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Thread: Impact of Food on Mood

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    Default Impact of Food on Mood

    Tuesday, December 02, 2008 by: Lynn Berry

    (NaturalNews) Research has found that certain foods trigger particular brain chemicals which impact on our emotions for as long as two to three hours. Thus our diet can contribute to feeling positive or negative. Knowing what foods trigger which brain chemicals could help us to manage our feelings better.

    Certain brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters are linked to emotions. These neurotransmitters are dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin which are produced in the brain under the influence of elements found in different types of food.

    Researcher Judith Wurtman, previously of MIT and author of The Serotonin Power Diet, has researched the influence of food on the production of the neurotransmitters in the brain. Her findings are that feeling alert is caused by the brain producing dopamine and norepinephrine. Feelings of calmness and being positive are associated with serotonin.

    Serotonin production is linked to the consumption of carbohydrates. Wurtman's research found that when carbohydrate consumption stops then the brain stops producing serotonin.

    Serotonin helps control the appetite. When serotonin is produced in the brain, then it works on our appetite making us feel full, thus preventing us from overeating. In addition, Wurtman says that serotonin is essential in regulating our moods.

    Carbohydrates such as bread, cereal and pasta contribute to producing a temporary increase in serotonin, as well as having a calming effect. On the other hand, protein-rich foods, such as tuna or eggs, contribute to producing dopamine and norepinephrine which increase alertness and concentration. Again the impact is temporary.

    Women have less serotonin than men and feel the impact of a low-carb diet much more since it can produce PMS-like symptoms. Wurtman says that eating carbohydrate without protein in certain amounts and at specific times of the day will promote serotonin.

    Our brain needs a good supply of nutrients to function normally and when there are deficiencies then a range of conditions emerge impacting on how we feel. While carbohydrates are important for serotonin production, many other nutrients are important for the functioning of the brain and thus their impact on mood.

    For example, numerous studies have found that Omega-3 is important in reducing depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, ADD/ADHD, as well as, dementia. A common factor in up to 31% of people with major depression is a deficiency of folate.

    Other studies, conducted in the 70's, associated vitamin B1 (thiamine) deficiency with a range of moods including, feeling fearful, irritable, depressed, and agitated. (1) Other research has found that a low fat diet can cause depression.

    The swing in mood and energy that people sometimes feel throughout the day can be modified by reducing the intake of foods with a high Glycaemic Index (GI). Foods that are typically digested slowly – low GI foods – such as minimally processed grains, legumes, certain fruits and vegetables, have less impact on blood sugar levels than foods with high GI. Low GI foods have less impact because digestion is slower and there is a slower release of blood glucose. High GI foods include processed flour, sugar, doughnuts and corn flakes. The recommendation is to consume low GI foods to reduce the level of blood glucose and thus the swing in mood and energy.

    Amanda Geary, author of books on the food/mood connection, discovered the importance of food on mental health while recovering from mental illness. She was inspired to kick-start a project called "Food and Mood Project" in the UK, a web project providing resources for people wanting to improve their mental and emotional health. (2)

    Simply reducing or cutting out substances such as salt and sugar, from the diet can eliminate irritability experienced by some people. Geary calls these stressors and also lists alcohol and caffeine as part of this group of substances that we should have less of. Stressors stimulate the body, but very soon they leave us feeling depleted.

    With the festive season almost upon us, it is worthwhile considering what we eat if we want to feel happier and calmer. Geary has suggestions for eating during the festive season at www.foodandmood.org/Pages/festiveplan.html.

    (1) www.nutritional-healing.com.au/content/... for mood
    (2) www.foodandmood.org

    Source: http://www.naturalnews.com/024988.html

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    Default Re: Impact of Food on Mood

    I read it differently - the production of serotonin in response to carbohydrate demonstrates why it is addictive. Most days I eat zero carbs during the day and I don't suffer from PMT or depressive symptoms. Nor am I hungry much. Maybe I'm just weird.

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    Default Re: Impact of Food on Mood

    That's so funny...a certain gentleman made me take stock of what I ate in the course of the day, and without intending to, I am almost perfectly vegetarian. Oatmeal with nuts, butter/coconut oil & salt...veggie juice & buttered polenta for lunch...maybe a bean soup with or without a few chicken bites for dinner. Cheese, cottage cheese and yogurt often play a role too. This is the diet on which I feel best, and I omit meat without even really meaning to.

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    Default Re: Impact of Food on Mood

    Some people do very well on a good vegetarian diet-I think dairy and eggs supply good protein. I would go more vegetarian if I could do raw dairy.

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    Default Re: Impact of Food on Mood

    I have no choice but to eat vegetarian. I had a mild bout of non-A, non-B, non-C hepatitis which left me unable to eat meat. It passes through me very very quickly and is not particularly pleasant. I have developed MCS since this happened and am now intolerant of dairy products as well (with the possible exception of A2 dairy products). Eggs are now one of the main stays in my diet for protein along with non animal sources such as nuts and beans. It is useful that we are producing organic eggs on our farm. One thing we have been careful to do when feeding our hens is to avoid plastic containers so there is no possibility of plastic leeching into food or water and then possibly into the eggs. This is a step not required under organic standards but is a possible source of contamintion we want to avoid in food we are eating. This is one example of why food purchased from a small, local producer is likely to be better than mass produced food from a supermarket.

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    Default Re: Impact of Food on Mood

    I would rather be vegetarian but don't do well on it. I don't even like the taste of meat; I have to smother with spice, gravy or sauce.

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    Default Re: Impact of Food on Mood

    Quote Originally Posted by PPARGammaGirl
    I read it differently - the production of serotonin in response to carbohydrate demonstrates why it is addictive. Most days I eat zero carbs during the day and I don't suffer from PMT or depressive symptoms. Nor am I hungry much. Maybe I'm just weird.
    I felt the same way when I read this. When I cut out all grains/sugars/starches from my diet, I was able to get off all psychotropic medications. I had been on multiple ones for over 25 years. There is something wrong with this article.

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    Default Re: Impact of Food on Mood

    Now, I know I am truly out to lunch. If I have too much of either carbs or meat, I am a fruit loop. I have done low-carb before and I am a psycho without carbs. Apples immediately make me feel good.

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    Default Re: Impact of Food on Mood

    I guess the main point, one that is often lost in these studies, is while something might be statistically significant, it may not be clinically significant. How we react as individuals to different levels of different substances varies enormously.
    A good example is myself. I know if I eat a white bread salad sandwich (low-fat) sandwich for lunch that two hours later my blood sugar will drop below 4mmol/L and I'll feel horrible. Someone else could go as low as 3mmol/L before feeling like that. This is why the term "reactive hypoglycaemia" is controversial - idiotic science does not take interindividual differences into account. This is why I see epidemiology as the homogenisation of mediocrity.

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