Serotonin & Other Happy Hormones

Serotonin gives our body and mind a feeling of satisfaction. Low levels of this can make you depressed and even lethargic. This hormone is also a neurotransmitter and is located in your brain. It is formed from amino acids that come from proteins.

serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, endorphin release

Too low of levels of serotonin can also make you want to eat more refined carbohydrates. It can lead you to overeat, and can make you gain weight. To keep this from happening, eat enough protein in your diet and stay with the complex carbohydrates.

Serotonin: : Importance and Its Functions

Serotonin, more technically 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) is a monoamine neurotransmitter synthesized by enterochromaffin cells in the alimentary canal. Its functioning predominately contributes to the regulation of appetite, mood and sleep.

Roughly 90% of the body’s total serotonin is located in the gut area. It facilitates the gut-brain communication essentially signaling the hypothalamus (A basal part of the brain governing autonomic nervous system)  with satiety memos.

Enterochromaffin cells synthesize serotonin from tryptophan, an amino acid and release to blood stream where it is absorbed and stored by blood platelets. Therefore, serotonin serves as a vasoconstrictor agent facilitating blood clotting.

This neurotransmitter also induces a sense of bliss and well-being, making it a key component in a class of antidepressant.

The 5-HT receptors, the receptors for serotonin located on the cell membrane of neurons arbitrate the effects of serotonin in the gut-brain communication. During food consumption, serotonin is released and when reaches the brain, activates 5-HT receptors on dopamine-producing cells.

Serotonin and dopamine are two important neurotransmitters in the brain responsible for regulating our emotions and behaviour. Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter for maintaining feelings of contentment and happiness, while dopamine is associated with motivation and reward.

When the levels of these neurotransmitters are balanced, it helps to ensure we maintain a healthy state of mental well-being. An imbalance in either serotonin or dopamine levels can lead to various psychological issues, ranging from depression and anxiety to addiction.

Therefore, it is important to ensure that appropriate levels of both neurotransmitters are present to maintain good mental health.

Oxytocin is known as the hormone of love, and it helps us to form strong emotional bonds.

More about Oxytocin

When you feel low even a gentle touch or hand holding makes you feel better. Do you know why?

Oxytocin does the magic!

Oxytocin, commonly referred to as the ‘hormone of love’, is a hormone that is released when we experience positive emotions, such as those associated with emotional bonding.

Oxytocin is a hormone produced in the hypothalamus and released into the bloodstream, which has been linked to a number of mental and emotional states.

It is sometimes referred to as the “love hormone” due to its influence on social bonding and emotional attachment. It has been shown to be important in regulating emotions such as stress, fear, anxiety, and happiness.

It is released during physical touch, such as hugging, cuddling, kissing loved-ones, sexual intercourse (either you feel goodness of giving/receiving or both) & orgasm and it helps us to form strong emotional bonds.

It helps us to feel connected to one another, and increases our willingness to trust and cooperate. Oxytocin has also been linked to improved communication, increased empathy and reduced stress levels. As such, oxytocin is an important hormone for forming strong emotional bonds between individuals.

A disruption in any of these hormones can lead to depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues. It is important to understand the role of hormones in good mental health and emotional wellbeing.

More about Endorphin

Regular physical activity is essential to maintain a healthy level of endorphins in the body. Endorphins are hormones that are released during exercise and bring a sense of elation and well-being.

Regular exercise can also help to improve sleep quality and reduce stress, both of which have a positive effect on endorphin levels.

In addition, exercising in the presence of other people can create a feeling of belonging, which is also linked to endorphin release. Regular exercise can therefore be an effective strategy for promoting positive mood and well-being.

Stress & Obesity Connection

Dopamine is an appetite stimulant in the presence of resources. Mutation of 5-HT receptors causes the hypothalamus unable to identify satiety stage and continue to produce dopamine.

This leads to strong cravings for carbs and thus causes obesity due to the overconsumption of calories. Alleged reasons of mutation of serotonin and its receptors are stress, PMS, and seasonal depression.

Dietary approach and lifestyle change

Serotonin levels are intensely affected by dietary actions. As tryptophan is the key component for the biochemical manufacture of serotonin while an increase in phenylalanine and leucine also will increase serotonin levels. These are the amino acids needed for serotinin production. And a good diet that includes these amino acids can help maintaining healthy level of seretonin.

  1. Tropical fruits such as dates, papayas and bananas are apt for this goal.
  2. It is suggested that diet rich in carbs and low in protein improves serotonin level by stimulating insulin secretion, which helps in amino acid competition. However, in the long run this can wear off the insulin receptors and develop insulin resistance that can lead to negative effects including type 2 diabetes. So following carb rich diet for a long time is not recommended.
  3. Add fibrous food and other items that are high in micronutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Counter to macronutrients, micro nutrients signal brain rather quickly, the sense of satiety.

Medical Treatments

Serotonin medical treatments are often a combination of obesity-depression cures. Depressed individuals tend to overeat to implicitly boost their serotonin level and thus their mood. Therefore, anti-depressants with key components as serotonin can diminish intense craving for food and cause weight loss.

Below is the list of some common drugs prescribed worldwide

Trintellix, Viibryd, Lexapro, Diazepam, Trazodone, Sertraline, Klonopin, Vraylar, Trinte, and Remoron

Serotonin-regulating drugs can have possible side effects such as addiction. The serotonin regulating surgeries are quite advanced to specifically act on receptor subtypes namely 5-HT1A, 5-HT1B and 5-HT2C , each having diverse effects on depression and obesity.

De-stress through mindfulness and relaxation

One of the most effective ways to promote the production of happy hormones is to reduce stress. Mindfulness and relaxation techniques such as meditation and deep breathing can help to reduce stress and induce the production of serotonin and dopamine.

Engaging in activities that provide physical, mental and emotional relaxation, including yoga, tai chi, massage and acupuncture, can also help to reduce stress and increase the production of happy hormones.

Get adequate sleep

Getting adequate sleep is essential for producing the hormones that help maintain a sense of happiness and well-being. Not getting enough sleep can disrupt the balance of hormones leading to mood swings, increased stress, and even contribute to weight gain.

Aim for at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night, and if possible, try to avoid screens and other distractions for a couple of hours before bedtime to help relax and improve your sleep quality. Know about Melatonin, the sleep regulator.


Reference & Credit:

  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15134278
  • http://www.ndsn.org/sepoct94/obesity.html

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