Balance your neurotransmitters

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As with hormones, balancing your neurotransmitters so that you have plentiful supplies of feel good, calming and motivating neurotransmitters which will help your mood, your anxiety levels, your sleep, your attention, etc. takes implementing daily lifestyle habits.

Ways of balancing your neurotransmitters

One of the most important ways to enhance your neurotransmitters is through eating the right foods, and when necessary, supplementing. Neurotransmitters are made from the building blocks of the macro and micro nutrients we absorb, and therefore, eating correctly and supplementing when necessary is essential. Read more about how to correct your nutrition and supplement in order to balance your neurotransmitters by clicking on the links below.

As with hormonal imbalances, toxicity can affect our neurotransmitter balance. To ensure optimal neurotransmitter levels, it is important to avoid toxins, whether from addictive substances, medication, or pollution in the air, water, and foods that we consume; and to optimise our body’s detoxification abilities. Read more about how to detoxify by clicking on the links below.

As with hormones, exercise is a key component of healthy neurotransmitters.

How to exercise right.

Nature and natural light are essential to healthy neurotransmitter balance. Being in nature calms the nervous system, which helps to regulate neurotransmitters, and exposure to natural light has a direct impact on neurotransmitters. Conversely, neurotransmitters have an impact on circadian rhythms, which impact our sleep, appetite, etc. Reghunandanan, V. and Reghunandanan, R. (2006). Neurotransmitters of the suprachiasmatic nuclei. [online] Journal of Circadian Rhythms, 4 (2). Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1402333/ [accessed 5 Dec. 2017]., Krishnakumar, D., Hamblin, M. R. and Lakshmanan, S. (2016). Meditation and Yoga can Modulate Brain Mechanisms that affect Behavior and Anxiety-A Modern Scientific Perspective. [online] Ancien Science of Life, 2 (1), pp.13-9. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4769029/  [accessed 5 Dec. 2017].

How to connect with nature and natural light.

Breathing better contributes to relaxing the nervous system, which can have an impact on increasing brain-healthy neurotransmitters to improve mood, anxiety levels, sleep, etc. Krishnakumar, D., Hamblin, M. R. and Lakshmanan, S. (2016). Meditation and Yoga can Modulate Brain Mechanisms that affect Behavior and Anxiety-A Modern Scientific Perspective. [online] Ancien Science of Life, 2 (1), pp.13-9. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4769029/ [accessed 5 Dec. 2017].

Breathing better has been shown to directly increase levels of brain-healthy neurotransmitters

Biofeedback studies have demonstrated that at the rate of six breaths per minute, the heart becomes entrained, or synchronised, with the breath and signals the brain to release serotonin, endorphins, and dopamine, the “feel-good” neurotransmitters. Rossman, J. (2011). Mind-Body-Mood Advisor: The Power of Breath. [online] Rodale Wellness. Available at: https://www.rodalewellness.com/health/breathing-exercises [accessed 5 Dec. 2017].

It is a two way street however, because neurotransmitters also regulate breathing. Bonham, A. C. (1995). Neurotransmitters in the CNS control of breathing. [online] Respiration Physiology, 101 (3), 219-30. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8606995 [accessed 5 Dec. 2017]. By consciously breathing better through breathing exercises, we can help to improve neurotransmitter balance, which in turn can further improve breathing.

How to breathe better. 

Anxiety, anger, shame, and other such emotions cause the release of neurotransmitters which are associated with stress, such as noradrenaline (also known as norepinephrine) which is the most common neurotransmitter in the sympathetic nervous system.

Our thoughts and emotions determine our biochemistry to a large extent. Therefore, for optimal neurotransmitter balance and healthy neurotransmitters, it is important to work on cultivating healthy thoughts and emotions.

How to engage in mental therapy. 

Spirituality, community, meaning and purpose can all generate feel-good thoughts and emotions which will have an impact on our neurotransmitters.

Spirituality, especially in the form of meditation, has been shown to impact serotonin, dopamine and melatonin in particular. Mohandas, E. (2008). Neurobiology of Spirituality. [online] Mens Sana Monographs, 6 (1), pp.63-80. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3190564/ [accessed 5 Dec. 2017].

Community and socialising impacts our feel good neurotransmitters. Bergland, C. (2013). The “Love Hormone” Drives Human Urge for Social Connection. [online] Psychology Today. Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201309/the-love-hormone-drives-human-urge-social-connection [accessed 5 Dec. 2017].

And having a sense of purpose and meaning in life can calm the nervous system, and make us feel connected to others and to ourselves, thereby releasing feel-good neurotransmitters.

Read more on how to find community, meaning and purpose by clicking the links below:

Constant screen time, connection and social media can be detrimental to your neurotransmitter balance. It can increase stress hormones and neurotransmitters such as cortisol and noradrenaline, and disrupt circadian rhythms.

In order to balance your neurotransmitters, it is important to manage your technology and social media use.

How to manage your technology and social media use. 

A regular meditation practice is a powerful tool for balancing neurotransmitters.

Studies have shown that meditation increases happy calming, and motivating neurotransmitters, serotonin, GABA and dopamine, lower neurotransmitters involved in anxiety such as norepinephrine, and increase the neurotransmitters/hormones for sleep melatonin. Krishnakumar, D., Hamblin, M. R. and Lakshmanan, S. (2016). Meditation and Yoga can Modulate Brain Mechanisms that affect Behavior and Anxiety-A Modern Scientific Perspective. [online] Ancient Science of Life, 2 (1), pp.13-9. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4769029/ [accessed 5 Dec. 2017].

In addition, meditation lowers the stress hormone cortisol, balancing the nervous system which in itself is helpful for more balanced neurotransmitters.

How to meditate. 

Various mind-body therapies can be helpful in balancing neurotransmitters. Yoga, for instance, have been shown to increase serotonin, gaba and melatonin. Krishnakumar, D., Hamblin, M. R. and Lakshmanan, S. (2016). Meditation and Yoga can Modulate Brain Mechanisms that affect Behavior and Anxiety-A Modern Scientific Perspective. [online] Ancient Science of Life, 2 (1), pp.13-9. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4769029/ [accessed 5 Dec. 2017].

Acupuncture has been shown to increase key neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, GABA, acetylcholine, as well as chemicals for brain neurogenesis, and attenuate activity of excitatory neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine, glutamate, etc. Wen, G., He, X., Lu, Y. and Xia, Y. (2010). Effect of Acupuncture on Neurotransmitters/Modulators. [online] Acupuncture Therapy for Neurological Diseases, pp. 120-142. Available at: https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-642-10857-0_5 [accessed 5 Dec. 2017].

How to practise mind-body therapies. 

A relaxed nervous system can be helpful in balancing neurotransmitters.

How to practise relaxation techniques. 

Getting regular, 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night can be helpful to balancing neurotransmitters.

How to sleep better.