Terre Pruitt's Blog

In the realm of health, wellness, fitness, and the like, or whatever inspires me.

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Posts Tagged ‘serotonin’

Sometimes It Takes More Than a Smile Not to be SAD

Posted by terrepruitt on February 21, 2012

Dance Exercise, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Campbell Nia, Nia CampbellSeasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) per the U.S. National Library of Medicine is “episodes of depression that occur at a certain time of the year, usually during winter.”  Interestingly, “Like other forms of depression, it occurs more often in women than in men.”  According to Wiki “Although experts were initially skeptical, this condition is now recognized as a common disorder”.   I remember when it was declared a “real” disorder.  It really sounds as if this type of disorder can become very serious.  There are general symptoms that are common when someone is depressed; difficulty sleeping, difficulty waking, sleeping too much, not sleeping, over eating, not eating, gaining weight, losing weight, not socializing, lack of energy, difficulty concentrating, and so on.  It seems as if any depression, if left untreated and it continues, could become serious.  This type of depression is no different. 

I was surprised to see that it is treated somewhat the same way as other depression with both drugs and therapy.  Since it is caused by lack of sunlight I hadn’t thought of using medication or talking about it to help it.  But I guess that if you are depressed and antidepressants make you not depressed they would work no matter what the cause.  And talk therapy helps with all types of depression too.  The Mayo Clinic states the causes for SAD to be possibly your body’s rhythm being “off” due to the lack of light, so your body doesn’t know when to sleep and when to be awake, the serotonin levels being low, this is the chemical in the brain that affects your mood, so low levels could be a cause of depression, then there is melatonin levels which regulates sleep so this hormone can be off balance and affect one’s mood.

With that said, I would think that doing things to help make certain your clock stays regular would help.  Make certain you keep to a strict bedtime and rising time in the morning.  Also eating foods that can increase levels of serotonin might help.  Good foods to eat include bananas, papayas, walnuts, and dates.  (Mmmm, sounds like a recipe for a smoothie!)

ance Exercies, Nia, Nia Campbell, Campbell Nia, Nia classes in Campbell, evening Nia, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, I found the following list on: Muscle-Health-Fitness.com

 1) Free Range Turkey
 2) Flaxseed/ Flaxseed oil
 3) Buckwheat
 4) Wild Fish and Sea food
 5) Whey protein
 6) Bananas
 7) High quality Eggs
 8) Sour Cherries
 9) Free Range Beef
 10) Dark Chocolate

According to Livestrong foods that boost your melatonin are rice, barley, bananas and tomatoes.  Melatonin is also found in tart cherries, sunflower seeds, almonds, and red radishes.  Which again, if low levels of this hormone are thought to play a role in SAD, then increasing the levels would seem to be a logical step.

The thing I see most is light therapy.  But it doesn’t work for everyone.  It needs to be a bright light, one that is like the sun.  I found a variety of lights on Amazon ranging from $60.00 to $600.00.   With this type of therapy you sit in front of the light for a prescribed amount of time per day. 

Another way to fight depression is to exercise.  Exercise is always going to help because it increases your endorphins.  The endorphins create a positive feeling in the body.  Feeling positive helps with depression.  For me dancing is both a great exercise and a great way to get happy.  That is one reason why I love Nia because it really does make me happy.  But, of course there is all types of exercise to help get those endorphins up.  So anything that you will actually do . . . is GREAT!

I think SAD is much more widely accepted as an actual disorder than it once was.  There are so many things and ways that we are educated and allowed to see how people live and feel.  We probably all know at least one person living in an area where they might be susceptible to SAD.  Even if you don’t feel you have felt depression because of the weather, maybe you have things you do that make you happy and get you out of a funk.  What are they?  What do you do that help make you happy?  Share with us here and maybe they can help someone who is SAD.

Posted in Misc | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

It’s Not the Turkey Making You Tired

Posted by terrepruitt on November 26, 2011

A while ago I heard something that explained the myth around turkey and tryptophan.  But I couldn’t remember what it was so I was thinking about it and I realized that it probably isn’t really the amount of tryptophan in the turkey that causes people to get sleepy it is more likely the combination of foods that are being consumed during a holiday meal AND the amount.  I was thinking that all the carbohydrates would be a reason that people feel sleepy after eating a turkey dinner.  So, of course I looked it up and the wonderful Wiki had a lot of great info.

First of all, the amount of tryptophan is less in turkey than in cod, soybeans, Parmesan cheese, and cheddar cheese.  It is slightly higher in turkey than chicken, beef, and pork chops.  A direct quote from Wiki:  “It is particularly plentiful in chocolate, oats, dried dates, milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, red meat, eggs, fish, poultry, sesame, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, corn, spirulina, and peanuts.”  Basically protein based foods. Tryptohphan in turkey has been blamed for many people falling asleep after a Holiday meal.

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid so that means we must eat it because our bodies cannot produce it.  If you are experiencing depression, anxiety, irritability, impatience, impulsiveness, inability to concentrate, weight gain or unexplained weight loss, overeating and/or carbohydrate cravings, poor dream recall, or insomnia, according to WHFoods, you could need to add more tryptophan to your diet.  Adding more foods that contain high amounts of tryptophan could possibly help you with these things.  It helps form serotonin which can help you feel better and help you sleep.

The ByteSize Science did a little video explaining that tryptophan does not make you sleepy.  This video says there is LESS in turkey than in chicken.  It explains that tryptophan on its own could cause you to be sleepy, but the amount in turkey has to compete with all the other food and so it is not enough to actually cause you to be tired.  This video also says that most people eat more calories in one Thanksgiving meal than they normally it in a regular day.  This huge amount of food makes the body have to work extra hard to digest the food.  The blood goes from the brain to the stomach which causes the tiredness and grogginess.

Not sure how the turkey-tryptophan myth started, but science has proved it to be exactly that – a myth.  So instead of blaming turkey, and the amino acid that our body needs to make necessary compounds, for our post Holiday food coma we should actually acknowledge it is probably the amount of food and the combination of food that is responsible.  Armed with this information we could eat our turkey without fearing it will cause us to get sleepy and maybe eat less food and less carbs and avoid the food coma that usually ensues a Holiday meal.   What do you think?

This is a portion of a chart on Wiki:

Food Protein [g/100 g of food] Tryptophan
[g/100 g of food]
Tryptophan/Protein [%]
cod, atlantic, dried




soybeans, raw




cheese, Parmesan




cheese, cheddar




pork, chop












Posted in Food | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »