The neurotransmitters in your brain are responsible for so much of your daily functioning that it’s best for your well-being to have them in a state of balance in your brain. In this article we will look at 5 ways you can help your brain to help your body function at its best throughout the day.
Neurotransmitters are brain chemicals floating around your brain that send signals from one neuron to another and ‘communicate’ what needs to happen. Sometimes the need that is being communicated is to store a memory, and sometimes it is the need to eat or hide from danger.
The neurotransmitters control so much of our healthy functioning that when they are out of balance, we can experience many negative health effects. These can include mood disorders like depression and anxiety, to eating disorders like obesity, and sleep disorders like insomnia.
5 Ways to Balance The Neurotransmitters In Your Brain
Neurotransmitters do many things for our brain and body, including regulating our digestion too. Our appetite and metabolism are regulated by the central nervous system. Controlling our metabolism by controlling our neurotransmitters could be the key to reducing obesity, diabetes and other nutrition-related illnesses.
Some neutrotransmitters encourage us to eat, and some encourage us to expend energy. This balance is normal in healthy people but in overweight or obese people struggling to control their weight, some neurotransmitters may be out of balance.
The neurotransmitters that are responsible for reducing appetite are:
- A-melanocyte-stimulating hormone
- Bombesin /gastrin-releasing peptide
- Calcitonin gene-related peptide
- Corticotrophin-releasing factor
- Glucagon-like peptide 1 (7-36) amide
This is just one way that research on neurotransmitters could improve health by help reduce obesity in the population. Rather than medicating people, scientists can focus on natural ways to balance these neurotransmitters to reduce appetite.
In a study of the brain neurotransmitters in rats, scientists found that ‘Stress-induced anxiety-related behaviors were observed when levels of some neurotransmitters became unbalanced.’ The research showed that anything that can cause changes in unbalanced brain chemicals is also going to have anti-anxiety properties.
Anxiety is another reason that it is important to balance the neurotransmitters in the brain. Not enough GABA or Gamma-Aminobutryic Acid is the brain chemical responsible for most of your feelings of anxiety. Let’s look at some of the brain’s most important neurotransmitters and how to balance them.
Know your brain chemicals
The science around neurotransmitters is making many discoveries that will benefit us in the future. The brain uses many different natural chemicals as neurotransmitters to communicate. It is believed that there are possibly hundreds of neurotransmitters, but we only know about 50 of them currently.
Here are the major neurotransmitters that you should be most familiar with:
- Dopamine – Responsible for the reward center of your brain, important for controlling behavior, as in addiction
- Serotonin – Regulates positive mood, helps with memory and learning, regulates sleep, causes muscle contractions
- Oxytocin – The ‘cuddle hormone,’ relieves pain during childbirth. Serotonin and oxytocin both stimulate the vagus nerve which controls organ function.
- Acetylcholine – Responsible for memory and learning
- GABA – (Gamma-Aminobutryic Acid) – prevents neurons from becoming over excited, reduces stress and anxiety
In a study of depression and neurotransmitters in the brain, researchers found that the neurotransmitter GABA was higher in the patients with depression than it was in the normal group. The scientists say that depression may be correlated with the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain and unbalanced brain function.
They also found that treatment for depression helped balance the neurotransmitters. Compared with the normal group, GABA in the patient group decreased significantly after 6 weeks of treatment with a counselor and therapy sessions.
Balancing the neurotransmitters
How do we even know if our neurotransmitters are out of balance? Symptoms of mood disorders, sleep disorders, or cloudy thinking are often the reasons that people seek help from a physician for prescriptions to help increase neurotransmitters. Many drugs that treat illnesses like depression are basically synthetic neurotransmitters.
Other drugs work to by block the receptors of neurons so that the neurotransmitter’s message is not received. Blocking a neurotransmitter is helpful to balance the brain’s chemicals when there is too much of one of the neurotransmitters. Here are some ways that you can balance the neurotransmitters in your brain.
According to bebrainfit.com, supplementing with citicoline, curcumin, cowhage,bacopa, and ginkgo biloba all increase dopamine levels. Supplements that can increase serotonin levels include SAM-e, B vitamins, magnesium, and Rhodiola rosea.
Both green tea and coffee help increase dopamine in your brain. Drinking green tea may also help increase the amount of acetylcholine available for your brain to use.
3. Eat healthy fats
Our brains need healthy fats from the Omega-3s in plant and vegetable sources in order to synthesize enough neurotransmitters to send messages effectively. Add good fats to your diet to ensure your healthily balanced neurotransmitters.
4. Eat healthy sources of neurotransmitters
Many foods that we eat contain the building blocks of nutrients that are needed to make neurotransmitters. To increase the amount of the neurotransmitter GABA, for example, bebrainfit.com suggests eating more bananas, broccoli, brown rice, citrus, fish, lentils, nuts, spinach, oats and whole grains are good sources of healthy brain nutrition.
5. Reduce stress
We have already mentioned that stress is a result of GABA being too low, but avoiding known sources of stress or finding healthy ways of coping with it will also help increase the available levels of GABA that your brain has to work with.