What is serotonin?
Serotonin is a chemical substance present in the human body. Its scientific name is 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT). It is composed of tryptophan and tryptophan hydroxylase. Its chemical composition is C10 H12 N2O. It acts as a neutrotransmitter, establishing communication between nerve cells.
Almost all of the serotonin present in the body is in the gastrointestinal tract and in blood platelets.
It is not only present in the human body, but also in plants and other animals. In the latter, it participates in the regulation of social behavior, eating, sleep, attention, anxiety and sexual behavior.
In humans, it is involved in the regulation of moods and physiological functions. It has the ability to regulate, among others, mood, sleep and appetite. Low serotonin levels are identified with depression and anxiety.
What is serotonin used for?
The truth is that there are still many gaps in the knowledge of serotonin. At the moment, scientists believe that as a neutotransmitter it is responsible for regulating the intensity of nerve cells. Hence, it is capable of influencing the nervous response of human beings.
When you feel happiness in abundance, for example when you fall in love, serotonin levels are very high.
Serotonin is produced by the body and cannot be supplied directly. To increase their levels, it is possible to activate or stimulate their production by consuming foods rich in tryptophan, regular physical exercise and medication, but in more severe cases.
What causes serotonin depletion?
As you can see, serotonin influences not only a person’s mood, but also their aesthetics. The natural aging of the body also causes the reduction of serotonin, as well as stress and lack of sleep. All this causes an increase in estradiol levels in the blood, which in turn reduces our defenses.
A diet dominated by sugar and refined flours leads to a reduction in serotonin production by facilitating the growth of bacteria that prevent the synthesis of tryptophan from food.
Lack of serotonin can lead to certain behaviors that become entrenched and cause the person to enter a vicious cycle. Symptoms of low serotonin such as moodiness, irrationality, constant sleepiness and cravings for sweets enhance these circumstances.
Relationship of serotonin with weight
Serotonin, or rather low levels of serotonin, cause food cravings. As our mood declines, our body asks to eat foods containing glucose.
According to a 2010 study, serotonin 2C and serotonin 2B receptors are responsible for influencing appetite, depending on the increase or inhibition of melanocortin receptor activity.
How to increase serotonin?
The best way to produce serotonin is through food, but we can also get it through physical exercise, vitamin D from the sun’s rays, rest and sleep.
Foods to produce serotonin
In case of serotonin deficiency, it is possible to increase the production of this neurotransmitter naturally, without the need for medication, with certain foods.
As mentioned above, serotonin is formed from tryptophan, which is present in dairy products, fish, eggs, chicken and nuts. This, together with a balanced diet, is the best remedy to keep serotonin levels under control.
It should be added that to synthesize serotonin, the body also needs magnesium, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids. Therefore, a balanced diet should include vegetables, nuts, fish, meat and vegetables.