90% of our Serotonin (Happy Hormone) is Made in Our Gut
It feels good; when you’re doing something you love, laughing with friends, eating a delicious meal, waking up and going for a surf… Being happy is something that so many seek in life, in a magnitude of ways. But there’s more to being happy than simply doing things that make you happy, it relies on a delicate chemical balance in the brain - and a healthy, well-functioning gut plays a key role in that.
It’s thought that as much as 90% of our serotonin (the happy hormone) is made in your gut. So if your gut health is out of balance, then your mood and emotions can be too.
Gut health is a topic I have recently been diving into in the Food Matters Institute Masterclass Series. The first in the sessions, How to Heal Your Gut Naturally with Christa Orecchio is now live (and it’s free too - click here to learn more).
So let’s start by exploring the connection between serotonin and the gut.
What is Serotonin?
Serotonin is the happy hormone; it regulates your mood, and is ultimately responsible for how you show up each day. It’s a chemical compound that acts as a neurotransmitter, passing messages throughout the brain that are related to modulating mood, cognition, reward, learning, and memory, as well as some other important physiological processes. So what happens when you don’t have enough? Well, it means that the remaining serotonin has to work really hard to transmit the messages, and sometimes, there just aren’t enough delivery drivers to get the package out in time. This is when you often will start to see the plummeting effects of serotonin. And one of the first to go is your mood.
How Does the Gut Play a Role in Producing Serotonin?
So remember the overwhelming amount of serotonin that comes directly from the gut? Here’s why having a healthy gut is the key to happiness (aside from easing annoying discomfort).
For all of its importance to mental wellbeing, you might expect that the brain is where we find most of the body's serotonin, but it's not. In fact, the gut contains the vast majority of the serotonin in our body. To get technical, serotonin is produced in the enterochromaffin (EC) cells that line the digestive tract. And with this in mind at this current time, it is believed that our gut bacteria can both, directly and indirectly, influence serotonin levels.
We know that fluctuations in serotonin levels, or for those who struggle to produce enough, mental health disorders like depression and anxiety can become very real. But serotonin has also been linked to physiological disorders like IBS, although it is not yet known the role that the two conditions may influence each other. But what can be said for certain is that knowing your gut is such an important site for this key part of life, you need to make conscious steps to nourish and support it.
How Can You Begin Healing the Gut?
1. Eat Gut-Restorative Foods
One of the best ways to support and heal the gut is by being conscious about its daily processes, and that starts with the food you eat. One of the best ways to fix any gut disorders or discomfort is to eat gut-restorative foods. Rituals such as bone broth fasts, which are rich in glutamine and collagen, and healthy fats can all have calming effects on the digestive system, as can cutting out key trigger foods like gluten and dairy. You can learn more about bone broth fasts and healthy foods for the gut in this limited-time masterclass with Christa Orecchio.
2. Eliminate Stresses from Life
It’s easier said than done, right? Eliminating stress from daily life is something that we should all endeavour to do. But when you look at just how much this stress is harming our gut, then it’s time we start to do something about it. Eliminating stress starts with dealing with the cause, and working on practices to help alleviate the mind. Meditation is a simple, but a profoundly effective practice that can support your body and mind through these stressful times.
3. Tune Into this Gut Health Masterclass
Christa Orecchio is a leading mind in the field of gut health and its impact on the body, and this most recent masterclass has revealed so much in terms of what we’ve been doing wrong, and the steps we can take to make it right. There were a lot of ah-ha moments for me in this masterclass, like when Christa said this: “it’s not what we eat, but what we absorb that determines our health.”
Take the stress out of cooking with 21-days of guided meal plans, shopping lists, and nutrition support. You’ll find all of this, and more, in our signature Clean Eating Program.