Are you one of those people who are always thinking, thinking, thinking? I am. I have a very busy brain—always coming up with new ways to share more about the importance of being a Warrior* for your brain health. Sometimes, it feels like my brain gets stuck in overdrive. You’ve probably experienced that too.
Sometimes this can be a signal that serotonin levels are low. Serotonin is the “don’t worry, be happy” soothing neurotransmitter. When it’s in short supply, it can make you want to reach for a glass of wine, a bag of pretzels, or a slice of cake to help you mellow out. This is because foods and drinks high in simple carbohydrates temporarily increase serotonin levels.
The high-glycemic carbs boost insulin levels and allow more tryptophan (the natural amino acid building block for serotonin) to enter the brain, where it can be converted to serotonin. Usually, within 30 minutes or less you can start feeling the relaxing effects of the rise in serotonin. For people with a busy mind, it’s no surprise simple carbs can be so addictive. Yes they calm your brain, but they can also lead to high blood sugar levels, elevated insulin, weight gain, and other problems.
There are better ways to do it.
3 Ways to Boost Serotonin and Calm Your Brain
1. Reach for complex carbohydrates.
Foods like sweet potatoes, apples, blueberries, carrots, and garbanzo beans are a healthier way to boost serotonin production.
2. Look for foods high in L-tryptophan.
Brain serotonin levels can also be raised by eating foods rich in L-tryptophan, such as chicken, eggs, cheese, turkey, beef, salmon and tuna, tempeh, beans, lentils, spinach and other dark green leafy vegetables, pumpkin and chia seeds, and nuts.
3. Spice up your meals with saffron.
Research has found that saffron supplements can elevate serotonin levels, but you can also cook with saffron. With its vibrant color and flavorful taste, it is the world’s most expensive spice. But a little goes a long way—usually a pinch or two is all you need to get a big flavor boost.
You can find several serotonin-boosting recipes on my website or in The Brain Warrior’s Way Cookbook. You can also try Serotonin Mood Support, which contains ingredients like 5-HTP that support healthy serotonin balance in the brain. Enter the promo code TANA21 at checkout to get 21% off at the BrainMD store.