By Michael Dorausch, D.C.

Good nutrition is something we can’t talk enough about. As a chiropractor, I often take for granted that people (including other chiropractors) are making healthy nutritional choices. There’s going to be as many opinions as to what “good nutrition” is, as there are doctors of chiropractic. That being said, here’s my typical weekly protocol for maintaining a healthy serotonin balance.

spinach tomato cucumber salad

Photo: One of my made at home organic salads

To me, it’s important to maintain my mood and stay focused, and the neurotransmitter serotonin helps plays a role in the process. I do best when I get enough sleep, eat well, minimize sugar intake, limit alcohol, and get outside for sun and exercise. As I’ve grown older, I’ve found this daily balance makes a tremendous difference in how my week goes.

My Daily Serotonin Balance Support Protocol

  • adequate sleep daily
  • whole organic foods
  • daily exercise
  • daily sunshine
  • minimal chemicals
  • minimal gluten
  • minimal sugars
  • minimal alcohol

Sleep: I start my days early (typically 5:30 am), so getting to bed before 10 pm nightly is essential for me. There’s no television (I don’t watch TV), phones, or other electronics in the bedroom, as I prefer a deep, and hopefully uninterrupted sleep.

Foods: The salad I had before writing this article (see photo) is typical for twice a day food intake. For years I though one salad a day was enough, and then last year I began preparing fresh salads for lunch and for dinner (salad twice daily). Admittedly, having chiropractors hours with long lunch breaks helps make this possible.

Spinach, mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, nuts, seeds, peppers, mushrooms, eggs, avocados, go into my typical daily salads. I do my best to go organic whenever possible, and we grow several items at home.

I eat less protein than I did a few years ago, but mostly I’ve changed my sources of protein. I’m not getting into paleo, vegan, vegetarian, or other approaches here, just sharing what’s working for me.

Exercise: Basically, when I’m moving daily, I function at my best. Thank God I am a chiropractor, as I get plenty of steps in daily. For years, I’ve incorporated a simple routine that includes push ups and squats done nearly every morning. Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday are workout days. Weekends have become more physically chore focused vs. workout focused, and I’m doing well with that.

Sunshine: Walking the dog is a great way to get sun and vitamin D. I’ve had five Labrador retrievers (and one rottweiler) over the past 25 years, and they all loved long walks and hikes. It rarely rains where I live (Southern and Central California) and walking three times a day is a daily year round activity.

Chemicals: I do my best to avoid chemicals and advise my patients to do the same. We can all do a better job in minimizing processed foods, packaging, plastics, etc. Years ago I used a processed coffee creamer product. Somehow it slipped through and I wasn’t consciously thinking about it as an unnecessary toxic chemical substance I added to my body daily. Long after the illusion had set in that it tasted good (and had become habit), I became aware of it’s ill effects. I stopped using it.

Gluten: Like the creamer, over the years I’ve noticed foods that may appear to be tasty (or comforting) but don’t provide any benefit to me. I’m not gluten free, but I’m fairly close to zero when it comes to consuming gluten, breads, things like pizza, etc. I don’t seek gluten free alternatives either.

Sugar: Same goes for sugar, although I can do better here. I’m not 100% sugar free, but after not eating sweets, chocolate, etc… for a few years, the taste is often awful. But a fresh and creamy avocado? Bring it on.

Alcohol: Quite simply, I don’t like the effects of alcohol or often even the taste of most alcoholic drinks (that I’ve tried), so not consuming alcohol is easy for me. When I first began practicing chiropractic in the 1990s I set up a rule for myself: no alcohol consumption the day of or the day before adjusting someone. That left Friday night and Saturday for drinking (mostly beer). That rule (of which I created several, and I have no recollection consciously why) applies to this day. For example, I had a margarita on Friday afternoon while out to lunch with my family.

I’m reminded of the words of Dr. Sid Williams… “I am excited, I act excited, I feel excited.” Sleeping (including naps if required), eating well, exercising, getting sun, keeping toxins out of my body, etc… helps me act feel and be excited.