Updated: Mar 22
I am holistically inclined to constantly be vigilant of health and wellness from many aspects.
Much of what is done in mental health counseling and therapy can focus on our emotional responses and mental processes. Many times, those aspects are impacted by the things we experience in our physical actions and life experiences.
Somewhere in the midst of it, we have a spiritual connectedness or disconnectedness that defines or guides how we navigate it all.
We may talk, or draw, or sing, or breathe, or practice certain learned skills, yet there are also processes within us biochemically that require our time and attention.
Eating well. Staying hydrated. Exercise... are important to our emtional and mental processes.
Serotonin is the key hormone that stabilizes our mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness. This hormone impacts your entire body. It enables brain cells and other nervous system cells to communicate with each other. Serotonin also helps with sleeping, eating, and digestion.
There are many researchers who believe that an imbalance in serotonin levels may influence mood in a way that leads to depression. Possible problems include low brain cell production of serotonin, a lack of receptor sites able to receive the serotonin that is made, inability of serotonin to reach the receptor sites, or a shortage in tryptophan, the chemical from which serotonin is made. If any of these biochemical glitches occur, researchers believe it can lead to depression, as well as obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, panic, and even excess anger.
According to WebMD, diet can affect serotonin, but in a roundabout way. Unlike calcium-rich foods, which can directly increase your blood levels of this mineral, there are no foods that can directly increase your body's supply of serotonin. That said, there are foods and some nutrients that can increase levels of tryptophan, the amino acid from which serotonin is made.
Protein-rich foods, such as meat or chicken, contain high levels of tryptophans. Tryptophan appears in dairy foods, nuts, and fowl. Ironically, however, levels of both tryptophan and serotonin drop after eating a meal packed with protein. Why? According to nutritionist Elizabeth Somer, when you eat a high-protein meal, you "flood the blood with both tryptophan and its competing amino acids," all fighting for entry into the brain. That means only a small amount of tryptophan gets through -- and serotonin levels don't rise.
But eat a carbohydrate-rich meal, and your body triggers a release of insulin. This, Somer says, causes any amino acids in the blood to be absorbed into the body -- but not the brain. Except for, you guessed it -- tryptophan! It remains in the bloodstream at high levels following a carbohydrate meal, which means it can freely enter the brain and cause serotonin levels to rise, she says.
Learn more ways that serotonin aids in your Mental wHealth!