(NaturalNews) Researchers have found a way to calm savage carbohydrate cravings by altering brain chemistry for the better. The neurotransmitter serotonin not only alleviates depression and anxiety, it also subdues hunger and the desire for carbs. A few effortless adjustments to the diet can turn the brain into a joyful serotonin machine -- successfully dispelling the blues along with extra pounds.
Known mainly for relieving melancholy and agitation, serotonin is a powerful regulator of brain function. The lion's share of serotonin is produced in the gastrointestinal tract, but the brain, kidneys and liver also manufacture this neurotransmitter in small amounts. Carbohydrates are necessary for serotonin production -- giving insight into the irritability that is often found with those on a low-carb diet. Studies have shown that people who restrict carbohydrates are significantly more crabby than their carb-loving counterparts.
Using carbohydrates to manage appetite
Surprisingly, serotonin isn't just a potent brain chemical responsible for feelings of well-being and calm -- it plays an important role in the management of appetite too. A clinical study found that consuming small amounts of carbohydrates 20 minutes before a meal helped increase serotonin and reduced hunger. Participants of the experiment shared common traits like fatigue, irritability and depression that would usually strike between 3 and 5 p.m. Concentration, mood and energy levels of the volunteers were measured both before and after drinking either a carbohydrate or protein-rich test beverage. Only those who consumed the carbohydrate drink had improvement in mood and energy along with reduced food consumption throughout the day. Afternoon slumps and carbohydrate cravings were also diminished.
Maximize serotonin in the body
Have a look at the following tips and take advantage of serotonin's mood and appetite regulating benefits:
1. Enjoy small amounts of healthy carbohydrates
One of the most effective ways to increase serotonin is to consume carbohydrates. Timing carbohydrate consumption produces even better results. By eating 25-35 grams of carbohydrates 20 minutes before a meal, the body has time to produce serotonin -- naturally curbing appetite and boosting mood. Good choices include amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat and millet. Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates to keep blood sugar levels stable. Beware of consuming carbohydrates along with fat or protein as this hampers the production of serotonin.
2. Reduce stress
We have all heard that stress causes a variety of health problems. Stress also interferes with serotonin. When we are tense, the body produces cortisol and adrenaline which block serotonin. Deep breathing, meditation, yoga and exercise help to manage chronic tension while keeping serotonin levels balanced.
3. Try Rhodiola rosea herb
Not only does rhodiola increase stamina and resilience to stress, it also slows the breakdown of serotonin within the system. As an added bonus, rhodiola helps to dissolve fat -- especially around the mid-section.
With all the great benefits of serotonin, why suffer low-carb diets? Instead, enjoy small portions of carefully timed carbohydrates to maintain healthy weight and a bright outlook.
Sources for this article include:
"The Antidepressant Diet" Judith Wurtman, Ph.D., Psychology Today, August 5, 2010. Retrieved on September 7, 2012 from: http://www.psychologytoday.com
About the author: Carolanne believes if we want to see change in the world, we need to be the change. As a nutritionist, natural foods chef and wellness coach, she has encouraged others to embrace a healthy lifestyle of green living for over 13 years. Through her website www.Thrive-Living.net, she looks forward to connecting with other like-minded people who share a similar vision.