How to Naturally Boost Your Brain’s Serotonin Levels

We all have an awkward ancestor or two. That guy who wore a wolfskin coat and ran around gathering food and chasing wild animals. And that weird girlfriend of his who walked bare breasted and digged in the ground for food.

They didn’t have chairs or Netflix. They didn’t even chill much. However, their rate of depression and anxiety was close to zero.

A Cure for Depression?

meditation-brain-2There is a connection. Motion creates emotion. Exercise, or daily life as it was for our ancestors, is the single best method for balancing our brain chemistry. It has a proven effect on both depression and anxiety [1].

Related reading: “Overstressed? Studies Show Mindfulness Programs Work Better Than Stress Management Programs

Increase Serotonin Naturally for Free

Serotonin is one of the brain chemicals getting pumped up when you move your body [2]. Special serotonin neurons are activated, leading to you making more serotonin and releasing more [3].

Exercise as a Tryptophan Supplement

Exercise also increases the amount of tryptophan entering your brain [4] – a persistent effect after exercise. When tryptophan crosses your blood-brain barrier, your brain immediately starts transforming it into serotonin.

Tryptophan Competes with Branched Chained Amino Acids

Tryptophan competes with other amino acids called branched chained amino acids (BCAA) to cross the blood brain barrier [5]. Exercise takes BCAA’s out of the bloodstream [6,7], letting tryptophan enter your brain.

Exercise Recommendations

First of all, just start! Start with five minutes of walking outside each day and slowly work yourself up to over 30 minutes a day. The more exercise the better when it comes to brain chemistry.

Exercise like our ancestors moved. Walk and jog almost every day for at least 30 minutes. Run a couple of times a week, and sprint all out a few times a month.
About Vegard:
Vegard Gjerde is one of the two founders of Global Harmony Crew.

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[1] Salmon, P. “Effects of physical exercise on anxiety, depression, and sensitivity to stress: a unifying theory”. Clinical Psychology Review, 2001.
[2] Jacobs, B. L., Fornal, C. A. “Activity of serotonergic neurons in behaving animals”. Neuropsychopharmacology, 1999.
[3] Rueter L. E., Jacobs, B. L. “A microdialysis examination of serotonin release in the rat forebrain induced by behavioral/environmental manipulations”. Brain Research, 1996.
[4] Chaouloff, F., et al. “Motor activity increases tryptophan, 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid, and homovanillic acid in ventricular cerebrospinal fluid of the conscious rat”. Journal Neurochemistry, 1986.
[5] Pardridge, W. M. “Blood-brain barrier transport of nutrients”. Nutrition Reviews, 1986.
[6] Davis, J.M., et al. “Serotonin and central nervous system fatigue: nutritional considerations”. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2000.
[7] Blomstrand, E. “Amino acids and central fatigue”. Amino Acids, 2001.