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Toxic Foods and Mood:  You Are What You Eat!



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‘We are what we eat’ takes on a whole new dimension when we look at sugar as a drug instead of a food. What we eat affects our energy levels, how we think and work, how easily we unwind and relax as well as how we feel, physically, mentally and emotionally.

Alcohol, processed sugar, and refined carbohydrates respond identically in your body. They all convert to glucose. You can be addicted to sugar and refined carbohydrates. Refined carbohydrates include bleached white bread, crackers, white pasta, bagels, white rice, cream of wheat, corn cereals, and many other products.

This addiction is physiological and affects the same biochemical systems in your body as drugs like heroin, cocaine and alcohol. You can actually get high on processed, chemically-tainted sugar, hence the term ‘sugar high’. If you don’t get your ‘fix’, you experience withdrawal symptoms. This is why alcoholics revert to sugar when they quit drinking. They crave sugar and are perpetuating the skewed body chemistry.

Foods trigger the production and release of brain chemicals that control your mental and emotional responses.  Sugar exaggerates the production of serotonin, beta-endorphin and dopamine. The overproduction results in a “high” followed by a crash, which sets up your craving for more sugar. Your receptors also become less sensitive in order to protect against the overdosing of the ‘drug’. It is why you require more and more (sugar, alcohol, heroin, refined carbohydrates, etc.) just to feel normal. This results in physical dependence on the drug to pick you up, but your ‘habit’ now results in depression instead of well-being and exhaustion and anxiety instead of an energy pick up.

Sugars and white flours stimulate an increase in the transmission of dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. As the synapses become flooded with these neurotransmitters, a feeling of euphoria results and craving is stimulated. As these three neurochemicals increase in supply at the synapses, there is a decrease in the needed neurotransmitter to fill receptors as receptors continue to be produced.

We now find a brain transmitter deficiency. The sugar and white flour have blocked the recycling of neurotransmitter dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. The long term result?...increased demand for the ‘drug’ just to feel normal. If you were taking heroin, this would be called a ‘wellness fix’. You need the sugar just to feel normal. Scientifically speaking, you now have insufficient amounts of neurotransmitters produced and released with receptor sites left unfilled, resulting in cravings, distress and depression. You have become chemically dependent on sugar and white flour. The state of euphoria resulting from a surge of serotonin or dopamine is often followed by hyper-excitability and feelings of shame, abandonment and worthlessness.

An imbalance of any one of the brain chemicals can dramatically affect how you feel and act. Sugar and refined carbohydrates put you on an emotional rollercoaster. One moment you are confident, creative and sensitive to others; the next you become moody, frustrated, your self-esteem plummets and you are filled with hopelessness. Your behavior reflects your body chemistry, which is out of balance.

Chemical, physical and emotional stress negatively affect your beta-endorphin level and increase the body’s requirements for vitamins and minerals. Vitamin/mineral deficiencies cause neurochemical imbalances. Eating healthy is not enough anymore. Incorporate a supplement into your daily regimen of healthy behaviors.

All supplements are not equal! Over 1/2 the supplements on the market are manufactured using cost cutting practices which compromise your health and diminish or eliminate the effectiveness of the supplement. Find a high quality
multi-vitamin/mineral supplement and take it faithfully. You will feel the difference!  An extreme change in diet is also critical -- tainted foods can harm you and wholesome and pure foods can heal you.  And if possible, wean yourself off of medications as your health improves, as most are more harmful than they are beneficial. (See Death by Medicine and The Danger of Drugs).

The body is amazing in its ability to re-balance and restore normal chemistry. Be prepared to go through some withdrawal symptoms. Your body must detoxify from these addictive substances. Symptoms include: dizziness, headaches, extreme irritability, insomnia, restlessness, mental disorientation, forgetfulness and a growing inner emptiness or depression that led to the addiction in the first place. These symptoms gradually taper off after about 5-10 days.

Neurotransmitter deficits are restored by the removal of sugar, white flour and other refined carbohydrates from the diet. Natural sugar in fruit and whole grain/whole wheat are your replacement choices. Learn to read labels as you go through this process, although manufacturers in the U.S. aren't required to include everything on their labels. Manufacturers hide sugar and harmful chemicals in processed and fast foods. They know that adding sugar will get you hooked on sugar-addictive foods. Ketchup is 30% sugar. There is even sugar in Morton’s salt.

Whatever you do, do not think when you give up sugar, that you can start using artificial sweeteners and diet products -- they are neurotoxic and even more poisonous.

Special caution is necessary during the withdrawal period as the urge to self-medicate with sugar, white flour and other refined carbohydrates will heighten. Depression or anxiety motivates one toward food for comfort or reward to feel better. Sugar increases the amount of brain chemical serotonin for a quick high or fix. Fresh vegetables and whole grains increase serotonin as well, but at a much slower, natural rate.  There are also natural supplements and herbs you can take that will help ease your depression, relax your nerves, alleviate other symptoms, and actually help speed the healing of the body.

Your liver, pancreas, and adrenal glands have most likely been taxed from responding to the sugar highs and lows, and you most likely have excessive toxins in your body from processed foods.  Until you are feeling normal, besides a potent multi-vitamin/mineral supplement, you may want to take Milk Thistle to benefit the liver, L-Glutamine to help re-train the brain to absorb glucose, Gymnema to regulate the pancreas, and Glucomannan to help normalize sugar levels and provide adrenal support.  If you can't afford these supplements (and even if you can), eat 5-7 small nutritious meals or snacks throughout the day to keep natural sugar in your body at a consistent level to keep your system from reacting to highs and lows and re-train it to react normally.  If you're not sure what is really healthy and nutritious, click here to learn in greater detail what is toxic and should be avoided and what foods heal.

Guidelines for a Healthy Self:

1. Increase your complex carbohydrate intake - whole grain bread, whole grain crackers, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, oatmeal, Kashi, beans, legumes, fruits and vegetables.

2. Take a high potency multi-vitamin/mineral supplement daily that doesn't contain yeast, sugar, or anything artificial. 

3. Eat low-fat proteins frequently. Protein is the second largest store of energy in your body. The amino acids, which come from protein, create glucose and neurotransmitters. Again, balance is important. The average person’s intake should be 1/2 gram for each pound of body weight. A 150 pound person with average activity level would consume 75 grams of protein. An athlete can consume up to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.

4. Eat monounsaturated fats from plants, such as seeds, nuts, avocados and safflower and olive oil. Avoid saturated fats contained in animal and dairy foods -- get low-fat, no fat, or organic, as toxins store in fats.

6. Drink 1/2 your weight in ounces of clean water daily, preferably distilled.  Squeeze some lemon in your water if you're not typically a water drinker to make it more palatable.  The lemon will also help the pH in your stomach become more balanced to enable better absorption of nutrients in foods.

7. Avoid any sugars, white flour and pastas, white rice, caffeine, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, salt, and processed foods with chemicals. 

8.  Use our diet outline as your guide -- getting well may require changing your mindset drastically from what you've been used to your entire life, but it is the way we were intended to eat naturally.

Brain Hormones:

Dopamine - Brain’s reward (natural high); clarity, increased energy, increased respiratory time
Norepinephrine - Alertness (fight or flight), analgesia (reduces pain), anti-depressive, BP modulator, instinctual behavior
Serotonin - Relaxation, calm, reduced stress & anxiety, anti-depressive, slows respiratory time, analgesia, satiety (carb. specific), lessens impulsiveness, increases lethargy
Beta-Endorphin - Euphoria, mediates emotion, analgesia, increases food intake, stimulates dopamine response.  Low B-endorphins >>>cravings, addictive/compulsive behavior, alcoholism and addictions
Protein >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Dopamine, Norepinephrine

Carbs >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Serotonin

Fats >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Beta-Endorphin , Dopamine

Saturated Fats >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Serotonin

Alcohol >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Beta-Endorphin, Dopamine, Serotonin

Sugars >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Beta-Endorphin, Dopamine, Serotonin

Spicy Foods >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Beta-Endorphin, Dopamine

Changing Your Mood without Food

Supplementation, Exercise, Meditation, Acupuncture, Sex, Music, Increase Body Temperature (bath, shower, jacuzzi, warm infra-red sauna (not hot).  Infra-red is also the warmth you feel from the sun (not UV), it penetrates deep tissue, and helps detoxify the body.)

(parts of this article excerpted from Ms. Fitness Magazine)



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