This month the Core Kitchen is focusing on serotonin. Deemed a natural mood stabiliser, depression and anxiety regulator, wound healer and maintainer of bone health, seratonin is an incredibly important chemical which our bodies need, especially during these cold dark winter months where sunlight is limited!
Serotonin wouldn't be around in our bodies if it wasn't for the amino acid tryptophan - an essential component in the manufacturing of serotonin that can only exist in the body through food so ingestion of tryptophan is the only way for serotonin to be present within the body.
The three main homes for serotonin are the gut, brain and blood. With the gut containing as much as 80%-90% of our serotonin, it’s easy to see how diet and mood go hand in hand and easy to understand that our bodies naturally want to keep the happy balance within our gut. Amazingly, we instinctively crave tryptophan rich foods such as nuts, fish, cheese, eggs, meat and bananas to ensure our serotonin levels are topped up as much as possible.
Other factors that indirectly affect serotonin production are exercise, sleep and sunlight, by supercharging our bodies' production ability.
Exercise is an easy way to boost blood serotonin production immediately by speeding up our motor system. With tryptophan present in the body through our diet, serotonin production is increased by simply getting out and exercising. This little encouragement on our system is the secret behind leaving you with that euphoric feeling after training.
When it comes to sleep, a simple lack of sleep can impact our brain's signalling, including how it responds to serotonin present within the body. A lack of sleep on top of these confused signalling paths can lead to serotonin deficiency, leading to symptoms of depression, anxiety and fatigue.
Lastly, sunlight has shown to boost the production of serotonin within our brains. Again, when tryptophan enters our body through diet, simple factors like the weather can affect whether this essential amino acid is turned into serotonin or not. By sunlight hitting certain parts of our retina, serotonin production is triggered within the brain, naturally increasing our mood. So try to take a walk if it's sunny - even for ten minutes - it will boost your mood!
We’ve got three fantastic specials this month which will help your serotonin levels – check them out here.