Serotonin: the hormone of happiness

Recent studies have linked serotonin with our state of well-being so much to call it “a hormone of happiness“.

What is the serotonin?

Serotonin is a substance synthesized from some cells of our body starting from an essential amino acid, tryptophan (called “precursor”).  Its production is a physiological process activated by the nerve receptors present in the cells of the central nervous system and in the gastrointestinal tract.

Although it is a natural process, its creation can be stimulated and helped by our lifestyle by following an appropriate diet. By practicing proper physical activity, absorbing a fair amount of sunlight and practicing some oriental disciplines such as Yoga and meditation.

Serotonin participates in numerous biological functions, many of which are not yet fully known. In fact, it is a chemical mediator and, depending on the part of the body involved, interacts with different receptors providing different effects.

What are the functions of serotonin?

As anticipated, serotonin performs many functions:

  • Regulates the circadian rhythms by synchronizing the sleep-wake cycle. Circadian rhythms consist of cyclical variations of human biological activities. In fact, serotonin is a precursor of melatonin which is a hormone responsible for sleep.
  • It acts on the control of appetite and on our eating habits, regulating the sense of hunger/satiety.
  • Controls the blood pressure by acting on the contraction of the arteries and intervening in case of injuries. We remember, in fact, that large amounts of serotonin are found in the blood, especially in platelets and plasma,
  • Control sexual behavior. Excessive amounts of serotonin lead to hypersexual behavior.
  • intervenes in social relationships: low levels of serotonin lead to a drop in mood. depression, anxiety, and aggression.

How to stimulate the production of serotonin?

Serotonin is synthesized from tryptophan which is an essential amino acid, that is, our organism does not produce it and we must take it from the outside through food.

So the starting point for having in our organism the correct amount of serotonin is to follow a balanced, varied and rich in “noble” proteins (present in eggs, meat, milk and fish).  In this way we would not have problems in taking all the essential amino acids.