Your diet can impact your moods
Updated: Mar 2, 2020
Do you know what a neurotransmitter is? Probably not.
Neurotransmitters control communication throughout your body and brain.
Neurotransmitters are complex chemical messengers that co-ordinate communication between neurons, which in turn affect every cell, tissue, and system in your body.
Neurotransmitters are responsible for a considerable number of bodily functions and affect how we function and feel everyday.
The number of people taking mood, anti anxiety and anti depressant medications is exploding. It is important that we become aware of how our diet impacts neurotransmitter balance. We should know how neurotransmitters work, how to recognize deficiencies and what we can do about it. Something as simple as cleaning up our diet and being more aware of getting proper amounts of proteins everyday, can have a huge impact on neurotransmitter balance, and your moods.
“Canadians are among the world's biggest users of antidepressants, with as much as nine per cent of the population on one depression-fighting drug or another” (1) (2)
The main neurotransmitters
There are many neurotransmitters involved in body and brain function, but the main neurotransmitters are: Serotonin, Dopamine, GABA and Endorphins each one of these neurotransmitters plays a very important role in our well-being and how we feel and function in our everyday lives.
These are common symptoms of neurotransmitter deficiency or imbalances
Depression with negativity and anxiousness
Low self esteem
Anxiety, panic, phobias
Obsessive thoughts, behaviours
Suicidal ideas, crying easily
Depression with apathy
Lack of energy
Lack or drive
Focus and concentration problems
Inability to relax
Stressed out or burned out state
Sensitivity to pain
Neurotransmitter deficiency has been linked to depression, anxiety and addictions.
How can you help to ensure that your neurotransmitters are in a healthy state?
-Try to avoid processed foods
-Make sure that you are eating enough protein every day. Amino acids are the building blocks for neurotransmitters, we get amino acids from proteins in our foods. The daily recommended intake of protein for adults is approximately 0.8 grams per kilogram. In order to calculate this you need to know your weight in kilograms and multiply it by 0.8. Your protein needs increase, as you become more active and will be much higher if you are exercising or doing athletic training.
-This doesn’t mean that you need to be eating meat at every meal, to get amino acids. You can get all the amino acids you need from a plant based (vegetarian or vegan diet) just be sure to eat a wide variety of vegetables, legumes, beans and grains.
-Be aware of foods that may be causing sensitivities or allergic reactions. The most common allergy causing foods are wheat, dairy, and soy. Allergies and sensitivities to foods that you eat can affect your moods and may be contributing to anxiety or depression.
-If you are currently experiencing symptoms of neurotransmitter imbalance, you could try supplementing with a high-quality protein supplement such as a whey protein or plant derived protein powder such as: rice, hemp or pea protein.
If you don’t care for protein powders, amino acid supplements are available in capsule form. You can purchase these from your local health food store.
If you have tried all of the above suggestions to ensure neurotransmitters are balanced and, you are still experiencing symptoms that could be related to a neurotransmitter imbalance, then please go see your doctor. Symptoms of anxiety, mood disorders and depression can be very serious and debilitating and should be taken addressed immediately.
Nichole Moffatt, Holistic Nutritionist
Inner Balance Health Solutions
The Natural Medicine Guide To Addiction, Stephanie Marohn
The Mood Cure, Julia Ross, M.A.
A Mind of Your Own, Kelly Brogan, M.D