By Guest poster – Stephen Visio Ewen
The liner notes description; “Dopamine is the “reward” neurotransmitter that tells our brains “This feels good, I want more.” Yet too much dopamine leads to addiction. Serotonin is the “contentment” neurotransmitter that tells our brains “This feels good, I have enough.” Yet too little serotonin leads to depression.
The book is wrong about nutrition, but the brain chemistry sections are amazing. The presence of dopamine inhibits the presence of serotonin. The way that dopamine excites the reward pathway is a marketer’s dream. If I can convince you to chase reward you will buy more of my product, if you are content you won’t make a purchase. Our economy drives reward chasing which penalizes contentment.
I was involved in the addiction recovery movement in the 1980s. I attended some Overeaters Anonymous meetings and they found a lot of success by abstaining from sugar, like an alcoholic abstained from alcohol to recover. Even with the success of sugar avoidance the OA protocol was very hard to maintain. I always thought it was due to the fact that you cannot abstain from eating. After living a Zero Carb life for three years I can now see that the difficulty was in the dopamine release from any sugar/plant/carb ingested.
This raises an implication for new folks. When you stop the dopamine stimulation of eating plants and substitute the serotonin enhancing amino acids from fatty red meat you will suffer from an initial withdrawal. You will get biochemically depressed. Your dopamine will fall which will drive you to seek out dopamine. Your serotonin will have been inhibited for so long you will not have much in your system and that will provide more biochemical depression. This is why Zero Carb transition can be incredibly difficult for some people.
In this chemical environment every little ache or pain, inconvenience, impatience, irritation or ailment becomes magnified by your reward center’s pressing need for relief. “Look what you’ve done to us!?! Life sucks, where is my joy, this feels wrong, my peers are aghast, I am fat, fatter, fattest, etc….” (See – The 5 stages of grieving carbs)
Now, imagine being new to Zero Carb and in transition (first 3 – 6 months) and you do not eat enough? With falling dopamine and no serotonin to replace it, your depression and irritation will become a full blown psychotic break! It is well documented that starvation causes mental breakdown. Starvation during transition could be one of the worst periods of your life. You must go out of your way to make sure you eat enough.
Like much of the reading recommendations from Zero Carb Health you must read between the lines and overlay your own and the vets experience relative to the nutritional guidelines from the book. However, I got a lot of good therapy from reading it. When it comes to living a Zero Carb Carnivore life, it is best to remember the old adage, “Free your mind and the rest will follow.” ZC three years last month.
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