5-HTP: The Happiness Molecule for Weight Control – Invite Health Podcast, Episode 91
Invite Health Podcast, Episode hosted by Jerry Hickey. Ph
Serotonin is known as the happiness molecule and it also makes you feel full when you are eating. A supplement called 5-HTP has been shown to raise the level of serotonin in your brain, which makes you feel good and full. If you feel happy and full, it is easier to stick with your weight loss plan.
What is 5-HTP?
5-HTP stands for 5-hydroxytryptophan. It comes from the seed of a plant that’s called Griffonia simplicifolia and it grows in western Africa. 5-HTP easily enters your brain and is quickly converted into serotonin. Serotonin is a very important neurotransmitter and has multiple benefits for your brain. Neurotransmitters – and we know of about 100 of them in the human brain – transmit messages throughout the brain. Serotonin transmits happiness and helps you fend off depression, anxiety and symptoms of stress. But in the brain, serotonin also helps you feel full.
In many of us, our appetite control has abandoned us. This is not surprising, considering our American appetite for sugar. The average American consumes about 152 pounds of sugar each year! This means many are consuming about three cups of sugar per day. Besides sugar triggering specialized taste buds on your tongue that make you want to eat more sugary foods, sugar sends messages from your gut to your brain that also want you to eat more sugar. This is how sugar is found to be addictive.
5-HTP, if you take it as a supplement, easily enters your brain and is the precursor to serotonin. In other words, 5-HTP is converted into serotonin. The right amount of serotonin in your brain makes you feel satisfied with the amount of food you’ve eaten. This helps you to not overeat. The problem is that the effect of 5-HTP on serotonin is short lived. Taking a time-release version stretches out the benefit, can help reduce your sugar cravings and in-between snacking, as well. With 5-HTP the effects are nice and subtle; you get a more acceptable rate of weight loss due to the improved levels of satiation you feel overtime.
Scientific Evidence for Weight Control
Very recent research shows that food is far more fattening when you consume it while you are stressed out. Other research shows that stress leads to poor control of your appetite and more fattening food choices. So blocking the symptoms of stress also helps with weight control. Back in the 1990s, the journal Alternative Medicine Review was already publishing data on 5-HTP, how it is easily converted into serotonin, how it controlled appetite, improved their mood, helped them handle anxiety, and conquer stress.
A study published in the International Journal of Obesity from researchers from the University of Pavia in Italy, tested the effects of naturally derived 5-HTP in overweight women over a two month period. This was a state-of-the-art human clinical study – placebo-controlled and randomized. Over the eight week period, the women on 5-HTP experienced a significantly greater increase in their feelings of satiation, or feeling full. In between their meals, they were not hungry and their appetite was curbed. They lost weight and it was fat weight. Three years later, the study results were duplicated by the same researchers. Published in the journal of Eating and Weight Disorders, the same researchers showed evidence that 5-HTP obtained from the seed of the plant controls appetite in overweight women. It was a randomized, double-blind trial over a four week period in conjunction with a weight loss diet this time. When you are placed on a calorie restricted diet, you may feel hungry all of the time. The 5-HTP lead to a good improvement on modified hunger scales.
In a very interesting study published by the University of Rome Sapienza in the journal of Neural Transmission focusing on overweight women ages 30-40. They were supplemented with 5-HTP or placebo for five week, with no restrictions placed on their eating habits or food choices. Results showed the women taking 5-HTP had a steady feeling of feeling satisfied with their meals and they were eating less overtime. They also lost weight. The interesting thing about this study was that is was a crossover study, meaning the women who were in the 5-HTP group were also in the placebo group and vice versa. Three years later these researchers duplicated their study and published their findings in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In the second study in obese men and women, there was significant weight loss in the 5-HTP supplemented group. This group also ate far less carbohydrates and did not experience food cravings.
What do you think about this supplement? Leave a comment below to join the discussion.
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