When it comes to how you eat & how it influences your mood, it’s much deeper than the sugar crash you may feel after eating a high sugar snack, or the hangry mood you feel after not eating for a while. Today we’re speaking about neurotransmitters; what are they, how they work and how to support some specific neurotransmitters to improve your mood with Monica.
Firstly, what are neurotransmitters?
Throughout our nervous system and body, we have cells called neurons responsible for action within our nervous system and subsequently throughout out body. Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers that connect and direct them to do various things through binding to receptors that create a response.
What’s the most important nutrient?
Amino acids are arguably the most important nutrients when it comes to neurotransmitter synthesis or production. There are countless other nutrients that are essential for a healthy brain and healthy mood such as essential fatty acids and micronutrients aswell as having a well-balanced microbiome and well-sealed gut lining, however today we’re focusing neurotransmitters.
When protein is consumed, imagine it as a long chain of molecules called amino acids. The acid in our stomach breaks down the bonds between the amino acids to free them up and allow them to be absorbed. Then once absorbed they are essential for many functions throughout the body including producing enzymes but they also make up neurotransmitters. This then influences how our neurons work and how we function and feel.
So how do we know what neurotransmitter we are boosting?
As there are many different types of neurotransmitters that all have different functions, we can focus on specific amino acids from specific protein sources to favour production of certain neurotransmitters.
For example, let’s look at our two feel good neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine.
If you’re feeling tired, unmotivated or moody, you may be low in dopamine.
Dopamine boosting foods include almonds, walnuts aswell as cacao & green tea.
The amino acid we’re looking at in these foods is tyrosine, a dopamine precursor (aka is needed for dopamine production) (Fernstrom & Fernstrom, 2007).
If you have trouble falling asleep but sleep through once you’re asleep, you may be low in serotonin. Serotonin converts to melatonin which supports sleep onset, it also is responsible for feelings of happiness.
Serotonin supportive foods include turkey and bananas aswell as a wide variety of coloured grains including quinoa, wild rice and red rice.
The amino acid we’re looking at in these foods is tryptophan, a serotonin precursor (Carneiro et al., 2018).
This is the type of advice that Monica and Holly can give, completely individualised depending on you in that moment.
Monica also offers a free mood appraisal to assess your individual balance of neurotransmitters within your free discovery call.
Click here to book with Monica & click here to book in with Holly.
Carneiro, I., Toscano, A. E., Lacerda, D. C., da Cunha, M., de Castro, R. M., Deiró, T., & Medeiros, J. (2018). L-tryptophan administration and increase in cerebral serotonin levels: Systematic review. European journal of pharmacology, 836, 129–135. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejphar.2018.08.009
Fernstrom, J. D., & Fernstrom, M. H. (2007). Tyrosine, phenylalanine, and catecholamine synthesis and function in the brain. The Journal of nutrition, 137(6 Suppl 1), 1539S–1548S. https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/137.6.1539S