Why is Serotonin Crucial For Holistic Health?
Feeling blue? - there’s a reason for it! Did you know that a neurotransmitter (chemical) is responsible for your mood? There are many, actually, but serotonin is integral to keeping you content and happy. A delicate balance is involved in maintaining these positive feelings. If the brain doesn’t have enough serotonin, it can result in depression. Too much of it, and the nerves become excited and you might feel driven to activity like you can’t stop.
Serotonin, or 5-HT (5-hydroxytryptamine), is an essential neurotransmitter that controls mood, behavior, and memory. It can be used to address psychiatric and neurological disorders like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, migraines, and many more. Mood disorders are complex and usually involve other environmental factors like diet and lifestyle or social support systems. At Digbi, we utilize cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to assist with health goals on a need basis.
The Gut-Serotonin Connection
So where does all our serotonin come from?. Surprisingly, 90% of the body’s serotonin is housed in the gut.
Generally, hearty proteins found in meat, seafood, nuts, vegetables, eggs, and dairy products become the fuel that gut microbes need to produce serotonin. As everyone’s biological processes are slightly different, often a guided and personalized approach to nutrition is required to keep this crucial chemical balance.
The Sleep-Serotonin Circle
There is a feedback loop involved in sleep, stress, and serotonin. A lack of sleep and increased stress can lower your serotonin levels and even affect your ability to fall asleep. Low serotonin levels can even reduce your ability to deal with stress. So, maintaining good sleep hygiene and stressing less is crucial to keep this cycle optimal. At least 7 hours of sleep (depending on your genetics and natural rhythm) is necessary for balanced mental health.
Your gut bacteria can help you, if you are fostering the right types. A gut biome analysis can reveal where you lie. The body needs a certain quantity of serotonin-producing bacteria for quality sleep. Getting sound sleep in turn, helps keep a healthy range of serotonin-producing bacteria – so you can clearly see the circle!
How is Serotonin Created?
Serotonin is made from tryptophan, an amino acid. It’s essential to get enough of this nutrient from your diet to produce serotonin. Tryptophan resides in the central nervous system, regulating your senses like motor (movement) and visual systems. It also has a role in more sophisticated tasks like language and memory.
Maybe I’m Neuronic – But What’s a Neuron??
Neurons are the cells that process sensory input and interpret your experience. They tell your muscles how to respond, so they literally control your actions. They are an integral part of your nervous system. Serotonin helps neurons communicate.
The understanding of serotonin’s full function is still elusive. Studies are now finding that the original hypotheses about serotonin’s influence are oversimplified. Serotonin plays a role in the central nervous system but also in other body systems. It regulates appetite, sleep, sexuality, learning, gastrointestinal functions, and so much more. Serotonin is definitely important for your overall health, but its pathways are more complicated than we thought. Digbi takes a holistic approach, with a restorative plan based on genetics, to address new research findings.
We used to think that depression was caused by low 5-HT (serotonin) neurotransmitters. Recently, new research has shown that other factors like tryptophan deficiencies, neuroendocrine issues (the nervous and endocrine system interaction), and others build a case for dysfunction in the 5-HT system in those with depression. This means that the serotonergic system may be having trouble maintaining homeostasis and proper function. It’s more an issue of learning how serotonin fits into these systems than saying serotonin is the one-and-only cause.
So, what can we do about this? At Digbi, we approach health holistically and that is why we are searching for the most up-to-date clinically-based answers for you. New research on the gut as a separate and influential organ system and the epicenter of serotonin production is paving the way. Stay Informed, Stay Healthy.