Have you ever wondered why you get so hungry when you feel sad and why your mood elevates as soon as you eat your carbs?   Like most things that seem to be a crime against nature, you can blame these cravings on fluctuating hormone levels affecting neurotransmitters.

How Do Hormones Control Appetite?

There are four neurotransmitters governed by the endocrine Junk_Food_4_copysystem,dopamine serotonin GABA and acetylcholine, that serve to control appetite and influence your moods. They also modulate motivation, sleep and food cravings.

A deficiency in either or both of these two hormones and/or abnormally high or low levels of dopamine are common in people who are addicted to food, smoking, alcohol, drugs and gambling. Low serotonin is related to depression food craving, eating disorders, sleep disruption and anxiety.

Dopamine is the neurotransmitter influences pleasure centre within the brain. High amounts of Dopamine are released during such actives as eating, sex and other enjoyable experiences. Foods that are known to boost these hormone levels include caffeine, chocolate, sugar and cigarettes. Of course, none of these things, is particularly good for you, except for the chocolate.

Treatment with the amino acid tyrosine can help raise the production of this hormone as can the herbs Rhodiola and Chasteberry. There are also food sources that can help increase dopamine because they are high in phenylanine and this includes meat, dairy products, nuts, shell fish, beans, and soy products.

Natural sources of tyrosine are almonds, avocados, bananas, dairy products, lima beans, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds. Exercise, sex and massage also raises levels of Dopamine, reduces cravings and promotes feelings of well being.

Serotonin levels must be in balance before effective weight lost can happen. This important neurotransmitter is produced in the intestinal tract, in our “second brain” that so many doctors are now calling our “smart gut.” Serotonin affects mood, emotions, memory, cravings, pain tolerance, self-esteem appetite, digestion and sleep. It also assists with regulating body temperature.

Vitamin B6 supplementation raises serotonin, as does the supplements 5-HTP and Inositol and the herbs Rhodiolia and St. John’s Wort.

Carbohydrates boost serotonin but it is important to eat complex carbs such as brown rice and whole grain breads that can keep you sustained, balanced and feeling energized.

Tryphotan boosts serotonin and the best food sources are peanuts, sesame seeds, meat, cottage cheese and brown rice.

Meditation, sun exposure, staying warm, sex, exercise and massage also helps boost serotonin levels.

GABA or Gamma-aminobutryic acid is a naturally calming inhibitory neurotransmitter that promotes healthy sleep, relaxation, digestion and the easing of muscle tension , pain and anxiety.

GABA levels in the body can be raised by taking a GABA supplement. The herb Passionflower is a co-factor improves the activity of GABA as does supplementation with the mineral magnesium.

Supplementation with the amino acid Taurine can help raise GABA levels and calm an excited brain and treat agitation, irritability, obsessive behaviours, depression, migraines and insomnia.

Acetylcholine is a hormone that helps maintain active healthy, metabolically efficient muscle and it also assists with cognitive function. It is boosted by supplementation with the amino acids: Acetyl-L-carnitine, PC (phosphatidylcholine), DMAE (dimethylaminioethanol) and L-Alpha_glycerophospocholine (alpha-GPC).

If you are deficient in acetylcholine it is crucial to consume healthy fats that such as lecithin, egg yolks, wheat germ, soybeans, organ meats and whole-wheat products.

Melatonin is a powerful hormonal neurotransmitter that helps maintain youthfulness, improves sleep, perks up libido and boosts energy It also affects your ability to fall asleep, stay asleep and how deep you will dreamily . It directly influences our body composition through its relationship with the growth hormone and it is a potent booster of the immune system.

Melatonin can be taken as a supplement at night. Sleeping in total darkness, and eating pumpkin seeds can also assist the body in making melatonin.

For more information about balancing your hormones naturally and mood management or to book a consultation about anti-aging, naturopathic testing, weight loss programs or any health issue you may be experiencing, visit the Pinewood Natural Healthcare Centre website that has a list of full services and products at http://www.pinewoodhealth.ca or call our Toronto Office at (416)-656- 8100. We also have an office in Pickering, Ontario at (905)-427-0057. You can also email us at info@pinewoodhealth.ca and we would be happy to answer any question that you have about our holistic health services.

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