Think Thin…Think Serotonin
Serotonin, a brain chemical that is strongly linked to happiness and appetite, is believed to play a large role in weight gain. Findings published in the journal Cell Metabolism indicate that serotonin may also instruct the body to bypass fat and “may be the reason diets fail” according to Kaveh Asharif, a metabolism expert from the University of California.
The study also indicates that serotonin may help the body decide whether to burn off excess calories or store them as fat. Serotonin is a nerve signalling hormone found in most antidepressants, and is also released during exercise. According to Asharif, an increased level of serotonin has long been known to result in a reduction of fat.
The study manipulated the serotonin level of roundworms who share about 50 per cent genetic similarity to humans. The research concluded that serotonin levels affected the worm’s appetite, but it also affected fat accumulation. If the worms detected a food shortage their metabolisms made a shift towards fat storage.
Perhaps explaining why in some instances people who eat a healthy diet and participate in regular physical exercise, may be of a different weight than others who lead a similar lifestyle. However, there are natural ways to increase the level of serotonin in your body.
Whether through exercise or protein rich foods (both of which are very good for you) serotonin levels can be altered naturally. In fact, exercise is becoming more commonly prescribed as a treatment for depression. This could also explain why many people who suffer from depression are also overweight or obese; although it is hard to say for certain which condition precedes the other.