Gluten-Free Simplicity

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Posts Tagged ‘Serotonin’

Gluten Cravings When Maybe All I Really Need is Some Serotonin

Posted by nepeht on December 27, 2008

  XX Days now and no pizza. But then I ask, Why do I want that stuff so badly? It’s the cheese that I think of most. Then that sizzling pepperoni. I know… just like an addict. A Gluten Addict.

  Food cravings have lots of alleged causes.  According to one source, these can include shortages of various things from certain vitamins to even a shortage in friends or exercise.  This article is very interesting in that it discusses cravings on several levels (i.e., physical, social, psychological, sensory etc…).

 Perhaps it would be smart to try and better understand the connection between serotonin and Gluten-Sensitivity.  What is serotonin?  Serotonin is:

“Serotonin (pronounced [s to n n]) (5-hydroxytryptamine, or 5-HT) is a monoamine neurotransmitter synthesized in serotonergic neurons in the central nervous system (CNS) and enterochromaffin cells in the gastrointestinal tract of animals including humans. Serotonin is also found in many mushrooms and plants, including fruits and vegetables.” From Dogpile Websource.

They go on to explain: “In the central nervous system, serotonin is believed to play an important role in the regulation of anger, aggression, body temperature, mood, sleep, vomiting, sexuality, and appetite. Low levels of serotonin may be associated with several disorders, namely increase in aggressive and angry behaviors, clinical depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), migraine, irritable bowel syndrome, tinnitus, fibromyalgia, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders[citation needed] and intense religious experiences[1].”

The Unknown Zone (c.2008, WTB)

The Unknown Zone (c.2008, WTB)

  So perhaps I can hazard a guess here:  People with Celiac Disease and Gluten-Sensitivity may experience diet-induced inconsistencies in their levels of Serotonin thus possibly effecting and/or exaggerating various symptoms of CD or Gluten-Sensitivity and this might also include cravings.

  Wow!! That’s a head-full.  It might not make any sense.  But then again, perhaps it does.  I just need to read more and perhaps I will be able to either confirm or dismantle this guess / hypothesis.

  A WebMD author notes that there is particular sensitivity for those of us who are allergic to Gluten.   Serotonin deficiency is discussed and accompanied with a list of recommendations which some of us are all too familiar:

  • “Avoid alcohol.
  • Avoid stimulants like caffeinated drinks, cigarettes, and amphetamines.
  • Increase your exposure to bright light or sunlight to 1-2 hours a day.
  • Get 60 minutes of moderate or moderately intense exercise every day.
  • Make sure you get enough deep, restful sleep every night” from http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/snack-attack-coping-with-cravings.

  Naturally, some of these things are related to each other and problems with one might make another recommendation difficult.  I would be dishonest if I said all of these things were a breeze for me.

  If we look at cravings and snacking behaviors as being related as well as food addiction, then we can also possibly apply some of the information we find about food addiction and serotonin.  For example, it seems that certain foods, like those with high carbohydrates can act like serotonin boosters in the blood stream and thus possibly influence the mood of the muncher.  This blog goes on to state,

“The serotonin-boosting effects of carbohydrates may explain why addicts in recovery, as well as carbohydrate cravers and PMS sufferers, show a tendency to binge on sugar foods. Abstaining addicts apparently turned to the over consumption of carbohydrates as a means of attempting to redress the neurotransmitter imbalances at the heart of their disorder. Perhaps some addicts discover early in life that carbohydrate-rich foods are their drug of choice” http://addiction-dirkh.blogspot.com/2007/11/food-addiction.html.

According to GoAskAlice.Columbia.edu,

“Certain foods that increase serotonin levels aren’t the healthiest choices either. Believe it or not, candy and sweets, which are simple carbohydrates, have the greatest impact, but the effect will only last 1 – 2 hours. Complex carbohydrates (rice, potato, pasta) may increase serotonin levels, but not to the same extent because the protein content of these foods might actually inhibit serotonin production” http://www.goaskalice.columbia.edu/0515.html.

   It is not necessarily so that we are addicted to Gluten, or that I am craving that pizza dough.  Moreso, I may be instead craving that mood altering feeling I get with a surge a sarotonin just after I binge-out on some heavy carbs after a good long while’s craving for it. 

  Perhaps this is why I recall hearing of some anti-depressents (aka Serotonin influencers) being prescribed for cravings of various types.

  Interesting.

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