Tag Archive for neurotransmitters

Is Your GI Tract Out of Whack? How to Restore Your Gut and Your Mind

Is your GI tract out of whack? Your mental and physical health become impaired when your gut is imbalanced. Find out how to heal it here.
If your GI tract is out of whack, your mental and physical health will be too. Fatigue and fuzzy thinking, not to mention bloating and irregular bowel movements, are linked to your gut health. If your sick and tired of feeling less than your best it’s time to look at your gut health.

Your GI Tract is Your Second Brain

Scientists consider the GI tract (Gastrointestinal tract) the body’s second brain. It’s vital to your mental and physical health. The microbes in your gut are responsible for more than 80% of your immune system and can help your body fight off foreign invaders such as the cold or flu.

Your GI tract is also a key player in your brain chemistry. It breaks down amino acids in your gut turning them into neurotransmitters in the brain. If this process isn’t running smoothly (literally) your mood and health are compromised.

Is Your Gut Hurting or Helping Your Brain Chemistry?

As you know, amino acids are found in the foods you eat and the supplements you take. When your GI tract is balanced, your mood and energy levels are too. Allergies, stress, and toxins can cause severe damage to the lining of your gut; this disrupts your mood and mental health too. If your feeling down, depressed or drained testing your neurotransmitter levels can help identify if there is an imbalance; in your brain and in your gut.

Your GI tract is responsible for producing important neurotransmitters such as serotonin and GABA. The bacteria in your gut is in charge of making these inhibitory very important neurotransmitters that regulate your mood. In fact, more than 95 percent of the serotonin in your body made in your gut. If you struggle with depression or anxiety, your gut health is likely to blame.

Is My Gut Imbalanced?

Some of the most common symptoms and side effects of an imbalanced GI tract are:

  • IBS
  • Heartburn
  • Headaches or Migraines
  • Eczema or Asthma
  • Intense Seasonal Allergies
  • Fibromyalgia or Joint Pain
  • Chronic fatigue or Fogginess
  • Hives or Rashes
  • Mood Disorders and Anxiety
  • Autoimmune Illnesses
    • Ulcerative Colitis
    • Celiac’s
    • Crohn’s Disease
    • Rheumatoid Arthritis
    • Psoriasis
    • Multiple Sclerosis
    • Lupus
    • Scleroderma
    • Rosacea
    • Type 1 Diabetes

What Can Cause or Contribute to a GI Tract Imbalance?

  • Refined carbohydrates, processed or fast foods
  • Processed white flour
  • Foods high in sugar: The more sugar we eat, the fewer the binding sites available for Vitamin C and therefore a dampened immune response.
  • Artificial flavors and dyes (such as Blue #1, Blue #2, Red #3 and Red #40 and Yellow #6)
  • Preservatives (BHA, BHT, sodium nitrate/nitrite, sulfur dioxide and potassium bromate) and flavor enhancers (Monosodium glutamate and Disodium Guanylate)
  • High-fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats)
  • Toxins such as processed wheat, soybean and corn oil that can contribute to leaky gut
  • Gluten or dairy
  • Antibiotics
  • Birth Control
  • Alcohol
  • NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen or Aspirin. NSAIDs can inhibit your body from rebuilding the intestinal lining.

How to Balance Your Gut and Your Mind

There are natural ways to balance your GI tract. The most important thing to do is talk to your practitioner and look at your histamine levels (high histamine indicates a food allergen). This will help to identify if there is a trigger in your diet, and without removing it, all the supplements in the world will not heal your gut. Repairing your gut may take some time, but when you are working with a trained practitioner like those here at Neurogistics, you will have support and accountability along the way. Other ways to repair your GI tract include:

  • Taking supplements to support immune and central nervous system such as glutamine that supports immunity and digestion and Omega-3 fatty acids, and Vitamin D
  • Avoiding chemicals, pesticides, and other environmental toxins
  • Taking Probiotics such as kefir, sauerkraut, and yogurt
  • Reducing Stress through these mindfulness exercises

Significant changes in your GI tract and your brain can take just a few weeks to start working.  For more information on testing your neurotransmitter levels and balancing your GI tract look into our programs.

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What You Need to Know About L-theanine

L-theanine is a naturally occurring amino acid used to treat anxiety, promote relaxation and improve focus and concentration. For many, it can help their mental and physical health in a profound way. Here is what you need to know about L-theanine before trying it.

» Read more..

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Tossing and Turning? Sleep Deprivation and Your Health

There aren’t many people who are happy with their sleep: They get too little, they feel restless, they don’t wake up refreshed, they can’t stay asleep. In fact, most Americans admit to having erratic sleep patterns, especially through the work week. So what does sleep deprivation actually do to the body? And if we can’t add more hours to our sleep, how can we make the sleep we do get better? Top-Nursing-Programs.com shares their tips:

Sleep

 

Sleeping Beauty? 8 to 8.5 Hours of sleep per night adults generally require (1).  Are you getting enough?

1 in 3 Adults who have insomnia at some point in their lives (1)

43% of Americans ages 13-64 say they rarely or never get good sleep on weeknights.

60% admit to suffering some sleep problem every night (snoring, waking constantly, feeling groggy in the morning). (2)

15% of adults 19-64 say they sleep less than six hours on weeknights. (2)

The Science of Sleep

Our bodies experience two types of sleep on a nightly basis: NREM (non-rapid eye movement) and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Since sleeping is a cycle, NREM occurs as we first fall asleep, with REM following about 90 minutes after and recurring about every 90 minutes.

Stage 1: Light sleep, between sleep and wakefulness.

Stage 2: Onset of sleep, during which we become disengaged with surroundings. Breathing and heart rate are regulated and body temperature drops.

Stages 3 and 4: Breathing slows, muscles relax, tissue grows and repairs, energy is restored and hormones are released.

How Sleep Deprivation Affects the Body

Lack of sleep or insomnia can have multiple negative effects on the human body and mind. Here are some of the most common and dangerous problems.

  • Fatigue. It is estimated that fatigue due to sleeplessness is the cause of 100,000 car accidents every year.
  • Dulled cognitive processes. Sleep consolidates and affirms memories in your mind. Without it, people have a hard time retaining learned information from the day before.
  • Increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke. 90% of those with insomnia also have other health conditions.
  • Lack of sex drive. For men especially, lack of sleep can contribute to lower testosterone levels.
  • Depression. In a 2007 study of 10,000 people, it was found that those with insomnia were five times more likely to develop depression.
  • Premature skin aging. The stress hormone cortisol is released in great amounts in those with insomnia. Cortisol can break down collagen in skin.
  • Weight gain. People who sleep less than six hours each day are 30% more likely to become obese than those who sleep seven to nine hours.

How to Sleep Better

Most of us could use help falling and staying asleep. Just a few daily changes could mean the difference between a restless night and a restful one. (4)

1. Set a regular bedtime and stick to it. Wake up at the same time every day; even on days off.

2. Test your neurotransmitters. Unblanced levels lead to sleep cycle issues.

3. If you really need to make up for lost sleep, opt for a short (30-minute) daytime nap. Don’t sleep in.

4. Fight after-dinner drowsiness by remaining active at home before bedtime.

5. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine late in the day.

6. Light sources suppress melatonin production. Try not to use a computer, TV, smartphone or tablet just before getting into bed. Consider orange tinted glasses to block the blue light, aiding in melatonin production.

Source: Top-Nursing-Programs.com

Sources:
1. http://deltasleeplabs.com
2. http://sleepfoundation.org
3. http://www.webmd.com
4. http://www.helpguide.org

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How After-School Exercise Makes Homework Easier for All!

Does homework time at your house make you and your kids want to scream? Contrary to what many schools push, and some parents believe, starting homework or staring at a computer after-school does not bode well for academic success. Playtime and afterschool exercise does. Sound too good to be true? A new study published by Pediatrics shows that afterschool exercise has more benefits than many parents—and teachers may believe. Children who exercised after-school showed better self-control increased executive functioning and improvements in memory. » Read more..

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Why You Need More Serotonin and How to Get it

By Emily Roberts MA, LPC

We know that serotonin is the “feel good neurotransmitter” but new research shows that it can keep you stay calm and patient in frustrating circumstances. Waiting for the light to turn red may make your blood boil, but with balanced levels of serotonin, your system is hardly phased by the stress. It is also improves impulse control. The urge for giving into the sweet treat or bad habit won’t be as strong with enough serotonin in your system. » Read more..

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Is Sugar Making You Stupid?

Your sweet tooth make be affecting more than just your diet. Sugar can actually change your brain—and not in a healthy way. New research shows that certain foods, especially ones high in sugar and glucose, can damage brain health. Your memory, your neurotransmitters, and overall brain structure can be permanently changed with too much of the sweet stuff. » Read more..

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Smaller Brains and Shorter Fuses Found in Traumatized Children

Research shows that chronic neglect and abuse represent a profound threat to a child’s brain development.  Their brains are smaller and their fuses are shorter, emotional wiring doesn’t connect properly. It is biologically necessary to turn to caregivers for food, comfort and other basic needs. When these needs aren’t met, the lack of care sets off a biological stress response. Even before birth a flood of hormones can damage key areas of the brain. The brain is wired to be in a stress response before they even take their first breath. » Read more..

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How Secondhand Stress Effects Your Health

Emily Roberts MA, LPC

Do you ever feel exhausted or anxious after spending time with a stressed-out person? Maybe your friend is dealing with work-related worry or your child is struggling with school work. Whatever the case may be, those around you can cause secondhand stress. Research is proving it’s even more powerful than we once thought; resulting in chronic fatigue, anxiety, and depression. » Read more..

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Help Your Child Stay Focused and Confident With Our Summer Special

Congratulations on surviving another academic year! As the school year comes to a close, children face many strong emotions. The transition into summer can be very difficult for them, and anxiety often manifests itself in their behaviors and in their brains. Testing your child’s neurotransmitter levels with our summer special will help them transition into the summer months with ease, and head back to class feeling confident! Focus issues, behavioral problems, and learning challenges can all be due to an imbalanced brain, don’t wait until next year, help them now. » Read more..

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Willpower: Why You Can’t Resist The Donut

willpower

By Emily Roberts MA, LPC

Do you ever wonder why it’s so hard to have self-control at a morning meeting, when the plate of delicious donuts are practically asking you to eat them? Isn’t it interesting that after the 20th time you have told your child “don’t touch that” they seem to forget and do it anyway?  Saying “no” to the sweet treat or controlling the impulse isn’t just about self-control, it’s more than willpower. You can learn right from wrong, but your brain can be much more powerful than logic.

Think of willpower like a muscle, if it’s not developed fully it can be weak; it can get exhausted by overuse, but just like our other muscles, we can repair it.

“It is as if self-control is a limited resource that ‘runs out’ if it is used too much,” said Chandra Sripada, the lead researcher in a study published last week in The Journal of Psychological Science.

Therefore all the effort in the word can’t keep little Timmy’s hands from reaching to touch the object of his affection or that sweet treat from hitting your lips. Researchers found that increasing levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine can help to reduce urges and increase self-control.

The study, published April 22 in The Journal Psychological Science, indicates that when one has the right balance of these two neurotransmitters it can help prevent the depletion of self-control.  If you overuse the “muscle” the chemicals in your brain are too tired to say no.  Medications or supplementation may be the missing link by giving a boost to specific brain circuits that are often depleted after attempting to maintain self-control for long periods of time.

What is even more interesting and notable is that ones mood plays a vital role in impulsivity and aggression.

Research published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) found that loss of self-control is also due to nutrition. When blood-glucose levels dropped, subjects were more likely to act on an urge.

“Self-control requires energy, and that energy is provided in part by glucose,” wrote lead study author Brad Bushman, a professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University.

“Glucose is made from nutritious intake that becomes converted into neurotransmitters that provide energy for brain processes. Low glucose levels can undermine self-control because people have insufficient energy to overcome challenges and unwanted impulses,” wrote Bushman and his colleagues.

willpower

Wish you or your child could resist the urge to act on their impulses? As you can see it’s more than knowing right from wrong, it also takes a bit of a brain workout to build up that muscle.

  • Test the brain.  A simple urine analysis can show which levels are off, and results will suggest what supplementation will help increase self-control Neurotransmitters.
  •  What you eat effects willpower. What you feed your body affects how much energy the prefrontal cortex has to work with, where many of our impulsive decisions are made.  If you are not absorbing nutrients from the food in your gut, your brain is going to be cloudy.  Making sure that your blood sugar stays balanced, requires eating right and often, this means every 3-4 hours. For more self-control, stick to the foods that you know fuel your brain. Click Here for some great backpack snacks that boot brain power!
  • Talk with your health care practitioner about medications or supplementation that may be impacting your willpower. Notice what is difficult for you to resist, or what you wind up regretting later on in the day.  These actions are examples of what a boost of self-control could help you resist.
  • Repetition.  Although you may not get it on the first try, continuing to say no or practicing a new behavior, instead of the problematic one, can help rewire the brain.  That is, if you have enough power to run the system.

At the end of the day it takes gas and mechanics to keep a car running, the same is true for your brain.  Everyone needs help behaviorally and neurologically to make changes stick.

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