Caffeine, Cocaine and The Blood Brain Barrier… How Doctors Turn Depression Into Dollar $igns!

Tryptophan is an amino acid found in most high protein meat products we eat. This one amino acid is the essential starting point for the serotonin pathway. Do you ever feel low energy, overly irritable or negative about your life or tend to sleep an insane amount of the day or not enough? Well, if you’ve answered yes, maybe it’s time to evaluate what you are doing to inhibit the production of serotonin and how to produce more.

Having a neurochemical deficiency in serotonin plays a HUGE role in depression and anxiety. In fact, those that eat more foods that contain Tryptophan like turkey, beef and cheese, tend to feel content, relaxed and experience more positive emotions while those that do not, tend to suffer from negative introspective self-talk (beating up on yourself), extremely low energy, and uncomfortability with being in public or social situations. In fact, some studies show that low serotonin levels are not only attributed to causing depression and anxiety, but also, eating disorders like bulimia and other body dysmorphic disorders. Needless to say, having a healthy serotonin pathway is a major key to having a happy mood and fulfilled life, but what is blocking or depleting serotonin levels in our bodies?

Stimulants in some of our diets like caffeine, cocaine, alcohol, or the artificial  sweetener aspartame can inhibit the breaking down of tryptophan into 5-HTP (5 Hydroxy Tryptophan) which converts into serotonin. Serotonin production can even be disrupted when we aren’t getting enough exercise or sunlight.

Tryptophan has been disappearing from our food supply for the last 100 years. And that is a scary fact, because there are very little foods that contain 5-HTP or serotonin by themselves. No wonder depression rates have been skyrocketing since the 1990’s! Tryptophan is one of the few amino acids allowed through the blood-brain barrier in order to eventually produce serotonin. For this process, it would take about 3- 5 hours to completely break down from tryptophan and convert into serotonin. However, there is another way to get results in about 15-30 minutes by taking 5-HTP directly as a dietary supplement. What has worked for me personally, is taking tryptophan as a dietary supplement in the morning and before going to sleep so that I have a fresh supply of serotonin when I wake up and in the afternoon when it usually starts depleting.

Most doctors will happily supply you with prozac and other mood enhancing drugs without teaching the importance of the serotonin pathway. Side effects of prozac include:

  • cold symptoms such as stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat;
  • drowsinessdizziness, feeling nervous;
  • mild nausea, upset stomach, constipation;
  • increased appetite, weight changes;
  • sleep problems (insomnia);
  • decreased sex driveimpotence, or difficulty having an orgasm; or.
  • dry mouth.

Where I find some medications to be useful, I would rather be educated than medicated. Serotonin production through tryptophan creates very few to no side effects in the body and has been proven to enhance moods since the Stone Age. However, if you take 5-HTP and don’t experience mood enhancement, you should look into just taking tryptophan or other supplements that produce serotonin, because your body might not be genetically preconditioned to breaking this specific dietary supplement down. In any case, I hope this column has provided you with information that will enhance your wellbeing and create for you a better mood and life.

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Written By Nick Stonestreet



The A is for ANTI-Anxiety

Almonds are some of the most underrated nutrient foods we see and consume constantly. An article from CalmClinic.com states: “They contain zinc, a key nutrient for maintaining a balanced mood – and have both iron and healthy fats. Healthy fats are an important part of a balanced diet, and low iron levels have been known to cause brain fatigue, which can contribute to both anxiety and a lack of energy.” Where curing brain fatigue and giving a balanced mood is a nice start, there is more working underneath the surface when an almond breaks down in the body. So what is the secret and how is it useful?

Well, contrary to popular belief, almonds are not a full protein chain. Meaning, they don’t contain enough of the 9 essential amino acids to be classified as such. But studies do show that they contain enough manganese and vitamin E to help relieve anxiety and mild depression. Manganese is a mineral that effects your metabolism as a co-enzyme to break down essential B and C vitamins. Manganese also has other special roles like developing healthy bones, blood-sugar regulation, kick-starting body metabolism, protection against diseases and anti-inflammation. Almonds also contain Tyrosine, which is an amino acid that breaks down into dopamine and then norepinephrine to satisfy and subtly influence your reward pathway and helps your brain perceive life as being more enjoyable! Really, all of these benefits play a key role in brain health, but the most vital for depression and anxiety is the management of tyrosine and cortisol levels and the aid of breaking down B complex vitamins which are natural mood stabilizers.

Most everyone is aware of a caffeine crash. This happens due to the excessive amounts of Tyrosine being taken in from caffeine molecules and broken down, maximizing your dopamine stimulation for a short period of time. But what goes up, must come down. Meaning if this situation were a wave graph, the trough of the wave would be very similar to the amount that the crest has exceeded equilibrium. Using almonds before drinking coffee can help smooth the curves of this effect so that it doesn’t become an uncomfortable process. This same effect can happen for anxiety and depression. Like me, if you have ever woken up in the middle of the night or morning feeling anxious, fearful and uncertain of what your day holds, this may be a chemical imbalance and can be cured by leaving almonds on your bedside table and taking 8-12 of them as needed.

Some people that I know will carry a bag of almonds around with them for this very reason! Where it is a good idea, most of the time I don’t feel like carrying a bag of almonds around, but I do see the benefit in eating them when I wake up. So try this when you wake up or when feeling anxious throughout the day and notice the difference it makes! Take it from me, it is always better to start the day with a healthy metabolism and a clear head.



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Written by Nick Stonestreet


The Benefit of Knowing Your Ancestors

Each individual person has a heritage that dates back to when man was at it’s early stages in this world, around 160,000 years ago. The way that we ate then and the nutritional value of the foods were severely different from what is on our plate today. Nutritional value aside, can our bodies gain nutrients from the things we eat now? Or is it doing more harm to us than good? Scientists have announced that the world’s oldest grain silos are in Dhra, in what we now to be the country of Jordan. These sites date back 11,000 years ago and contains remnants of barley and an early type of wheat. However, the ancient Celtic Britons found it controversial to sow grain and instead stated to “live on milk and flesh.”

In any case it is said to take seven generations to adapt enough to a local environment to reap the full nutritional benefit of the environmental surroundings. So why is this important to know? Well, with my ancestors dominantly being from the Scottish, Irish and British Islands, my genetics may insist that an antibiotic-free, grass fed red meat-based protein diet is more sustainable for my body than eating wheat and grain. This comes from genetic preconditioning. Over time, my ancestors have passed down genetic information telling me that my body has more of a chance to absorb the nutrients it already understands at a genetic level.

So how does this information benefit you? Well, if your ancestors are from Western Asia or Eastern Africa, your genetics are likely to be preconditioned to absorbing nutrition from grains and wheat. However, like me, if not taking your diet into careful consideration when eating grain with the absence of your own genetic understanding, problems like Thyroid issues, Leaky Gut Syndrome, or Celiac disease can start to run it’s course in the body. Mind you, food from the grocery store produce section is nothing like it was 100 years ago due to low soil nutrient levels and the ethics of most agricultural communities today, and don’t even get me started on what’s in a bag of Doritos! But the point is, if you take just a little bit of time and learn about your more recent ancestry, (meaning don’t go overboard finding your nomadic hunter/gatherer ancestors from 11,000 B.C.) you can have a good grasp on what your body can really absorb, and what is ineffective for the optimal sustainability of your body.

A great source for finding these would be services like 23 and Me (Click Below) and DNAFit genetics testing, or even a site like ancestry.com could help you find what you’re looking for. Even if you don’t use the information for health purposes, it is still amazing to go back in time and find out certain quirks you might still carry from the people that brought you here.

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Written by Nick Stonestreet