Looking After Your Neurotransmitters
Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers used by the brain
to communicate with itself and other organ systems in the body. While these
essential biological ingredients operate automatically and are largely ignored,
they are responsible for regulating almost every function of human life. Your
neurotransmitters affect all elements of cognitive and physical performance,
meaning they have a huge influence on mental ability, emotional state, sleep
patterns, weight regulation, and pain perception among other things.
While we have many different neurotransmitters, the most
important ones include serotonin, dopamine, GABA, norepinephrine, and histamine
among others. All neurotransmitters fall under one of two different types, with
inhibitory neurotransmitters calming the brain and excitatory neurotransmitters
stimulating the brain. Serotonin, GABA , and endorphins fall under the
inhibitory category; norepinephrine, epinephrine, and histamine are excitatory;
and dopamine and acetylcholine can be either inhibitory or excitatory.
deficiency or imbalance can cause a wide range of symptoms, including
depression, addiction, obesity, chronic pain, insomnia, autism, mood swings and
many more. In fact, the sheer number of symptoms that can arise when your
levels are out of whack make these conditions difficult to recognise and
diagnose - with people often suffering symptoms for years before treating them.
Neurotransmitter testing is often needed to help identify specific biochemical
imbalances, with complex health conditions that involve your brain requiring an
integrated approach that view nervous, endocrine, and immune functions as an
If you're tested and specific imbalances are recognised,
it's normally possible to fix or regulate them through a combination of
nutrition and lifestyle changes.
Proteins, minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates, and fats are the essential
nutrients that regulate your body, with your brain needing these nutrients
every day to manufacture proper levels of the neurotransmitters that stabilise
your mood. It's amazing how many unwanted symptoms can be treated or managed
through nutrition alone, with other factors that influence neurotransmitter
levels including genetics, stress, exercise, and sleep.
There are lots of steps you can take to look after the
production and function of your neurotransmitters. If you have a specific
imbalance, it's generally important to avoid smoking, alcohol, and drugs -
either indefinitely or while you recover. Depending on your levels and
symptoms, it may also be necessary to avoid caffeine, chocolate, gluten, and
junk food. Eating lots of animal protein is generally advised for people with
neurotransmitter problems, along with moderate amounts of fat and specific
Amino acid therapy may be required for people suffering from
extensive neurotransmitter depletion, including things like GABA, tryptophan,
tyrosine, glutamine, DPA, DLPA, and 5-HTP. Because neurotransmitters work in
conjunction with hormones and adrenal glands, it's also helpful to evaluate
these levels before starting a treatment plan. If you're concerned about your
neurotransmitter levels or want to get them checked out, general practitioners
are able to evaluate levels with a simple urine test. While neurotransmitter
depletion can have a genetic component, most conditions benefit greatly by
making simple adjustments to nutrition and lifestyle.
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