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Boost Your Serotonin: the Happy Hormone

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 04/18/2024

When suffering from low serotonin levels, you can feel down or even depressed. Lacking this chemical can destroy your quality of life and affect those around you.

Learn about how serotonin works in the body and what you can do to make sure the levels in your brain do not become depleted.

Understanding Serotonin and Its Role in Our Body

Serotonin, a chemical our bodies produce, is more than a neurotransmitter. Serotonin is widely known for its influence on mood, as it directly correlates to feelings of contentment and joy.

This potent molecule is primarily found in our brain, blood platelets, and the digestive system. 90% of serotonin resides in your gut. This essential stat hints at how intertwined mental health can be with diet and digestion.

When serotonin levels are balanced, you feel calm, happier, less anxious, and more focused. These are all signs that your body functions better when this hormone is adequately supplied.

Understanding how to boost serotonin naturally helps maintain its beneficial effects on mood and overall well-being.

The Power of L-Tryptophan in Boosting Serotonin

Few things are as powerful as the essential amino acid L-tryptophan when boosting serotonin. This nutrient plays a pivotal role in our body's production of this crucial neurotransmitter.

How L-Tryptophan Converts to Serotonin

L-tryptophan gets converted into 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) with help from an enzyme called tryptophan hydroxylase. The next step, guided by another enzyme named aromatic amino acid decarboxylase, changes 5-HTP into serotonin.

This two-step conversion makes sure that there's always enough serotonin when you need it most, like when you're dealing with stress or looking for a mood boost.

Boost Your Diet With Tryptophan-Rich Foods

You can give this natural process more ammo by incorporating foods rich in tryptophan, such as turkey, eggs, and cheese.

A person standing in the sun with sun rays shining on them "sunshine vitamin."

Exercise and Sun Exposure: Natural Serotonin Boosters

You might be surprised to learn that a simple outdoor jog can boost your serotonin levels. Exercise is known to stimulate the production of this feel-good hormone.

Not only does physical activity help but so does sun exposure. Ever wonder why you feel happier on sunny days? It's not just about enjoying good weather. The sunlight helps our bodies produce vitamin D, aiding serotonin synthesis.

The Impact of Vitamin D on Serotonin Production

Sunlight doesn't directly produce serotonin; instead, it promotes the creation of vitamin D in our skin. This key nutrient plays an essential role in how our body synthesizes serotonin.

A study found that vitamin D influences both the production and function of serotonin, making sun-soaked activities even more appealing.

The Role of Probiotics and Massage in Serotonin Enhancement

Boosting serotonin naturally isn't just about diet or supplements. Two often overlooked methods are probiotics, specifically from fermented vegetables, and massage therapy.

Fermented Vegetables as a Source of Probiotics

Fermented foods like sauerkraut or kimchi give us probiotics, the good bacteria that live in our gut. They also play a role in producing serotonin.

Studies show up to 90% of our body's total serotonin is made there. So, adding these tangy treats to your meals could help raise those levels.

Massage Therapy for Stress Reduction and Serotonin Increase

Apart from its relaxing effect on muscles, massage therapy has another fantastic benefit: boosting serotonin. It does this by reducing cortisol, the stress hormone, which can inhibit serotonin production.

Research shows regular massages lower cortisol and increase serotonin by an average of 28%.

Fasting for Serotonin Boost - Unveiling the Connection

Fasting has been linked with increased levels of serotonin. Recent studies show that our bodies start using fat for energy during fasting. This process releases ketones into the bloodstream, which stimulate BDNF and boost serotonin production.

In essence, when we fast, we're not just giving our digestive system a break but also creating an environment conducive to happiness and well-being by naturally elevating serotonin levels.

Doing a ketogenic diet or fasting intermittently can be especially helpful for your health. Research shows a higher level of BDNF in those on low-carb diets than in high-carb ones.

The Interplay Between Cortisol and Serotonin

Cortisol, the stress hormone, can affect your serotonin levels. When we're stressed, our bodies produce more cortisol. This isn't just bad news for our blood pressure—it also means less serotonin in our brains.

Three different faces of a womanThe Impact of Stress on Serotonin Levels

According to this research, cortisol blocks the production of serotonin.

Discovering strategies to de-stress—such as taking deep breaths or stepping outside for fresh air—can boost your brain's capacity to manufacture additional serotonin. Incorporating a hobby that you enjoy into your daily routine is another way to keep stress levels low.

Serotonin and Gut Health

The connection between serotonin and gut health is a fascinating aspect of the human body's complex interplay. Serotonin is often called the "feel-good" neurotransmitter because it is crucial in regulating mood and emotional well-being.

Many people may not realize that a significant portion of serotonin is produced in the gut. This is where the role of probiotics and gut health becomes evident.

Probiotics, the beneficial bacteria in the gut, influence serotonin production and balance in the gastrointestinal tract.

Consuming probiotics can promote a healthy gut microbiome and potentially enhance serotonin production, which may positively affect mood and overall mental health.

benefits of probiotics extend beyond digestion, and their influence on serotonin levels highlights their impact on mental and emotional well-being.

While further research is ongoing to fully understand the intricate connection between serotonin and gut health, incorporating probiotics into your diet may be a promising way to support your digestive system and mood.

However, it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the best approach for your individual needs and health goals.


Supporting serotonin levels through natural methods like diet, sunlight exposure, exercise, probiotics, and stress management can enhance overall well-being.

Understanding the interplay between serotonin, cortisol, and gut health highlights the importance of holistic approaches to mental and emotional wellness.

Incorporating these strategies into daily life can contribute to a healthier mind-body balance and improved quality of life. Consulting with healthcare professionals can offer personalized guidance for optimal health outcomes.

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