Increase Serotonin Levels With Foods High In Tryptophan

Low Serotonin Levels Can Cause Depression and Anxiety

The primary role of serotonin is to act as a neurotransmitter responsible for sending chemical messages from one part of the brain to the other.  The serotonin is being released by the brain from its raphe nucleus which is part of a cluster of neurons found in the stem of the brain. This is where the chemical messages are also being sent into several destinations known as neurochemical networks which are present in all parts of the central nervous system.

Understanding The Crucial Role of Serotonin

Tryptophan Rich Foods

Tryptophan Rich Foods

The ability of these ‘chemicals’ to reach almost every part of the central nervous system has made significant impacts on our physiological and psychological processes and functions.

Low serotonin and dopamine levels affect us, whereby it can cause anxiety and depression.

You may have heard of dopamine and serotonin being referred to as our brain chemicals for happiness.

Several studies have already been made to prove the direct and indirect effects of serotonin on a person’s appetite, mood, learning, temperature control, memory, social and sexual behaviors…not to mention symptoms of depression and anxiety.

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It has also been proven to influence several functions of the digestive and cardiovascular systems, as well as the muscular and endocrine systems.

The wide scope and broad influence that serotonin has in the human body has lead many experts to agree on one conclusion – one must find ways to be able to increase serotonin levels in the body.

  • If not, the person may suffer from several physiological and psychological problems. Some of the most common conditions associated with low levels of serotonin are anxiety and depression.

The Role of Tryptophan in Serotonin Production

Tryptophan is an amino acid that is considered essential because the human body does not have the capability to manufacture it on its own. It acts as a precursor of several neurotransmitters such as serotonin…and since serotonin plays a crucial role in many physiological and psychological processes in the human body it is equally important to note that every person must eat ‘mood foods‘ that contain high levels of tryptophan.

  • One obvious reason for this is to help ensure proper functioning of those bodily systems that involve serotonin.

Foods High in Tryptophan

  • Milk and Dairy Products

Milk, yogurt and cheese can provide you with tryptophan along with calcium. A cup of low-fat cow’s milk is enough to provide you with 100mg of amino acid. On the other hand, a cup of low-fat yogurt can give you 60 mg of amino acid.

  • Nuts, seeds and legumes

These foods are rich sources of tryptophan that do not require much preparation.  Having these foods in the kitchen will be your most convenient way of obtaining tryptophan. Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of tryptophan.

Cashews, walnuts, sunflower and almonds can also provide you with 50 mg. of tryptophan for each ¼ cup of serving. Kidney beans, peanut, lentils and split peas are rich sources of tryptophan and protein.

  • Meat and Fish

Beef liver, mutton, chicken breast, turkey breast, calf liver, and venison are few examples of meat that contain high levels of tryptophan.  On the other hand, eating sea foods such as halibut, salmon, tuna, cod, shrimp, scallops, and sardines can also provide you with rich food sources.

All animal meat contains high levels but turkey has the highest!

Here’s a word of caution – turkey makes you sleepy because of the high levels…so make sure you eat it knowing you could feel sleepy 🙂

Do you know any foods that reduce anxiety and help raise your serotonin levels? Let me know in the comments below!



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About Jennifer Johnson

I suffered with social anxiety and stress for years. I discovered what my triggers were and learned to control them. Hopefully some of the natural anxiety relief techniques I have tried, will also be your solution.

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  1. This would explain a lot considering that I am lactose intolerant and I don’t eat very many meats. Maybe my diet is to blame for all these anxiety problems that I have.

    • Jennifer Johnson says

      Hi Rosa,

      I don’t drink milk myself or eat much meat…but I eat a lot of almonds! I actually believe many people are lactose intolerant because we really aren’t meant to drink milk after we are weaned…nothing in nature does, except us!

      It sounds simplistic…but to me it makes a lot of sense.

      I actually keep almonds beside my computer and snack on them through the day. It is a great health snack and excellent for increasing serotonin levels.

  2. I knew diet had a lot to do with anxiety levels. I have to say I never liked to drink milk however it is good to know I can get what I need from other sources. I absolutely love nuts and wondering if it is best to almost go carb-free (not whole grain foods but anything white). That I can imagine make your anxiety levels high.

    • Hi Sally,

      There are a lot of additives in many foods, like white breads for example that can upset your anxiety levels.

      The best way is to use trial and error, so to speak. If you eat something that agrees with you, put it on your list of good foods. If it doesn’t…then eliminate it from your diet.

      There are some people that find gluten free products for example work best for them.

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