Updated: Nov 2, 2022
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is involved in mood management and is associated with the state of happiness. 95% of the body's serotonin is produced in the gut, however, serotonin does not cross the barrier between the bloodstream and the central nervous system, only tryptophan can do that. Bananas, for example, like turkey, have no effect on mood, at least not via this neurotransmitter.
Serotonin is involved in regulating functions such as thermoregulation, eating and sexual behavior, sleep-wake cycle, pain, anxiety or motor control.
Here are some natural ways to boost our serotonin (tip: find a partner, it helps):
exposure to sunlight
physical activity (walking, stretching)
meditation (you can't get away from it!)
petting or playing with an animal
a cold shower
helping or volunteering
being in a good mood (wait, what?)
In fact, serotonin is linked to mood in both directions. That is to say that the level of serotonin would influence the mood, and that positive or negative thoughts would in turn influence the level of serotonin. Personally, I am not for positivism at all costs, but why not try some tricks for self-induction of positive emotional state (if it consists in looking at pictures of my dog, I say yes):
visualize a happy moment in your memory
think of a positive experience you have had with loved ones
look at pictures of things that make you happy, like your pet, a favorite place or close friends.
Stress would also have an impact on serotonin (obviously!). I remind you of some tips to fight stress:
keep a journal
listening to music
take a hot bath
quitting your job and going into the woods (oops, I went too far there!)
Some studies are currently underway on psilocybin and psilocin contained in hallucinogenic mushrooms, which act on the same brain receptors as serotonin. Advances in this field are expected soon, but in the meantime, don't play amateur mycologist. Same thing with ectasy which releases very large quantities of serotonin in the brain... but a crash follows which makes the following days quite depressing.
So, shall we go back to our light therapy lamp or shall we take a quick walk outside at lunch time? Even better: I'll look at pictures of the beach in Brazil and visualize warmth, light and friends until my serotonin explodes!