Bowels moving slowly these days? Two in three of us can relate! Experts say the culprit is the same thing that triggers cold-weather blues — a shortfall of mood-boosting serotonin. Turns out, your intestines use the happy hormone to keep you regular, and dark days plunge its production. Boost serotonin to move things along by…
1. Eating mangoes.
You’ll find fresh and frozen mangoes year-round in most supermarkets, and enjoying 1 cup daily could cut your risk of constipation by 55 percent. That’s the word from researchers at Texas A&M University, who say mangoes brim with compounds (gallotannins) that fuel the growth of healthy probiotic bacteria in your intestines. One of the nifty things about probiotics? They make and release constipation-curing serotonin into your system!
2. Walking a little.
Going for a brisk 20-minute walk around a mall or office building — or simply popping in a walking DVD — could help move sluggish bowels in as little as one hour, suggests research in the journal PLOS One. Explains study co-author Tai Lam, PhD, moving the large muscles in your hips and thighs revs a type of intestinal cell that produces serotonin.
3. Taking magnesium.
Magnesium helps your digestive tract soak up and use serotonin, cutting your constipation risk by 30 percent if you take 400 mg. daily, report researchers in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Bonus: Magnesium at bedtime often provides relief by morning. Note: Check with your doctor before taking supplements.
4. Rubbing your belly.
Two five-minute belly massages daily improves regularity and eases abdominal bloat and pain for 57 percent of women studied — often within one hour. Turns out, stimulating the nerves in your abdomen switches on genes that rev serotonin release.
5. Trying this potty trick.
Resting feet on a step stool placed in front of the toilet reduced strain in 71 percent of subjects and sped movement in 90 percent, according to a recent study at Ohio Statue University. This also reduced hemorrhoid risk.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.