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Serotonin and Weight Loss

Posted on February 20, 2011 by Serotune | 1 comment

The more well-known functions of neurotransmitters are the critical roles that they play in mood regulation and mental performance. But did you know that these brain chemicals also have a direct impact on your weight by infuencing both your appetite and emotional state?

Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that sends satiety messages to your brain. Optimum levels of serotonin ensure healthy gut-brain communication and appetite control via the delivery of accurate satiety messages from the digestive tract to the brain. These are serotonin's anti-obesogenic properties. Lack of serotonin leads to strong carbohydrate cravings that can lead to weight gain due to the overconsumption of calories. Certain conditions such as stress, PMS, and seasonal depression decrease your brain's ability to manufacture serotonin. Lifestyle variables such as diet and physical activity also determine the amount of serotonin your body would be able produce.

The problem of weight gain is compounded by a sedentary lifestyle because you can only create caloric deficit by consuming less calories while spending stored, excess energy via exercise. The end result is weight gain and even obesity.

Serotonin deficiency is a catch-22 when it comes to the problems of overweight and obesity. It does not just induce you to overeat on carbs; it also leads to depression, which has been strongly linked to over-eating. Increasing your serotonin levels therefore helps you lose weight by simultaneously curbing your carbohydrate cravings and reducing the negative emotions associated with unhealthy eating habits.

Achieve safe weight loss by increasing your serotonin naturally

Due to tryptophan's limited ability to pass through the blood brain barrier, some scientists propose foods high in carbohydrates can promote serotonin production by inducing the secretion of insulin, which increases tryptophan concentration in the blood. Large amounts of tryptophan then enter the brain more easily by virtue that competing amino acids are greatly outnumbered. Tryptophan is broken down into 5-HTP, which then gets converted into serotonin.

The big challenge is finding quality food sources of carbohydrates that will not cause other health problems. We encourage you to do a de-rigeur label reading when choosing foods from the supermarket. Stay away from foods that contain toxins such as preservatives, food coloring, monosodium glutamate.  Avoid pesticides by purchasing organic foods. These synthetic substances act as depressants and increase cellular toxicity. 

Cellular Toxicity

It is best to understand the power of detoxification in speeding up weight loss and preventing weight gain. One of the body's protective mechanisms is to store toxins in fat cells. The more food toxins you ingest, the more bloated your fat cells become.  It is for this reason that we highly recommend fresh, organic whole foods for overall health and well-being. The whole foods dietary approach initiates and supports detoxification, a vital, life-sustaining metabolic process that triggers weight loss, strengthens immunity, promotes healing, and improves moods and mental functions.

Avoid refined, processed foods that are either low in fiber or completely devoid of it . Such foods are high in macronutrients (fats, carbohydrates, and protein) but low on micronutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, which signal the brain to send messages. Fiber along with sufficient amounts of micronutrients create feelings of satiety, thereby decreasing hunger and appetite. The state of optimum nourishment also removes the desire to overeat. You end up being trim, healthy, and happy.

Certain serotonin-friendly whole foods also happen to inhibit adipogenesis, or fat cell production. We have come up with a list of fresh, raw foods that prevent both lipogenesis and fat storage due to the presence of food enzymes--heat-sensitive protein catalysts that metabolize fats, carbohydrates, protein, and cellulose. Your body can actually produce its own digestive enzymes except for cellulase, the enzyme required for breaking down cellulose present in plant-foods. The problem is that your body may not be producing enough digestive enzymes due to certain lifestyle factors (stress) or medical conditions (such as digestive disorders or systemic toxicity), so eating fresh raw foods and supplementing with digestive enzymes when eating cooked foods can help a lot in preventing unwanted weight gain.

Another reason to eat plant foods is that they help the body achieve homeostatic balance by establishing blood alkalinity. An acidic body pH causes anxiety and depression, which can both lead to compulsive overeating as an attempt to deal with psychological stress, aside from lowering your serotonin levels.

We recommend that you get yourself tested for food allergies if you plan to follow a serotonin diet. Wheat products, due to their high carbohydrate content, may increase serotonin levels. But if you are allergic to gluten then you may end up end up bloated after eating pasta or bread--one of the common symptoms of gluten allergy that leads to weight gain. Other gluten allergy-related immune complexes include depression and brain fog. Choose gluten-free whole foods instead such as brown rice, brown rice pasta, corn pasta (if you are not allergic to corn), or baked sweet potato to promote serotonin synthesis without increasing your weight or compromising your immune system.

Perhaps the fastest and way to naturally increase your serotonin without the additional calories is by taking supplements that boost serotonin such as L-trytophan, omega-3 fatty acids, 5-HTP, B-complex vitamins, and St. John's Wort to name a few. Taking serotonin supplements is also very convenient if you have limited food choices due to food allergies. Working with both a holistic nutritionist and naturopathic doctor will help you decide which serotonin supplement will work best in conjunction with a carefully planned serotonin diet.

Serotune offers a supplement that serves as a source of natural serotonin.

References:

Blundell, JE. Serotonin manipulations and the structure of feeding behaviour. Appetite. 1986;7 Suppl:39-56.

Braly, James and Holford, Patrick. Hidden Food Allergies: Is What You Eat Making You Ill?  Piatkus: London, 2005.

Cousens, Gabriel. Conscious Eating. Essene Vision Books: Arizona, 1992.

Fernstrom, JD. Dietary effects on brain serotonin synthesis: relationship to appetite regulation. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, November 1985, Vol 42 No. 5, 1072-1082.

Fuhrman, Joel. Eat to Live: The Revolutionary Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss. Little, Brown and Company, New York: 2003.

Leibowitz, Sarah and Alexander, Jesline. Hypothalamic serotonin in control of eating behavior, meal size, and body weight. Biological Psychiatry Journal, 1 November 1998, Vol 44 No. 9, 851-864.

Wurtman, Judith. Serotonin: What It is and Why It's Important for Weight Loss. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-antidepressant-diet/201008/serotonin-what-it-is-and-why-its-important-weight-loss. August 5, 2010.

Wurtman, JJ and Wurtman, RJ. Brain serotonin, carbohydrate-craving, obesity and depression. Obesity Research, Nov 1995;3 Suppl 4:477S-480S.

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Comments

  • Wendy

    Insomnia, weight I cannot move, all makes sense now…… I have all the classic symptoms of
    serotonin deficiency and now I know why and what to do about it.

 

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