Serotonin seems to be the first line of defense when treating depression. A medication to boost Serotonin activity in the brain. I recently tapered off my psychiatric medication. It’s been three months. I crave sugar ALOT in recent weeks?
- An extended period of physical or psychological stress will produce stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, that can interfere with the synthesis of the brain neurotransmitter, Serotonin.
- A neurotransmitter is any one of numerous chemicals that occupy the gap (synapse) between two or more nerve cells (neurons) and thereby allows the triggering of a tiny electrical currents in adjacent cells. Each neurotransmitter fits into a unique receptor – like a key fitting into a lock – thus allowing messages to be carried along nerve pathways.
- Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that conveys the positive sensations of satiety, satisfaction and relaxation. It regulates appetite and when converted to melatonin helps us to sleep.
- A deficiency of Serotonin in the brain can cause endogenous depression, upsets the appetite mechanism and may lead to obesity or other eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia nervosa and may be responsible for insomnia.
- Serotonin is produced from an essential amino acid (protein unit), called tryptophan, obtained from food and then converted to Serotonin under the influence of vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) and magnesium. “Essential” amino acids are sources of protein, that the body cannot produce and must obtain from food.
- If there is a deficiency of vitamin B3 (niacin),the body will use dietary tryptophan to synthesize niacin. It takes 60 mg of tryptophan to produce 1 mg of niacin. Hence, niacin deficiency may also be responsible for depression.
- The absorption of tryptophan competes with the absorption of other amino acids in the digestive process. The absorption of tryptophan can be accelerated by consuming refined carbohydrates, such as sugar.
- Sugar consumption stimulates the body to produce insulin, a hormone which transports glucose, fatty acids and amino acids (except tryptophan) into body cells. Thus insulin speeds up the absorption of amino acids other than tryptophan.
- This leaves tryptophan available for absorption and conversion to Serotonin (via 5-hydroxytryptophan, 5-HTP) in the presence of vitamin B6 and magnesium.
- A person low in Serotonin will be inclined to consume greater amounts of sugar in an attempt to increase Serotonin production and this may lead to sugar addiction.
- Sugar addiction can lead to insulin resistance. High levels of insulin cause receptors for insulin to shut down by means of ‘down-regulation’… There is a range of insulin resistance from low to severe which causes erratic and unpredictable sugar levels in the blood and to the brain. This explains some of the variable ‘psychological’ and physical symptoms of hypoglycemia.
- The brain requires an inordinate amount of biological energy (about 70-80% at any time), derived from sugars, to synthesize the feel-good neurotransmitters, such as serotonin. In the absence of energy the brain is energy starved, cannot synthesize neurotransmitters and will trigger the release of stress hormones.
- In hypoglycemia wild fluctuations in blood sugar levels causes the body to produce excess adrenaline, which functions to convert glycogen (stored sugar) into glucose in an attempt to stabilize the supply of glucose to the brain. The brain normally has no other source of energy than glucose and needs a stable supply.
- Treatment of hypoglycemia is achieved by adopting a hypoglycemic diet accompanied with vitamin and mineral supplements. This helps to stabilize the blood sugar, insulin and stress hormone levels, even out mood swings, rebalance the appetite mechanism, equalize energy intake and expenditure.
- Considering exposure to emotional stress as being the main cause of the Serotonin Connection, it is important that the person undergoes a course of psychotherapy to help him deal with stress situations more effectively by learning new social skills.