boosting more than test scores

Zuni school children by John K. Hillers, public domain image by via Wikimedia Commons
How to increase serotonin in the human brain without drugs - StumbleUpon:  Four ways to increase serotonin and avoid depression. This study looks at ways of preventing depression and improving brain function without drugs.

Are our schools using a scientific approach to time management that helps support children and teens biologically? Can kids and families make the schedules they need to achieve good health? Maybe we should begin ensuring that our mass institutions are structured to work with our biology.

When mass schooling began, the majority of people still worked agricultural jobs and school hours were shorter and more seasonal. We still had a majority of food grown without chemicals or agribusiness and most people got far more exercise in their daily lives. The study recommends:

Meditation, which has proved controversial.
In one recent study, meditation was reported to increase release of dopamine.3 
More time outside.
Relatively few generations ago, most of the world population was involved in agriculture and was outdoors for much of the day. This would have resulted in high levels of bright light exposure even in winter. Even on a cloudy day, the light outside can be greater than 1000 lux, a level never normally achieved indoors. .... We may be living in a bright light–deprived society. A large literature that is beyond the scope of this editorial exists on the beneficial effect of bright light exposure in healthy individuals.
Exercise.
A third strategy that may raise brain serotonin is exercise. A comprehensive review of the relation between exercise and mood concluded that antidepressant and anxiolytic effects have been clearly demonstrated.5
As with exposure to bright light, there has been a large change in the level of vigorous physical exercise experienced since humans were hunter-gatherers or engaged primarily in agriculture.68 Lambert68 argued that the decline in vigorous physical exercise and, in particular, in effort-based rewards may contribute to the high level of depression in today's society. The effect of exercise on serotonin suggests that the exercise itself, not the rewards that stem from exercise, may be important.
Improved diet.
They ask, “Could consumption of tryptophan-rich foods play a role in reducing the prevalence of depression and aggression in society?” Cross-national studies have reported a positive association between corn consumption and homicide rates78 and a negative association between dietary tryptophan and suicide rates.79 Although the idea behind such studies is interesting, any causal attribution must remain speculative, given the possible confounds. Nonetheless, the possibility that the mental health of a population could be improved by increasing the dietary intake of tryptophan relative to the dietary intake of other amino acids remains an interesting idea that should be explored.



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