Our expert says:
Serotonin and dopamine are neurotransmitters produced by the human body. They are not found directly in foods. However, some foods may increase the production of serotonin and dopamine. The human body makes serotonin out of an amino acid called tryptophan which is found in all high-protein foods such as milk, cheese, yoghurt, meat, fish and eggs. Having a cup of warm milk at night is an excellent way of boosting your body's serotonin production and helps to calm patients and induce sleep. Other foods that can help to boost serotonin are: turkey, walnuts, dried peas, almonds, sesame or pumpkin seeds and Cheddar, Gruyere or Swiss cheeses. The neurotransmitter dopamine is produced by the human body from amino acid tyrosine which is also found in all high-protein foods like meat. The following foods can boost tyrosine intake and thus increase dopamine production: meat, fish, eggs, milk and dairy products, almonds, avocado, bananas, lima beans, pumpkin and sesame seeds. Because dopamine is easily oxidised it also helps to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables which are rich in antioxidants like vit C and wholegrains which contain plenty of vit E.
Because your son is autistic which may influence his food preferences and cause him to avoid foods that could be beneficial, I would like to recommend that you consult a clinical dietitian (visit the Association for Dietetics in SA Website at: www.adsa.org.za and click on "Find a Dietitian" to find a dietitian in your area), to help you introduce more nutritious foods to his diet including those listed above that he does not eat at the moment.
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