Having adequate levels of neurotransmitters dictates the quality of all feeling states in the brain; they help us focus on our work, feel positive and motivated, sleep well, connect to each other, and feel balanced and at ease in life. Having healthy levels of neurotransmitters is incredibly important to stay optimally well in our modern lives! Our neurotransmitters are often depleted in times of stress, nutritional deficiency, overconsumption of alcohol, caffeine, or sugar, or through restrictive dieting. Given the events of 2020, we can all focus on giving our brains some TLC so that we can remain vital and well.
Why are neurotransmitters so important?
Neurotransmitters are referred to as the nervous system’s chemical messengers; they are molecules used to transmit messages between neurons or from neurons to muscles. These chemicals “talk” to nearby cells, and receptor proteins on neighboring cells “hear” their messages. The brain is largely made of fat, but its long, branching neurons communicate with each other via proteins that we eat. Neurotransmitters are usually made from amino acids, which are the single cell building blocks of complex protein structures. Poultry, lean meats, and seafood are the richest sources of protein, but dairy products, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, grains, and some vegetables have limited amounts of protein as well.
How do they affect how I feel?
Nerve cells in the brain store neurotransmitters and release them in response to various signals; for mood control, the types of neurotransmitters can either be excitatory (stimulating) or inhibitory (calming). When it’s time to rev up, neurons release excitatory neurotransmitters. When it is time to relax, or if excitatory neurotransmitters get too high, neurons release calming neurotransmitters.
Excitatory neurotransmitters like dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine or adrenaline help us feel positive, motivated, full of zest and sparkle, and with ample energy to take on the day’s tasks. If we are depleted in stimulating neurotransmitters we can experience fatigue, brain fog, lack of motivation, or lethargy.
Inhibitory neurotransmitters like serotonin, endorphins, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) help us calm down, sleep well, release muscle tension, and feel connected to each other. If you are too low in calming neurotransmitters you may feel anxious, on edge, irritable, depressed, overly sensitive, have an inability to connect with others, or you may suffer from insomnia.
What about antidepressants?
In order to understand the importance of neurotransmitters, we can look to the activity of commonly prescribed antidepressants. After neurons send neurotransmitters to another neuron, they are absorbed and used by the receiving neuron to make the mood-boosting chemicals we have discussed. Tricyclic antidepressants block the reuptake of two neurotransmitters, serotonin (calming) and norepinephrine (stimulating). These antidepressants cause these neurotransmitters to remain active for a longer period of time, but do not increase the overall levels of neurotransmitters available.
If an individual is looking for an antidepressant they are likely low in neurotransmitters to begin with, and taking an antidepressant may help the individual feel better in the short term but does nothing to restore adequate, healthy levels of neurotransmitters in the body.
Restore neurotransmitters for long term relief
In order to restore levels of neurotransmitters, so that you can feel your best and perform at your highest potential, we need a full neurotransmitter rehabilitation program. That’s where BrainRx comes in! BrainRx, or Brain Neurotransmitter Restoration Program, works on the biochemical level to fully restore lacking levels of neurotransmitters so that you have plenty of the energizing, motivating, soothing, calming chemicals your brain and body need to thrive! This 4-week revolutionary program, created by Dr. Shilpa Saxena MD, offers you the opportunity to take your brain health to the next level. Participants can expect to experience better cognition, focus, memory, mood, clarity, sleep, GI function, motivation, and sense of ease and pleasure. Participants enjoy live group sessions, precision nutrition and supplementation plans, two one-on-one sessions, and support and guidance throughout the program. See more information and sign up here!
Not quite feeling yourself? Your brain chemistry might be making you feel bad. Our BrainRx Program can help! Learn more.