The Serotonin Diet (The Gut Psychology Program)

The Serotonin Diet (The Gut Psychology Program)

By: Dr. Nicole Cain | No Comment | Uncategorized

Upwards of 95% of your serotonin is made in your gut. It is no wonder that the most common side effect of serotonin reuptake inhibitor medications (SSRI’s) is digestive upset.

  1. What is serotonin used for?
  2. What are signs that my serotonin is too low?
  3. What are signs that my serotonin is too high?
  4. Laboratory testing and serotonin
  5. Solutions for balancing serotonin

Now let’s get started!

What is serotonin used for?

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is created by your body and plays a key role in regulating your central nervous system and gastrointestinal function. Here are just a few of serotonin’s effects:

  1. Mood regulation: Low serotonin is associated with depression whereas optimal levels of serotonin are associated with happiness and wellbeing. Drugs like ecstasy and LSD increase serotonin levels to enhance a person’s sense of elation, but too much can result in elevated serotonin levels resulting in intense anxiety, paranoia and even psychosis.
  2. Bowel function: Serotonin helps curb your appetite when you are eating to prevent over eating, it also regulates bowel function and movements.
  3. Muscle function: Exercising your muscles can increase your serotonin, which in turn promotes strong muscle contraction and improves endurance and flexibility.
  4. Clotting: Platelets are cells that are involved in clotting. Your platelets release serotonin, which then results in narrowing of your arteries (vasoconstriction) to prevent more blood from escaping through the broken vessel while the body is working to heal.
  5. Libido: Interestingly, high serotonin is associated with a low libido and visa versa.

What are signs of low serotonin?

Many clinicians look at monoamine assay testing to try to detect serotonin levels, however this is not an accurate test of serotonin for two key reasons:

  1. Serotonin cannot cross the blood brain barrier, so the serotonin that you are testing has not been in the brain.
  2. Most of your serotonin is made in your gut and not just your brain, therefore, even if serotonin could cross the blood brain barrier (which it cannot), it would be impossible to know if that serotonin came from the gut or from the brain.

The best way to evaluate serotonin levels is by looking at serotonin break down markers, specifically the 5-Hydroxyindoleacetic (5-HIAA) marker in conjunction to your physical symptoms. While serotonin can not cross the blood brain barrier, the metabolic markers can. If the marker is elevated, it is likely that the serotonin it was broken down from was also high, and visa versa. That being said, again, serotonin is made in both the brain and gut. So if we do have elevated break down marker 5-HIAA, we don’t know if that marker came from the brain or from the gut.

Self reflection:

Do I have low serotonin? If you answered yes to two or more of the following, consider talking to your Naturopathic Doctor about whether or not your dopamine may be out of balance.

  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Weight gain
  • Obsessive thoughts
  • Persistent negative thoughts
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Premenstrual tension syndrome
  • Weight gain/ obesity

Do I have high serotonin?If you answered yes to two or more of the following, consider talking to your Naturopathic Doctor about whether or not your dopamine may be out of balance.

  • Restlessness
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Confusion
  • High blood pressure
  • Rapids heart rate/ palpitations
  • Dilated pupils
  • Sweating
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle spasms/ rigidity
  • Twitching muscles
  • Loss of muscle coordination

What can I do if my Serotonin is out of balance?

If you suspect your might benefit from a deeper look into your serotonin levels, you’re in the right place. Learning more about your health and feeling empowered is the first step towards achieving your goals.

In addition to working with your personal Naturopathic Physician on addressing your individual needs, making changes to your diet and lifestyle can make a huge difference in helping you feel like yourself again. For example, if you have low serotonin, you might consider asking your doctor about the Serotonin Diet. Contrastingly if you suspect high serotonin, be sure to avoid the foods listed on the serotonin diet.

The Serotonin Diet: High tryptophan foods/ foods that increase serotonin

  • Eggs
  • Omega 3 fatty acids
  • Antioxidants
  • Cheese
  • Pineapples
  • Tofu
  • Salmon
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Turkey

To purchase the Gut Psychology Program, click here

To learn more about Dr. Nicole Cain, ND, MA and her work, click here


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