Sunday, October 3, 2010

The 28-Day Break-Up Cleanse, Part II

How do you treat anxiety and depression associated with a breakup? The radical way would be to get a prescription from your doctor. The newest (affordable) drugs to treat anxiety and depression, also known as "selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors," raise the levels of the feel-good hormone serotonin in the brain.

According to Rockefeller neuroscientist Jennifer Warner-Schmidt, not only is this class of drugs effective in the treatment of anxiety and depression, it can also reverse the detrimental effects of depression on the brain. Warner-Schmidt and Ronald Duman of Yale University found that the serotonin reuptake inhibitors increased the production of vascular endothelial growth factor, or VEGF, in the hippocampus of rodents. The increased VEGF levels led to the birth of new neurons. Conversely, blocking expression of this growth factor led to an atrophy of cells in the hippocampus. So, it seems that serotonin reuptake inhibitors can help keep your brain healthy.

But wouldn’t it be nice if you could achieve similar effects without taking medication? The serotonin diet, if followed strictly, can do just that. It raises your serotonin levels without medication. Here are some foods and drinks to load up on to raise your serotonin levels.

1. Buckwheat
2. Whey protein
3. Flaxseed oil
4. Bananas
5. Sour cherries and cranberries
6. Fish and Sea food
7. Turkey
8. Eggs
9. Dark chocolate
10. Nettle tea

Buckwheat is high in tryptophan. Tryptophan is essential to the synthesis of serotonin in the brain. Your brain cannot make serotonin without the protein building block, or amino acid, tryptophan.

Whey Protein
Whey protein can greatly enhance your health. Whey regulates blood sugar levels and appetite and helps to increase the brain’s levels of serotonin.

Flaxseed Oil
Flaxseeds are great for weight loss and they contain high levels of tryptophan, which is an essential component of serotonin. Adding three to four tablespoons of flaxseeds or two tablespoons of flax seed oil each day can help to alter your mood.

Bananas are another kind of food that contains high amounts of tryptophan. Eat plenty of them as an afternoon snack, as a desert, in whey protein smoothies and in exotic Hawaiian or Thai dishes. Another serotonin-inducing fruits and vegetables include pineapple, avocado, spinach, asparagus and eggplant.

Sour cherries and cranberries
Sour cherries and cranberries contain plenty of melatonin. Melatonin doesn’t have a direct effect on serotonin but it can help you sleep properly, something that may be difficult if you have just experienced a hard breakup.

Fish and Seafood
The good fats in salmon, tuna and sardines can decrease the symptoms of depression and regulate mania. Fish is also rich in tryptophan, which helps the brain synthesize serotonin. You can also take fish oils as supplements.

Turkey is a high-protein food. Almost all high protein foods are high in tryptophan but turkey is particularly good as source of tryptophan. Did you ever notice how sleepy people get after thanksgiving dinner? One reason is that turkey raises serotonin levels, which makes your body relax.

Like salmon eggs are a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, which helps stabilize brain activity. You may have to watch your intake of eggs if you have high cholesterol. However, there is no direct correlation between high cholesterol foods and high blood pressure. While egg yolks contain high concentrations of cholesterol, they also contain chemicals that lower blood pressure, reports a Canadian research team in the January 2009 issue of "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry." In a series of laboratory studies, the team found chemicals in fried and boiled eggs that, in principle, can turn into peptides with blood pressure-lowering activity in the stomach and small intestine. The findings are still to be tested directly on humans.

Dark Chocolate
Cocoa increases serotonin levels in the brain. Dark chocolate contains higher amounts of cocoa than milk chocolate. Cocoa also seems to lower bad cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

Nettle Tea
Nettle tea is thought to have numerous healing powers, including an ability to fight coughs, remove the symptoms of arthritis, heal urinary tract infections, prevent allergies and improve moods. It comes from the top leaves of stinging nettles. You may have to get used to the somewhat grassy taste. You can also eat nettles after cooking them. They are taste a bit like spinach. When stinging nettles are cooked or dried, the stinging chemicals histamine and formic acids evaporate.

Besides these foods you might want to consider adding the over-the-counter dietary supplement 5-Hydroxytryptophan, or 5-HTP, to your diet. In many countries 5-HTP is sold under the trade names Cincofarm, Levothym, Levotonine, Oxyfan, Telesol, Tript-OH, and Triptum. Unlike serotonin itself, the supplement crosses the brain-blood barrier and is transformed into serotonin in the liver and brain.

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