Serotonin

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Acts 2:42

I am not a neurobiologist, but I do understand that serotonin is a “feel good chemical” produced by our brain. There are several things that help us to produce serotonin, including diet, exercise, sunlight, food, and medications. The typical prescription antidepressant medications do not necessarily produce serotonin as much as they just help keep it around in our brain.

Carbohydrates, for example, are precursors for serotonin. In the Fall and Winter, we tend to eat more carbohydrates to replace the amount of serotonin that is being lost with the decreasing amount of sunlight available in the northern hemisphere. Hence the emphasis at Thanksgiving and Christmas on the heavy load of carbs, and tryptophan-producing turkey- another serotonin precursor. Those foods help us to replenish decreasing serotonin levels lost during our journey away from longer periods of sunlight during those months.

In the northern hemisphere, we are now in the month of December, where sunlight hours are continuing to decrease. What a mental health challenge that is! So, for the next several months, we are being deprived of our free serotonin stimulants!

Exercising in the sunlight is absolutely the best serotonin therapy you can find, and you don’t even need to eat a bunch of carbohydrates to achieve it. But this time of year, we tend to make up for that decreased serotonin by eating more carbs.

So, for my fellow northern hemisphere friends, be careful about the serotonin boost you can get by eating those carbohydrates. Yes, enjoy the seasonal goodies, the fellowship and the joy of the season, but balance it with attention to exercise. The social connection with others is also a source of serotonin. So…

Enjoy!

Prayer: Lord, you have given us all the means to have a full and joyous life, just in the nature of your creation. Thank you for that plan, Amen

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