DT explains that 95% of serotonin is produced in the gut; therefore it is essential that you show your tummy the love in order to promote a restful night. Hack Your Hormones explores the havoc sugary, processed foods can wreak on your gut microbiota which impact your levels of serotonin. Fermented foods like Kefir yoghurt, Kombucha, sauerkraut, sourdough bread, raw cheese and kimchi can all support a healthy gut and encourage the happy hormone to reign supreme. The great thing is, most of this fermented goodness can be made at home, supporting your gut as well as your bank balance.
Eating Tryptophan rich foods in the evening can also boost your serotonin levels.
Some great sources of this amino magic are: turkey, chicken, grass fed red meats, tuna, cheese, milk and other full fat dairy, bananas, sour cherries, nuts, lentils, white fish, avocado, sesame and sunflower seeds (just avoid the oil), nuts and bovine collagen peptides.
Avoiding low fat alternatives is essential in the production of serotonin (permission to avoid watery, rubbish, translucent, low fat garbage has officially been granted. Hoorah!). Chow down on as many essential fatty acids as you can: mackerel, sardines, salmon, anchovies, walnuts and chia seeds are all great sources of omega - 3.
Shifting your eating window and loading up with carbs in the evening are other examples of how you can balance those hormones vital for sleep. By pushing back when you eat, you push back the elevation of your serotonin (a hormone vital for sleep, which is kick started when you eat). Intermittent fasting can seem daunting, so DT advises to do this gradually e.g. if you normally eat breakfast at 7am, try waiting until 7.45am and so on and so forth.
Eating carbs at night might contradict everything you’ve ever been told because we know carbs convert into sugar. However, elevated blood sugar levels trigger an insulin response which suppresses your cortisol level, making way for that delicious sleepy serotonin. It’s a good idea to stop eating 2 or 3 hours before bed so that your digestive system isn’t overwhelmed.