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June 7, 2008

Dining Habits Only Half Of The Obesity Battle

Obesity is one of the major causes of medical complications in the United States. Many people believe that obese people just need to change their eating habits. However, new research shows that what you eat is only half of the battle.

It seems that healthy weight maintenance is always a head game. Research shows that serotonin levels in your nervous system effect eating and fat. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter created in your brain. It regulates what your body does with calories once you eat them. That means that the nervous system plays a major role in the energy processes of the body.

The study was conducted on worms but scientist say that the research applies to humans as well. This is very interesting because we know that there are varying levels of serotonin in people’s brains and nervous systems. That means that manipulating the amount of serotonin a person produces might be able to effect their weight.

I find this research fascinating because it continues to enlighten us on the power that serotonin has. We know that if you are lacking serotonin in your brain the body becomes very altered. Many depressed people have low levels of serotonin and some of them crave high carbohydrate foods. They in turn may process the food slower making them more prone to obesity. This is just my speculation, I am not a scientist, but it seems to make sense.

So, and this too is my English degree speculation jump, but others may find it thought provoking. What if the obesity epidemic has roots other than what we eat? What if we are dealing with a population where some people are obese because they consume too many calories, but others are obese because their nervous systems are producing less serotonin?

The diet that is consumed in the United States is lacking in Omega 3 Fatty Acids. We simply do not consume enough of the foods that are rich in Omega 3 or Omega 6 Fatty Acids. This is one reason why I started supplementing my diet with fish oil tablets. In the six years that I have taken fish oil supplements, I have been able to better maintain my weight and find that I can splurge, a little more often than in the past, and not gain weight from it. I also find that the only time I really crave fatty foods or refined sugars is when I go a couple of weeks without the fish oil.

Fish oil has been shown to be an interesting assistant in treating bi-polar disorder, a disorder that effect serotonin. Studies conducted in Harvard a few years ago showed that bi-polar patients who took fish oil along with their other medications saw some more improvements than those that just took their prescribed meds. Part of the challenge in treating bi-polar disorder is regulating serotonin levels. It appears that the fish oil helped with that.

Again, I am no scientist, but I can tell you, form my personal experience that my weight has been different over the past six years. Now my exercise habits have also improved and I also meditate and do yoga which both help with stress and anxiety, but the fish oil was introduced into my life at the same time that weight management became much easier.

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