BY JUDITH J. WURTMAN
AND NINA T. FRUSZTAJER
Boost serotonin to switch off your appetite!
Putting more than 30 years of groundbreaking research to work, renowned scientist Judith Wurtman, PhD, and her colleague, Nina T. Frusztajer, MD, present a clinically proven 12-week program that uses the power of carbohydrates to help you to:
- Activate the appetite-suppressant function of serotonin to stop weight gain
- Regain control over emotional overeating and cravings
- Lose up to 2 pounds of real weight -- not water -- per week
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Easy and economical, with more than 75 delicious recipes, The Serotonin Power Diet is the natural solution to weight loss and maintenance for everyone who has ever thought their cravings could never be satisfied.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Judith J. Wurtman, Ph.D was the former director of the Research Program in Women’s Health at the MIT Clinical Research Center and founder of TRIAD, a Harvard Hospital weight loss center. Along with Dr Frusztajer, she ran a private weight loss practice in the Boston area specializing in obesity caused by anti-depressants and emotional overeating.
Dr Wurtman received her Ph.D in cell biology from The George Washington University and took additional training in nutritional biochemistry and obesity as an National Institute of Health postdoctoral fellow. Her research career focused on the relationship between carbohydrates, brain serotonin and disturbances in emotional status and eating and became a recognized authority on the topic of how food can affect mood.
Her discoveries include the phenomenon of 'carbohydrate-craving' in which sweet or starchy carbohydrates are consumed to relieve depression, anxiety or anger (by raising brain serotonin). Dr Wurtman also showed that carbohydrate-rich foods can be used to decrease appetite and increase satiety especially among people treated with anti-depressants and other drugs used to treat emotional disorders. In addition Dr Wurtman along with her husband Dr Richard Wurtman showed that serotonin is involved in the eating and mood disturbances of premenstrual syndrome, seasonal depression and smoking withdrawal.
Dr Wurtman has written 5 books, including Eating Your Way through Life, The Serotonin Solution, and Managing your Mind and Mood Through Food. She and her husband edited a series of books on Nutrition and the Brain and she has written over 40 peer-reviewed publications.
Nina T. Frusztajer, MD is a practicing physician with expertise in wellness and, with Dr. Wurtman, the co-founder of a Boston-based private weight loss center. Dr. Frusztajer studied the epidemiology of hypertension and received her Masters degree in Nutrition from Columbia University where she conducted peer-reviewed published studies on the relationship between nutrient intake and stress. She further specialized in the impact of nutrition and lifestyle on the onset of disease and overall well being by receiving her medical degree from the George Washington University School of Medicine followed by postgraduate training and medical practice in internal medicine and pathology.
In addition to her clinical expertise, Dr. Frusztajer is a certified professional life coach with years of experience in wellness and stress reduction. Through speaking engagements to the medical community and the general public, the media (print and radio), and individual consulting, Dr. Frusztajer helps people become more efficient and focused, relax more, and live a healthier (and happier!) lifestyle. Dr. Frusztajer has been practicing yoga since 1985 and teaching yoga since 2000.
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COMBAT WINTERTIME BLUES:
Serotonin is Sunshine for Your Brain
by Judith J. Wurtman, PhD
and Nina T. Frusztajer, MD,
Authors of The Serotonin Power Diet: Eat Carbs -- Nature's Own Appetite Suppressant -- to Stop Emotional Overeating and Halt Antidepressant-Associated Weight Gain
The long days of winter can cause depression, fatigue, increased appetite, decreased interest in work and social activities, and a significant need for more sleep. This cluster of symptoms is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Whether you experience all these symptoms of SAD or just a general feeling of the winter blahs, don't blame it on the holidays, after-holiday bills, cabin fever or endless ice storms. There is a physiological reason behind these seasonal changes: The activity of a brain chemical called serotonin seems to be altered during the seasons of the year when there are fewer hours of sunlight. And this decrease in serotonin activity seems to be behind the urge to crawl into bed at 4pm with a bag of cookies and the remote.
Antidepressants that activate serotonin have also been prescribed for SAD. They may relieve the mood symptoms but might leave behind an unwanted side effect: weight gain, which is one of the symptoms of SAD (making swimsuit season a dreadful time of year despite the return of long days of sunshine).
The better way to cope with SAD is to boost the brain chemical serotonin.
Nature's Own Appetite-Suppressant
We all have serotonin in our brains, although women have less than men. When serotonin is functioning normally, it keeps us emotionally stable and also turns off our appetite so we eat less. The natural way of increasing serotonin activity is to get the brain to make more.
Boosting serotonin activity naturally may be the most practical and slimming option. There is a single way to make more serotonin: Eat sweet or starchy non-fruit carbohydrates at the right times during the day.
When carbohydrates that contain very little protein or fat (such as a potato without the sour cream or butter) are eaten, serotonin is made in the brain.
Insulin is involved in this process. As soon as the carbohydrate is eaten, changes occur in the blood driven by insulin secretion. The result is that an amino acid, tryptophan, enters the brain very quickly and, just as quickly, is converted to serotonin. One potato can lead to a better mood, more energy, less sleepiness and a controlled appetite.
Winter is long but the effects of eating a potato are short. There is one problem with this eating solution to the winter blues: The boost in serotonin probably doesn't last more than 2-3 hours. Once the effect wears off, the blues may return. The answer is eating by the "sun clock."
- Eat foods that will maintain your mental alertness such as protein, fruits, vegetables, and dairy products during the light hours (i.e. breakfast and lunch), and
- Switch to serotonin-producing carbohydrates when it becomes dark.
You will not overeat because the serotonin that is produced will switch off your appetite.
Chasing away the winter blues is not only easy -- it's delicious. Here's what a typical day of eating looks like:
- Scrambled egg beaters
- Whole wheat English muffin with jam
- An apple
- Grilled chicken with a mixed green salad and balsamic vinaigrette
Sunset Snacks and Dinners
- Low-fat granola bar
- Pasta with roasted vegetables and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese
- A cup of minestrone soup
- Skinny Cow fudge bar
All You Need to Know
When you need to boost your brain serotonin levels, eat a low-fat, low-protein carbohydrate snack such as half a bagel, a cup of oatmeal with brown sugar, or 3 cups of low-fat popcorn. Finding serotonin-friendly snacks is easy. Just check the labels to make sure that a serving contains between 100 to 120 calories, 20 to 25 grams of carbohydrates, no more than 1 to 2 grams of fat, and no more than 3 grams of protein. If your favorite snacks don't come in single-serving sizes, pre-package your own and toss them in a briefcase, handbag, glove compartment or a desk drawer. Options include:
- Breakfast cereal
- Low-fat biscotti
- Fat-free Fig Newtons
- Fat-free mini-meringues
- Low-fat popcorn
- Baked potato chips
- Baked tortilla chips
- Rice cakes, rice crackers, and baked rice snacks
- Fat-free hot chocolate
- Granola bars
- Pita Bread
- Eat one snack 3 to 4 hours before dinner. If you feel the need for an evening snack, enjoy one 2 to 3 hours after dinner.
- On any day the sun is out, try to get outside around noon for at least 10 minutes. A sunbox is another option, as long as you sit in front of it in the morning for at least 10-20 minutes (it mimics early morning light).
- Drink plenty of non-caloric beverages and avoid alcohol.
- Exercise -- even if you don't feel like doing so. Physical activity will give you more energy. Get out and walk. If the weather is too cold or inclement, take a brisk stroll around the mall. Check out the exercise DVD's at the library and follow the prompts at home. If you belong to a gym and you don't have the energy to get there after work, go over the weekend.
- Make sure you get the sleep your body craves. A 20-minute afternoon nap can be very refreshing (make sure it's over by 4pm so that it won't interfere with nighttime sleeping). Also, you may want to aim for an earlier bedtime in the winter months.
Boost Serotonin to switch off your appetite and turn on a good mood.
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