Everyone has mood swings now and then and a lot of people blame hormones, the weather, their job and their relationships, however your gut health and diet may be more to blame and effect your mood more than you realise!
Did you know 90% of Serotonin is made in your gut? Serotonin is also known as the happy hormone and when this important neurotransmitter is imbalanced in your gut, it impacts your mood, anxiety, focus and mental health as well as disrupting your physical health too.
Presently, there are more and more studies and research positively linking gut health to mental health.
Let’s take a step back and really ponder this one.
Have you ever noticed if you’re feeling stressed, anxious, nervous or grieving you lose your appetite or feel nauseous? What about that big event where you had to perform or before your driving test or university exam? Did you feel like running to the toilet every few minutes or had butterflies in your stomach?
Can you see the link?
What about the other side of the coin? Have you ever noticed if you’re eating processed or sugary food you feel lethargic, have no motivation and a foggy brain? You can’t concentrate, have sleep-cycle disturbances and are moody to those around you? These are big red flags to decreased serotonin in the body. Other signs of low serotonin include mental obsessions, compulsiveness, low libido, digestive problems and unhappiness.
Now the science bit.
Serotonin acts as one if the brains most important chemical messengers and it helps regulate and balance dopamine and glutamate to make you feel calm and relaxed. In the brain it acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter that regulates mood, fears, anxiety, mental focus and learning ability. In the gut it acts as a hormonal messenger that regulates food cravings, digestion, nutrient absorption and feelings of being satisfied.
Here are 4 ways you can improve serotonin levels and control your mood naturally without resorting to drugs or medication.
- Healthy Diet – eating a varied diet rich in vitamins, minerals and nutrients that support the gut and serotonin metabolism is the best first step to support healthy serotonin balance.
- Exercise – physical activity has been scientifically proven to improve serotonin significantly in both humans and animals. So if you’re feeling a bit low, go for a walk. It’s amazing how much your mood improves after you get outdoors into the fresh air and get the blood moving around your body which also is great for your digestive stimulation too.
- Sunlight – research shows another fantastic feel good mood enhancer and great excuse to get outside or at the very least peel back the curtains to let the sunrays inside. Do you ever notice you have an extra spring in your step in the summer months when the sunrise is early and the evenings are long? In Sweden where there are short sunlight hours in the winter months, people have light therapy boxes to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Soak up the sun for a positive boost in mood.
- Positive Thinking – Research shows that the link between serotonin and mood may be a 2-way street. Mindfulness can influence mood independent of serotonin levels.
Make no mistake, what you eat and how you look after your gut impacts your mood and mental state and serotonin plays a key role in our ability to feel calm, relaxed and happy.