Zoltan Rona, MD
Few of us are immune to creeping stress levels and the desire to consume sweets, fatty foods and boozy beverages. It’s no surprise that, every year during the holidays, the average person gains one pound of weight that they aren’t likely to ever lose. Low brain levels of the hormone serotonin are partially to blame for this overconsumption. Serotonin drops with stress, lack of sleep and low exposure to sunlight. Levels tend to be lowest during the fall and winter.
Meanwhile, the holiday scramble may ramp up the body’s stress hormone, cortisol, which in high levels can cause weight gain, especially in the belly. Serotonin levels can be boosted by the chemical compound 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan), available at health-food stores and drugstores, while high cortisol levels are lowered by Rhodiola, which can be taken in capsule form. Whey protein will also help curb appetite.
Finally, if you drink alcohol, protect your liver and other organs from damage by taking vitamin B complex, N-acetylcysteine, milk thistle and curcumin, all available in pill form from most health-food stores and some pharmacies.
Dr. Zoltan Rona (@drzoltanrona) practises complementary medicine in Toronto, edits The Encyclopedia of Natural Healing and is the author of the bestseller Return to the Joy of Health.