The old saying, â€œThe way to a manâ€™s heart is through his stomachâ€ implies there is a deep connection between emotions and eating. My guess is Â no one is really surprised by this idea. Both men and woman can identify ways in which their mood and appetite are intertwined and it is no mere quirk of manâ€™s personality that this is true.
Evolution tells us that we were born to eat. The earliest creatures in the worldâ€™s history were simple eating machines. Their bodies consisted of an entrance for food, a digestive tract and an exit for refuse. In order to become more efficient at getting food creatures developed a system to locate food and to move toward it. This system is known as a nervous system. The first creature to have this ability is the worm. Eventually the nervous system controlling the digestive system (enteric nervous system) began to sprout nodes which were early brains.Â As time went on and the brain became better developed it split off from the nervous system that controlled the digestive tract. Everything that followed in evolution, has served the purpose of developing Â increasingly efficient brains (central nervous system) for acquiring the fuel of life.
Another example of how deeply connected the gut and brain are, is to look at the development of the fetus. When a human fetus is still just a lump of jelly, the digestiveÂ and nervous systems are one structure. Soon this organ splits into two, one to become our gastrointestinal tract and the other the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system). Even though they become physically separated the chemical signals used by the gut and nervous system remain virtually identical. These chemicals comprise the groups known as neurotransmitters and hormones.
The same chemicals in the digestive tract that cause the intestines to twist and convulse (peristalsis), in the brain stimulate the emotion of anxiety. This explains why people get “butterflies” in the stomach or diarrhea when they are nervous.Â The brain chemicals involved in depression can cause constipation. Â The syndrome of irritable bowel disease (IBS) with its cycles of diarrhea and constipation is thought to be a reflection of an emotional rollercoaster. Â The chemical relationship between mood and appetite is even more complex but no less real. One of the most common side effect of mood altering drugs is increased appetite and weight gain. Just ask anyone who has been on an anti-depressant drug such as Prozac, Zoloft or Abilify. Â The chemical in marihuana that gets people high is famous for triggering the eating binge called “the munchies”.
Appetite suppressant drugs often have effects on mood and can be the source of major side effects. One new generation of appetite suppressants being developed, Acomplia, failed to be approved by the FDA because it caused severe depression and suicidal thinking.
In the next part of this series we will look at ways we can influence the brain to control our appetite.
One of our members notes loss of sex drive, strength, motivation. He is concerned that this could be due to low testosterone levels;
Here is his comment;
Iâ€™m 64 years old. Excellent health. 6 ft tall, 177 pounds, work out three times a weekâ€¦â€¦.finding my self depressed, losing strengthâ€¦..havenâ€™t had any sexual desire in last 3 yearsâ€¦â€¦..I use the VA for all my health issues. My doctor said he tested my levels and they were normal, but he wouldnâ€™t let see the results. Based on my info could someone tell me what my level should be at. Also, I noted someone said they got tested freeâ€¦how is that ?? My only option without paying is to use the VA, and Iâ€™ve already noted that experience. Thank You.
My first thought is to find out what the actual testosterone level is, as well as free testosterone. A doctor that refuses to share a patients lab results with them has lost credibility. Many “normal” results are subject to interpretation but the doctor may not want to be bothered explaining the finer points of diagnosis. This applies to many medical conditions but is particularly common when diagnosing low thyroid or gonadal (testicular) function. Additional testing may be necessary to make the diagnosis. If any of the pituitary hormones, prolactin, LH or FSH are abnormal then testosterone levels could be in the “normal” range and yet the patient can be suffering from significant disease. Finally, it is still possible that symptoms like those you describe are not related to testosterone deficiency and a search for other medical explanations seems appropriate.
As far as getting free testing for medical conditions I am not able to provide a clue. Perhaps one of our members knows of a way and I would welcome their comments.
Best of luck.
Dr. Gary Pepper, Editor-in-Chief, Metabolism.com These comments are for informational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice or therapy.
A member of metabolism.com, Louise Infante, is a great enthusiast of the vegetarian life style. Louise submitted this blog to metabolism.com so we could help her get the word out. I found the article extremely informative and hope you do too. Thanks Louise for your effort.
Give me five minutes and Iâ€™ll give you 1 very good reason for being vegetarian.
While fish is the most important dietary way to obtain the long-chain omega-3s eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, which has been shown to be essential in supporting brain health, low intake of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid in vegetarians does not adversely affect mood, reported by a new study (Nutr J. 2010;9:26. DOI:10.1186/1475-2891-9-26).
A research team from Arizona State University conducted a cross-sectional study to compare the mood of vegetarians who never eat fish with the mood of healthy omnivorous adults.
An overall total of 138 healthy Seventh Day Adventist adults residing in Arizona and California (64 vegetarians and 79 non-vegetarians) were enrolled in the study and completed a health history questionnaire, food frequency questionnaire and 2 psychometric tests, the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale and also the Profile of Mood States..
Vegetarians had significantly lower mean intakes of eicosapentaenoic acid, docosahexaenoic acid and the omega-6 arachidonic acid; they had higher intakes of the omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid and the omega-6 linoleic acid.
“Seed oils are the richest sources of Î±-linolenic acid, notably those of rapeseed (canola), soybeans, walnuts, flaxseed (Linseed oil), clary sage seeds, perilla, chia, and hemp.”
However, the vegetarians also reported significantly less negative emotion than omnivores in both psychometric tests. Mean total psychometric scores were positively linked to the mean intakes of eicosapentaenoic acid, docosahexaenoic acid and arachidonic acid , and inversely related to alpha-linolenic acid and linolenic acid intake.
The study team noted there is also the possibility that vegetarians may make better dietary choices and could generally be healthier and happier.
If you want to give it a try, here is an example of vegetarian recipe based on Italian cuisine
Italian Spaghetti with Zucchini
Ingredients: * 17 oz. Spaghetti * 24 oz. Of thin sliced zucchini * 1 / 2 cup walnuts oil * A few basil leaves * 2 tablespoons of yeast flakes * Salt and pepper
Molly has seen the light as far as coping with mood and metabolism changes occurring when getting off cigarettes. Here is her story as posted to metabolism.com:
I smoked regularly (pack a day) for 13 yearsâ€“from 14 until 27. Then I became a social smoker, smoking occasionally, but not on a regular basis. Now, I havenâ€™t smoked at all for a few months and I am 30. After I quit smoking (at 27) I slowly became very depressed and put on 30 lbs. I wasnâ€™t exercising, but I wasnâ€™t eating more either. Changing the kinds of foods I ate is what helped me lose weight. When I cut out alcohol and switched to a high vegetable (lots of cruciferous veggies) and whole grains diet and started walking, 15 lbs came off quickly. I modeled my diet after one that would lower estrogen levelsâ€“high estrogen levels lead to excessive tummy fat and breast cancer. Also, I started taking St. Johnâ€™s Wort and I think it uplifted my mood. I think everyone who quits smoking should take St. Johnâ€™s Wort. Itâ€™s only side effect is slight sensitivity to the sun and it helps curb the depression quitting can cause. People who quit smoking need to be patient with themselves. Smoking does mess with the metabolism and the people who say calories in calories out are not fully understanding the issue. It might take time for your body to get used to its new way of operating without the constant dose of nicotine. I am proud of all of you who quit smoking. I am really proud of myself. I seriously thought I would never be able to quit. So, good luck with your weight loss, but a few pounds are worth not smoking! And after all of the abuse we gave our bodies, we should focus on loving and appreciating themâ€“even if they are a little chubbier than we would like, they are still beautiful!!!!
The mission of the The Thyroid Project is to encourage sharing of information and experience between the public and the medical community about the treatment of hypothyroidism (low thyroid function). For at least the past few decades there is a growing awareness of â€œsomething missingâ€ in the way suffers of hypothyroidism are treated for their disease.
Too many patients, as documented in an on-line study of 12,000 individuals conducted by the American Thyroid Association published in June 2018, (https://doi.org/10.1089/thy.2017.0681) , complain of persistent symptoms of hypothyroidism despite what their doctors believe is successful treatment with levothyroxine (brands include Synthroid, Unithroid, Tirosent, Levoxl). We believe something needs to be done to resolve this conflict between patients and their doctors.
By Gary M. Pepper, M.D. Ozempic, Rybelsus, Trulicity, Wegovy, Saxenda are the central players in the weight loss craze sweeping across the globe. Metabolisim.com has been monitoring this phenomenon from its beginnings in 2008 with its report “Lizard Spit Reduces Blood Sugar and Appetite”, regarding the first drug in this class, Byetta (exenatide). Caught In the middle of the current chaos are the medical experts who treat diabetes and have been prescribing these medications for more than a decade. Here is a brief commentary from one such board certified endocrinologist; “I started treating Type 2 diabetics with GLP-1 agonists more than 10 years ago. In some respects, these medications have revolutionized the treatment of diabetes by lowering blood sugar effectively and promoting weight loss at the same time, a unique combination of benefits. Not everyone benefits from these drugs to the same degree unfortunately, and I have seen lots of patients experience unacceptable side effects from them. Nothing though, has prepared me for what is happening now. Too often, I find myself confronting someone who expects me to prescribe one of these drugs just so they can lose weight. Sadly, one extreme example was someone who, despite battling a life threatening medical condition, was insistent on getting a prescription. At the same time my diabetic patients are scrambling to find a place to buy their medications if they can even afford it. It is disheartening, to say the least, and I dread the negative interactions with some of my patients I now face almost daily.”
Off- Label Use
The FDA is the U.S. government’s department tasked with evaluating and approving drugs for specific medical conditions. When a new medication is approved for treating a medical condition by the FDA the agency will, at the same time, set strict guidelines for exactly which patients may use the newly approved drug. When a medication is used “off-label” it means that these limitations are being overridden by the provider for a potential benefit which outweighs the drugs risks. It is a general misconception that off-label means illegal; it does not. This practice has been going on for ages and more than 20% of prescriptions in the United States are prescribed off-label. A common example is the use of beta-blockers (approved for heart problems) for the treatment of performance anxiety.
GLP-1 agonist drugs, as discussed recently by metabolism.com. were originally approved for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes in adults. In the past few years most of these same medications have gained unprecedented popularity for their “off-label” weight loss benefit. Of the 5 GLP-1 agents presently in U.S. pharmacies only Wegovy (semaglutide) and Saxenda (liraglutide) are FDA approved for treating obesity. Of these two, Wegovy is the newer and had been much more popular that its sister drug Saxenda, probably due to being dosed only once weekly compared to daily for Saxenda and less likely to cause side effects. Due to Wegovy’s soaring popularity, its manufacturer, Novo Nordisk, increased the price of Wegovy two times since its initial release.
by Gary M. Pepper, M.D. and Sam Jeans, MSc The global anti-obesity drug market, in 2021was valued at over $2 billion. Within one year this figure had skyrocketed to $8 billion and is expected to climb to nearly $ 20 billion by 2027. This astounding growth is a reflection of soaring obesity rates, and the arrival of a new class of weight loss medication fueling a craze both in the USA and across the world.
The FDA and global health regulators, until very recently, had maintained a very tight ship when it comes to treating obesity with medication, placing the emphasis on diet and exercise rather than weight loss drugs. Since the 80s, anti-obesity drugs continued to be controversial, and a more stringent FDA implemented ongoing safety trials along with other precautions. There is some speculation that a shift in attitude toward approval of weight loss medication by the FDA , is underway
Weight loss drug controversies are far from over and, in fact, may soon rival the amphetamine crisis of the 70’s. For that reason, metabolism.com has felt it important to provide our guide to weight loss drug issues, past and present.
Anti-Obesity Drugs Timeline
Prescription drugs for lifestyle diseases such as obesity were marketed heavily throughout the 1950s to the 1970s. Amphetamines entered the public domain after the Second World War where they were used extensively in the military.
In the 50s, walk-in clinics prescribed diet pills with other medications almost at random, with or without genuine concern for one’s weight. These brightly colored pills became known as “rainbow pills”.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the so-called “rainbow pill diet” of pills was finally coming to an end as the FDA began to systematically ban many of the drugs involved. A high-profile expose by investigative journalist Susanna Mcbee, published in Life magazine, brought attention to this new modern public health crisis.
The rainbow pill diet combined amphetamines, laxatives, thyroid hormones, and even diuretics to produce extreme weight loss, combined with benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and steroids to reduce side effects, and antidepressants to suppress medication-induced insomnia and anxiety.
In 1968, rainbow pills were linked to over 60 deaths, with numerous accounts of their devastating impact surfacing in the news and media. Within just two months, 48 million pills were seized and destroyed. Nevertheless, amphetamine-based diet pills remained extremely popular throughout the 1970s. In 1978, some 3.3 million prescriptions for amphetamines were written each year, with some 50 million pills a year ending up in the black market.
In 1979, the FDA banned amphetamines as a weight loss aid, but that is hardly the end of the USA’s love affair with obesity medication.
Here’s a brief timeline of recent anti-obesity drugs:
Lack of energy and inability to lose weight are constant challenges for many people and are every day complaints encountered in the doctor’s office. Almost anyone can find some relief from these problems by accessing the healing properties of physical activity. Mentioning to a patient the need for ‘more exercise’ often causes rolling of the eyes, sighing, shrugging, snorting or worse yet, the hundred-yard stare. We all know exercise is important but who has the energy for that? It seems like a vicious cycle. Surprisingly, when done correctly, exercise can improve energy with the additional advantage of promoting weight loss and restoring tone and stamina. It is helpful to remember that the human body was designed for a lot more physical activity and a lot less food than we are privileged to experience in present day life. It therefore takes will power and knowledge to maintain the environment required for optimal health. Here are eight steps to get in the swing of regular exercise. Some suggestions may surprise you.