Is Your Diet Too Low In Fats?

Healthful omega-3 fats are found in such foods as fatty fish, flaxseed oil, walnuts and walnut oil, and leafy green vegetables. Other top sources of fats include raw coconut oil, avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds. With nuts and seeds, raw is better than roasted.[wlm_private 'PRO-Platinum|PRO-Monthly|PRO-Gratis|PRO-Seasonal|Platinum-trial|Monthly-trial|PRO-Military|30-Days-of-PRO|90 Day PRO|Stages-Instructor|Schwinn-Instructor|Instructor-Bonus|28 Day Challenge']

Higher intake of omega-3 fats may be associated with decreased incidence of depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorders. A diet lacking omega-3s may result in cognitive or behavioral problems, or such conditions as dementia, schizophrenia and more.

High triglycerides (blood fats) have been shown to be associated with depression, aggression and hostility. Omega-3 fatty acids may play a role in preventing high triglyceride levels.

As an additional benefit, fats can increase satiety. When fats (or proteins) first enter the small intestine, they trigger the release of a hormone known as CCK (cholecystokinin), which produces satiety, the feeling that we”™ve had enough food. Interestingly, CCK cuts down our carb consumption and carb cravings specifically. A diet too low in fats can thus result in cravings and overeating.

For all of these reasons, it”™s good to eat some healthful fats with your meals.

Do You Often Eat the Wrong Carbs?

Lets start with leafy green vegetables. Do you eat enough of them? Enough would be 3 to 5 cups per day, every day. But how do vegetables affect your mood?

Leafy vegetables contain folate. A diet that”™s deficient in folate can result in low serotonin production, which in turn can cause possible depression. Build big salads from a variety of “serious” greens (kale, spinach, arugula, chard and more). Not iceberg lettuce! Eat these serious salads every day. (And other vegetables, too.)

On the other hand, a diet too high in the wrong carbs — meaning starchy or sweet carbs — will trigger high levels of insulin. Some people, called carbohydrate sensitive, release extra insulin when they eat these types of carbs. That can actually change the neurochemical balance of the brain.

To give just one example, a high-carb diet can make you insulin resistant. This is not always recognized. We typically hear that insulin resistance is a result of overweight — but it can also be caused by diet.

Insulin action is necessary for the production of serotonin. So insulin resistance could cut down on serotonin production, leading to depression or other dysphoric (rotten) moods.

When you eat carbohydrates, emphasize vegetables, lentils, beans, rice, or root vegetables — such as yams, turnips or parsnips. These would be more desirable than always turning to pastas and breads, which may trigger more insulin. Research has shown that, in general, wheat tends to trigger higher levels of insulin resistance than other starchy carbs.

And always keep your intake of sugar to a minimum — or eliminate it altogether.

Do You Drink Alcohol Regularly or Frequently?

Regular use of alcohol may either cause, or exaggerate, low brain levels of serotonin. Alcohol can do that in a couple of ways. One is by causing malabsorption of folate. Another is by actively destroying vitamin B6.

As explained above, folate and B6 are both necessary for serotonin production. Also stated above, B6 is necessary for production of norepinephrine and dopamine, as well.

So drinking alcohol frequently can result in depression and other mood disorders, resulting from low levels of these 3 important brain chemicals.

In addition, alcohol use can cause reactive hypoglycemia, a condition of low blood glucose following the consumption of alcohol. Reactive hypoglycemia results from the high insulin levels triggered by alcohol. High insulin may then cause glucose to drop — quickly and quite low.

Reactive hypoglycemia is associated with various mood-state disorders, such as depression, irritability, outbursts, or temper tantrums. If you want to keep your moods even, whenever you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.

Finally, low serotonin is often associated with cravings, especially for carbohydrate foods. To help keep serotonin levels adequate, limit alcohol consumption. Drink less often or have fewer drinks when you do drink.

There”™s much more we could say about bad moods and foods. For example, bad moods can bring on cravings, typically for carbohydrates — and not the good kind. PMS or stress can also bring on cravings. But what causes cravings is a topic for another post.

Sticking with the current topic, if your diet tends to be high in white flour or sugar, or if it tends to be low in protein, good fats, complex starches, or veggies — or if you drink alcohol frequently — please try these general guidelines:

- Eat lean protein throughout the day. Lean protein would include fish, shrimp, eggs, chicken, or unsweetened protein powder.
- At lunchtime, avoid or limit starchy or sweet carbs.
- Eat plenty of vegetables, especially leafy greens, throughout the day.
- Whenever possible, select complex carbs — such as quinoa, lentils, turnips, squash — rather than white flour products.
- Include some healthful fats in each of your meals or snacks.
- Limit your alcohol consumption.

These general guidelines may help you improve your mood and increase your energy levels — whatever you may be doing throughout your day or week.[/wlm_private]

You may also find that your food cravings will diminish and — along with them — the urge to overeat!

Joan Kent

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