Happiness is something everyone is looking for…isn’t it?? I don’t have the key for happiness, I think is a very personal state and a personal decision, perhaps, I can tell you there are some tools you can start implementing to improve your happiness neurotransmitter, which is called serotonin so you experience more joy in your daily life.
Serotonin is a chemical messenger that’s believed to act as a mood stabilizer. It’s said to help produce healthy sleeping patterns as well as boost your mood. Studies have shown that serotonin levels can have an effect on mood and behavior, and the chemical is commonly linked to feeling good and living longer.
As a doctor I never learned the importance of a happy state of being to optimize the immune system.As a cancer survivor I can tell you that one of the reasons why I got sick was the lack of happiness and purpose in my life.
As a specialist in the Microbiome, I think to call myself specialist in the Microbiome is not the right word to describe it, I think no one can called him/herself specialist in this area, because, the microbiome is a complete universe to discover, so I should use the word passionate about the microbiome and gut health, so as someone who study the gut microbiota, I can tell you there is a direct connection between the gut and the brain through the vagus nerve, “The focus of the current studies pertains to the possible functional aspects of gut microbiome that influence the bi-directional communication between the gut and the brain, widely known as the “gut-brain axis” (GBA)” (https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnins.2019.01365/full). This mean that if the gut is not healthy, the brain is not going to function properly and you can start experiencing changes in the mood, irritability, anxiety, depression, lack of concentration and more symptoms that can be caused by some dysbiosis of your gut and leaky gut. In my book “Our Invisible Friends”, I explain in more detail about leaky gut and some bacteria that influence directly with symptoms like depression and anxiety.
Most of the people think that serotonin is produced in the brain, now we know that 95 % of the serotonin is produced in the gut, so changes in the gut microbiota are being implicated in decreasing production of Serotonin transporter (SERT) that plays a critical role in regulating extracellular availability of serotonin (5-HT) in the gut and brain. Also, dysbiosis (changes in the balance of the microbiome) are implicated in causing Metabolic Syndrome, Obesity and Diabetes. Low serotonin levels have been reported to have link with depression, fatigue, and impaired cognitive functions (Geldenhuys and Van der Schyf, 2011)
Here some tips or suggestions to improve the production of serotonin so you can experience happiness states more often and also, you will decrease the risk to experience anxiety, depression, fatigue, metabolic syndrome and more.
We have been created to live in a community not isolated, this is one of the reasons why the pandemic situation have brought people depression, anxiety and many other feelings totally opposite to happiness.
One of the most powerful “feel good” hormones that we have is serotonin, and this little molecule is important as I mentioned above in regulating our mood, appetite, pain tolerance, sleeping patterns and more, so as an opinion, being isolated due to the pandemic is not the best way to keep people healthy.
While treating cancer patients, I have learned the importance of having a meaningful life to overcome cancer and any disease; being passionate for the things you do, having a meaningful life is key to boost the serotonin. Our gut bacteria does not produce directly serotonin, microbiome’s fecal material which is called metabolites stimulate the production of serotonin, so they need to be in balance, equilibrium to stimulate the serotonin production. Our bacteria has consciousness, the fact science can not explain this does not mean it is not present, “the happier they are, the happier we feel”.
Also, when you prepare food at home, you use the best ingredients, whole foods instead of canned, prepared food with artificial ingredients, bad oils etc. Food is prepared with love and joy and these ingredients are added to the food as well bringing more value and happiness to the gut microbiota.
Learning how to handle problems or difficult situations with other perspective is key.
Nowadays, the pandemic is causing in many people fear, stress, panic; all these emotions only decrease the immunity making people more sensible to get any kind of disease.
My invitation is to see the positive in every situation, look for the what for? Instead of, why me? There are many good things that have happened during this time, for example, families are spending more quality of time together, the earth has breath and healed, awareness and consciousness are raising, people have had time to think about the importance of boosting the immune system and take care of themselves to prevent illness; families are having dinner together again. Humanity is realizing that what happen to someone in China or Italy affects everyone on earth because we are connected, we are one; cooperation instead of competition. Time to stop and think what do we really want and how we can serve others, the universe or God. I want to mention that during this time I experienced a painful event, a loved and much loved one, my uncle, was diagnosed with Covid19 and passed away. Despite this situation, I choose to focus on seeing the positive that has happened during this time. In memory to my uncle, who were a very loved and a very happy person.
5. Lifestyle, grounding feeling connected with the earth make us happy!
Regular grounding sessions improve the serotonin feedback loop in the brain, reducing things like negative or obsessive thoughts, crying spells, chronic pain, and depressive symptoms.
I want to mention the importance of getting sunshine daily as well, good levels of vitamin D are key to keep our body in balance so we produce healthy amounts of serotonin. Research have shown that insufficient levels of vitamin D, EPA, or DHA, in combination with genetic factors and at key periods during development, would lead to dysfunctional serotonin activation and function and may be one underlying mechanism that contributes to neuropsychiatric disorders and depression.
6. Some food helps to produce serotonin because they contain tryptophan, which is the amino acid that makes serotonin. For example, Sprouted nuts and seeds, pick up your favorites, all of them contain tryptophan, I am not fun of all of them, my favorites are macadamia and walnuts. It is very important to make sure they are raw and sprouted, neither pasteurized, nor roasted, nor salted.
Studies have shown mechanisms by which serotonin synthesis, release, and function in the brain are modulated by vitamin D and the 2 marine omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Foods high in these sources EPA and DHA are sprouted seeds, anchovies, sardines and wild caught salmon. Please, if you eat fish look for the less content mercury possible and fresh. Inadequate levels of vitamin D (70% of the population) and omega-3 fatty acids are common in people, suggesting that brain serotonin synthesis is not optimal.
After reading these suggestions, the next step is to start practicing them. Go ahead!
I also invite you to read my book about the microbiome, leaky gut and more. For information on the book in English version, visit http://www.ourinvisiblefriends.com
With Love, Health and Life,
Dr. Sandra Rangel