Did you know your serotonin levels play a role in your nutrition? Read up for some nutrition tips on keeping calm and relaxed, increasing your immunity and preventing weight issues.

As many may now know, our nutritional health is very connected to our gut health. You may have even heard that our gut health is connected to our mental well-being.

But did you know serotonin levels contribute to our overall nutrition? Typically we hear of the serotonin that makes us feel good in our brains.

This only accounts for 5% of the serotonin in our body, but 90% is actually found in the gut and 5% is used for other processes within our body.

Serotonin is released by glucose and fat metabolism. This in turn promotes release of insulin and storage of fat. Serotonin plays a balancing act between energy storage and energy release.

When energy is being used, glucose intake causes release of insulin from the pancreas stimulated by serotonin. Additionally, fatty acids also promote the release of lipids from the liver.

When serotonin is increased, fat storage occurs. Serotonin is signaled by various receptors to signal when to eat and when to stop. Consuming the wrong foods, although they may bring stress relief, can promote weight gain.

Ideally, foods high in sugar can do this, however you can instead consume foods with tryptophan, such as walnuts, oat bran, pumpkin seeds, potatoes, turkey, eggs, salmon, dairy, nuts and seeds to promote the calming effects of trytophan and stimulate your serotonin without promoting the effects of fat storage.

Moreover, consuming foods in trytophan allows production of melatonin, which regulates our hunger cues stimulated by the hypothalamus to feel full.

Try consuming more foods from vegan sources and smaller amounts from meats, fish and poultry. Too many meats can produce inflammation, but all sources can be beneficial.

Additionally, by limiting sugar and instead consuming foods high in fiber along with balanced diet you allow your hormones to work properly. Consuming foods high in fiber promote the feeding of our gut bacteria and allow one to fee full.

By slowing digestion we absorb more nutrients, thus allowing your body to build better immunity and balance our gut motility. Consuming a balanced diet with a variety of fruits, vegetables, fiber, protein and healthy fats allow our bodies to function properly.

— Marcy DiGregorio is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator who loves helping people with their nutritional needs, enjoys cooking, and also teaches yoga. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.