During the winter time, the lack of sun and overwhelm from the holidays are just some of the many contributors to imbalanced serotonin levels, our happy hormone. One effective way we can increase our serotonin is through our diet. Foods don’t have serotonin in them, but foods do have Tryptophan. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid found in many protein-based foods and dietary proteins including meats, dairy, fruits, and seeds. It is a precursor of serotonin synthesis but must be obtained through diet because it cannot be synthesized by the body. In other words, tryptophan converts to serotonin in the brain, but that must be achieved through the diet.
The recommended daily intake for Tryptophan is 280 mg.
Below are 5 Serotonin Boosting Recipes that are quick, easy to prepare, and high in Tryptophan. Use these recipes anytime you are needing a boost to your serotonin levels. Recipes can be adjusted based on your dietary preference.
The Sunshine Smoothie (Vegan)
1/2 cup Blueberries
1 ripe Banana
1-2 handful of leafy greens(spinach and/or kale)
½ -1 cup Soy milk (dependent on preference of thickness)
1 tbsp. Almond Butter
1 tbsp. of Pumpkin Seeds
1 tsp Hemp seeds
½ tsp Flax meal
¼ tsp Spirulina
Add the leafy greens and blueberries to a blender and blend for 10 seconds. (Blending up the greens first allows them to break up more.)
Add remaining ingredients to blender and blend until smooth.
*Optional: add ice to get a cold, crunchy-textured smoothie.
3 Mixed Nuts
1 cup-Pistachio Nuts
1. Combine all nuts in one bowl and mix.
Keep in an airtight container/jar
*Optional: Chop up walnuts and halve the almonds beforehand.
Salmon Quinoa Bowl (Dairy and Gluten Free)
3-4 oz Wild-caught Salmon (cooked to your preference)
1 large Egg (with yolk)
1 cup cooked Tri-blend Quinoa
1-2 handful of Leafy Greens (spinach and/or kale)
¼ cup Cooked Edamame
¼ cup chopped Almonds & Walnuts
1. Prepare the quinoa over the stove or in rice cooker.
2. Prepare your Edamame while the quinoa cooks.
3. Coat the salmon with an oil, then bake in the oven 400 °F for 9-12 minutes.
4. Cook your egg to your liking (hard-boiled is my preference for this recipe).
5. Chop up almonds and walnuts and slice up the avocado.
6. Once everything has cooked, make a bed of quinoa at the bottom of a bowl.
7. Add the salmon, edamame, leafy greens, and egg.
8. Top with the avocado and chopped almonds and walnuts.
1 ¼ cup cooked Edamame
½ cup low or Zero-Fat Yogurt
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1/2 tsp Sesame Oil
1/2 tsp Chili Powder (optional)
Handful chopped Cilantro
A pinch of salt and pepper
1. Simply blend all the ingredients in a blender or food processor. If the dip is too thick, you can add more yogurt to get the consistency you like, but it should be coarse, not smooth. Use it as a dip or serve on toast!
Lentil & vegetable Stew (Vegan)
1 pound of Lentils, soaked overnight and rinsed
1 chopped Onion
2 chopped Carrots
2 chopped stalks of Celery
1 chopped bunch of Kale, with ribs removed
1 chopped Sweet Potato
1 tbsp of Nutritional Yeast
8 cups of Vegetable Broth
2 tbsp of Avocado Oil
Chopped Parsley for garnish
1. In a large pot, warm up the oil over medium heat, and add the onion, carrots, and celery. Sprinkle in salt and pepper and sauté the ingredients until soft and brown.
2. Add in the lentils, vegetable broth, kale, sweet potato, and nutritional yeast. Bring to a slight boil, stirring now and then to mix in the kale.
3. Lower the heat to medium-low, then cover, leaving the lid ajar. Simmer the stew, stirring as needed, until lentils become tender.
4. Garnish with chopped parsley.
Find all of these ingredients at the Co-op!
When talking about health, diet tends to be the first thing that comes to mind. While eating a balanced diet is a very big part of a healthy lifestyle, it is not all-encompassing. Your sleep patterns, hydration level, and even your thoughts also contribute to your overall health.
Believe it or not, lifestyle habits like these can have an even stronger impact on your health than what you eat!
Did you know that getting plenty of sleep is associated with lower body weight, higher athletic performance, improved immune function, and better overall mood?
It has been shown that improving your sleep can be one of the easiest ways to improve your health. A recent review of 15 different studies, posted by Oxford Academic, found that sleeping less than 7-8 hours per night is linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Poor sleep habits are also strongly linked to adverse effects on blood sugar metabolism. A 2010 study also found that sleep deprivation can cause prediabetes in healthy adults in as little as 6 days!
Along with nutrition and exercise, good sleep is one of the pillars of health. You simply cannot achieve optimal health without taking care of your sleep.
Stress is the next big factor that affects your health, regardless of what you eat.
When stressed your muscles naturally tense up to protect themselves from injury. They tend to release again once you relax, but if you’re constantly under stress, your muscles may not get the chance to relax. Tight muscles cause headaches, back and shoulder pain, and body aches.
Stress also stimulates the immune system. This stimulation can help you avoid infections and heal wounds, but over time, stress hormones will weaken your immune system and reduce your body’s response to foreign invaders. People under chronic stress are more susceptible to viral illnesses like the flu and common cold, as well as other infections.
Additionally, your liver produces extra blood sugar when stressed to give you a boost of energy. If you’re under chronic stress, your body may not be able to keep up with this extra glucose surge and it can contribute to glucose insensitivity and even the onset of diabetes.
Water is actually the most important nutrient of all! It’s essential for body temperature regulation,
Older adults often don’t get enough fluids and risk becoming dehydrated, especially during summer when it’s hotter and people perspire more.
Studies show that even mild dehydration, such as the loss of 1–3% of body weight, can impair many aspects of brain function! Many additional studies, with subjects ranging from children to adults, have shown that mild dehydration can impair mood, memory, and brain performance.
Even mild dehydration can affect you mentally and physically making it imperative to get enough water each day!
Your thoughts and feelings play a big role in your overall health. Positive thinking is associated with heart health, brain health and even longevity.
In recent years, researchers have found that your mind can have a powerful effect on your body. Immunity is one area where your thoughts and attitudes can have a particularly powerful influence. In one study, researchers found that activation in brain areas associated with negative emotions led to a weaker immune response to a flu vaccine.
By nurturing positive emotions, even in the face of terrible events, people can reap both short-term and long-term rewards,including managing stress levels, lessening depression, and building coping skills that will serve them well in the future.
Rest and Self Care
Mental well-being also plays a crucial role in overall health. While it can be easy to feel the need to be constantly productive, taking time to rest and reflect is important for mental health and stress relief.
While there are no specific guidelines for how much relaxation a person should incorporate into their lifestyle, making time to unwind and enjoy life is an important part of maintaining good health. Deep relaxation, like meditation, when practiced regularly not only relieves stress and anxiety, but also is shown to improve mood.
Deep relaxation has many other potential benefits as well—it can decrease blood pressure, relieve pain, and improve your immune and cardiovascular systems.
Taking time for self-care and relaxation is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. This can be anything from meditation and yoga to knitting, baking, walking, or swimming. Finding time for quiet and peaceful activities can make a world of difference when it comes to your health.
How You Eat
The quality of the food you eat is extremely important when it comes to health, but what about the way in which you eat?
In America, eating is often rushed, squeezed in, multi-tasked, and on-the-run. We may be distracted by television, work, or the computer while we eat. Many people eat very quickly and feel too full by the time they stop eating.
Distractions such as sitting on the couch and watching TV or being on your phone while eating can take away from the connection between you and your meal and contribute to overeating.
Using mindfulness practices to rebuild connections with these internal hunger and fullness cues will help you learn to regulate food and reach your health goals. Mindful eating allows you to feel in control and enjoy the experience of eating so much more.
To be more mindful with the way you eat try paying attention to the food that you eat, minimizing distractions, slow down your eating, chewing food thoroughly, and eat when hungry and stop at a comfortable level of fullness.
As you continue to explore healthful eating and managing food portions, remember that learning “how to eat” is just as important as learning “what to eat.”