This month I thought that I would look at how Serotonin and Menopause interact with each other. Here I hope to expand on how your emotions and brain function are further impacted on the interaction of serotonin and, oestrogen during menopause.

You may recall that in the last few blogs I looked at the interaction of oestrogen, iodine and thyroid, and how this trio can affect your mood, memory, stress response and many other things. These can also be further impacted by your low levels of serotonin during perimenopause and, when in menopause, due to the decreasing oestrogen levels.

And yes… The state of your digestive system plays a major role in this! As well as what you eat, or more importantly what you’re not having enough of.

 

Serotonin

I’m sure that many of you have heard of serotonin, ‘the happy hormone’; as opposed to dopamine ‘the feel good hormone’. It is a neurotransmitter.

What this means, is it works primarily in your brain. It is involved in regulating many functions within your body the main ones being –

  • Mood
  • Emotion
  • Brain memory, concentration, recall, comprehension
  • Sleep-wake cycle

You may be surprised to know that serotonin also helps to regulate your –

  • Metabolism
  • Appetite
  • Digestion

How does Serotonin influence Menopausal symptoms?

As you all know, when entering menopause your hormones are all ‘haywire’. Some of you experience mild symptoms, while others will get hit hard. Your fluctuating levels will also be affected by other things.

Your body is under physiological stress, which adds emotional stress and when you combine it with other external factors, you have A LOT OF STRESS!

And if you have read some of my other past blogs, for example, Anxiety and Forgetfulness, you would be aware that stress can go on to create many other issues. Added to this, is the fact that your body then uses up more nutrients. You also divert many others, to deal with the stress that you are facing.  So when combined with fluctuating levels of oestrogen, these things do not make a good mix.

Serotonin works along side oestrogen. That is, when your oestrogen levels are high serotonin levels are also. Some of you may have noticed a change in your mood and motivation, during various phases of your menstrual cycle. Here you may have noticed that there were moments where you felt happy, calm, motivated, etc. Just as at other times you felt the opposite, which occurs when your oestrogen levels drop.  If you experienced PMS, then you are more likely to feel these emotional and, cognitive changes, due to the fluctuating levels of oestrogen.

 

What can affect Serotonin levels?

To make serotonin you need a combination of certain nutrients for this to occur. If you are low on one, or another, or all of them, then it will be hard for you to make serotonin. And this can be further impacted if you have an inflamed intestinal tract or one that is not working efficiently. As a high percentage of serotonin is made in your intestinal tract and stored there!

Low protein intake can affect your ability to make serotonin, as you need several amino acids to make serotonin that you can only get from food. And any deficiencies in vitamins and/or minerals that you may have can throw a spanner in the works. WHY? Because the vitamins and minerals promote the biochemical reaction that you need to convert these base ingredients.

There are also some medications that can interfere with serotonin production or action.

Did you know that exercise can also lower your levels (Lee, Kim, 2019)? This is because you produce dopamine, which is your ‘feel good hormone’. Generally, this would not be a problem, but if you are doing excessive exercising, then your serotonin goes down and dopamine goes up.

As you have heard me say many times before, everything in moderation.

 

What can you do?

Eating well is one of the best things that you can do to make sure that your body gets all of the nutrients that it needs to work well and efficiently. You need to make sure that you are eating adequate amounts of –

  • Protein – plant or animal.
  • Nuts and seeds – in particular pumpkin seed, as they contain tryptophan.
  • Legumes – good source of protein, but also soy has tryptophan, and they are all good sources of B vitamins; along with grains
  • Fruits and vegetables of all colours.
  • Make sure your gut health is optimal and working efficiently.
  • Get plenty of fresh air and morning sun.
  • Get off of the computer/phone/tablet at least 1hour before going to bed.

 

And, as always this is a guide of what you can do to achieve optimal health. If you feel that you need a more personalised strategy, as every one of you are different, don’t hesitate to give me a call. That is what I’m here for. To help and guide you towards a better you.

 

References

Lee, J. B., & Kim, T. W. (2019). Ingestion of caffeine links dopamine and 5-hydroxytryptamine release during half immersion in 42°C hot water in a humans. Journal of exercise rehabilitation15(4), 571–575. https://doi.org/10.12965/jer.1938236.118

https://livingkitchenwellness.com/what-do-tryptophan-vitamin-b-and-omega-3s-all-have-in-common/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326090

Pin It on Pinterest