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"Good Health Starts in the Gut"

Hippocrates said over a thousand years ago that "All disease begins in the gut." It can also be said that "Good health starts in the gut." The gut is the starting place of overall health, including physical health and mental health.

The digestive system is lined with nerve cells which send messages to the brain. These neurons communicate through neurotransmitters and control your thoughts, feelings, and your movement. When the neurotransmitters aren't functioning properly, that's when symptoms of depression, anxiety, fatigue, insomnia and brain fog appear.

Our gut houses both good and bad bacteria which can increase or decrease inflammation, as well as control mood and anxiety. New research is finding that irritants in the GI system are sending messages to the central nervous system which can cause mood changes.

Take a look at what you are feeding your body. What you eat has a profound effect on your gut bacteria, which affects your neurotransmitters and how they assist in the production of hormones, energy level and mood.

What about those Neurotransmitters?

There are four major Neurotransmitters. Let's look at how they affect the body, how they are created, and in which foods they are found.

1) Serotonin

This is the calming NT. It helps control mood, appetite and sleep. If you suffer from depression, you most likely have low levels of serotonin. Most of the body's serotonin is produced by gut bacteria. It is made from the amino acid tryptophan and it needs iron (from meat and leafy green veggies), zinc (from lamb, pumpkin seeds and chickpeas), Vitamin B3 (from turkey, chicken, peanuts and tuna), Vitamin B6 (from turkey, beef, tuna and sweet potatoes), and Vitamin C (from citrus and bell peppers.)

2) Norepinephrine

This is the NT of alertness, concentration, motivation, also helps to convert memories to long-term storage. Low levels of Norepinephrine are also associate with depression. It is created from tyrosine that is converted to dopamine and then to Norepinephrine. Tyrosine is found in dairy, bananas, avocado, almonds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, lima beans and fish. Copper (from beef liver, sunflower seeds, almonds and lentils) and Vitamin B6 and C are also important for the conversions to occur.

3) Dopamine

This is the stimulating, alerting, pleasure-recognizing NT. It is responsible for controlling movement as well as the flow of information to the part of the brain linked to thought and emotion. It's also part of the brain's reward systems. Thrilling experiences, as well as many foods and drugs stimulate the release of Dopamine, which give off that euphoric feeling. When the levels of dopamine fall, there is an urge to want more of whatever brought on that euphoric feeling to keep the dopamine levels high. Dopamine is made from the amino acid tyrosine along with magnesium (from leafy green veggies, pumpkin seeds, almonds, yogurt and kefir), folate (from leafy green veggies, asparagus and avocado), Vitamin Bc and zinc. Dopamine is easily oxidized so eat plenty of antioxidant foods to help protect the neurons that are dopamine-using.

4) Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA)

This is the calming and focus NT. If you don't have enough GABA, you have the risk of anxiety disorders. Glutamine is a major building block of GABA and it is found in halibut, legumes, brown rice and spinach. Vitamins B3, B6 and B12 (from sardines, beef and tuna) help the glutamine convert to GABA. Green tea is also rich in

L-theanine, an amino acid that can increase GABA activity.

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