by Elizabeth Walling
(NaturalNews) Our brain produces neurotransmitters like serotonin which play an important role in how we feel each day. Many people experience pain, stress, depression and anxiety associated with low serotonin levels. Fortunately, there are plenty of natural ways we can boost our mood by helping our body produce the right amount of serotonin.
1. Get Enough Rest
Sleep gives the body an opportunity to rejuvenate itself and prepare for another day of life. Lack of sleep disrupts hormone production and can keep your brain from producing enough serotonin. Most people need at least seven hours of quality sleep each night to feel their best. Encourage a good night’s rest by dialing down activity and dimming the lights an hour before bedtime. You can also take magnesium and calcium or tryptophan an hour before bed to aid in the production of melatonin, which is nighttime’s form of serotonin.
2. Exercise the Blues Away
Regular exercise is one of the easiest ways to naturally boost your neurotransmitters. Even light exercise like yoga or a daily walk is very effective. In fact, you want to make sure you’re not over-exercising to avoid depleting your feel-good chemicals. Aim for about 30-60 minutes of moderate activity 3-5 days per week on average, with a balance of cardio and resistance exercise for the best results.
3. Try a Balanced Eating Plan
The production of neurotransmitters like serotonin is dependent upon a constant stream of quality nutrients. Regular, balanced meals and snacks give your brain what it needs to feel good. Begin with stocking your shelves with a variety of whole, natural foods including fresh fruits and vegetables. Keep highly processed and refined food out of the house as much as you can. Try to eat some protein and fat with each meal to keep your blood sugar from bouncing up and down, which will help balance your hormone production.
4. Get Plenty of Healthy Fat
Fat is essential for hormone and neurotransmitter production. Without adequate fat intake, it’s impossible for the body to produce enough serotonin. Stay away from diets that tell you to ditch the fat. Instead, choose healthy fats that will keep you feeling great.
So, what is healthy fat? Well, opinions vary widely, but the best fats are going to be from natural, unprocessed sources. Flaxseed and olive oils are some of the top choices. Look for organic oils in opaque containers labeled “unrefined” or “cold-pressed” for a higher quality. Butter and coconut oil are also good choices, especially since saturated fat helps facilitate the use of the essential fatty acids.
5. Take a Vitamin B Complex
All of the B vitamins are vital for energy and the production of serotonin. These nutrients are used up rapidly in times of stress. You can get vitamin B from eating more whole grains, green vegetables and dairy products. A quality vitamin B supplement is also recommended to make up for any dietary deficiencies. Since all of the B vitamins work together in a synergistic way, it’s good to find a vitamin B complex that contains a good amount of each of the different B vitamins.
6. Don’t Forget Your Calcium and Magnesium
Both calcium and magnesium are precursors to serotonin production, so it’s important to be getting plenty in your diet. Eating dairy products and nuts are two healthy ways to boost your intake, and for most people a quality supplement is also beneficial.
7. Avoid Stimulants and Other Chemicals
Sugar, caffeine, and alcohol give you a temporary rush of feel-good neurotransmitters, but over time these substances deplete your brain of what it needs to balance your moods. Limit your intake of sugar, caffeine and alcohol whenever possible. A daily cup of coffee or glass of red wine and the occasional dessert are usually acceptable, but if you tend to be sensitive to these then you’re better off avoiding them altogether. Also, it’s a good idea to avoid consuming artificial sweeteners, since these are chemical substances that interfere with natural hormonal processes.
8. Bask in the Sunshine
Sunlight naturally stimulates the production of serotonin and signals the body to stop producing melatonin. Getting plenty of natural light will boost your mood and your energy.
Elizabeth Walling is a freelance writer, specializing in articles about health and family nutrition.