Tag Archives: depression

Why Emotions Trigger Food Cravings


The old saying, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” implies there is a deep connection between emotions and eating. My guess is  no one is really surprised by this idea. Both men and woman can identify ways in which their mood and appetite are intertwined and it is no mere quirk of man’s personality that this is true.

Evolution tells us that we were born to eat. The earliest creatures in the world’s history were simple eating machines. Their bodies consisted of an entrance for food, a digestive tract and an exit for refuse. In order to become more efficient at getting food creatures developed a system to locate food and to move toward it. This system is known as a nervous system. The first creature to have this ability is the worm. Eventually the nervous system controlling the digestive system (enteric nervous system) began to sprout nodes which were early brains.  As time went on and the brain became better developed it split off from the nervous system that controlled the digestive tract. Everything that followed in evolution, has served the purpose of developing  increasingly efficient brains (central nervous system) for acquiring the fuel of life.

Another example of how deeply connected the gut and brain are, is to look at the development of the fetus. When a human fetus is still just a lump of jelly, the digestive  and nervous systems are one structure. Soon this organ splits into two, one to become our gastrointestinal tract and the other the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system). Even though they become physically separated the chemical signals used by the gut and nervous system remain virtually identical. These chemicals comprise the groups known as neurotransmitters and hormones.

The same chemicals in the digestive tract that cause the intestines to twist and convulse (peristalsis), in the brain stimulate the emotion of anxiety. This explains why people get “butterflies” in the stomach or diarrhea when they are nervous.  The brain chemicals involved in depression can cause constipation.  The syndrome of irritable bowel disease (IBS) with its cycles of diarrhea and constipation is thought to be a reflection of an emotional rollercoaster.  The chemical relationship between mood and appetite is even more complex but no less real. One of the most common side effect of mood altering drugs is increased appetite and weight gain. Just ask anyone who has been on an anti-depressant drug such as Prozac, Zoloft or Abilify.  The chemical in marihuana that gets people high is famous for triggering the eating binge called “the munchies”.

Appetite suppressant drugs often have effects on mood and can be the source of major side effects. One new generation of appetite suppressants being developed, Acomplia, failed to be approved by the FDA because it caused severe depression and suicidal thinking.

In the next part of this series we will look at ways we can influence the brain to control our appetite.

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Trying to Cope with Symptoms of Low Testosterone


One of our members notes loss of sex drive, strength, motivation. He is concerned that this could be due to low testosterone levels;

Here is his comment;

I’m 64 years old. Excellent health. 6 ft tall, 177 pounds, work out three times a week…….finding my self depressed, losing strength…..haven’t had any sexual desire in last 3 years……..I use the VA for all my health issues. My doctor said he tested my levels and they were normal, but he wouldn’t let see the results. Based on my info could someone tell me what my level should be at. Also, I noted someone said they got tested free…how is that ?? My only option without paying is to use the VA, and I’ve already noted that experience. Thank You.

My reply:

My first thought is to find out what the actual testosterone level is, as well as free testosterone. A doctor that refuses to share a patients lab results with them has lost credibility. Many “normal” results are subject to interpretation but the doctor may not want to be bothered explaining the finer points of diagnosis. This applies to many medical conditions but is particularly common when diagnosing low thyroid or gonadal (testicular) function. Additional testing may be necessary to make the diagnosis. If any of the pituitary hormones, prolactin, LH or FSH are abnormal then testosterone levels could be in the “normal” range and yet the patient can be suffering from significant disease. Finally, it is still possible that symptoms like those you describe are not related to testosterone deficiency and a search for other medical explanations seems appropriate.

As far as getting free testing for medical conditions I am not able to provide a clue. Perhaps one of our members knows of a way and I would welcome their comments.

Best of luck.

Dr. Gary Pepper, Editor-in-Chief, Metabolism.com
These comments are for informational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice or therapy.

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The Joy of Being Vegetarian; by Louise Infante


A member of metabolism.com, Louise Infante, is a great enthusiast of the vegetarian life style. Louise submitted this blog to metabolism.com so we could help her get the word out. I found the article extremely informative and hope you do too. Thanks Louise for your effort.

Here is what Louise has to say:

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Give me five minutes and I’ll give you 1 very good reason for being vegetarian.

While fish is the most important dietary way to obtain the long-chain omega-3s eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, which has been shown to be essential in supporting brain health, low intake of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid in vegetarians does not adversely affect mood, reported by a new study (Nutr J. 2010;9:26. DOI:10.1186/1475-2891-9-26).

A research team from Arizona State University conducted a cross-sectional study to compare the mood of vegetarians who never eat fish with the mood of healthy omnivorous adults.

An overall total of 138 healthy Seventh Day Adventist adults residing in Arizona and California (64 vegetarians and 79 non-vegetarians) were enrolled in the study and completed a health history questionnaire, food frequency questionnaire and 2 psychometric tests, the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale and also the Profile of Mood States..

Vegetarians had significantly lower mean intakes of eicosapentaenoic acid, docosahexaenoic acid and the omega-6 arachidonic acid; they had higher intakes of the omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid and the omega-6 linoleic acid.

“Seed oils are the richest sources of α-linolenic acid, notably those of rapeseed (canola), soybeans, walnuts, flaxseed (Linseed oil), clary sage seeds, perilla, chia, and hemp.”

However, the vegetarians also reported significantly less negative emotion than omnivores in both psychometric tests. Mean total psychometric scores were positively linked to the mean intakes of eicosapentaenoic acid, docosahexaenoic acid and arachidonic acid , and inversely related to alpha-linolenic acid and linolenic acid intake.

The study team noted there is also the possibility that vegetarians may make better dietary choices and could generally be healthier and happier.

If you want to give it a try, here is an example of vegetarian recipe based on Italian cuisine

Italian Spaghetti with Zucchini

Ingredients:
* 17 oz. Spaghetti
* 24 oz. Of thin sliced zucchini
* 1 / 2 cup walnuts oil
* A few basil leaves
* 2 tablespoons of yeast flakes
* Salt and pepper

In a skillet or frying pan heat the oil and when hot, add garlic and zucchini. Raise heat and stir often to complete their cooking. They need to be golden and crispy outside and tender inside. Cook the pasta, drain and sauté in pan with zucchini, basil and yeast. Serve immediately.

Zucchini contain fewer calories and possess no fat. But they are a good source of potassium, e vitamin, ascorbic acid, folate, lutein and zeaxanthin.

These types of nutrients are extremely sensitive to heat and to enjoy their benefits you should find a quick solution to cook or even eat raw in salads.

From the therapeutic perspective, zucchini have laxative, refreshing, anti-inflammatory, diuretic and detoxifying action.

About the Author – Louise Infante writes for vegetarian menu blog, her personal hobby blog centered on vegetarian cooking tips to help people live better.

http://www.vegetarianmenu.net/1_great_reason_to_become_vegetarian_224.doc

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Molly Offers Advice to Smokers Who Fear Weight Gain When They Quit.


Molly has seen the light as far as coping with mood and metabolism changes occurring when getting off cigarettes. Here is her story as posted to metabolism.com:

I smoked regularly (pack a day) for 13 years–from 14 until 27. Then I became a social smoker, smoking occasionally, but not on a regular basis. Now, I haven’t smoked at all for a few months and I am 30. After I quit smoking (at 27) I slowly became very depressed and put on 30 lbs. I wasn’t exercising, but I wasn’t eating more either. Changing the kinds of foods I ate is what helped me lose weight. When I cut out alcohol and switched to a high vegetable (lots of cruciferous veggies) and whole grains diet and started walking, 15 lbs came off quickly. I modeled my diet after one that would lower estrogen levels–high estrogen levels lead to excessive tummy fat and breast cancer. Also, I started taking St. John’s Wort and I think it uplifted my mood. I think everyone who quits smoking should take St. John’s Wort. It’s only side effect is slight sensitivity to the sun and it helps curb the depression quitting can cause. People who quit smoking need to be patient with themselves. Smoking does mess with the metabolism and the people who say calories in calories out are not fully understanding the issue. It might take time for your body to get used to its new way of operating without the constant dose of nicotine. I am proud of all of you who quit smoking. I am really proud of myself. I seriously thought I would never be able to quit. So, good luck with your weight loss, but a few pounds are worth not smoking! And after all of the abuse we gave our bodies, we should focus on loving and appreciating them–even if they are a little chubbier than we would like, they are still beautiful!!!!

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