by Dr. Michael S. Boss, DC
The number of people in the U.S. with depression and anxiety issues is through the roof. You may know someone who suffers from these types of problems and says, “I can’t help it; I have a chemical imbalance.” Truth is, that person may be partially right. Another truth is, while he or she may have an imbalance, it’s something anyone can change.
More than 250 million prescriptions are written for anti-depressant drugs each year, so people with these issues have access to more than enough pharmaceuticals, and all those meds obviously aren’t getting the job done. In addition, we continue to see rising levels of attention deficit disorder in adults and kids, brain fog that affects so many, neuro-degenerative diseases such as dementia, Alzheimer’s and other issues that have devastating effects on the patients and their families.
These all have one thing in common: neurotransmitters.
Neurotransmitters are compounds produced by the body that transmit signals from a neuron to a target cell across a synapse to evoke a reaction or process or send a message through the system. In English, neurotransmitters make things happen within the brain and nervous system and the rest of the body. Neurotransmitters play vital roles in our mood, sleep patterns, behavior and many other functions. If they are depleted and your body cannot make them properly due to metabolic dysfunction, various health issues can arise.
Serotonin is the most well-known neurotransmitter. Low levels can result in bad mood and depression, sleep difficulties, uncontrolled appetite, headaches, and low levels are a big cause of hot flashes. Some other neurotransmitters include:
- Taurine: Important for proper heart function
- Norepinephrine: Mental focus, emotional stability, stress response and hormone function
- Dopamine: Responsible for feelings of pleasure and satisfaction, muscle control, muscle function and gastrointestinal issues.
- Histamine: Helps control the sleep-wake cycle; high levels are involved in allergy issues, sleep difficulties
- GABA: Our most plentiful neurotransmitter and necessary to feel calm and relaxed and to sleep well. Low GABA levels can result in uncontrolled hyperactivity, anxiousness, and sleeping difficulties.
Neurotransmitters are synthesized in the body from plentiful and simple precursors that are readily available from a proper nutrient-rich eating plan. We make them from components in the foods we eat. The nutrients needed are amino acids found in proteins, peptides found in the amino acids and monoamines in fermented foods.
Neurotransmitters are made in several places in the body including the brain and brainstem, kidneys, T-Cells, smooth muscle cells and the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. In fact, up to 95 percent of neurotransmitters can be made in the GI tract. The key to avoiding or resolving depression, anxiety, sleep issues and neuro-degeneration may be improving the function of your GI system (digestion, absorption, elimination) and eating real, fresh, healthy, nutrient-rich foods.
Other causes of neurotransmitter issues include:
- Faulty energy production pathways
- Blood sugar dysfunction
- Adrenal gland problems
- Low intake of essential fatty acids like fish oils. Research shows that insufficient EFA levels are associated with Alzheimer’s disease, ADHD, and clinical depression and anxiety. How about a little fish oil, folks?
Close to 1 in 8 U.S. baby boomers alive today can expect to develop Alzheimer’s disease. That is a huge number, and anyone who has to deal with this in their family knows it is difficult for everyone involved. The common threads in this and other issues mentioned are low neurotransmitter production, poor GI function and bad nutrition.
It is vital to make the right health choices. So many of these are just simple mistakes in the nutritional choices made on a daily basis. I speak to groups every week and I am amazed to find that people really think they are eating the right foods when they are so far off from what they should be doing.
Fortunately, solutions are available. These issues can be corrected with the right plan, and anyone can get on a path to great health, physically, mentally and emotionally. I know I sound like a broken record, but our bodies have to have the right fuel and building blocks to build, repair and thrive. Get your systems in high working order, eat nutrient-packed foods, digest them properly, and the sky is the limit!
Dr. Michael Boss has been a practicing chiropractor and wellness practitioner for more than 20 years. He is the creator of Elevate Life, and he provides treatment programs in the areas of functional healthcare, nutrition, acupuncture, exercise, hormone function and balance, chronic diseases, nutriceuticals and more. He also co-hosts the weekly ELEVATE LIFE Wellness Hour on 550 KTSA. Call 210-264-2570 for an individual consultation, or visit www.ElevateLifeWellness.com for more info about Dr. Boss and Elevate Life.