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Dr. Oz: Best diet sources of serotonin for boosting happiness and weight loss

You can experience happiness even if you can't make it to Disneyland.
You can experience happiness even if you can't make it to Disneyland.Photo by Handout/Getty Images

Do you wish that you could feel happier? By understanding the habits of happy people and eating the right diet, you can achieve that goal, said Dr. Mehmet Oz on his Aug. 29 talk show. And serotonin, which can help boost weight loss as well as emotional well-being, is the key.

Dr. Oz calls serotonin the "happiness hormone." Doing something to help others, such as complimenting them, can increase your levels. Studies show that people who are happiest express gratitude.

Happy people also know how to take time for themselves, even if it means saying "no." For example, if you spend all your time at the office and work through lunch breaks because you've accepted extra work, gradually shift to using your lunch breaks to fix a healthy lunch or go for a walk.

Higher levels of serotonin can reduce cravings, leading to weight loss success. A tasty way to feel happier is to eat chocolate, which releases serotonin and dopamine. Mood-boosting diet foods also include couscous, which has anxiety-relieving selenium; salmon, which contains depression-lifting omega-3s, and dried cherries, which have melatonin to help you sleep.

In addition, Dr. Oz decided to take on the social media world by telling viewers to take at least one day a week away from those tempting pages of Facebook and tweets on Twitter. He believes that these mini virtual vacations can help with happiness.

While Dr. Oz focused on the link between happiness and serotonin, scientists have traditionally linked low serotonin levels to depression. But now a new study indicates that factors other than serotonin cause depression, reported Science World Report on Aug. 27.

Scientists studied mice who could not produce serotonin. When they conducted tests designed to produce symptoms of depression, the mice did not react.

As a result of this study, researchers plan to expand their search for treatments for depressions to remedies that do not involve serotonin. The study was helpful, however, in that it gave clues as to why 60 to 70 percent of patients who take antidepressants that boost serotonin still feel depressed.