Cut sugar to avoid the quick-fix trap.
Sugary foods lend a quick rush, which sounds good until you realize that the results don’t last. Sugar helps get tryptophan to your brain, so you might crave it when you’re feeling down, but once the effects wear off, you won’t be any closer to overall serotonin wellness than you were before you stuck that doughnut in your mouth.
Of course, sugary foods taste good, so if you’re looking to add a sweet treat to your diet, try stevia as a better-for-you substitute.
Pair protein with healthy carbs to really get the tryptophan benefit.
Although sugar consumption won’t help your overall serotonin health, you do need some carbohydrates in your diet. The National Sleep Foundation explains that without carbs, your brain doesn’t receive the positive effects of the tryptophan you consume.
Avoid sugar and other simple carbs, and instead pair protein with a small amount of complex carbohydrates, such as vegetables, nuts or brown rice.
Steer clear of a serotonin crash by avoiding alcohol.
An after-work drink sounds like an easy way to unwind, but it may also bring down your serotonin levels. A Medical Council on Alcoholism study found that, 45 minutes after a drink, test subjects had a lower concentration of serotonin in their blood than members of a control group.
The drink might help you feel better for a short time, but in the long run, it’s not an effective solution for low serotonin or depression.
Increase vitamin D with sunlight exposure.
Serotonin doesn’t function independently of other vitamins and minerals in the body; essential for its production is vitamin D. The best place to get vitamin D? Mother Nature dishes it up through sunlight.
To up the amount of sunlight you get in your day, Mayo Clinic recommends trimming back large tree branches, sitting near windows and installing skylights. A daily walk is another good idea; not only will you get sun exposure, but you’ll also get good exercise.