Posted in Full Post

Serotonin & Health Effects

Your Not Broken (Preview)

A preview from my upcoming ebook linking the the gaps between mental health and overall health, Please note this is just a draft and will be edited. *This is for educational purposes only*

Serotonin 

Serotonin is manufactured in the raphe nuclei, an area located in the midbrain. Its production is triggered by activation of the tectum (Latin for roof), also located in the midbrain (59)

Stimulation of the midbrain roof depends on adequate light.

So if someone spends a lot of time in a poorly lit office, travels home and to work in the dark. The midbrain roof (Tectum) may not get enough stimulation and does not get the rest of the midbrain fired up causing serotonin production to suffer.

This could be why serotonin deficiency is often associated with depression and moodiness during winter, on cloudy days, or with too many days spent inside

Symptoms of Serotonin Impairment or Deficiency (59,170-76)

Low serotonin activity has been associated with, Loss of pleasure in hobbies and interests, Feelings of inner rage and anger, Feelings of depression, Difficulty finding joy from life pleasures, Depression when it is cloudy or when there is lack of sunlight, Loss of enthusiasm for favourite activities, Not enjoying favourite foods, Not enjoying friendships and relationships, Unable to fall into a deep restful sleep. 

A Domino effect of Serotonin Impairment (170.)

you may not experience all of the above symptoms but an example of how having unbalanced serotonin would play out.

It might start with a loss of enthusiasm for your favourite activity where for the first time you are having to get yourself motivated to do/ enjoy it. Socialising whether, at work, home or with friends starts to become an effort. Food starts to lose its flavour and you start to lose your appetite so you stop enjoying food like you used to. You might then start to think that this is just a phase you’re going through, maybe some sleep will help but you are now struggling to get some deep restful sleep if any at all and now you showing up late for work for the first time in your life and struggling to get anything done. 

You’re not enjoying life anymore so you go see a doctor after your breathing starts to get heavy and you’re getting pains in your chest. They may say it’s anxiety-related and gives you some medication to combat it along with some sleeping pills. This may help for a short while but then things start to go back to the way they were and then you may start to turn to alcohol to try to self medicate and get yourself back on track.

Too much Serotonin (59 & 170.)

Too much serotonin can make you extremely nervous, hesitant and distracted, Feeling very vulnerable to criticism and having a fear of being disliked which could lead to anger and sadness and a desperate desire for social contact but ironically being too afraid to initiate it (177.)

Not to forget that producing too much serotonin can affect the production of it leaving us with low serotonin traits like feelings of depression.

Serotonin & Foods,

Foods that have been known to have high tryptophan (which gets converted into serotonin) are chicken, eggs, cheese, peanuts, pumpkin and sesame seeds, milk, shrimp, mushrooms, snapper, halibut, scallops, spinach, turkey, lamb, beef, liver, and salmon (59,170, 178)

The standard western diet includes enough of the precursors for all amino acids so adding more of these foods might not improve your mood too much. 

The bigger issue is whether the precursors make it into the brain and are able to be synthesized into serotonin. Again, this is where general brain health, stress, and blood sugar imbalances determine how well the brain is able to uptake and use serotonin precursors (59.) 

As discussed in the blood sugar imbalances section too much glucose in the blood disrupts the distribution of Tyrosine to the brain therefore leaving us with too much or too little serotonin.

Tryptophan, found in protein-rich foods, is two steps away from serotonin. Tryptophan gets converted into 5-HTP and then 5-HTP to serotonin. However, these conversions are dependent on Iron. If you are showing symptoms of Serotonin deficiency you may want to consider having an Iron deficiency.

Iron deficiency anaemia signs and symptoms may include (179):

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Pale skin
  • Chest pain, fast heartbeat or shortness of breath
  • Headache, dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Inflammation or soreness of your tongue
  • Brittle nails
  • Unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances, such as ice, dirt or starch
  • Poor appetite, especially in infants and children with iron deficiency anaemia

Nutritional Compounds to help support Serotonin

5-HTP & Tryptophan

There’s an ongoing discussion in the natural health community whether it’s better to take tryptophan or 5-HTP to increase serotonin levels.

Tryptophan more readily enters the brain, but 5-HTP requires one less step to convert into serotonin (180.)

5-HTP supplements are thought to treat depression by increasing serotonin levels Several small studies (182-85) have found that 5-HTP reduced symptoms of depression. (However, two of them did not use placebos for comparison, limiting the strength of their findings) (181.) 

findings support that combining 1 to 3 g per day of l-tryptophan and early-morning bright light exposure is more efficacious than either treatment alone in patients diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder. In a double-blind study, 58 per cent of generally anxious patients randomized to 3 g per day of l-tryptophan reported significantly greater reductions in baseline anxiety compared to placebo (186)

Other nutritional compounds 

SAM-e naturally occurs in every cell of the body and brain and fuels over 100 metabolic reactions (180) SAMe is used to transfer a methyl group to boost serotonin production and increase serotonin levels. Several studies have shown it to be effective at easing depression (59, 187.)

St. John’s wort has been shown to act as a natural serotonin reuptake inhibitor. This means it allows serotonin to hang out in the synaptic cleft longer, therefore increasing its activity on postsynaptic receptor sites and boosting serotonin transmission (188-93.) 

Posted in Daily Fire

The To-Do List Is Endless

The to-do list is endless…
But time isn’t

Stephanie Rosenbloom

There is so much that we want to do in the short time we have.

Yet we spend most of it working, on our devices and when it comes to doing some if the to dos other than work,

We dont feel like doing them.

So we browse the tv or the social media
To take our mind off the fact that we have so much to do at work the next day,

But with each day we add to our lives we’re also subtracting from it too

So the more we put off doing something that would lift our spirits the less time have to enjoy them if we eventually got round to them.

Time isn’t endless so you might as well do something you might enjoy once in a while rather than put it off.

Posted in Poem

How many days does a man live

How many days does a man live
Does he spend 75 years alive
Or is he spending those years trying to merely survive

Maybe the media has been lying
Maybe we can’t really spend our time buying life
Maybe we were just complying
Working a 9 till 5 ting
So that we could be retiring when were hardly alive
Spending all our savings on our remaining days

Maybe we only truly lived
For a week or two at most
When we found that love
And time stopped because for a moment
We was in the moment
Taking a chance hoping maybe we could get some romance

But most of the time life is a little chaotic
Even though what we do is robotic
Reapting daily those mindless tasks
Tryna survive
It’s kind of psychotic really

How many days does a man live
Does he spend 75 years alive
Or is he spending those years trying to merely survive

Posted in Full Post

What does Blood Sugar Balance Have To Do With The Brain & Mental Health

Your Not Broken (Preview)

A preview from my upcoming ebook linking the the gaps between mental health and overall health, Please note this is just a draft and will be edited

What does Blood Sugar Balance Have To Do With The Brain & Mental Health

Well, we’ve all probably experienced the feeling when we haven’t eaten enough and we get a headache, feel shaky, blurred vision and struggling to concentrate, This is what happens when our BS drops too low, The brain simply isn’t getting enough fuel.

There is lots of evidence correlating a healthy diet with the maintenance of mental health, However, a trend towards a reduction in the quality of adolescent diets has been observed at the global level (77). This trend is characterized by an increased intake of fast foods, fried foods, sweets, refined grains, processed meat, and a reduction of fruit/vegetable intake (76). The consumption of this Western-style diet has been independently associated with a greater risk for the development of anxiety and depression (76)

A 15-year-old female student of south-Asian descent, Was diagnosed with GAD (General Anxiety Disorder)

A diet history revealed the following typical daily food intake:

(i)Breakfast: fruit smoothie containing fruit, fruit juice, and water. 

(ii)Morning snack: bagel with margarine.

(iii)Lunch: pasta or white rice with vegetables.

(iv)Afternoon snack: granola bar or cookies or gummy candies. 

(v)After school meal: white pasta; it may include meat.

(vi)Dinner: white rice or spaghetti; it may include meat.

(vii)Evening snack: cookies and toast.

(viii)Beverages: 2 litres of water, 1 cup of juice, 1 cup of lactose-free milk, and 1 cup of tea.

At the initial visit, the following dietary plan was prescribed:

(i)Breakfast: it includes a smoothie containing fruit, water, 1 scoop of protein powder, and 1 tablespoon of flax seeds or olive oil.

(ii)Lunch and dinner: they include a serving of protein (meat, legume, and soy) and a serving of vegetables.

(iii)Snacks: they include protein when possible (e.g., apple with sunflower seed butter, vegetable sticks with hummus, and pumpkin seeds).

(iv)Continue to eat carbohydrate-containing snacks as needed for the management of hypoglycemia symptoms.

At the first follow-up, four weeks later, she reported that she had complied with the dietary plan since the previous visit. She reported a significant decrease in anxiety (4 to 5/10) compared with (8 to 10/10), as well as improved energy, less frequent and less intense hypoglycemia symptoms, and fewer headaches (once per week compared to daily) in addition to improved concentration and mood. She required fewer snacks during the day and decreased her intake of granola bars, cookies, and candies (1-2 servings per day).

At a subsequent follow-up visit four weeks later, she reported that she had briefly reverted back to her original diet for a period of one week and experienced a worsening of anxiety symptoms within one day. After returning to the dietary intervention prescribed, her anxiety symptoms decreased within two days.

This case illustrates an example of improved anxiety and hypoglycemia symptoms in response to changes in the macronutrient composition of the diet. It suggests that dietary GI (Glycemic index) and blood sugar balance, within a physiologic range, may play a role in the development or clinical progression of anxiety. Subsequently, modifying the diet by reducing the consumption of refined carbohydrates and including more protein, fat, and fibre may be beneficial (77.)

Too much sugar and starchy foods are a major promoter of inflammation in the brain, and when inflammation affects the brain, neurons die rapidly and in great numbers, speeding up brain ageing and increasing the risk for neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s (59.)

In order for our brain to make neurotransmitters it needs the goldilocks effect for sugar in the brain, Too much or too little then our Neurotransmitter production is compromised.

Blood sugar imbalances are a big issue today and it’s no coincidence that brain chemistry imbalances are also a big issue.

When we eat too many sweets, starchy carbs, those sugary drinks that go by the name as coffee, all this causes a surge in insulin to stop BS rising to high, When insulin is too high Branched Chain Amino Acids are refused entry to the brain, leaving Tryptophan to travel to the brain alone.

Tryptophan gets made into Serotonin. The issue with this is that we now have too much serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is calming which is why people, after they have had a high starchy meal, may feel drowsy and sleepy. After the serotonin levels drop, people may feel depressed, spurring once again those cravings for sweets and starchy foods for that “high” they get from the serotonin surge. 

Overproduction of serotonin can lead to serotonin production being impacted. The end result over time is a loss in effective serotonin activity and increased symptoms of low serotonin, such as depression, loss of interest in life, seasonal affective disorder, and more. 

So the effect of too much insulin in the body leads to, too much Serotonin being produced, What about Hypoglycemia (Low BS)

Well, it’s kind of the opposite, There isn’t enough Tryptophan being produced and transported to the brain so not enough Serotonin is made. Another factor is that hypoglycemia lowers overall glucose levels in the brain. Adequate glucose is necessary to fuel energy in the brain, including the energy to produce serotonin.

This same principle applies to dopamine, our “pleasure and reward” neurotransmitter. As with a serotonin deficiency, a dopamine deficiency can produce symptoms of depression. Other symptoms include feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, lack of motivation, and a tendency to snap or fly into a rage over little things