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Asalam alaikum


brother ahm orignally posted this article in the counselling section, i thought it was so good i saved it, so all credit can go to him. Hopefully you will find some benefit in this article, and hopefully interest.






Our body chemistry is complex; many different hormones,

neurotransmitters, and other substances influence how we feel.

Serotonin is one chemical that has received a great deal of attention

for its contribution to mood. It's a neurotransmitter (a chemical

involved in the transmission of nerve impulses between nerve cells)

that's formed in the brain and primarily found in three parts of the

body  the brain, the lining of the digestive tract, and in blood

platelets. In the brain, serotonin's main effects include improving

mood and giving you that "satisfied" feeling from food. It's also

thought to help promote sleep and relaxation.


Carbohydrate-rich meals often increase serotonin levels. However,

manipulating serotonin levels through food may be very difficult to

achieve because serotonin's properties may have varying effects in

different people. Some people may experience a temporary lift in mood

after a carbohydrate-rich meal, while others may become relaxed or

sleepy. Certain foods that increase serotonin levels aren't the

healthiest choices either. Believe it or not, candy and sweets, which

are simple carbohydrates, have the greatest impact, but the effect

will only last 1- 2 hours. Complex carbohydrates (rice, potato, pasta)

may increase serotonin levels, but not to the same extent because the

protein content of these foods might actually inhibit serotonin



Here's a brief explanation of the mechanism behind the effect of food

on serotonin levels: after consumption of a carbohydrate-rich meal,

the hormone insulin is secreted, which causes a lowering of the blood

levels of most amino acids (the building blocks of protein), with the

exception of tryptophan, which is a precursor to serotonin. When there

are high blood levels of tryptophan in relation to other amino acids,

it enters the brain at a higher rate, thus synthesizing more

serotonin. To make matters more interesting, tryptophan is present in

many protein-rich foods, which have been found to prevent serotonin

production. So, you can see how intricate and complex this system is.


In terms of specific translation of foods into the effects of

serotonin, here are some nutritionist suggestions:


* If you're having trouble falling asleep, try a small snack of

carbohydrate-rich food. Warm milk may work for the psychological

comfort, but also because milk contains a moderate amount of

carbohydrate in the form of lactose (milk sugar).


* If you tend to have only carbohydrate (i.e., plain bagel) before

class, and you often fall asleep during class, try adding some protein

by putting some hard cheese (cheddar, American, Swiss, etc.) or peanut

butter on the bagel. Or, have a yogurt or cottage cheese instead.


* For those who are active (athletes or exercisers), don't be

fooled by carbohydrate's relaxing effects. You'll do best with a diet

rich in grains/starches, legumes (dried beans and peas), fruit, and

vegetables in order to get carbohydrates for muscle energy. Don't

skimp on protein either, which is necessary for muscle growth and

repair. Additionally, include some fat for satiety and healthy skin.


The carbohydrate - tryptophan - serotonin pathway is simply a

hypothesis at this point. Since each of us is unique, in order to get

a "desired effect" from food, you would need to experiment eating

different foods and observing how your body reacts to each of them.

You'll also need to take into consideration your other lifestyle

choices  how much sleep you get, whether or not you exercise

regularly, the drugs you take, your stress levels, etc.  when

figuring out what affects your moods in what manners. If you have more

questions about mood and food, schedule an appointment with a

nutritionist at Health Services by calling x4-2284. If you're not at

Columbia, get a referral to one from your primary health care



Attention span difficulties may or may not be attributed to what you

consume. Many college students go for long periods of time without

eating. This certainly can affect your concentration. Our brains need

glucose, and if we deny it through lack of food, our bodies have to

work harder to break down stored carbohydrates for glucose that'll be

used to feed our brain and central nervous system. That's why it's a

good idea to have something to eat about every four hours or so. Be

prepared by carrying some snacks with you, especially if you're busy

and short on time. Some portable snack ideas include fruit, low-fat

granola bars, nuts, and low-fat crackers. These will also help you to

avoid hitting the vending machines.

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an excellent article very informative indeed ,ive been eating avocados because of there serotonin levels.

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