The word ‘serotonin’ is not too foreign to any of us. You know it’s good for you and you should have plenty of it, but do you know why? And How? And where can we get it from?
“serotonin is the molecule of will power, of delaying gratification. Decreased serotonin activity can lead to an inability to create and act on well-formed plans. That can mean having difficulty finishing things, or feeling a little down, or getting annoyed easily, or being unable to control your impulses.” said Alex Korb PhD
Fast & Dirty! What’s Serotonin good for?
Serotonin is known as a mood regulator. It has different roles in the gut and in the brain:
– in the intestines, serotonin regulates intestinal movement,
– in the brain, serotonin is key to regulating quite a few important functions including sleep, appetite, feeding, and body weight.
What happens if we’re low on serotonin?
Low serotonin levels are also associated:
- addictive behaviors
- panic attacks
- obsessive compulsive disorder
- suicidal tendency
Research done on animals has shown that depletion of serotonin, in many species, its directly tied to appetite and they act like they are starving. They hunt for food, postpone mating and egg laying, and generally do everything they can to find another bite to eat.
Zombie apocalypse, if you ask me!
Not a pretty picture, eyy?
So, let’s jump on it and increase our serotonin levels before we eat someone’s face off.
9 ways to increase serotonin naturally:
- sleep (lack of sleep and you’re a zombie already!) – body can’t function and absorb properly without good rest
- sunlight – directly impact the level of serotonin
- food – walnuts, plantains, pineapple kiwis, plums, tomatoes etc
- probiotics – high quality supplements or fermented veggies / homemade kefir from raw milk
- YOGA – poses, breathing, meditation, relaxation techniques
- support system – talking to friends, counseling
- juicing (clears the GI track and helps with absorption)
The antidepressant medications or SSRI (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors) – like Zoloft – is not the direct happy pill, but as the name suggests, they tickle the serotonin production and bring you to the “happy as clam” status.
To prove a point that I don’t want to spell out:
Recreational drugs often target serotonin too. Mescaline, LSD and many other psychedelics mimic serotonin & activate serotonin receptors in the brain.
Did you know that ecstasy’s main component- MDMA- causes your brain’s neurons to release stored away serotonin, producing the happy, euphoric state the drug is called after?
I rest my case!
If your brain functions anywhere close to mine, you might have asked yourself…
what’s the difference between serotonin & dopamine?
It all starts with the Stanford marshmallow experiment that I mentioned in my video. They put a marshmallow in front of kids and tell them not to eat it. If they wait, they get another marshmallow at the end. The experiment proved that the kids who waited the longest or did not eat the marshmallow proved to be more successful later in life.
Here’s cute video reproducing that experiment:
This experiment was a test of willpower = serotonin god! = the ability to control yourself and your actions
Serotonin and dopamine are two similarly structured chemicals aka as monoamines. Similarity stops here, as they have very different roles:
** Dopamine is responsible for the pleasurable, rewarding feeling you experience when you eat food, have sex, win at the Black Jack table, do drugs, and oh so many other fun things. Dopamine is the impulse neurotransmitter that compels you to pursue anything that seems potentially rewarding the second you see it.
** Serotonin, on the other hand, helps you override your immediate impulse and sticks to the big picture, your long-term goal and plans.
So, it’s like this!
hot gym guy asking you out on a date!
- Dopamine yells “Hells’ yeah!”
- While Serotonin makes you point out the fact that you are happily married! And walk away!
you want those 6 packs and super tonting ass! This workout and diet program will definitely give it to you … in 6-8 weeks. It’s your birthday and your dearest friends just brought you all the delicious things you can not have.
- Dopamine: “What the hell! It’s my birthday! I’ll get back to my diet tomorrow!”
- Serotonin: “Thank you for your thoughtfulness! I’m touched and I love you for it! But let me show you a picture of what i’m going to look like in the next 6 weeks! That’s my present for myself! Hot, right!” 🙂
So, do you want to increase those serotonin levels? You might need that extra boost of natural willpower to feel more in control of your choices.
My simple recipe for you to boost your serotonin level Yoga-Eat-Play style:
- poses that engage primarily your core (boat pose, triangle pose, camel pose, balance poses, inversions)
- fire meditation (meditate in front of the fire or by staring at a candle flame)
- savasava – total relaxation pose
- hydrate- helps cleanse the stomach and intestines, keeps everything moving (say no to constipation)
- probiotics – fermented veggies (homemade kefir) or high quality probiotics to increase gut health and serotonin levels
- enzymes – from juicing or high quality supplement to help with digestion
- massage – proven to directly increase serotonin levels
- nap – sleep is very important
- girls night out or date night
To your Health! Yoga-Eat-Play!