You Could Be Feeling Sad, Cranky or in the Mood to Pick a Fight
Could These Individuals Need a Healthy Dose of Carbs Instead of a Prozac Pill?
Your Body May Be Giving You a Signal to Snack on a Good Carb
If your feeling sad, cranky or in the mood to pick a fight, you may be experiencing the side effects from restricting carbohydrates (carbs) in your diet. An estimated 17 million Americans suffer with depression and are taking antidepressant medications. Is it possible these individuals need a healthy dose of carbs instead of a Prozac pill? Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) may have uncovered the answer. Dr. Judith Wurtman and her research colleagues at MIT have discovered that carbs stimulate the production of a brain chemical called serotonin. This important brain chemical controls appetite, regulates sleep, sensitivity to pain, and keeps us happy.
Antidepressant medications regulate moods by making serotonin levels in the brain active for longer periods of time. However, like all medications, antidepressant medications come with harmful side effects. On the other hand, carbs raise serotonin levels naturally. Wouldn't it make good sense to take advantage of the natural tranquilizing effects of carbs before reaching for a drug?
But here's the catch. In order for carbs to stimulate the production of serotonin, carbs must be eaten with little or no protein. For this reason, a hearty bowl of whole grain cereal or a snack like popcorn will raise serotonin levels. However, a plate of pasta and meatballs (even it is gluten-free), or even worse, a low-carb meal like bacon and eggs will actually block the production of serotonin. Isn't that surprising?
It’s no wonder even positive research studies on low-carb diets reveal a significant percentage of low-carb dieters experience irritability and depression. Dr. Wurtman and other researchers at several major universities, confirm low-carb diets are linked to depression. According to Dr. Wurtman, "When you take away the carbohydrates, it's like taking away water from someone hiking in the desert."
On the other hand, when you feed the body good carbs like whole grain breads and cereals, beans and legumes, these foods elevate your mood and help you lose weight. "You have to feed more than your stomach," Wurtman says. "You have to feed your muscles and your brain. To do that, you need to eat the foods nature has provided for your muscles and brain...healthy, whole food carbohydrates. Why? For starters, whole food carbs curb your appetite." Dr. Wurtman explains, "Carbs stimulate the production of serotonin and make this hormone more active in your brain. This action sends a message to your brain signaling your hunger has been satisfied and prevents you from stuffing yourself and stretching your stomach.
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