Transcript: The Wrong Way to Boost Serotonin
The neurotransmitter serotonin, often referred to as the “happiness hormone,” is found in plant foods, but serotonin doesn’t cross the blood brain barrier, so it shouldn’t affect your mood no matter how much you eat.
The precursor to serotonin, however, what your brain makes serotonin out of, is an amino acid called tryptophan, and there’s a transport protein in the brain that plucks tryptophan out of the bloodstream and so what you eat can end up affecting your mood. Back in the 70’s they did tryptophan depletion experiments where you give people specially concocted tryptophan deficient diets, and indeed their mood suffers, they get irritable, annoyed, angry, depressed.
Likewise you can give people tryptophan pills to improve their mood, and indeed it came a popular dietary supplement, until… people started dying from something called eosinophilia–myalgia syndrome, an incurable, debilitating and sometimes fatal flu-like neurological condition caused by the ingestion of tryptophan supplements. May have been due to some unknown impurity, but better safe than sorry. Instead of supplements, there are dietary strategies one can use to improve mood. [, which we'll talk about next]
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Kerry Skinner.
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