Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Foods and Supplements to Balance Brain Chemistry

Stress, intense exercise, emotional trauma, coffee, sugar, salt, toxins, and genetic susceptibilities can all impact neurotransmitter function.

Dopamine and serotonin tend to be the two most common brain chemistry imbalances.

As a follow up to the previous post, today we share some foods and natural agents that may help restore neurotransmitter function.

Dopamine- food sources include adequate protein intake from the following: Soy protein, egg whites, lowfat cottage cheese, Alaskan salmon, turkey – light meat, and Greek yogurt.  Supplement with amino acid tyrosine.

Acetycholine- food sources include healthy fats like fish oil, egg yolks, olives, nuts and avocado.  Supplemental lecithin (phosphatidylcholine).

Serotonin- sources include foods rich in Tryptophan like turkey, cocoa, pork, duck, chicken. Supplemental tryptophan.

GABA- sources include foods pork and poultry, milk, yogurt, ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, raw spinach, raw parsley, cabbage, shell fish, broccoli, brown rice and banana. Supplemental glutamine, theanine, leucine, inositol, and taurine.

By understanding what is going on in your brain and working to adjust its chemistry you can significantly impact your ability to sustain better workouts, while improving your hunger/cravings.  What you may not realize is those "crazy" people you see who actually love exercise and have no problem sticking to their diet may not be so special after all.  New research is showing that perhaps they simply have balanced brain chemistry. These people are usually dopamine dominant (in case you were wondering). 

With an approach that looks at hormones (including brain hormones) rather than simply calories, those that struggle today can also realize some real success in their health and fitness quests. 

Remember 2 important things: (1) this is a process.  Just like our time in school, don't expect fast results without putting in the time to digest the past 3 emails on brain chemistry.  And (2), to supplement means, "in addition to".  Best sources of nutrition START with the food we eat.  Consuming supplements should be secondary in nature.  One of the best sources of BCAA (amino acids) in supplemental form is Beverly International UMP and Muscle Provider. 

As we learn more about neurotransmitters, brain chemistry, and their impact on our health and fitness, we'll share those findings with you!

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins
NSCA-CPT, ACE

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