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Old 10-29-2013, 06:55 AM   #1
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help, need advice!! about low carbing and serotonin levels

everywhere i read says about tryptophan needing high carbs to convert to serotonin in the brain.

if this was true why arent all low carbers depressed due to lack of serotonin can someone help me understand this logic!?

does low carbing lower serotonin levels?
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Old 10-29-2013, 07:31 AM   #2
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Does Atkins cause depression? | Mail Online
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Old 10-29-2013, 07:45 AM   #3
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In response to your question about tryptophan and carbohydrates, from what I've read in the last 10 minutes, tryptophan does become more readily available to turn into serotonin after a high-carb meal in a healthy person, but if you're overweight or obese, you're probably experiencing some systemic inflammation. Inflammation is an immune response and it causes tryptophan to turn into kynurenic and quinolinic acid instead of serotonin, so you don't feel as good from eating carbs. I know I'm experiencing inflammation because I feel confident and serene on a low carb diet, but when I eat candy and cake I suddenly become paranoid that I'm the worst person on earth and everyone hates me. My sources were the Evolutionary Psychiatry blog entitled "Carbs and Serotonin, a connection after all?", and a Psychology Today article entitled "Depression Crashed Your Party," if you're interested. Thanks for the awesome question! You taught me something today!

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Old 10-29-2013, 07:45 AM   #4
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Google: "marks daily apple 10 quick tips to boost your serotonin" for some lower carb options
If you just do a google search for "serotonin boosting foods" there are a lot of foods that you can eat on low-carb that work
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Old 10-29-2013, 07:50 AM   #5
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I see a shrink every 4 months for bipolar Type II and anxiety and have for 14 years. He tells his patients to avoid sugar of all types and simple carbs (but won't call it LC). My previous doc recommended a strict LC diet to all of his patients with mood disorders. My therapists have all recommended avoiding sugar & starches.

I feel better when I don't eat carbs. My moods don't swing, I don't get "hangry" (hungry+ angry) when my blood sugar gets all wonky, and I have no anxiety attacks. Of course I have to take my medicine, but I haven't missed work in 3 months or used my anti-anxiety medication. My doctor is thrilled with both my diet and my weight loss.

Of course that is just me. Others might still struggle because their biology is different than mine. But all the professionals I have seen in 14 years have recommended at least a LOW-er carb diet if not a strict LC one.
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Old 10-29-2013, 07:52 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sillysal View Post
Atkins did quite the contrary for me.

On WW, eating cookies by the truckload made me pretty angry. And sad. Depressed, because I had absolutely no control on my cravings. Now I do.

Makes me happy!
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Old 10-29-2013, 07:58 AM   #7
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I figured out Dr. Emily Deans is the one writing about all this brain chemistry stuff. She wrote a great article over at Mark's Daily Apple called "Your Brain and the Primal Blueprint"--most of it is PB specific, but it does relate to low carb diets.
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Old 10-29-2013, 08:05 AM   #8
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thanks guys but can trynpthan work differently in people with different biology's?
because this article practically says atkins causes depression but alot of people here say the opposite so something must be wrong!
if you are carb-sensitive would a small amount of carbs produce more insulin than in someone was not carb sensitive (eating the same food)?
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Old 10-29-2013, 08:06 AM   #9
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Atkins cleared up my depression, which in retrospect was probably bordering on clinical. At the time I contributed it to an increase in self-esteem due to the weight loss, but the more I read about depression, the more I become convinced it was more than that. I had a lot of symptoms I didn't even know were depression symptoms - like body aches - and they all vanished when I did Atkins.

I am prone to anxiety attacks and anxiety dreams when I don't eat low carb. When I eat low carb, these are non-existent.

And oh yeah, my moods are waaaayyy more stable when I am low carb. Just ask my husband.

So I'm not sure what the science of carbs and serotonin is (if any), but the article runs directly counter to my personal experience.
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Old 10-29-2013, 10:37 AM   #10
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This article is from March 9, 2004. Here it is with the date: Does the Atkins Make You Depressed?

The study was done in 1989.

You can download the paper at wurtmanlab.mit.edu. My browser locked-up so I couldn't read it.
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Old 10-29-2013, 10:39 AM   #11
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Are you confusing refined and processed carbs with carbs from veggies, eggs, nuts, etc?
Low carbers eat carbs, just not junkie ones. I believe Dr. Atkins said they had done some studies that absolutely showed improvements in people, with mental issues. But, they took them off sugar and refined and processed carbs.

I always feel better mentally when I low carb...
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Old 10-29-2013, 03:44 PM   #12
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the way ive interrperated it is,

protein with high carb food (food that raises your insulin high-refined carbs?) help tryptophan get to the brain. so therefore you need to eat high carb to get tryptophan to your brain.

so there would be no way of getting tryptophan your brain if eating low carb. Am I correct?
need someone to clear this up for me!!!
is there a difference in serotonin release and making serotonin??
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Old 10-29-2013, 03:52 PM   #13
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I am not a scientist, but I would be very wary of an obviously anti-Atkins headline in a tabloid publication like the Daily Mail. It is very easy to take a reputable scientific study and skew its results with a careful choice of words.

If you are at all concerned about this issue, I'd suggest you consult a medical professional.

My personal experience from years of eating very low carb is that my moods are improved, consistent with the experience of other posters.
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Old 10-29-2013, 03:53 PM   #14
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My personal, N=1 experience (YMMV) is that my mood is much happier on low carb. Those blood sugar excursions really mess with things. I had a bout of clinical depression, so I know what it's like, and I would say I'm totally opposite now.
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Old 10-29-2013, 04:12 PM   #15
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Low carb tends to be balancing to the HPA axis, so long as calories are at the appropriate level. Even for those prone to depression, exchanging nuts for chips is going to help with stability of moods, even if it eliminated food-related highs. That's not an appropriate expression of serotonin for those with mood disorders, anyway, and just depleted it long term.

Go nutritiously low carb, with adequate calories, and then if depression is still a problem and any zinc, b-12, or carnitine issues have been dealt with, consider medicating to assist. But with a solid diet and appropriate supplementation I think you'll be very pleased with your results in terms of mood quality. Solid sleep is also crucial to this, so watch it on stimulants, even if they make you feel temporarily better
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Old 10-29-2013, 04:14 PM   #16
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thanks guys!!!!!!! feeling better hearing your all feeling good.

do you think the trynptophan thing is a myth? or maybe different peoples bodies react differently to carbs? like amino acids work differently/ is it possible?
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Old 10-29-2013, 04:21 PM   #17
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but arent the food highs related to the trynptophan being released into the brain? isnt that what is needed to help build serotonin? or have i got it wrong? arctic mama would it be possible for me to message you privately about this? I'm really really confused and cant seem to get my head around it. thank you
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Old 10-29-2013, 04:26 PM   #18
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i'm feeling just as happy on low carb as I was on low fat high-carb. Perhaps tryptophan starts working correctly again in low carbers as soon as the body adapts to ketosis and switches from obtaining energy from carbs to obtaining it from fat.... if that is the case it would take only 3-5 days for people to feel normal, and no one would experience a noticeable negative impact on mood.
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Old 10-29-2013, 04:26 PM   #19
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I would say that reducing mood stability/lability to a single amino is ridiculous; it is the balance among multiple hormones and not absolute values or even relative changes in them, that affects brain chemistry (and tons of other body processes beyond just mood). Also consider that 'mood' is a very loose term, and what you're observing in depression is as much or more psychological as biological in nature. Circumstances, personality tendencies, coping skills, and even things like faith and relationships are all huge contributors to how a person manages their internal dialog and interactions with the outside world.

Narrowing it down to tryptophan is oversimplified to the point of fallacy, quite honestly. And the Daily Mail Online is trying to sell advertising, not insight
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Old 10-29-2013, 04:26 PM   #20
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I feel much better on lc. Im very crabby on sugar im more tired and bad brain fog. I eat fruit and gain wt. So I know that I need to stay low carb just to feel normal.
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Old 10-29-2013, 04:33 PM   #21
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thank you artic mama, and jen thats a great point!! do you think its possible for amino acids to work differently for everybody?
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Old 10-29-2013, 04:38 PM   #22
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The efficacy of a compound is varied based on individual biology, yes. And quite frankly, they can be hugely effective, but identifying which ones are necessary to assisting your particular issue is NOT straightforward. You just don't know which particular precursor you may be having problems with, or if the issue isn't value but metabolism/signaling, in which case adding supplements or adjusting food is only barely affecting the real problem. I think worrying about things like this is quite useless until your eating is squared away, solidly on plan and controlled, for at least 2-4 months. Then you can start tweaking things one at a time and see how your body responds. Until then, you're shooting in the dark and hoping you hit something.
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Old 10-29-2013, 04:38 PM   #23
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and another silly question, if a person ate 400g of carbs(not inc fibre) from broccoli, broccoli and the like, would that still be considered a low carb diet or would that be a high carb diet?


- im a worry wart!!!

Last edited by sillysal; 10-29-2013 at 04:40 PM..
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Old 10-29-2013, 04:50 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by sillysal View Post
and another silly question, if a person ate 400g of carbs(not inc fibre) from broccoli, broccoli and the like, would that still be considered a low carb diet or would that be a high carb diet?


- im a worry wart!!!
400 carb grams of broccoli would give me enough gas to get to the moon and back!!
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Old 10-29-2013, 04:54 PM   #25
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ha ha, maybe greenbeans instead :P

Last edited by sillysal; 10-29-2013 at 04:55 PM..
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Old 10-29-2013, 06:03 PM   #26
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400 carb grams of broccoli would give me enough gas to get to the moon and back!!


I don't think a person could eat that much broccoli net carbs in a day. You'd probably throw up before you finished.
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Old 10-29-2013, 06:53 PM   #27
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but say it was possible would that be classed as high carb?
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Old 10-29-2013, 07:28 PM   #28
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400g carbs, from any source, would be high carb.
IMO you really should choose a plan (there are a lot) and read the basics for the one you choose, so you can make an educated choice
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Old 10-30-2013, 10:53 AM   #29
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My understanding of tryptophan comes from Potatoes Not Prozac. Basically, they suggest that you eat protein in your evening meal, and then three hours later, before bed, you eat something with some carbs, but no more protein. That activates the insulin needed to push the serotonin into your brain.

A medium Yukon Gold potato is about 25 grams of carb, with potassium and fiber. Many lower-carb plans can include that, depending on what else you had that day.

This is from their web site (can't link due to books for sale).

Quote:
Please explain what this whole serotonin/tryptophan/potato connection is, in layman terms please.

Your body uses tryptophan to make serotonin. Serotonin is the brain chemical that makes you feel mellow and happy. It also helps you to 'just say no' by putting the brakes on your impulsivity.

Tryptophan is a kind of amino acid, which comes from protein. When you eat protein foods (meats, cheese, eggs, birds, etc.), it is broken down into amino acids. They go into your blood stream and try to get into the brain as "brain food". Tryptophan is a little runty amino acid. The other amino acids compete with him and won't let him get across into the brain.

When you eat a food that causes an insulin reaction, the insulin goes and gets the 'big' aminos and takes them to the muscles to be used as muscle food. The muscles don't really care about the runt so he stays behind. When he is left behind after the big guys go to the muscles, he hops into the brain and sacrifices himself to the serotonin factory. And your serotonin levels rise.
So we want you to eat protein and then 3 hours later have something to raise your insulin level. A potato seems like a better alternative than a candy bar.
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Old 10-30-2013, 01:19 PM   #30
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I would have to disagree. My own experience and others I know who've gone consistent low carb is that our moods improved and stabilized.
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