Serotonin – the thing you’ve probably heard of, but don’t really understand. So let’s spend some time breaking down what it is, why it’s important, and how your gut plays a significant role in making sure you have enough.
What is Serotonin?
Serotonin is a chemical produced by nerve cells that allow them to communicate, because if they can’t communicate, you don’t exist. Nerve cells don’t excrete a chemical (serotonin being one of them) that is picked up by neighboring cells to pass information along like “damn, this coffee is hot”.
What is Tryptophan?
The thing is you can’t actually make much serotonin without tryptophan (you know, the thing that you think makes you sleepy at Thanksgiving because it’s in turkey. Spoiler alert – it really doesn’t. There is more tryptophan in chicken than in turkey – you just eat too much on Thanksgiving). So getting tryptophan rich foods like nuts, eggs, and poultry.
What does Serotonin do in the gut?
90 whopping percent of your serotonin is in your gut... yes, you read that right. Serotonin has many functions (literally it’s used to get you through almost every part of your day) but the most commonly described benefits are:
- Reduced depression and a regulation of anxiety
- Sleep regulation
- Wound healing
- Bone health
How does it impact Mood?
Of everything, mood is probably the thing serotonin is most known for – in fact there is a whole class of drugs called SSRIs (or Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors – think Prozac, Lexapro) that increase concentration and reduce depression in many people.
How can probiotics affect serotonin?
Well we know that 90% of all serotonin is generated in the gut – mostly because we get tryptophan to build it from our food. In the past 10 years or so, the number of studies that have linked gut health to mental health have exploded, including a great one that linked three probiotic strains to a lessening of depression in patients. Ensuring your gut is healthy is a primary focus of Jetson – and we know a healthy gut can produce the serotonin levels needed for a stable and happy mood.
What else can you do to boost serotonin levels in your body?
- Get outside into the light
- Moderate exercise
- A diet full of whole foods (nuts, salmon, eggs, even pineapple!)
Huh, that sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Maybe we’re on to something with this Jetson thing after all