Foods That Decrease Serotonin Levels

Many tips about raising serotonin naturally can be found on Google. There is a wealth of information here, including information about regular exercise and sunshine, as well as foods that boost serotonin.

However, there’s very little talk about foods that decrease serotonin production – which can have severe consequences for your health! So, we’ve compiled this list of 7 foods that decrease serotonin levels. There are some items on this list that might surprise you. So, keep reading.

What role does serotonin play in our health?

As a neurotransmitter, serotonin helps to relay messages from one area of the brain to another. The widespread distribution of its cells is believed to influence various psychological and other body functions. Of the approximately 40 million brain cells, 90% contain serotonin. Serotonin influences mood, appetite, sexual desire, sleep patterns, pain perception, memory formation, muscle contraction, temperature regulation, digestion, cardiovascular functioning, breathing, heartbeat, and much more. The exact way serotonin works vary depending upon where it is located within the brain.

For example, serotonin neurons help regulate movement and coordination; those with high dopamine concentrations promote feelings of pleasure, and those with low amounts of glutamate tend to calm people down.

Serotonin deficiency occurs when too few serotonin-producing nerve cells exist in the brain. This can happen if someone has been exposed to certain drugs over long periods. It also may occur during pregnancy because of changes in hormones. Low serotonin levels have been linked to depression, anxiety disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, and others conditions.

Can diet impact serotonin levels?

There have been studies showing that certain diets can affect serotonin levels and mood. For example:

A study published in The Journal Of Nutrition found that people who ate high amounts of carbohydrates had a lower level of serotonin than those with low carbohydrate intake.

Another study showed that overeating sugar could lead to depression. This was because when we consume large quantities of refined sugars, our bodies produce less dopamine – which helps regulate feelings of pleasure.

According to the researchers, sucrose may aggravate depression symptoms by affecting serotonergic neurotransmission.

What foods decrease serotonin levels?

French Fries

French fries are one of the most popular foods in America, and they have been linked with increased levels of depression. This is because when we eat them, our bodies release dopamine, which makes us feel good. However, if we consume too many refined carbohydrates like french fries, it can cause an increase in insulin levels which will then decrease the production of serotonin.


Sugar causes blood glucose levels to rise rapidly after consuming it. When blood glucose rises quickly, it triggers the pancreas to secrete insulin into the bloodstream. Insulin increases the amount of free fatty acids circulating in the bloodstream. These FFAs enter fat tissue and stimulate leptin secretion, a hormone that tells the brain whether energy stores are adequate. Leptin signals hunger centers in the hypothalamus to tell the rest of the brain to stop eating. If leptin doesn’t get enough attention, the brain sends out conflicting signals causing cravings for food. In addition, fructose stimulates the liver to make triglycerides which leads to elevated cholesterol levels.

Refined Carbohydrates

Refined carbs include white bread, pasta, rice, crackers, cookies, cakes, pies, pastries, etc. They contain no fiber, so they pass directly through the digestive system without being broken down. As such, they don’t provide any nutrients to the body. Instead, they trigger rapid spikes in blood glucose levels. Because of their fast absorption rate, they leave the stomach empty and create a feeling of emptiness. This results in overeating since we crave something sweet to fill up the void left behind. Eating refined carbs also raises insulin levels which decreases serotonin production.

Processed Foods

Processed foods are made using chemicals and additives that alter the taste and texture of foods. Common examples include artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, hydrogenated fats, MSG, and other chemical ingredients. Many processed foods are loaded with trans fats, which are known to reduce serotonin levels. Trans fats are created during the process of making margarine and shortening. It’s not clear why trans fats cause decreased serotonin levels, but research suggests that they interfere with the way cells use hormones.

Food Additives

Many people believe that certain types of food additives affect serotonin levels. While studies haven’t shown conclusive evidence yet, many experts agree that BPA has estrogenic properties and could influence serotonin levels.


The caffeine in coffee, tea, soda pop, chocolate bars, and even diet sodas affects serotonin levels. Caffeine blocks adenosine receptors which prevent the brain from receiving messages from the spinal cord. Adenosine plays a role in regulating mood and sleeping habits. When caffeine binds to adenosine receptors, it causes an increase in dopamine activity. Dopamine is one of the neurotransmitters responsible for feelings of pleasure. So when caffeine interacts with adenosine receptors, the result is increased dopamine activity. Increased dopamine activity can lead to anxiety, agitation, irritability, sleeplessness, and depression.

Foods High in Toxins

The toxins found in food have been linked to mood disorders. For example, pesticides and herbicides may cause neurological damage due to inflammation caused by free radicals.

In addition, heavy metals such as lead and mercury can be stored in your liver and kidneys, where they affect how well these organs function. These toxins can then enter your bloodstream through your digestive tract and travel throughout your entire body.

What other factors can decrease serotonin levels?

Many other lifestyle choices can also lower serotonin levels. These include:

Sleep deprivation

Sleep deprivation affects both serotonin and melatonin. Lack of sleep leads to increased stress hormones like cortisol, which then decreases serotonin levels. Lack of sleep increases the risk of developing depression.


Stressors trigger the fight/flight response, releasing chemicals called glucocorticoids into the bloodstream. Cortisol triggers the pituitary gland to secrete an adrenocorticotropic hormone, which acts on the hypothalamus to stimulate the secretion of corticotropin-releasing factor. CRF sends signals throughout the central nervous system, triggering the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system to prepare the body for action. In addition, ACTH activates the HPA axis, leading to elevated levels of cortisol. High cortisol levels suppress the synthesis of tryptophan, one of the building blocks of serotonin.

Poor nutrition

A poor diet high in refined sugars and processed carbohydrates will deplete serotonin stores. This happens because sugar competes with tryptophan for entry into cells. The less available tryptophan is, the fewer serotonin molecules get made.


Smoking increases catecholamines such as norepinephrine and epinephrine, which act similarly to serotonin but at higher doses. Nicotine stimulates the body’s reward system, causing users to crave cigarettes even after they quit smoking. In addition, nicotine suppresses the release of acetylcholine, another chemical involved in memory formation. Acetylcholine helps regulate the flow of calcium ions across cell membranes, so its suppression could interfere with learning and memory processes.

Alcohol consumption

Alcohol lowers serotonin levels due to its effects on GABA receptors. GABA stands for gamma aminobutyric acid, and this chemical plays a crucial part in calming down the nervous system.

Alcohol lowers serotonin levels via two mechanisms. First, alcohol inhibits the enzyme monoamine oxidase, preventing the breakdown of serotonin. Second, alcohol suppresses the production of 5HTP; another precursor molecule used to make serotonin.

Vitamin & Minerals Deficiencies

Vitamin deficiencies can also reduce serotonin levels. Vitamin B6 helps convert amino acids into active forms. Serotonin is produced from L-tryptophan via 5HTP. A deficiency in this enzyme results in decreased conversion of tryptophan to serotonin.

Also, magnesium is needed for the proper functioning of enzymes involved in producing serotonin. It has been shown that people who have chronic fatigue syndrome tend to have low serum concentrations of magnesium.

Foods & Serotonin Levels Q & A

How can I lower my risk of developing low serotonin levels?

The best way to prevent low serotonin levels is to avoid stressors like caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and other substances that may cause depletion. If you already experience symptoms of depression or anxiety, then seek medical help immediately. You should always consult your doctor before taking any supplements or medications.

There are many ways to increase serotonin levels naturally. You can visit our article here if you want to learn more about them.

Do eggs increase serotonin?

Egg yolks contain choline, vitamin D3, zinc, selenium, copper, phosphorus, iron, and protein. They also contain an essential fatty acid called docosahexaenoic acid. This nutrient is known to improve mood and cognitive function in adults. The egg white contains only trace amounts of nutrients.

Can eating chocolate affect serotonin levels?

Chocolate contains phenylethylamine, which increases dopamine activity in the brain. Chocolate also contains caffeine, which raises adrenaline levels. These chemicals stimulate the “reward center” of the brain, resulting in feelings of pleasure. However, too much chocolate will not necessarily lead to increased levels of serotonin. Studies suggest that excessive consumption of cocoa products leads to reduced serotonin synthesis.

Are fish good for serotonin levels?

Fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, including eicosapentaenoic acid, docosahexaenoic acid, and arachidonic acid. Omega 3 fats reduce inflammation throughout the body, thereby reducing pain and improving sleep quality. Some research suggests that they may even protect against Alzheimer’s disease.

Fish oil supplementation appears to enhance serotonergic transmission in rats with experimentally induced mania.


Serotonin is one of the neurotransmitters responsible for regulating our emotions. It also plays an integral role in sleep and appetite regulation. When we have low serotonin, we can experience depression, anxiety, insomnia, weight gain, fatigue, etc. In other words, low serotonin levels can lead to many different symptoms.

In summary, I hope this article has helped you understand why certain foods can decrease serotonin levels. This knowledge will help you make better food choices and avoid those which may cause problems for you. So, if you feel like you need to cut back on any particular type of food, try cutting out the ones listed above first!