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  • Serotonin and Carbs

    I'm trying the Primal program again but the struggle with ongoing headaches and anxiety is making it very tough to continue.
    I have read several articles recently which state the following***
    ...only carbohydrate consumption naturally stimulates production of serotonin....Carbohydrates raise serotonin levels naturally and act like a natural tranquilizer.***
    Is eating Primal causing a reduction of serotonin being produced in one's brain?
    thanks

  • #2
    You don't need to be low carb to be grain free. There are plenty of primal foods that should be able to stimulate serotonin. Fruits and tubers can be quite carby. I don't think we need 300 grams of carbs to have healthy brain chemistry. I easily eat 100g of carbs per day eating fully primal.
    Using low lectin/nightshade free primal to control autoimmune arthritis. (And lost 50 lbs along the way )

    http://www.krispin.com/lectin.html

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    • #3
      Originally posted by shoreline View Post
      ...only carbohydrate consumption naturally stimulates production of serotonin....
      Yes, they do.

      However, excessive levels of serotonin are not actually a good thing. People used to believe, mistakenly, that serotonin was a "happiness" hormone. It's now thought that it has a role in helping people fit in socially - more of a guilt hormone perhaps we might say. The happiness hormone seems to be dopamine. This is one of the reasons people like a drink - because it depresses serotonin and raises dopamaine temporarily - which is why people lose their inhibitions and feel a bit freer and easier for awhile.

      Now lack of sleep, just like excessive consumption of carbohydrates, causes excessive production of serotonin. This is one of many topics on which the book Lights Out is fascinating. You mights say that we're an excessively guilt-ridden, unhappy, and rather haunted society because we eat too much carbohydrate and don't sleep enough. Hunter-gatherers, who do neither, seem on the whole to be much happier.

      There is a paradox here: tranquillizers do stimulate the production of serotonin, but tranquillizers can cheer people up. They came on the market back when people hadn't understood the role of serotonin and yet they do work - but only because they cause the brain to be so flooded with serotonin that the receptors stop paying attention to it.

      In fine, you'd likely feel happier without such high levels of serotonin as most people in the modern world have - a place not noted for its cheerfulness.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Lewis View Post
        People used to believe, mistakenly, that serotonin was a "happiness" hormone. It's now thought that it has a role in helping people fit in socially - more of a guilt hormone perhaps we might say. The happiness hormone seems to be dopamine.
        Very interesting! Lewis, do you have any links or sources or recommended reads on this?

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        • #5
          Despite all the studies that say otherwise, if I don't eat carbs, I become extremely depressed. I also develop pretty severe PMS. Too much serotonin is a bad thing, but so is too little. I had to tweak the diet based upon my own needs. My life has gotten much better since I added sweet potatoes and bananas.

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          • #6
            Have you read Potatoes not Prozac? I too can't handle too low carbs, and get very down if I don't enough of them. But in this book she states seretonin is actually made from protein. Carbs stimulate insulin which sweeps away all protein except for tyrptophan, which the brain uses to make seretonin at night. She also explains very well how drugs like prozac work and why you end up needed more and more, and that diet is the best way to control sugar sensitivity and to make a happy brain.

            Its a really good book, I would recommend it as a read. Infact I think it was Grizz who sent me the link.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by AllisonWonderland View Post
              Despite all the studies that say otherwise, if I don't eat carbs, I become extremely depressed. I also develop pretty severe PMS. Too much serotonin is a bad thing, but so is too little. I had to tweak the diet based upon my own needs. My life has gotten much better since I added sweet potatoes and bananas.
              ... and that is the key, Allison ... tweak the diet (indeed, everything in your life) to meet your own needs. It's tough to have the patience to see one's own patterns sometimes, especially if waiting = suffering. But, in the end, it's the only true answer for each person.

              I, on the other hand, do SO much better, with less carb's, for a variety of reasons. It's great that we both figured out what we need. We just have to be observant for the inevitable changes that life brings. =)

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              • #8
                So, if allison lived in europe or north america in a primal tribe, she would kill herself (because someone very depressed is a strain to the tribe) because there are almost no carbs? I don't like that theory, there gotta be something other than carbs to help
                I will be normal. I will be NORMAL again
                Yeah!

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by C2H5OH View Post
                  So, if allison lived in europe or north america in a primal tribe, she would kill herself (because someone very depressed is a strain to the tribe) because there are almost no carbs? I don't like that theory, there gotta be something other than carbs to help
                  Sunlight...areas with long nights and the winter season have a greater incidence of depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder. Interestingly, though, suicide rates peak during summer months...

                  FWIW, my anxiety levels have decreased significantly since I've been eating a more appropriate level of carbs for my body (around 100g/day). And I've noticed that on days when I eat more like I used to(300+g/day), I lie awake at night worrying about everything.
                  My Journal: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread51572.html

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                  • #10
                    How many carbs are you getting? Are you getting the maximum amount of the maintenance range? (150 g total a day?)

                    I'd up the amount of primal carbs, utilizing sweet potatoes and even white potatoes if necessary if it helped you feel better. As others have said, *do what works for you*.

                    You can learn more about the _Potatoes Not Prozac_ stuff (mentioned by a PP) on the http://radiantrecovery.com site, if you're interested.

                    Good luck!!!
                    My Before/After Pics
                    Are you new here? Be sure to check these links FIRST, before reading anything on the forum! Succeed & PB 101

                    "I am a work in progress." -Ani DiFranco

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by shoreline View Post
                      I'm trying the Primal program again but the struggle with ongoing headaches and anxiety is making it very tough to continue.
                      I have read several articles recently which state the following***
                      ...only carbohydrate consumption naturally stimulates production of serotonin....Carbohydrates raise serotonin levels naturally and act like a natural tranquilizer.***
                      Is eating Primal causing a reduction of serotonin being produced in one's brain?
                      only at first.

                      For good science, see Emily Dean's blog evolutionarypsychiatry.blogspot.com. She has lots of discussion regarding seratonin, carbohydrates, ketosis, fructose and more. Ketosis is good. It just takes time to adapt.
                      Please read my journal for the details of my 8 week hell while trying to ketoadapt: 15 days of headaches (9 of them migraines) out of 30 days. Not sleeping more than 4.5h at a stretch, often as little as 90 minutes....which of course triggered some insane anxiety.

                      Then it got better. I definitely do better in ketosis....but again, it took time. A lot of time.



                      iherb referral code CIL457- $5 off first order

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by C2H5OH View Post
                        So, if allison lived in europe or north america in a primal tribe, she would kill herself (because someone very depressed is a strain to the tribe) because there are almost no carbs? I don't like that theory, there gotta be something other than carbs to help
                        I think if any of us lived w/ a primal tribe from birth, there would be no comparison between the toxin filled, beat down modern folk and those from a primal tribe. Many of us have eaten SAD crap all of our lives, are dealing w/ nutrient deficiencies and a host of other issues when we come to this. I think most of us need a lot more specific interventions/changes to improve our health because of the junk our bodies have been through--prenatally and beyond.

                        Other things that might be important might be O3:O6 ratios, vitamin D, magnesium, etc. (I'd totally check out cillakat's sig line--she's got paperwork specifically on depression and diet that you might find helpful!) I don't know enough about this, but I'm betting you are right, C2H5O5, that there is other stuff that could help.
                        Last edited by FairyRae; 10-27-2010, 06:30 AM.
                        My Before/After Pics
                        Are you new here? Be sure to check these links FIRST, before reading anything on the forum! Succeed & PB 101

                        "I am a work in progress." -Ani DiFranco

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                        • #13
                          Well, we didn't evolve up in these murky cold places, so we might just not be ideally suited to them. (Picked up an idea from Mark's latest blog post, though: the conquerers in this region were the more lactose tolerant farmers who drank milk, an extra source of D.)

                          There's nothing necessarily low carb about the Paleo/Primal/evolutionary diet, though. See this article, with its comments and links.

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                          • #14
                            So, some people will need 50 grams to be happy, some 100, some 150, but wont be there cases of people who can't live primally because they must have even more carbs?
                            I will be normal. I will be NORMAL again
                            Yeah!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by shoreline View Post
                              ...only carbohydrate consumption naturally stimulates production of serotonin....Carbohydrates raise serotonin levels naturally and act like a natural tranquilizer.***
                              thanks
                              par my usual disagreement.... carbs only enhance the BBB crossing of tryptophan and amino acids(which regulat brain aminos and serotonin/dopamine concentrations) in so much that it is the byproduct of something else being 'off' like a nutrient deficency. i think a varied amino acid intake (yes, beef liver again lol) will help the brain regulate it's serotonin. i dont think you should aim with carbs to try and 'spike' your serotonin just like you shouldnt be 'spiking' high your BS.

                              FOOD STIMULATES insulin, not carbs that is an untrue statement. tryptophan CAN cross the BBB on its own without carbs. i would say insulin resistance, omega ratios, zinc status and vita D status as well as amino acid intake(not excessively getting one over another) is WAYYYYYYY more important than trying to say 'carbs= serotonin',,,,,,,kinda like taubes well estabilished falsity in 'carbs=fat'
                              Get on my Level
                              http://malpaz.wordpress.com/

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