The US National Institute of Mental Health says we now have over 40 million Americans affected by a mental or emotional condition. Then there is the other 50 million who suffer from intermittent bouts of anxiety and depression.
Wow. That’s nearly one-third of the US population with mental health issues.
Scary? Damn, right it is!
NIMH says just over 50% of adults with a serious mental illness get treatment.
This typically includes inpatient care (7.5 %) and outpatient therapy (40.5%), but the ‘top dog’ is prescription drugs (antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs).
Although people do achieve relief of their symptoms—side effects can be far worse than the original condition.
Think… suicidal thoughts or actions, the development of tics, liver damage, violent, aggressive or homicidal behaviour and impaired immune function, to name a few.
What no-one talks about Neurotransmitters
Google how your brain works, and you’ll begin to understand why mental health conditions make a lot more sense…and you can see that there are other (safer) ways to deal with them!
Billions of cells in my brain talk to each other, exchanging information in the form of chemical messengers called neurotransmitters.
If brain cell ‘Fred’ wants to send a message to brain cell ‘Wilma’, Fred releases the proper neurotransmitter. The neurotransmitter floats across a minuscule space between the two cells (the synaptic cleft) and the receiving cell, Wilma, “catches” the message in one or more of its “catcher’s mitts” (neuroreceptors).
And it happens at the speed of light – or at last, it should if everything is working to the max.
When the message is delivered, the leftover neurotransmitters need a cleanup. This happens in one of two ways:
- They are broken down by enzymes, pass through the liver and end up in your urine or faeces
- They get sucked up by little “vacuums” (reuptake pumps) to be recycled.
The Big Stars of your Neurotransmitter Inner World.
Although your body has over 50 neurotransmitters, you do have an A-Team. Here are the nutrients they are made of: We’ll look at the common and less common ones and what happens if you are short on them.
Function: Regulates your appetite, mood, sensory perception and immune function.
Deficiency: Depression, eating disorders, chronic pain, sleep disorders, emotional problems, anxiety and aggression.
Food: Amino acid tryptophan, B vitamins, vitamin C, zinc and iron.
Gamma amino-butyric acid (GABA)
Function: Calming effect on your mood.
Deficiency: Anxiety, over-excitability, seizure disorders and mania.
The recipe: The amino acid glutamate, vitamin B6, manganese, biotin, lysine and taurine.
Function: Controls your arousal, movement and hormonal responses.
What deficiency can cause: Muscular and cell rigidity, tremors and Parkinson’s disease.
Food: The amino acids tyrosine or phenylalanine, vitamin B6, folic acid, iron, copper, magnesium and zinc.
Function: Controls electrical activity of your brain and is vital for memory storage.
Deficiency: Memory loss, depression, confusion and muscle incoordination.
Food: The amino acid choline, vitamins B6, B5 and B3, manganese, lysine and threonine.
Medications method of ‘helping’ neurotransmitters.
Psychiatric drugs achieve their intended effect by artificially manipulating our neurotransmitter levels.
Some antidepressants block our reuptake pumps from vacuuming up leftover serotonin. The drug forces serotonin to hang around between our brain cells, making us feel “happier.”
This can get nasty. It can eventually cause you to have too much serotonin—which can make your depression even worse!
By encouraging proper levels of neurotransmitters in your body, you could feel a whole lot better from mental health conditions!
Ways you can naturally help support your neurotransmitters…and your state of mind!
- A whole foods diet with lots of organic fresh fruits, green vegetables, grass-fed meats, line-caught fish, real grass-fed butter, cocoa and olive oil, eggs. These foods that will load us up with the proper nutrients for your body to make your neurotransmitters. We ‘bring home’ our manufacturing process.
- Drop the soda, sugars and refined carbs. These leach essential nutrients from your body and are seriously addictive, even causing many mental conditions. If you don’t believe it, stop eating them for 2 weeks a see what your body and mind make up to force you back onto them!
- Encourage a healthy gut with probiotic supplementation or fermented foods. The majority of your body’s serotonin is created in your gut. From there it is sent express to your brain. Gut health is crucial to brain health!
- Make sure you have enough vitamin B12. B12 supports a process in your body called methylation. Methylation is vital to the formation of many neurotransmitters, and methylation abnormality is a factor behind mental health problems.
- Get sources of Omega-3 essential fatty acids like wild-caught fatty fish. Omega-3 EFAs are vital to brain health. Supplement with a purified fish oil formula if your diet is lacking in this area.