New here? Please scroll to the bottom to read our first post and carry on from there.

Real Food, People & Health is a place for individuals concerned with wellness. We focus on information sharing and relating through experience.

We are all on a journey......

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Seretonin Levels - Why They Are Important! Depressed?

Again....grabbed this information - this time from: http://www.womens-health-questions.com/serotonin.html but so helpful!

Serotonin is a monoamine neurotransmitter that provides a chemical link between the neurons of the brain. Natural serotonin is produced by the body during the digestion of healthy foods that contain the amino acid L-Tryptophan.

Serotonin is one of the chemicals which regulates emotion, and it is thought to play a large role in the biology of depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, migraine, sexuality and appetite.

People who are suffering from problems in these health areas might have a serotonin deficiency. This deficiency may be caused by poor eating habits.

As well as being found in the brain, serotonin is found in abundance in the digestive system as well as the blood stream. When the proper foods are digested, the body creates natural serotonin.

For example, whey protein milkshakes contain the amino acid L-Tryptophan. When the protein is digested, the body converts the amino acid into natural serotonin as needed. This is the way nature intended for you to get your natural serotonin, from the digestion of various healthy foods.

Ask your doctor if natural serotonin may be an alternative to drugs or a complimentary treatment. In the treatment of depression and anxiety, SSRI pills (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are often taken in hopes of increasing the brain’s serotonin levels by increasing the amount of time that it stays in the brain.

However if the body has a shortage of natural serotonin, due to a poor diet, the drugs are simply trying to make the most out of the little bit of supply there is in the body.

The question is, why not also increase the supply, instead of only trying to make the little bit there is linger for a longer time? This is not to say drugs don't have their place, consult your doctor.

But think about this. If someone has a shortage of Vitamin C and it was causing the symptoms of scurvy, would they take a drug to make the little bit of vitamin they did have last longer in their body? They might, but why not also just drink some orange juice and naturally get some more of the vitamin into the body? Hello, hello? Is health food a big mystery?

The human body is designed to produce natural serotonin from foods that contain amino acids. If someone is very low on serotonin it might be because the food they eat is junk and does not have the nutrients the body needs to support proper health.

Here is what can happen:

1. You eat a junk diet of processed and packaged foods.

2. You find yourself with a serotonin deficiency because your body can't make any from the junk food you eat.

3. You either make the effort to eat whey protein and similar health foods that your body can use to create natural serotonin ... or you don't.

Most people don't. Sad but true. They end up at the doctor and buy expensive pills because they wouldn't make an effort to eat some health foods.

Here are three ways to get more natural serotonin into your body.

1. Health Foods: Drink a whey protein milkshake every day. We do. We put a scoop of chocolate flavor in a blender with a half a banana and some skim milk. It tastes delicious and helps keep your tummy flat too.

If using a blender is too much work you can get these milkshakes in ready to drink packages. Put some in the refrigerator and enjoy one each day.

2. L-Tryptophan Supplements: These were off the market for a long time due to one bad batch made by a foreign company. Now they are back and have passed the regulatory requirements for purity. One company that makes these is Doctor's Best.

3. This super high quality brain and mood formula is made by a company we have great respect for.

We read and filter so much bad information it can be easy to mess up your system when people (coughdoctorscough) tell us something....like drink milk! Eat yogurt! Exercise until you drop! No thank yew!

Exercise (they say only 20 minutes a day is required) is still a good thing, don't get me wrong - but why sweat your bag off at the gym when you leave to stuff a box of fries into yourself shortly after?? I say this - because I've done it too! I would 'reward' myself with a trip to KFC if i could sweat for a full hour. Pitiful! It is counterproductive!



Effects of Foods

"Different food components have different effects on serotonin.

Sugar (sweets): Triggers quick release of insulin that lowers blood levels of most large amino acids except tryptophan, which remains in the blood and can enter the brain. As a result, serotonin levels rise, but blood-sugar levels also rise and fall dramatically.

Refined starch (white bread, white rice): Triggers release of insulin that lowers blood levels of most large amino acids except tryptophan, which remains in the blood and can enter the brain. As a result, serotonin levels rise, but blood-sugar levels also rise and fall, sometimes too low.

Whole grain starch (whole wheat, brown rice, oatmeal): Triggers a slow, sustained release of insulin that lowers blood levels of most large amino acids except tryptophan, which remains in the blood and can enter the brain. As a result, serotonin levels rise gradually, and blood-sugar levels remain stable, without the rise and fall experienced with sugar or refined grains.

Vitamin B6: Aids in the manufacture of serotonin. A deficiency of this B vitamin reduces serotonin production and affects mood and cravings.

Estrogen: Might inhibit vitamin B6 status and decrease brain serotonin levels by its affects on neuropeptide Y (NPY).

Tryptophan: Raises blood levels, then brain levels of tryptophan, which increases serotonin production.

Protein: Raises blood levels of all large amino acids. As a result, only small amounts of tryptophan enter the brain, serotonin levels do not rise, and cravings for carbohydrates might increase. A person might also feel more energetic and more clearheaded as a result of lowered serotonin levels.

Fat: Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil raise serotonin levels, although how they do this is unclear. (Page 17)"

Book: Somer, Elizabeth, M.A., R.D. Food & Mood. Henry Holt and Company, LLC, 1999.


"A desire for sweets is hardwired into the brain. As discussed in chapter 1, a carbohydrate-rich meal or snack stimulates the release of the hormone insulin from the pancreas, which lowers blood levels of all amino acids except tryptophan. Normally, tryptophan must compete with other amino acids for entry into the brain, but insulin eliminates the competition, allowing tryptophan levels to rise in the brain. Tryptophan is then converted into serotonin, the neurotransmitter that regulates sleep, reduces pain and appetite, and generally calms you down and improves your mood. (Page 46)"

Book: Somer, Elizabeth, M.A., R.D. Food & Mood. Henry Holt and Company, LLC, 1999.

The GI Tract, Dairy

· Ongoing research connects acetylcholine, GABA and serotonin to ASD [Autism Spectrum Disorder (a broad definition of autism)] problems.
[GABA is also mentioned in the section Hypoglycemia: Effects of GABA]
· All affect GI motility and sensitivity in a variety of ways.

Notes: Because there are so many neurotransmitters in the gut, it is not easy to separate what is speculated to be a reaction from food versus a reaction with one of these other neurotransmitters. Dairy affects the promotion of serotonin [can lead to an overproduction of serotonin?]. Some people say dairy may have a constipating effect due to

· opioids,
· but it could also be due to increased serotonin activity...
· or even that dairy is high in proteins, which have a constipating effect.]

Enzyme Stuff: Sensory Integration Issues and Gut Reactions

Serotonin and Melatonin

"Melatonin is manufactured from serotonin. When melatonin levels increase, serotonin levels usually decrease, since more serotonin is converted to melatonin. On the other hand, exposure to light lowers melatonin levels and increases serotonin levels. Consequently, serotonin levels are lower, while melatonin levels are higher, in the winter as compared to the spring and summer, especially in people with SAD. (Page 143)"

Book: Somer, Elizabeth, M.A., R.D. Food & Mood. Henry Holt and Company, LLC, 1999.


This time from http://www.understand-andcure-anxietyattacks-panicattacks-depression.com/5-htp.html, this information is invaluable if you are taking antidepressants!

5-htp needs Zinc, Magnesium, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin C to form Serotonin

Let's have a look at the 5-htp pathway to Serotonin formation and then understand why possibly there are "better than medication" options available in the battle against anxiety, depression and panic attacks.

Patients who suffer from depression are most aften advised that they have a "chemical imbalance" and the doctor then prescribes a medication(more chemicals) to "normalise" Serotonin levels.

We know from pathology text books that "All disease has it's origin in the biochemistry of the cells".

Surely then, the sensible thing to do, rather than add a cocktail of foreign chemicals into our systems, would be to find out WHY a person is not producing Serotonin.

In other words- What goes wrong in the biochemical pathway?

When we look at the chemical pathway to Serotonin, we start by digesting the proteins we eat with stomach acid, which cannot be produced without plentiful Zinc.

So without enough Zinc and B6 , we dont even get out of the starting blocks, and can't even create L-Tryptophan (an amino acid).

L-Tryptophan needs the enzyme Tryptophan Hydroxylase and the presence of the cofactors Folate, Iron, Calcium and Vitamin B3 , in order to convert to 5-htp.
Once we have 5-htp (5-Hydroxytryptophan), then we need the enzyme Dopa Decarboxylase to convert 5-hydroxtryptophan, in the presence of the cofactors B6 Magnesium,Zinc and Vitamin C, to 5-ht(5-Hydroxytryptamine) aka Serotonin.

..and there we have it! Our Happiness pathway.

Now, here's the rub:

The cofactors need to be in abundant supply AND their action must NOT be BLOCKED by ANTI-NUTRIENTS in order for everything to go smoothly and for us to be happy.

BUT.... if we DO get an adequate supply of all the raw materials, and we get rid of the anti-nutrients, then everything works- our 5-hydroxytryptophan will convert to Serotonin!

So what can we take from this?

1. We need to learn about anti-nutrients and how to combat their effects in the body.

2. We need to supplement with certain Vitamins and Minerals (because we sure as eggs are not getting everything we need from our food).

So there you have it! The 'skinny' on seratonin - and once you know, you can't not know!

No comments:

Post a Comment