Can The Food You Eat Affect Your Mood?
What are neurotransmitters?
Neurotransmitters are complex chemical messengers that coordinate clear communications between neurons in your brain cells and the rest of your body. These back and forth transmissions can influence nearly every cell, tissue and biological system in your body.
Your brain has billions of nerve cells which make trillions of connections with each other. Each nerve cell generates electrical signals and chemical messengers that coordinate the transmission of signals from one nerve cell to the next.
Everything you do, your awareness, movements, thoughts, emotions and feelings are the result of your nerve cells talking with one another. However, what happens when your neurotransmitters aren’t communicating properly and is there anything you can do?
So today, ask yourself this:
“Are my neurotransmitters working properly?”
Neurotransmitters are functionally integrated into many of your body’s systems, therefore neurotransmitter imbalances can cause widespread health problems, including:
- Behavior disturbances
- Hormonal imbalances
- Mood disorders
- Brain fog
- Obesity & metabolic disturbance
What are some of the causes for neurotransmitter imbalance?
Poor diet and digestion: Neurotransmitters are made in the body from proteins. Also required are certain vitamins and minerals called cofactors. Adequate levels of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fatty acids are crucial for the production and regulation of neurotransmitters.
If your nutrition is poor and you do not take in enough protein, vitamins or minerals to build the neurotransmitters, a neurotransmitter imbalance can develop.
Improper metabolism and digestion issues can also impair absorption and breakdown of your food which affects the availability of required building blocks. The gut-brain axis is a massive factor in mental health. Disruption of the gut microbiome such as dysbiosis and inflammation affects physical and chemical connections as neurotransmitters and other chemicals are produced in the gut.
Stress: Prolonged or chronic stress can profoundly deplete neurotransmitter balance both directly and indirectly. Chronic stress also reduces the level of serotonin in the brain.
Toxins: Toxic substances such as heavy metals, pesticides, drug use and some prescription drugs can cause permanent damage to the nerves and receptors that make neurotransmitters.
Candida or bacterial overgrowth: The overgrowth of candida or other pathogenic bacteria can alter and disrupt the functioning of neurotransmitters.
Drugs and medication: Certain drugs and substances such as caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, antidepressants and some cholesterol lowering medications deplete neurotransmitter levels leading to neurotransmitter imbalances.
Genetics: Some individuals are born without certain enzymes that are needed to synthesis neurotransmitters which results in deficiencies or disruption of neurotransmitters.
Proteins, minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates, and fats are the essential nutrients that make up your body. To form these neurotransmitters, particular amino acids act as precursors using vitamins and minerals as co-factors and enzymes to make the final product.
Receptors within the brain are comprised of 80% omega-3 fatty acids. With inadequate omega-3 fatty acids, receptors are unable to function optimally.
In short, your brain needs the proper nutrients every day in order to manufacture proper levels of the neurotransmitters that regulate your mood!
Some of your major neurotransmitters are Serotonin, Melatonin, Dopamine and GABA.
|Function||Mood, happy, regulates pain, controls appetite/eating, brain activity|
|Deficiency signs||Depression – worse in winter, anxiety, OCD, low pain tolerance, carbohydrate craving, constipation, insomnia and poor dream recall|
|Nutritional requirements||Vitamin B6, iron, magnesium, tryptophan, zinc, folate and vitamin C|
|Function||Regulate circadian rhythm (sleep/wake), promotes staying asleep|
|Deficiency signs||Insomnia, difficulty staying asleep, headaches|
|Nutritional requirements||Vitamin B6, iron, magnesium, tryptophan, zinc, folate, vitamin c, methyl groups and tart cherry juice|
|Function||Motivation, mood (emotional status), memory, cognitive arousal, movement, feeling of pleasure|
|Deficiency signs||Lack of motivation, restless legs, addictive tendencies, low libido, boring dreams and mental exhaustion|
|Nutritional requirements||Vitamin B6, magnesium, tyrosine, zinc, iron, phenylalanine|
|Function||Inhibitory neurotransmitter, going to sleep, calming|
|Deficiency signs||Anxiety, panic attacks, reflux, nervousness, alcohol craving and insomnia|
|Nutritional requirements||Vitamin B6, zinc, glutamine, taurine and magnesium|
Eat these foods to boost your moods
Vitamin B6: Avocado, bananas, carrot, chicken, egg yolk, legumes, lentils, mackerel, offal, salmon, sunflower seeds, pistachio nuts.
Zinc: Beef, egg yolks, ginger, herrings, liver, lamb, oysters, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, sea food, chickpeas, mushrooms
Tryptophan: Bananas, beef, beans, dairy products, fish, legumes, lentils, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, soybeans, oats
Tyrosine: Almonds, avocado, banana, beans, dairy products, beef, chicken, eggs, fish, pumpkin seeds, soy beans, wild game
Phenylalanine: Almonds, avocado, banana, brown rice, cottage cheese, yogurt, eggs, fish, herrings, lentils, meat, nuts, pistachios, soybeans
Magnesium: Almonds, cashews, cocoa, cod, eggs, figs, kelp, leafy greens, legumes, lima beans, parsnips, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, Brazil nuts, quinoa, avocado
Vitamin C: Aloe Vera juice, blackcurrant, broccoli, kale, Brussel sprouts, citrus fruits, guava, parsley, pawpaw, peppers, pineapple, raw cabbage, berries, sweet potatoes, tomatoes
Iron: Almonds, apricots, avocado, clams, liver, kidney, oysters, parsley, pine nuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, poultry, red wine, legumes
Folate: Beans, eggs, green leafy vegetables, lentils, liver, organ meats, sprouts, asparagus, avocado, broccoli
Glutamine: Beans, cottage cheese, dairy products, legumes, most protein sources, rolled oats, beetroot
Taurine: Present in animal protein (organ meats, brain offal, eggs, seafood), but not in vegetable protein
Omega-3: Salmon, cod liver oil, algae omega oil, mustard seed oil, walnuts, flaxseed, chia seeds
What should you avoid?
- Avoid any food you are intolerant to. Food intolerances can cause inflammation in your gastrointestinal tract, reducing your ability to absorb nutrients and compromising the gut barrier, which can have consequences on your mental health.
- Avoid refined carbohydrates such as sugars, syrups, refined flours such as white bread and white flour, white rice and fruit juice
- Avoid margarine and trans fats
- Avoid cakes, sweets, milk chocolates, sweet biscuits, ice-cream, jam, jelly and sjort drinks
- Avoid pre-prepared, packages and processed foods as many contain salt, preservatives, trans fats, sugar and enhancers
- Avoid stimulants such as caffeine
- Avoid packaged sauces and dressings
- Avoid processed meats such as ham, salami, hot dogs, sausages and bacon.
- Avoid alcohol and artificial sweeteners, alcohol can feel as though it calms you down, it places a significant amount of stress on your body and interferes with the normal cycle of sleep and neurotransmitters.