very often or read in print but they exist in every cell and are therefore affected by what we eat. They can work in your favour by reducing pain, improving immunity and boosting serotonin.

Contrarily with poor self care and high levels of insulin (from simple, processed carbs and sugary food) they will create bad prostaglandins and cause cravings, weight gain and depression!

There are all sorts of claims of ways to boost them but diet will always be the determining factor. Bad oils, like hydrogenated fat increase a bad production. Whereas the oily fish, will help make good prostaglandins. Ditching caffeine will allow the blood sugar levels to steady by reducing insulin production.

In fact anything that makes the body produce insulin at a rapid rate should be omitted from the diet: white pastas, white breads, cakes, white rice…the list goes on. But mostly they are soft and don’t need much chewing

Sleep

After a bad night sleep, without even thinking about it, we reach out for the starchy, and lifeless foods to kick off some adrenalin. That’s what the brain is seeking – more food. It is very difficult to manage fat loss effectively when there’s not enough rest so this is worth bearing in mind when looking at your overall lifestyle.

The right food choices greatly assist a good nights sleep, and as you’ll know, bad choices make it a long, light night of restlessness. The body needs sleep to create serotonin so if you’re struggling choose lighter evening meals without heavy proteins like red meat, and make lunch your main meal.

Natural light

If you’re someone who puts on an extra layer of fat during winter, have a think about how much exposure to natural light you get. Lack of natural light causes a lack of serotonin production and in these instances we we make up for it once again with often inappropriate foods.

Getting up with dawn and going to bed at dusk isn’t exactly the way forward in this technological world, but it is what we were designed to do. The gradual change of light has an effect on an individual’s energy, alertness and has been known to quite quickly–within a few days–act as an anti-depressant. So get outside, whatever the weather, and also reposition your work space so that you get as much light through the window as possible.

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Sweeteners

Some people naturally make more serotonin than others so therefore people will be more susceptible to depression, insomnia and pre-menstrual tension. Add a dose of diet fizzy drinks to the mix and these types could be really fighting a losing battle.

The sweeteners are considered to actually stop the brains natural process of creating serotonin. So next time you get a kick from a cola’s caffeine content watch out for how you feel a few hours later, a little low or anxious maybe. If sweeteners have been your alternative to sugars, have a rethink as the ingredients in many sweeteners actually increase the feeling of hunger.

The evidence of losing weight while using sweeteners is too thin to be taken particularly seriously. We do know that obesity has shot up since the introduction of sweeteners.

Hopefully there are enough warnings here to arm you with what you need to boost your feel-good factor and to preserve it as best you can without battering it from all sides with a poor diet!

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