At Dynamic Health & Pain Management, our Charlotte pain management specialists understand that pain affects the whole person – mind, body and spirit. Our team targets and treats the source of your acute and chronic pain to help you achieve long-term, sustainable relief and improve the quality of your life.
One of the ways you can feel better from the inside out and achieve long-term pain relief is by having higher serotonin levels. Sometimes referred to as the happiness molecule, serotonin has a profound effect on your mood. High levels of serotonin lead to a cheerful disposition and the ability to withstand everyday stress. Low serotonin levels, however, can lead to depression and anxiety. Other mental disorders linked to low serotonin include obsessive-compulsive disorder, anorexia, bulimia, bipolar disorder and numerous phobias.
Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as Zoloft (sertraline) and Prozac (fluoxetine), are antidepressant medications which work by raising brain levels of serotonin, but there are also many natural ways to boost your serotonin levels. Below are five ways to increase your serotonin levels naturally and improve your overall health.
Get rid of simple carbohydrates and embrace the complex carbs. Complex carbohydrates are absorbed by the body differently than simple carbohydrates. Simple carbs like white rice and white bread raise your blood levels quickly, causing a spike in insulin, which drops after a while. Complex carbs are absorbed more slowly by the body and therefore avoid the massive peaks and troughs brought upon by simple carbs.
Complex carbs include:
- Legumes like peas and lentils
- Whole grain breads
- Whole grain pastas
- Brown rice
- Starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes and parsnips
Simple carbs include:
- White bread
- White rice
- “Regular” pasta
- Candy, cakes and other refined sugar products
Omega-3 fatty acids are hypothesized to affect the functionality of serotonin in the brain. People with low serotonin levels commonly have low DHA levels, which is an essential building block in the brain. DHA needs to be replenished with foods such as fish oils, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Look for omega-3 fats in:
- Fish and fish oils
- Nuts, seeds and seed oils
Also, eating dark chocolate improves serotonin levels partly because of resveratrol. Resveratrol boosts both endorphins and serotonin levels. Remember, you want dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate, as milk chocolate contains far less cocoa (the ingredient that produces serotonin) than dark chocolate.
2) Avoid Caffeine
Caffeine suppresses serotonin, which could also helps explain why it’s a hunger suppressant as well. Energy drinks contain large amounts of refined sugar, which creates an energy-zapping low after the insulin has finished surging. Doctors recommend that, if you have to drink caffeinated products, wait until after you’ve eaten.
Exercise is a great way to boost your serotonin levels. The results are clear: exercise causes an increase in tryptophan, which is a precursor to serotonin. The tryptophan persists well after exercising is finished, suggesting that mood elevation may be present for hours after the exercising has finished.
- Work out in at intensity levels with which you are familiar. Consistent serotonin release is linked with exercise that people feel comfortable with, not exercise that pushes people off the edge, an English study has found.
- If you can’t find the time to exercise regularly, try walking or 30 minutes to an hour per day. This moderate exercise will help burn calories and boost tryptophan levels, causing an increase in serotonin.
Research has found a positive correlation between serotonin synthesis and total hours of sunlight during the day. Get natural light during the day, not artificial light during the night. Natural, daytime sunlight is better at giving you serotonin than artificial LED, fluorescent or UV light. Getting artificial light, especially at night, has the added disadvantage of blocking melatonin production, which helps your body get a good night’s sleep.
Several studies show that massage therapy helps cut down stress hormones while boosting serotonin levels. Researchers at the Group Health Center for Health Studies in Seattle, Washington, found that massage reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol while boosting the feel-good hormones serotonin and dopamine. Those changes slow your heart rate, reduce blood pressure and block your nervous system’s pain receptors. Massage also increases blood flow to the muscles, which may help them heal.
Charlotte Pain Management
Our Charlotte pain management provides chiropractic adjustments and medical rehabilitation in a warm and welcoming environment. Our courteous, highly trained team of medical professionals work together to ensure you have a pleasant and comfortable experience. We’ll be more than happy to help identify areas that can improve your overall quality of life.
Are you in pain? Use our Personal Pain Navigator to tell us where it hurts. For immediate care, schedule a complimentary consultation by calling 704-525-6288 or use our Contact Form. You can also like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter.