An imbalance in serotonin levels can influence mood and research has shown that serotonin actually aids the process of brain cell production. Princeton neuroscientist Barry Jacobs, PhD, found that depression may occur when there is a suppression of new brain cells and that stress is the most important precipitator of depression. Jacobs states “that antidepressant treatments that increase brain serotonin, such as drugs like Prozac and electroconvulsive shock, may be effective, at least in part, because they increase the production of new brain cells.” In an article in American Scientist from 1994 Jacobs also showed how exercise releases serotonin instantly while drugs like Prozac and others may take a month or more to show an improvement during which the new brain cells fully mature.
This is one reason that exercise and diet are so important. In order for your serotonin levels to be at adequate levels you must eat foods that contain tryptophan, an essential amino acid, because without tryptophan you body cannot make serotonin and depression or feeling down will most likely result. Some foods high in tryptophan are bananas, beans, cottage cheese, eggs, fish, beans, meat, milk, nuts; usually high protein foods.
Our biochemical system is like a symphony orchestra and if just one note is out of sequence there will be problems like low serotonin levels, receptor site issues or a shortage of tryptophan. Basically, chemical impulses or neurotransmitters control pretty much everything we do from feeling, thinking, even pain which are all a result of chemical communications between the cells and neurons. Any failure in this complex chain can lead to depression, anxiety and other disorders.
Serotonin and depression are well known but did you know that a feeling of calm and getting a good nights’ sleep are also attributed to serotonin levels? With all the side effects associated with prescription anti depressants, wouldn’t you rather eat right and exercise so not only are you happy, sleeping well but are also gaining health overall, lowering weight, blood pressure and more?