The Happy - Hormone Diet
Forget Prozac. Now you can help banish the blues with a unique newhealthy eating plan...
SCIENTISTS have known for years that serotoninthe so-called happy hormoneboosts our moods and general feeling of well-being. They know, too, that a lackof serotonin can lead to depression which affects 400,000 people in Irelandand, according to the World Health Organisation, 121 million people worldwide.
Not surprisingly, well-known antidepressants such as Prozac (one of the groupknown as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs) are designed toalter the balance of some of the brains chemicals to increase its ability toretain serotonin.
Doctors believe a deficiency of this hormone can cause a range of problemsincluding migraine, eating disorders, irritable bowel syndrome and stress. Ithas even been linked to obesity and insomnia.
Now, Dr Caroline Longmore, a French paediatrician and natural health expert,has devised a plan everyone can follow to lift their daily levels of serotoninwithout resorting to pharmaceutical drugsand get happier and healthier straight away.
In this exclusive extract from The Serotonin Secret, Dr Longmores new e-bookavailable only as an online download, we explain just what serotonin is, whyyou may be deficient in it and how to boost levels through diet, exercise andsupplements.
WHAT IS SEROTONIN?
SEROTONIN is a chemical produced by the brain, believed to play an importantrole in regulating mood, anger, and aggression, as well as body temperature,sleep and appetite.
If its concentration in the brain is normal, we feel relaxed, happy and incontrol. If it drops below optimum levels, we may feel irritated, anxious anddepressed.
Our body instantly attempts to counteract the low serotonin concentration inthe brain, leading to carbohydrate cravings, which result in a subsequent risein serotonin levels.
WHAT CAUSES DEFICIENCY?
SEROTONIN is derived from the essential amino acid tryptophan, which the bodycannot make itself.
So for many of us, unless we take enough tryptophan through our diets, we maysuffer a deficiency.
However, insufficient serotonin synthesis may also be caused by geneticfactors, an overworked immune system, or when the brain has been damaged bytoxins such as alcohol. It can also be provoked by long-term stress.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
THE most obvious symptom is a change or lowering of mood, but symptoms alsoinclude sleeplessness, problems with concentration and memory, and binge-eatingor carbohydrate craving. Longer-term deficiency may result in obesity, chronicexhaustion and fatigue, anxiety and panic attacks, migraine and depression.
WHAT DRUGS ARE AVAILABLE?
IF you suffer from severe depression, you may be offered a selective serotoninreuptake inhibitor such as Prozac. Those with eating disorders can also behelped by SSRIs. But recent studies have shown mild to moderate depression isbetter treated with cognitive behavioural therapy or holistically, than throughdrugs.
HOW CAN I GET A NATURAL BOOST?
THE best way is through diet: eat foods rich in the natural amino acidtryptophan and avoid sugar and processed carbohydrates which artificially raiseblood-sugar levels, leaving you feeling temporarily better, before even wildermood swings.
Other vitamins are also required for tryptophan to be successfully converted toserotonin including Vitamins B (3 and 6) and C, as well as magnesium and zinc.
There are several other ways to boost your levels including taking herbs suchas oatstraw, angelica root, burdock, ginseng, dandelion, rhodolia, black cohoshand wild yam.
Another alternative is 5-HTP or hydroxy L-tryptophan, which is metabolised intoserotonin in the body and can be bought in tablets from most health stores,although there is no real scientific data to back up its effectiveness. …