“Growing pains” the doctor said. I was 10 years old and keen to get back to gymnastics and all activity associated with childhood. 31 years later and my growing pains are still rife, only now the label has changed to rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. Chronic pain combined with anxiety is a crippling combination, that has taken me on a journey of self discovery, mindfulness, wellbeing and self care.
Struggling to find any benefit from conventional medicine, I now follow a more holistic approach to maintaining a calmer and reduced pain life. Currently studying Holistic Pain Management, I have researched in-depth the neurotransmitter serotonin. And with ‘Let’s Chat Tasty Matters’ in mind, I decided to look into foods rich in tryptophan, the amino acid serotonin is derived from.
Gallery of Food Rich in Tryptophan
Simple! Eat these foods and our all round wellbeing will be improved. Serotonin is considered a mood stabilizer which regulates anxiety, improves sleep and depression. It is responsible for triggering the release of natural pain killing endorphins and plays a large part in intestinal health. Great! Turkey and egg sandwiches for lunch, washed down with a glass of milk.
Wrong! Sometimes life just isn’t that simple. A tryptophan rich diet will not increase the amount of serotonin in your body, as it is unable to cross the blood-brain-barrier and is effectively surplus to requirement and discarded. Serotonin levels will only be increased if tryptophan is absorbed by the brain. Supplements contain purified tryptophan which are absorbed more effectively by the brain, but always speak to a doctor before taking them. One way to slightly increase the efficiency of tryptophan rich food is by eating regularly with carbohydrates. This is because carbs help the body produce more insulin which aids amino acid absorption, but an increase in serotonin will still be minimal. But don’t worry all isn’t lost, exercise, sunlight, probiotics and fibre also support a rise in serotonin levels.
It may be difficult to increase serotonin levels naturally, but understanding how it is produced and for what purpose, enables a better understanding of the role of mind and body.