There's a phenomenon in the Midwest that only happens when the seasons change from cold to warm. The grass and cornfields are brown and the snow seems to be fading away (but occasionally shows up after a few warmer days just to taunt all of us infected with cabin fever). All of the sudden it's 45 degrees and we want to wear flip flops and short sleeves so badly that we abandon our coats and socks and don't look back. The cold stings, but we're SO over winter that we don't think twice. Frostbite matches our pedicure, so figure your life out, Mother Nature. And since you and I most likely have a job, or school, or family that keeps us from going on spring break for months at time (*dream life*) let me introduce you to our best kept secret, 5-HTP, and why it can help you round the corner to spring with grace, ease, and pep in your step!
It may sound radical, but I subscribe to the philosophy that I “own” my health and that I can feel and heal any way I set my mind to. I believe I can learn to channel the proper energy, rest, and nutrition, to prevent (or reverse) most diseases. If you're starting to think, "dang, this lady is cuckoo... but I'm intrigued" you might find this book (my recent hot beach read) interesting. From chronic pain, depression, anxiety, and fatigue, to more complex diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, irritable bowel and more, our brain is in control! Our mind is the most is the most powerful dictator of disease, in part due to it's ability to trigger chemicals, like serotonin. What's serotonin? ... oh, it's kind of a big deal:
Our bodies make serotonin from an amino acid called 5-HTP (or if we're getting all formal about it, 5-hydroxytryptophan). Not only does 5-HTP make serotonin, it also helps make melatonin, which you've heard about before because of its HUGE impact on SLEEP! That's right, 5-HTP is the building block for the things that help us:
So I could feel happy about feeling satisfied and nixing cravings, AND remember it while I drift off into a magically deep and restful sleep? YES. PLEASE.
5-HTP (and therefore serotonin and melatonin) can be depleted by both genetic and lifestyle factors, namely stress and low levels of B vitamins. Ever been on a prescription medication (even birth control)? There's a chance that medication zapped your B vitamin storage and you didn't get it back. So, no, you're not losing your mind, and no, your anxiety, depression, terrible sleep habits, and craving are not your fault. You could have been genetically *blessed* with low 5-HTP or B-vitamin levels. You could have had some bumps along the way (STRESS, diabetes, conditions like PCOS). Or maybe a medication knocked your metabolism a little of kilter. All of these can make it hard to maintain that happy, satisfied, well-rested *dream life* you've always wanted.
Now, I'll be the first to admit, lifestyle changes should be your #1 priority. Often times it’s the chaos of life that creates chemical imbalances. Constant worry can lower your immune response, increase your cortisol (which can lower your thyroid function), which increases your blood sugar, while disrupting your sleep, screwing up your digestion…. See how crazy and how connected our entire life is?! So…. What can you do?
If you really want to kick your symptoms to the curb… in addition to adding 5-HTP, we suggest Vitamin D (at least 5,000 IU/day), Omega 3’s, and higher quality multivitamin. A lot of times disease and symptoms manifest because we're starving our body of the very nutrition it needs in order to function (feeling "full" and being filled up on nutrition can be very different things). When we finally experience symptoms, it's often due to nutrient deficiencies that have been building over time. Either our body isn’t getting what it needs through our diet, or because we're burning more nutrients than usual (not resting, excessive exercise, skipping out on breakfast, eating processed high sugar, low nutrient content foods, etc).
While nothing trumps a healthy, balanced, and well-rounded lifestyle, there are some things we can do along the way to help supplement our needs and wants! Giving your body the building blocks to actually make "happy", "satisfied", and "well-rested" might be right up your alley!