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Thread: Serotonin and Carbs page

  1. #1
    shoreline's Avatar
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    Serotonin and Carbs

    Primal Fuel
    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. #2
    jammies's Avatar
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    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.

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    Lewis's Avatar
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    Quote 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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    Hanna's Avatar
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    Quote 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?

  5. #5
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    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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    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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    Debbie's Avatar
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    Quote 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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    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!

  9. #9
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    Quote 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.

  10. #10
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    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!!!

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