Did you know that you can influence your moods by changing your diet? Eating the correct types of food can make us more positive, give us focus and energy, help us to concentrate and control sugar cravings. There are a number of neurotransmitters in our bodies (serotonin, dopamine, acetylcholine and norepinephrine) which are our brains chemical messengers and which are influenced by the foods that we eat.
Choosing foods that are rich in the correct compounds will trigger our neurotransmitters and feed our brain with positive feelings. Not eating the correct types of foods, and failing to trigger our neurotransmitters, can cause moodiness, depression and anxiety.
Lets have a look at each of these neurotransmitters and what types of food trigger them:
Serotonin is a natural antidepressant and is responsible for maintaining mood balance. It reduces cravings for carbohydrates like chips and cakes and regulates appetite and digestion, sleep, memory and sexual desire and function. Serotonin is believed to play a key role in the central nervous system, as well as in the general functioning of the body. The majority of the body's serotonin, between 80-90%, can be found in the gut. Only 10% is generated in the brain.
You can increase the levels of Serotonin in your body by eating foods rich in the amino acid tryptophan, which is found in poultry, avocados, whole grains, legumes and tofu.
Dopamine is a chemical in your brain that affects your emotions, movements and your sensations of pleasure and pain. A reduction in the anmount of dopamine in the body can result in schizophrenia, attention deficit disorders and the loss of cognitive reasoning in old age. Dopamine contributes to energy, passion and improved concentration.
Dopamine levels can be supported by foods rich in the amino acids tyrosine and phenylalanine, which can be found in dairy products, eggs, rice and fish.
Acetylcholine plays a critical part in the formation of memories, verbal and logical reasoning, and the ability to concentrate.It also offers protective benefits and may limit the neurological decay associated with degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. Acetylcholine promotes mental fitness and supports overall optimism and balance.
Choline rich foods promote memory recall and concentration. Examples of foods rich in choline include eggs, brussel sprouts, spinach, oatmeal, soy, nuts, whole grains, sesame seeds and brewer’s yeast.
As a hormone and neurotransmitter, norepinephrine plays a key role in reducing mental disorders such as stress, sleep disturbances or depression. Sometimes called noradrenaline, norepinephrine stimulates the brain and encourages positive perception, motivation and energy. It is made in the brain, the central nervous system, and in the adrenal glands and helps you think and move fast in an emergency.
You can boost your norepinephrine levels with the amino acid phenylalanine which can be found in poultry, legumes, fish, eggs, red vegetables, spinach, apples and dark chocolate.
As you can see these four neurotransmitters can lift our energy levels and play an important role in combatting disease. Eating foods which boost the levels of these neurotransmitters is the path to improved health and well being.