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stress treatment psychologist for Rockland, Westchester, Bergen, Passaic, Orange County, Hudson Valley, Northern New Jersey
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293 Christian Herald Road
Suite A
Valley Cottage, NY 10989
(845) 353-2229

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  Health Risks & Excessive Weight Gain
A Balanced Approach
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Detoxification: The Bedrock Foundation
Out With The Bad, In With The Good
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UNDERSTANDING Appetite and Ways to Achieve Appetite Control 15

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Metabolic Neurotransmitter Dysregulation

Metabolic Neurotransmitter Dysregulation can result in “food addictions.” Neurotransmitters are brain chemicals that enable communication. Imbalances create symptoms. Research has discovered that obese individuals have fewer dopamine receptors in their brain. Dopamine is the brain chemical that stimulates feelings of satisfaction.

A considerable amount of scientific evidence suggests that serotonin, another brain chemical, plays a major role in influencing appetite and eating behavior. Specifically, when humans and animals are fed diets deficient in tryptophan, an amino acid, appetite is significantly increased. As a result, binge eating of carbohydrates occurs. Amino acids are the building blocks of neurotransmitters. Low levels of the amino acid tryptophan leads to low brain serotonin levels. The brain interprets this as a sign of starvation. The brain then stimulates the appetite control centers which results in carbohydrate cravings. When carbohydrate meals are consumed, increased tryptophan is delivered to the brain which in turn produces more serotonin. This process occurs if the necessary vitamin & mineral cofactors are present such as B3, B6, C and calcium. Appetite control is essential in maintaining optimal weight & depends upon sound nutrition.

Causes of Neurotransmitter Dysregulation

There are various causes of Neurotransmitter Dysregulation. Poor nutrition, mal-absorption, neurotoxicity, and increased metabolism or breakdown, often the result of toxicity (e.g., through water, food, medications, etc.) are the primary causes.

Poor nutrition leads to deficiency of amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids, all of which are necessary for optimal neurotransmitter regulation and appetite control. The body needs (1) vitamins & minerals, which serve as cofactors to keep chemical reactions working; (2) amino acids, which are the building blocks of neurotransmitters, proteins, and enzymes; (3) essential fatty acids, which are important in maintaining cellular integrity and neurotransmitter communication (all neurotransmitters are wrapped up in phospholipid vesicles made up primarily of essential fatty acids); and (4) calories, the fuel (energy) that runs the body. The body’s energy reserve equals body fat stores. But excess fat is a burden on the body.

Fats: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

Good fats are essential to our well-being. Examples of good fats are essential fatty acids (EFAs) (unsaturated fats) required in the diet. Omega-3 & omega-6 are the major types. The primary omega-3 oil is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) found in flaxseeds, soybeans, pumpkin seeds & walnuts. Fish oils, such as cod, krill, salmon & mackerel, contain the other important omega-3 oils, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). Linoleic acid is the main omega-6 oil and is found in safflower, peanut, and sesame oils. The most therapeutic form of omega-6 oil is gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) found in borage, evening primrose and black currant oils.

Trans fats are man-made in a process called hydrogenation where vegetable oils are treated, under pressure, with temperature up to 360 degrees Fahrenheit, with hydrogen in the presence of a catalyst (e.g., nickel). This process converts the liquid oil into a substance that resembles solid animal fat. Product shelf life is improved, but human life is threatened.

Essential Fatty Acids Versus Trans Fats

Essential Fatty Acids are involved in various functions including maintaining cellular integrity and brain function. Cells have a phospholipid membrane made up of fatty acids. The brain is approximately 60% fat or lipid. In order to sustain optimal cognitive and physiological functioning, adequate amounts of essential fatty acids need to be included in the diet.

Unfortunately, an excessive amount of fat intake is in the form of trans fats. Trans fats are man-made in a process called hydrogenation. This process treats vegetable oils with hydrogen , under pressure and high temperatures, in the presence of a catalyst. The liquid oil is thus converted into a substance that resembles solid animal fat. The material is dark and smelly like grease. It has to be bleached and deodorized to become a white tasteless synthetic “fat” that is more like a plastic than it is fat. The food industry favors hydrogenation rather than using healthy fats because of increased shelf life. However, trans fats are unhealthy and unfit for human consumption. The use of trans fats in processed foods is a major contributor to health issues.

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