Neurotransmitters are referred to as the body’s chemical messengers. They are the molecules used by the nervous system to transmit messages between neurons, or from neurons to muscles.
A neurotransmitter influences a neuron in one of three ways: excitatory, inhibitory or modulatory.
Most neurotransmitters are either small amine molecules, amino acids, or neuropeptides. There are a number of known small-molecule neurotransmitters and more than 100 different neuropeptides, and neuroscientists are still finding out more about these chemical messengers. These chemicals and their interactions are involved in countless functions of the nervous system as well as controlling bodily functions.
After a significant brain injury, i.e. stroke, some messages from the brain to the body will be trying to get through, but cannot. There is evidence to suggest that although these message pathways are significantly damaged, it is very possible that an individual can rebuild and rewire these pathways. To do so, we need to assist the neurotransmitters to allow this to happen.
Key neurotransmitters and their most bioavailable relative food sources.
Acetylcholine plays a major role in the peripheral nervous system, where it is released by motor neurons and neurons of the autonomic nervous system. It also plays an important role in the central nervous system in maintaining cognitive function. The precursor to Acetylcholine is choline.
Foods high in choline: Venison, pork, deer, buffalo, beef, chicken, duck, peasant, veal, squash, wild strawberry.
Glutamate is the primary excitatory transmitter in the central nervous system. Conversely, a major inhibitory transmitter is its derivative γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), while another inhibitory neurotransmitter is the amino acid called glycine, which is mainly found in the spinal cord. The precursor to glutamate is glutamine/glutamic acid and the precursor to GABA is glutamate.
Foots high in glutamic acid: Cottage cheese, chicken, turkey, beef, buffalo, pork, mozzarella cheese, Greek yogurt, venison, egg white, feta cheese, sharp cheddar, Swiss cheese, cream cheese,
Foods high in glycine: Beef, pork, turkey, lamb, chicken, veal, buffalo, elk, shiitake, sweet potato, tea, Caviar, cheese, crackling, chips, dried cod, instant coffee powder, meats, miso, mushrooms, Parmesan cheese, salami, seafood, seaweeds, soups, stews.
There are several dopamine pathways in the brain, and this neurotransmitter is involved in many functions, including motor control, reward and reinforcement, and motivation. Precursors to dopamine are Tyrosine and Phenylalanine.
Foods high in Tyrosine and Phenylalanine: Avocado, banana, eggs, beef, chicken, cottage cheese, pork, seaweed, venison, rabbit, liver, kidney.
Noradrenaline (or norepinephrine) is the primary neurotransmitter in the sympathetic nervous system where it works on the activity of various organs in the body to control blood pressure, heart rate, liver function and many other functions. The direct precursor to Noradrenaline is dopamine.
Neurons that use serotonin project to various parts of the nervous system. As a result, serotonin is involved in functions such as sleep, memory, appetite, mood and others. It is also produced in the gastrointestinal tract in response to food. Precursor of serotonin is tryptophan.
Foods high in tryptophan: Greek yogurt, elk, buffalo, goat, mozzarella cheese, egg white, seaweed, chicken drumsticks and thighs, duck, pheasant, caribou, beef, lamb, rabbit, cheddar cheese, brown mushroom, veal, Bananas, coffee powders, green coffee bean, hazelnut, kiwi, passion fruit, pawpaw, plum, pomegranate, potato, strawberry.
Histamine plays a role in metabolism, temperature control, regulating various hormones, and controlling the sleep-wake cycle, amongst other functions. Precursor for Histamine is Histidine.
Venison, Pork, pork, buffalo, beef, chicken, duck, veal, caribou, Anchovy, billfish, fermented sausages, ham and other cured dry meat products, herring, aged cheeses, sardine, sauerkraut, Scomberesocidae (for example, sauries), Scombridae (for example, tuna, mackerel, and bonitos), sweet or sour cream, pasteurized, and fresh milk, yoghurt.
For help in un-complicating your food intake and to add the necessary amount of neurotransmitter precursors to your diet, sign up for the Total Wellbeing Plan.