As I mentioned last week, I’ve gotten very behind on answering questions that visitors have sent into Ask Cynthia. So here is another set of questions and answers on a variety of topics like mineral balancing, diet suggestions for hypoglycemia and high LDL, ways to boost serotonin, Lyrica and depression, sugar addiction, and smoothies.
Q. Hello, I was doing a hair mineral balancing program since Feb 2013. For the first few months I noticed an improvement but for the past 2 months I have not been able to work or drive my car. I stopped the program once I realized that my practitioner was not helping me. My symptoms are like an overstimulated feeling. I’ve become hyper sensitive and what to me is complete insanity. I have started with a new naturopath who has started to clean my liver very gently and my symptoms have improved, but I’m still suffering with rapid heart beat after I eat, problems driving the car and am to scared to go back to work as I’m scared of going crazy. Your advice would be much appreciated to help get my nerves and brain function back to normal. This has ruined me.
~ Kind Regards, Julia
A. Hi Julia,
I’m sorry that this happened to you. Yes, many people don’t realize that balancing minerals can really be a fine art and it doesn’t take much to tip things too far in one direction. The one that you have to be most careful with is copper. There is a very fine line between what is optimal and what is too much. Too much or too little copper can both cause a wide array of physiological and psychiatric symptoms. I can’t say for sure, but your symptoms sound like a copper problem. You should take a look at the following page.
Also, this may have triggered dysfunction in your autonomic nervous system, so some time focused on trying to restore balance to the autonomic nervous system may be called for, which can read about on this page.
It would also be important to be sure one is avoiding anything stimulating like caffeine, sugar, chocolate, food additives, etc., and eating a proper diet.
I have heard this exact same story before on several occasions from people who embarked on the mineral balancing journey based on the hair analysis. It is crucial to work with someone who has a great deal of expertise.
Q. What diet do I need for high LDL? Kathy
A. Hi Kathy,
Well, high LDL is caused by sugar and carbohydrates, therefore, the diet that is going to lower LDL would be one that is low in sugar and carbs and consists primarily of animal protein, fat, and low-starch vegetables.
It’s also important to be aware that LDL is necessary for healing vessels that may be damaged. It is actually VLDL that is connected to cardiovascular disease and clogged arteries.
I encourage you to take a look at The Primal Blueprint to learn more about this issue.
Q. I’ve been reading the info on your site and have found a lot of great information to help me with my Fibromyalgia. I am currently studying to be a Holistic Health Practitioner myself and am working on getting off all my medications. The one I am having trouble with is the Lyrica, I get very depressed when I don’t take it, is this a withdrawal symptom for this drug? Are there any supplements I can take to help with withdrawing from this medication? (My doctor’s answer is to just keep taking it…aargh!) Judy
A. Hi Judy,
Lyrica disrupts neurotransmitters in the brain. Depression is one of the most common symptoms to develop when there is not proper neurotransmitter production and function. Anytime an artificial substance is used to stimulate neurotransmitters, the brain responds by stopping its own natural production or reduces responsiveness. Then the brain becomes dependent on the substance for the functions of the missing neurotransmitters. Therefore, when one stops taking the substance, which in this case is Lyrica; then there is depression, because the neurotransmitters are no longer present.
This situation is corrected by eliminating the substance that is impairing the neurotransmitters and then giving the brain the nutrients it needs to repair brain chemistry and replenish the missing neurotransmitters, with proper diet, lifestyle changes and nutritional supplements. You can learn more about the complete process in my book What Your Psychologist Hasn’t Told You About Anxiety & Depression.
One should never discontinue any medication without being under the care of a medical professional, so if your current doctor is not willing to assist you in this goal, then you need to find a different doctor. An ideal doctor that can assist with this issue would be someone who practices orthomolecular medicine or functional medicine.
Q. Will making soups in a high powered blender make them unhealthy and are smoothies in blenders nutritious? Paula
A. Hi Paula,
No, making soup in a high powered blender will not make them unhealthy, just be sure it is served with adequate animal protein and fat.
When it comes to smoothies made in a blender, it depends on what one is using to make them on whether they are nutritious or not. If they are too high in sugar and/or carbs, they will spike blood sugar and insulin, feed Candida and other microbes, and overstimulate neurotransmitters and the sympathetic nervous system, which will result in a wide variety of symptoms like depression, anxiety, cravings for sugar and carbs and more.
Therefore, it’s important to keep sugar/carb content low by using low-sugar fruit and use lots of fat and protein in whatever smoothie recipe you design.
Good sources of fat and protein in a smoothie could consist of coconut milk, nut butter, chopped nuts, avocado, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, egg, and almond milk. If one permits dairy, then yogurt could be used as well.
Whey protein is commonly used, however people with Candida, food and carb addiction, chemical sensitivity, depression, anxiety, adrenal fatigue, OCD, autism or any other mental health or neurological issue often have difficulty with whey because it increases glutamate (an excitatory neurotransmitter that is toxic in excess) too much. Therefore, I don’t recommend whey to the population I work with.
Also, I want to make it clear here that we are talking about using a blender, not a juicer. Juicing is a whole other ball game; it removes fiber and provides a concentrated source of sugar which spikes blood sugar and insulin, etc., so it can be counterproductive.
Additionally, it’s important that smoothies do not take the place of your meal on a daily basis. They are acceptable on an occasional basis as a meal replacement or, better yet, as a special treat with dinner on a hot summer’s day, but not something that should be eaten daily. Meals should really be eaten, not drank.
Q. Hi Cynthia, what supplements help to boost serotonin? Hugh
A. Hi Hugh,
Serotonin needs the following nutrients to be synthesized:
- folic acid
- B6 (pyridoxal-5-phosphate form)
- vitamin C
Chromium is needed at the serotonin receptor to make serotonin work.
B12 is also needed for many brain functions and in methylation, which also plays an important role in neurotransmitter production and function.
Then to ensure that serotonin will be converted to melatonin it also needs B5 in the pantethine form, SAM-e and magnesium.
Zinc is also vital for all neurotransmitters as it is needed in the gut to ensure amino acids are absorbed and in the growth and survival of neurons and assists in neuronal communication.
However, it’s vital to note that too much copper can inhibit the conversion, so one must be cautious with copper.
Additionally, it’s equally important to eliminate the things that deplete serotonin like sugar, grains, legumes, and other high starch food, alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, marijuana and any other mind altering drug, chocolate, as well as environmental toxins, chronic stress, too much exercise, inadequate sleep, insufficient levels of animal protein and fat in the diet.
Taking nutritional supplements to boost serotonin will do little good if one does not also eat the proper diet which can be found on this page, and eliminate the serotonin depleters.
It is best to avoid St. John’s Wort or any other herb for the purpose of boosting neurotransmitters, because these herbs work in the brain in the same manner as pharmaceutical drugs and actually cause more depletion, which means less serotonin. Then you become dependent on them, just like you do a pharmaceutical.
Q. I would like to find foods that are good for those coping with hypoglycemia. Steve
A. Hi Steve,
The best way to help hypoglycemia is to eat foods that keep blood sugar stable. The foods that keep blood sugar stable are primarily animal protein and fat with low-starch vegetables. The diet should be very low in carbohydrates. It should be void of caffeine, chocolate, sugar, alcohol, legumes, and grains. Meals should be eaten no more than five hours apart, but many need to eat five or six small meals throughout the day until metabolism begins to heal.
As is the case in all conditions, the diet that is the best solution for this issue is the Paleolithic diet, which can be found here.
Also, be sure to read my page on hypoglycemia for other factors that need to be addressed.
Hypoglycemia can be managed quite successfully by following the suggestions you’ll find on the aforementioned web pages.
Q. Hello Cynthia, I am 55 years old today and I have no doubt I have been addicted to sugar since I was a young child. Around 40 it caught up with me and I was diagnosed with bipolar 2 so have been suffering from the effects of psychiatric medicine on and off combined by the continued effects of sugar on my brain ever since. I have no support and everyone rolls their eyes when I mention the sugar. I so admire your story and just don’t feel I have that kind of strength at this point to follow through once and for all. I feel like it’s now or never and feel very scared. All aspects of my life are falling apart. I guess I am just wondering if it is too late? I don’t think I can do it on my own. Thank you for your work in this area. I really admire you and your commitment and you have done and continue to do in these areas. Sincerely, Tracy
A. Hi Tracy,
I’m sorry you have had to face so many challenges. Thank you for your kind words and you are welcome.
No, it is never too late. You have many years ahead of you and significant improvements can often be made by simply changing the way one eats and lives. The quality of the rest of your life can be improved. It is difficult at first, but once you get the ball rolling you’ll gain momentum.
Feeling afraid when dealing with all these issues and when one is about to make changes is normal and natural, but that doesn’t mean it has to stop you. Just start moving forward through the fear. Here is one of my favorite quotes coined by me,
“Courage is not defined as the lack of fear. Courage is doing it anyway, even though you are afraid. It’s the ability to take action in spite of fear, challenge, pain, and uncertainty.”
Since you’re on psychiatric medication, the first step would be to find a doctor who can help in this area. Someone who practices functional medicine or orthomolecular medicine would be the best choice.
If you haven’t read the following pages, please do so.
You can find everything that’s needed to overcome sugar addiction in my sugar addiction toolkit on the following page.
We often think that our challenges are too big for us to handle, but we can usually surprise ourselves by the strength that we find once we start taking steps in the right direction. Even if you don’t believe in yourself at first, you’ll begin to as your baby steps lead to little successes.
All the best in your journey.
Best Regards to You All,