Alternative Approaches: Easy and Natural Ways to Raise Low Serotonin Levels

Alternative Approaches
Easy and Natural Ways to Raise Low Serotonin Levels

Serotonin is your feel good, inner peace, well-being neurotransmitter. Optimal serotonin levels are required for positive affective states and balanced emotional conditions.
Unfortunately, research shows that in the United States 60-80% of the people, especially women, have low serotonin levels.
When your serotonin levels are low, you may lapse into a cycle of struggle and hopelessness. Some signs that your serotonin levels may be too low:
* You become reclusive and avoid situations that make you anxious.
* You believe that you are too weak to handle the strain of conflict and challenge. You feel driven to avoid all conflict and challenge and become fearful of starting new ventures or taking calculated risks.
* You feel overwhelmed, resentful, and victimized by your circumstances.
* You have a tendency toward compulsive behaviors, perfectionism, and withdrawal. You worry a lot and see most things in a negative way. You may be hyper-vigilant and overly controlling.
* You are impulsive, have a short attention span, feel blocked and scattered, and easily fly off the handle.
* You crave sweets and carbohydrates and overeat (especially comfort foods). You tend to eat more in the afternoon or evening.
* You are compelled to clean and organize things around you. Once you start cleaning you may get "sucked" into the activity and find it hard to stop.
* You are prone to heat intolerance, panic, phobias, fibromyalgia, and TMJ.
* You are a night owl, experience insomnia, and have trouble getting to sleep.
* You feel depressed, hopeless and feel you lack personal power. You may feel sad and cry a lot
You don't have to get caught in the low serotonin cycle of hopelessness and despair. You can alter your low serotonin levels by carefully orchestrating your foods, activities and daily routines and habits.
Easy and natural ways you can raise your serotonin levels:
Serotonin levels are increased by a carbohydrate rich diet.
* When you eat carbohydrates, it results in a rise in insulin levels that acts to usher the amino acid tryptophan into the brain. Tryptophan is the precursor to serotonin. One and a half ounces of carbohydrate food (1/4 cup of oatmeal or a piece of sourdough bread) will significantly boost brain levels of serotonin. The healthiest carbohydrates to use are whole grain, low glycemic index carbohydrates such as barley, oats, buckwheat, and carbohydrate rich vegetables such as yams, sweet potatoes and squashes.
Eat the kinds of protein that favor serotonin production.
* These proteins are high in the amino acid tryptophan: chicken, white flaky fish, lean cuts of pork, veal, cottage cheese, lamb, low fat cheeses, low fat milk and dairy products, soy and legumes.
All meditative activities raise serotonin levels.
* Spend time in a natural place such as a forest, park, mountains, or seashore.
* Prayer, meditation, and positive visualization boost serotonin levels and your feelings of well being, relaxed concentration and peace.
* Engage in low arousal, highly meditative and internal spiritual practices that relax you.
* Try relaxing activities such as hobbies or crafts.
Engage in exercise that increases your heart rate somewhat but not significantly.
* Strolling, yoga, non-aerobic swimming, bike riding when done at least 4 days in a row each week will over a period of 60 days increase your baseline serotonin levels.
Have a regular wake sleep cycle.
* The production of serotonin for the next day requires at least 7 continuous hours of sound high quality sleep the night before.
Get out in the sun at least 30 minutes in the morning and for 2 hours throughout the day.
* Sunlight burns off melatonin produced the night before. The presence of high levels of melatonin consumes serotonin. Sunlight suppressed the production of melatonin and allows your serotonin levels to rise during the day. Without the exposure to adequate natural light, your melatonin levels will be higher and your serotonin levels will be lower.
* Serotonin and melatonin work in conjunction with each other. When serotonin levels are high melatonin levels are held in check - and vice versa. After the lights are out at night, your melatonin levels rise and your serotonin levels fall. The morning light immediately starts suppressing melatonin levels allowing the rise in serotonin. Getting outside in the sunlight helps this process and allows a full release of serotonin for the day's use. Many believe that seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is partly caused by high melatonin levels due to the lack of exposure to light which act to suppress serotonin release. The message - get out in the light in the morning and turn down the lights at night.
Eat a meal with high level of proteins that contain tryptophan and follow that by a carbohydrate snack two hours later.
* This will act to drive the lingering tryptophan into the brain and set up the production of greater amounts of serotonin the next day.
* Tryptophan requires a slight insulin rise in order to be escorted into your brain to begin serotonin production. This escort service works best if there are not any other amino acids hanging out in your blood stream competing with tryptophan for entry into the brain. About two hours after eating a dietary source of tryptophan have a small snack of good carbs (a couple of crackers, 1/2 slice of sourdough bread, etc.) with no other protein. This should raise your insulin levels slightly and usher tryptophan into your brain to be available for making serotonin.
Do things that revitalize you and let you feel good.
* Take a low activity, high relaxation vacation with your family or by yourself with plenty of time to slow down.
* Listen to classical music, light rock, folk, or easy listening music.
* Visit a museum, go to the theater, the symphony, or watch TV or films about love stories, comedies, and other feel good movies.
* Engage in long, deep conversations with one or two other people.
* Clean and organize your environment.
* Read: Self- help books are especially complimentary.
You have the power to alter your experience.
You alter your brain chemistry, manipulate your neurochemical profile and affect your body's physiology every day by what you do and don't do, what you eat and don't eat, what you think about, and how and where you spend your time. Through your daily behaviors and the environments in which you spend your time, you create your biochemical profile and this is reflected in the emotions, energy, thoughts, actions, and psychological states that either bring you into peak performance or that block your best functioning.
You can learn to create inner strength, hope, joy, mental alertness, and enthusiasm. By designing a life that keeps your biochemistry in balance, you can maintain a state of optimal wellness, vitality, and performance.

Mary Ann Copson, a Certified Licensed Nutritionist and a Wellness and Life Coach is the founder of the Evenstar Mood & Energy Wellness Center for Women. You can visit her online at www.evenstaronline.com or reach her by phone at 434-263-4996.