Your brain sustains your life, yet have you ever stopped to appreciate or admire your brain?
Your brain has the memory of 2.5 petabytes (1 petabyte = 1000 terabytes) and one second of human brain stimulation equals the activity of 82,944 processors.
To give you some insight behind the scenes, I am going to introduce you to the four major neurotransmitters in your brain.
- Serotonin, or the "feel good" neurotransmitter.
If you are serotonin deficient you will become self-absorbed, show a lack of personal care, be overcome with the blues and have poor sleep. A tell-tale sign of serotonin deficiency is salt cravings.
The precursor for serotonin is tryptophan, an essential amino acid that can be found in avocado, chicken, chocolate, cottage cheese, eggs, granola, whole milk, yoghurt and wheat germ.
- Dopamine, or the "get up and go" neurotransmitter.
If you are dopamine deficient you will have low energy, poor concentration, diminished work intensity and cheese cravings. You will sleep more yet wake up tired and need coffee to kick-start your day.
Foods that deplete your dopamine levels are sugar, simple carbs (potatoes, white rice, and foods made from white flour) and high glycaemic foods.
The precursors for dopamine are phenylalanine and tyrosine. Phenylalanine relieves tiredness and can be found in beef, chicken, pork, cottage cheese, yoghurt whole milk, eggs and granola.
Tyrosine is a stress resistor that also relieves tiredness and can be found in beef, chicken, cottage cheese, eggs, granola, whole milk and yoghurt.
Foods rich in the precursors should be included in meals to ensure sufficient dopamine levels
- Acetylcholine or the "rev up" neurotransmitter.
It controls the speed of the brain as well as awareness, memory and ability to form long-lasting relationships.
Acetylcholine deficiency can cause memory lapses, frequent urination, sexual dysfunction (male and female), slow thought processes and cravings for fatty food (stick to good fats).
Choline is the precursor for acetylcholine and can be found in almonds, beef, cruciferous vegetables, chicken, fish, eggs, soybeans and oranges.
- GABBA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) or the "confidence" neurotransmitter.
This important neurotransmitter is very seldom mentioned in articles. GABBA acts as a natural calmative, regulates the nervous system and keeps the chemicals in the brain connected.
GABBA deficiency causes you to feel anxious, irritated, depressed and generally unwell because the electric signals in the nervous system are sent in pulses, instead of a steady stream. Other symptoms include migraine, mood swings and panic attacks. It is important to know that excess GABBA can induce coma.
Science has proven a link between low GABBA levels and addictions, which includes binge eating and substance abuse.
Glutamine is the precursor for GABBA and can be found in fibre-rich foods and complex carbohydrates (beans, root vegetables, whole wheat), dairy products, fish, meat and poultry.
Inositol, a vitamin B, boosts GABBA production and is found in bananas, broccoli and brown rice.
We all know that your brain is the most important organ in your body. If you feed it well, it will reward you with a good memory, feelings of wellbeing, confidence and zest for life. You only have one brain so don't leave your mental wellbeing to chance.