Being happy

Hormone of Happiness: What Is It and How Does It Work?

Max. D Gray
By Max. D Gray. June 24, 2022
Hormone of Happiness: What Is It and How Does It Work?

Happiness is a difficult state of mind to define because it is a subjective concept based on each individual's experience. Although researchers have yet to find a definition or unifying framework for happiness, it can be defined as a positive emotional state. There are many external factors that affect how we feel, but our mood is also affected by chemical substances produced by our bodies.

In this oneHOWTO article will teach you what the happiness hormone is and how does it work.

You may also be interested in: How do Endorphins Work?
  1. What is the happiness hormone?
  2. Pay attention to the intestinal flora
  3. Eat foods rich in tryptophan
  4. Exercise
  5. Keep stress under control
  6. Take advantage of sunlight
  7. Allow yourself sufficient rest

What is the happiness hormone?

Serotonin (5- HT) is a type of neurotransmitter molecule involved in numerous physiological processes such as the sensation of hunger or sleep. It also plays a fundamental role in the control of emotions and the generation of pleasant sensations, among numerous other functions that are still being researched and are related to the processes of learning and memory.

About 90% of serotonin is found in the cells lining your gastrointestinal tract. It is released into your bloodstream and absorbed by platelets. Only about 10% is produced in your brain. Serotonin is made from the essential amino acid tryptophan.

What are the 4 happiness hormones?

Hormones act as messengers for our bodies, regulating everything from our physical function to our emotional well-being. The hormones that we often relate to happiness are:

  • Dopamine: a main driver of the reward system in the brain. It is released when we experience something pleasurable. Dopamine provides the rush we experience when eating, shopping, and any activity we enjoy.

  • Serotonin: plays a key role in combating anxiety and depression.

  • Endorphins: endorphins are most commonly associated with sports and act as natural painkillers, minimizing discomfort and maximizing pleasure.

  • Oxytocin: Oxytocin is best known for its role in bonding and floods a woman's system during childbirth and breastfeeding. This "love hormone" also increases with any type of intimate touch, including holding hands, cuddling, kissing, etc.
Hormone of Happiness: What Is It and How Does It Work? - What is the happiness hormone?

Pay attention to the intestinal flora

Although research on the gut-brain connection is ongoing, maintaining gut flora is thought to influence not only digestive health, but emotional health as well. A balanced diet of fish, vegetables, grains, fruits, and water can help keep our gut bacteria healthy. Healthy gut bacteria have a positive effect on the brain and our mood.

Including probiotic foods in the diet, i.e., those that contain beneficial live microorganisms that help keep the intestinal lining in good condition (bifidia and lactobacilli), is an excellent way to activate the happiness hormone.

Kefir, probiotic yogurts, sauerkraut, kombucha and other fermented foods such as tempeh, which is made from soybeans, improve digestion and also lift your mood.

Fermented foods have many benefits: they can soothe your digestive tract, help with weight loss, improve skin, boost the immune system, and cure a variety of health problems. Continue reading this other article to learn which are the best fermented foods.

Eat foods rich in tryptophan

L-tryptophan, also called tryptophan, is an essential amino acid involved in the formation of serotonin. L-tryptophan is also involved in the synthesis of another hormone directly related to our well-being: melatonin. This hormone plays a crucial role in the normal development of the sleep-wake cycle.

L-tryptophan is naturally found in many foods. Some food sources are:

  • Turkey
  • Tuna
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Bananas
  • Dairy products
  • Red meat
  • Shellfish
  • Soy products

If you want to know more about what foods contain tryptophan and ideas on how to include it in your diet, continue reading this other article, where we list the foods that are rich in tryptophan.

Hormone of Happiness: What Is It and How Does It Work? - Eat foods rich in tryptophan


Incorporating exercise into your habits is a great way to feel good every day. Of course, exercise makes you gain flexibility and agility, which always increases well-being, but it also stimulates the production of serotonin and helps maintain adequate levels of tryptophan in the body.

Research shows that people who exercise regularly have better mental health and emotional well-being and are less likely to suffer from mental illness. Exercise appears to reduce the risk of developing mental illness. It also seems to help treat some mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety.

Keep stress under control

Stress directly affects the production of serotonin. Keeping it in check is essential for your own well-being, because chronic stress can trigger numerous problems, from anxiety, fear, insomnia, or hyperactivity to the dreaded depression.

Stress can also impact your health if you use unhealthy behaviors to cope. The negative effects of stress on your well-being can become a source of stress itself. Things like more physical activity, a healthy diet, less phone and screen time, self-care, and less caffeine can help you reduce stress in your daily life.

If you want to learn more about different ways to keep stress under control, keep reading this other article, where we talk about the things you can do to relieve stress.

Hormone of Happiness: What Is It and How Does It Work? - Keep stress under control

Take advantage of sunlight

Have you ever wondered why gray and rainy days generally make us feel a little sadder and down? Research has shown that vitamin D may play an important role in regulating mood and reducing the risk of depression. Low vitamin levels may contribute to adult schizophrenia, depression, and seasonal depression.

You can increase your vitamin D levels by spending time under the sun (with proper precautions), taking supplements, and including fish, seafood, egg yolks, and mushrooms in your diet.

You can learn more about how to include vitamin D in your diet by reading this other article on vitamin D- rich foods.

Allow yourself sufficient rest

Sleep and mood are closely related. Poor or insufficient sleep can lead to irritability and stress, while healthy sleep can increase well-being. Serotonin is one of the key brain chemicals or neurotransmitters that regulate sleep-wake cycles. A diet high in the amino acid tryptophan can maintain healthy serotonin levels, but lifestyle choices such as constant travel and an irregular sleep schedule can disrupt serotonin production.

When serotonin levels are not normal, sleep disturbances and other problems can occur, including depression and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Studies show that people who are sleep-deprived experience an increase in negative moods (anger, frustration, irritability, sadness) and a decrease in positive moods. And insomnia is often a symptom of mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.

Continue reading this other article if you want to learn more about the consequences of not getting enough sleep.

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Hormone of Happiness: What Is It and How Does It Work?, we recommend you visit our Mental health category.

  1. Elaine Hsiao Lab at UCLA. Retrieved from
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Hormone of Happiness: What Is It and How Does It Work?