I want to continue our discussion on eating chocolate while trying to treat a yeast infection. We said that we were going to look first at the actual physical effects of chocolate – what the chemicals in it cause your body to do.
I have been talking about “chocolate” but actually what I want to talk about is cocoa products.
Chocolate is often full of sugar, fat, dairy products etc that all bring their own health effects with them. Obviously any chocolate that contains added sweeteners is unsuitable for the anti yeast diet. But what about the cocoa itself?
Cocoa has strong effects upon the body, and it is disputed as to whether or not the total effect is positive or negative. I would say that that depends upon where your health is. For example it can release serotonin which is a mood altering drug that can make you feel ‘happier’ – who doesn’t want to be happier? But on the other side, if you are feeling unhappy then turning to a dietary stimulant for serotonin might be bad for you in other ways. You might be better not to mask the problem with cocoa, but to fix it. Also, eating foods that make you feel better is well on the way down the slippery slope of comfort food eating which if done to excess can lead to issues with weight and poor health.
Summary of serotonin – fine if you enjoy it as a side benefit to an occasional piece of chocolate – not fine if you are hiding from real issues that need fixing, and over consuming calories in the process.
Cocoa is also a stimulant. It contains theobromine, an alkaloid that has a similar but lesser effect on the body to caffeine. This effect is to stimulate the adrenals to release adrenaline and cause the liver to put more sugar into the blood stream – thus causing the energy high associated with caffeine, but also taking its toll on the body in a number of ways – the body does not like high blood sugar levels so chemicals will be released to lower blood sugar, sometimes taking it down too far, sometimes stressing the pancreas which is used in blood sugar regulation. This in turn can lead to type 2 diabetes.
Cocoa is said to lower blood pressure, research has shown it to contain anti oxidants. However, I would suggest that this type of research, similar to that on red wine, is really to justify our eating foods that we like, it does not mean we need to eat chocolate (or red wine) as plenty of other plant products in our diets can do the same things for us, generally better and with fewer side effects.