Desperately Seeking Serotonin: The Story of Six, Sixty & Sexy
Serotonin is the, “I feel safe and secure”- neuro-transmitter!
It is believed women require and use 6 times as much serotonin as men.
Did you know about 60 percent of women over 40 are on anti-depressants?
Sugary, starchy, fatty foods signal the brain and body to release serotonin and unbeknownst to many, that 60 percent of serotonin is actually produced in our gut. Because our gut is closely linked to our decision making area- (hence the terms gut check and gut feeling) – and reward center of our brain, the desire for sugary, starchy serotonin increasing foods can literally be “overwhelming”.
Our emotional brain, to which women have eight times the blood flow of men in times of real or perceived danger-, is many thousands of times stronger than our rational brain which- by the way, actually needs glucose (blood sugar) to function in good decision making -ouch! That’s a lot like needing your glasses to find your glasses! You know that sudden, often unexplainable occurrence of crankiness that creeps in women without warning? Well, we just explained it. This is the real culprit in the low blood sugar mood altering and ensuing couples- let’s say disagreements, ok arguments- that has unfortunately and prevent ably ruined many a relationship.
If someone’s decision making capacity is decreased, their choice of words to express themselves or their needs may be hampered. Their body and brain are on an emotional drive for food, without the rational brake center of their brain to help them. Do you realize how difficult this is for a woman – especially not realizing what or why this happens to her?
We all know- men and women, particularly the female and male brain -have their differences but, this one may be the most significant reason for the notable differences in female- male weight gain. The reason I say this is because in an attempt to increase serotonin, to increase their “subconscious” feeling of safety and security, women also often crave comfort foods. The problem with seeking serotonin through those released via comfort foods is, of course, the obvious caloric cost. Add to that the stress involved from “not feeling safe and secure, the subsequent release of the stress hormone cortisol which is notorious for creation and retention of belly fat and the “terrible trifecta” is complete.
- Low blood sugar
- Low brain brakes
- and last but not least -rather most important-
- the craving for the sugar –
- needed to help the brain stop the stressed out carb craving-
- caused by the feeling it needs to release the serotonin to create the feeling of safety and security it wanted in the first place.
- Which -BTW- typically comes in the form of foods that causes and or increase the belly fat kept on by the stress hormone cortisol.
So how do you stop this vicious cycle from “Peddling out of control?”
On a regular basis, in regular meals start by choosing more, slow burning complex carbs. Next increase the fiber to carb ratio in your foods which makes you feel more full. When I say slow burning complex carbs, I mean vegetables, natural fruits, berries (for anti-oxidants), unrefined whole grains (though not too many) and occasionally sweet potatoes which, though higher in sugar, have higher fiber than regular potatoes. Also increase your protein intake. Protein helps balance blood sugar. I realize many women don’t like to eat too much meat so go get yourself some higher protein – low glycemic health bars and keep those bars in your cars, in your purse, in your draw at work or handy at home. Keep bags of almonds or other nuts handy. Good fats also help you to feel full. It is important to stay as far, far, far away from saturated fats and high fructose corn syrup as possible. They not only hurt your body, they inhibit the very brain function needed to keep you from eating them.
Next, don’t slack on your sleep. When you sleep you produce leptin the fat and metabolism regulating hormone that tells you when you’re full. It also offers anti-aging and anti-inflammation benefits because the less sugar you have less inflammation which, as Dr. Oz puts it, is a major ager! Without it your appetite and drive for comfort foods can spin out of control and have you unwittingly careening into the cookie, cake, chips and ice cream aisles in your otherwise friendly food store. Speaking of which keeping it out of your cabinets and out of your fridge (not hidden behind other healthier foods in either) is a great way to help yourself out.
Also, sitting in our chairs or couch in our sedentary life or jobs is a literally damaging, not only to our bodies but our brains which need better blood flow and circulation to make better decisions. You can boost your metabolism and blood flow to your brain at the same time- not to mention release some endorphins and, oh by the way serotonin itself, as well as dopamine can be released during exercise.
Last but not least, being the author of Fit for Love, I have to say that, you guessed it- the number one, the numero uno, way to release feel good chemicals into your system is none other than that incredible climactic occurrence known as “the Big O!” Yes, the Big O is your best insurance against being O shaped! Aside from the rush and flow of feel good chemicals, not the least of which is serotonin, you also release growth hormones that increase your metabolism making it easier for you to stay young, slim and trim and if that isn’t a collective kick in depression’s oppressive pants, I don’t know what is–and you?
Yes, true, true of course I saved the ultimate climactic serotonin creating crescendo for last.
Consider the previous the foreplay most men typically forget.
Blessings to all of you!
You now have an arsenal of methods to “Stop Stressing Now!”
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