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Restore neurotransmitter function with brain healthy foods

Leah Lund Executive Health Coach, Neuro Nutrient Therapist and Founder One Whole Health
Restore neurotransmitter function with brain healthy foods

When feeling down in the dumps, many people turn to a beauty makeover, a wardrobe makeover and even a home makeover for a quick pick-me-up. What is really needed to help you feel like yourself again (or even better) is a brain makeover. Your brain is designed to easily release certain “feel good” chemicals called neurotransmitters that keep you feeling enthusiastic and enjoying your life. Without the right brain food, you can feel anxious, stressed, weepy, depressed, tired, overwhelmed, burned out, and emotionally drained. You may experience disturbed sleep, nervous stomach, low energy, and cravings for food you know are not good for you or your waistline. The good news is that it is not you, it is your “hungry” brain, and this depletion of neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, GABA or endorphin can be repaired through proper brain nutrition.

In order to repair your brain’s ability to make neurotransmitters, it is important to eat “feel good” foods that provide the brain the needed raw materials including vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Likewise, you must avoid certain foods and beverages that erode your brain’s ability to make these chemicals, sabotaging your moods and more.

Here is some advice for feeding your brain properly. Keep in mind if you are experiencing cravings, negativity, depression, worry, irritability, panic, insomnia, crying, nervous stomach, low energy, lack of focus, burnout, lack of drive, inability to relax, sensitivity, weight gain, low confidence, compulsive behavior, etc. you will need not only foundational nutrition available in the food you eat, but also targeted nutrition in the form of supplements for a limited period of time. These nutrients are free form and taken in concentrations much higher than what is found in even feel good foods. To restore your neurotransmitter function quickly and effectively, work with a Neuro Nutrient Therapy Specialist who can create a specific repair plan just for you.


Do

Do eat plenty of protein

Of the nutrients needed to make good moods, none is more important than amino acids, and protein is the source of these raw materials. To be easy going, optimistic and enthusiastic, it is important to eat 20-30 grams of protein per meal. Animal sources (organic, no hormones, no antibiotics) are best as they provide an average of 20 grams in a palm size serving as opposed to beans, which are only 5-10 percent protein. Vegans or vegetarians must work very hard to eat the necessary amount of protein.

Do eat vegetables and fruits

Vegetables come first as they are critical for making happy brain chemicals. Seven to thirteen half a cup servings of low carbohydrate vegetables daily in every color you can find provide hundreds of phytonutrients that not only help you feel perky, but protect you from cancers, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and other lifestyle disease.

Tip: If you don’t like eating vegetables, you may be zinc deficient. A 50 mg zinc capsule should help you develop a “taste” for veggies.

Do eat good fats

We’ve become very confused about what a good fat really is. Good fats are saturated fats and omega 3 essential fatty acids. Saturated fats are very stable fats and burn at an even steady pace, which makes them essential for your brain and heart. Research as far back as 1997 indicates there is no association between intake of saturated fat and the risk of coronary death, so don’t hesitate to eat 3 tablespoons of saturated and Omega 3 fat daily. Foods like coconut oil, butter, ghee (clarified butter) or extra virgin olive oil for cooking. Avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut Milk, as desired. Try raw soaked nuts and seeds-almonds, sunflower, pumpkin, walnut.

Do get an average of eight hours sleep

While you are asleep your body and brain regenerate. Anything less than 6 hours of sleep interferes with blood flow to the brain resulting in irritability, low cognitive functioning and poor learning, weight gain, poor vision, poor memory, low sex drive, and leaves you susceptible to everything from a cold to cancer.

Do work with a neuro nutrition specialist

Although some practitioners may suggest amino acids rather randomly, without the exact type of amino your specific brain requires and the correct dosage, your results will be limited. To achieve freedom from anxiety, depression, low energy, insomnia, lack of focus, compulsions, lack of confidence, overwhelm, weight gain, stress management and more it is essential to work with someone specifically trained in Neuro Nutrition Therapy.


Don't

Do not skip meals, especially breakfast

You probably realize that eating junk food doesn’t help your health or your brain, but did you know that not eating anything is even worse? Failing to eat a minimum of 2100 calories a day (average) guarantees that your brain won’t have the vitamins, minerals and amino acids it needs. Low calorie dieting will certainly result in cravings for any substitute, including foods, drugs and alcohol in your brain’s attempt to sustain itself. Continual dieting results in something called Dieter’s Malnutrition, which negatively affects your brain, body and health.

Do not eat sugar

Train yourself to think of white flour and sugar as the same thing. They both elicit the stress response in your body when ingested: release of adrenaline, cortisol and insulin.

They convert to glucose so quickly and send your body into emergency mode. Post processing, sugar and white flour contain very little nutritional benefit and erode your brain’s ability to produce neurotransmitters on a consistent basis. They temporarily force a release of serotonin and endorphin, but disrupt this production long term. This means they are addictive. The University of Bordeaux found sugar four times as addictive as cocaine.

Do not drink caffeine

Caffeine forces a release of your stimulating brain chemicals like adrenaline and dopamine. Just like any stimulant drug, the more you release, the less you have when you really need it. Caffeine depletes and erodes your levels of B vitamins, vitamin C, Potassium, Calcium and zinc and weakens organs like the heart, liver and kidney along with your adrenal glands. When you drink caffeine you will be irritated, moody, angry and restless.

Do not drink alcohol

You should think of alcohol as liquid sugar that inhibits your ability to be aware of the amount you are consuming. All of the comments on sugar apply to alcohol as well and in addition, alcohol contains more calories per gram so it gets into your bloodstream fast. This accounts for the fact that over 95% of alcoholics are hypoglycemic meaning they suffer from drops in blood sugar that make them angry, irritable and likely to have a short fuse. Alcohol is the top cause of domestic violence for the reason that it affects blood sugar in this way. It erodes moods and production of protective mood brain chemicals.

Do not think this is just the way it has to be

Nearly everyone suffering from low moods or low energy and those who can’t seem to get themselves to do the things they want to do seem to feel like it is their fault. They feel guilty and blame themselves for not being able to “just snap out of it.” The cause is not a personality flaw or a lack of willpower or a problem you just have to live with. It’s a physical malfunction in your brain that can be easily repaired.


Summary
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Neurotransmitter deficiency is very common - 80% of people in the US suffer from low serotonin. Proper brain nutrition can correct these deficiencies even more effectively than an antidepressant. There is no reason to feel anxious, stressed, depressed or down in the dumps. Follow this advice and you will be feeling better in no time.


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Leah LundExecutive Health Coach, Neuro Nutrient Therapist and Founder

I am certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners and the Neuro Nutrient Therapy Institute, serve as Ambassador and Student Mentor for the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and am a member of the International Positive Psych...

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