5 Tips for Maintaining Proper Brain Chemistry During The Holidays
The holiday season is approaching. Have you given any consideration on how the holiday season affects your neurotransmitters? I’m guessing probably not. Read below and be armed and ready!
Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not, most of us have experienced that sleepy feeling after eating too much turkey. Did you know that turkey is rich in tryptophan, a neurotransmitter precursor to melatonin, a neurotransmitter that helps you sleep!! Melatonin is derived from Serotonin, a well-recognized neurotransmitter responsible for a great part of our mood. Serotonin and Dopamine are probably the two most recognized neurotransmitters across the board. Little did you know but the things you do over this holiday season can have major impact on your neurotransmitters.
Neurotransmitters are the brain chemicals that communicate information throughout our brain and body. They relay signals between nerve cells, called “neurons.” The brain uses neurotransmitters to tell your heart to beat, your lungs to breathe, and your stomach to digest. They can also affect mood, sleep, concentration, weight, and can cause adverse symptoms when they are out of balance. Neurotransmitter levels can be depleted many ways. As a matter of fact, 86% of Americans have suboptimal neurotransmitter levels. [Click to Tweet] Stress, poor diet, neurotoxins, genetic predisposition, drugs (prescription and recreational), alcohol and caffeine usage can cause these levels to be out of optimal range. (1)
But, there are positive lifestyle activities that can promote a healthy balance of neurotransmitters. Just as easy as our neurotransmitters may come out of balance, the trend towards balancing them can be achieved by the following five recommendations.
Regular exercise: Exercise can have an effect on the channels that produce serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine and possibly others. (2)
Healthy Diet: Too many sweets over the holiday season disrupt the ideal fluctuations in brain chemistry and may deregulate our brain chemistry. Make sure to eat plenty of vegetables and take it easy on the sweet stuff.
Manage your Stress: Stress raises free radicals, insulin, and blood pressure which all damage neurons. (3) If we damage our neurons, then we damage our neurotransmitters.
Just Breathe: Sounds simple but breathing can have a major impact on our nervous system and its expression. The vagus nerve is the nerve that comes from the brain and controls the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls your relaxation response. (4) The more relaxed you are, then better response of neurotransmitters.
Relax: It’s so easy to get caught up in the holiday madness that we forget to relax. Relaxation gives the brain time to rest, which in turn allows it to make the proper neurotransmitters. [Click to Tweet] So when you don’t feel like fighting the holiday madness, kick back and forget about it!!
Neurotransmitters is an exciting or very boring topic depending on the audience. Regardless of your interest, it is important to keep up a healthy relationship with them. I tend to focus more on the eliminating the things that I know cause harm and focus on the things that I know cause balance in my neurotransmitter levels. So when the holidays roll back around this year, keep in mind the above mentioned five factoids to create balance in your own brain chemistry.
What is your biggest challenge at the holidays and how do you handle it?
Dr. Andrew Kender, D.C.
October 28, 2015
Functional Endocrinology of Ohio
Akron: 2800 S. Arlington Road, Akron, Ohio 44312 (330) 644-5488
Cleveland: 6200 Rockside Woods Blvd., Ste. 100, Independence, Ohio 44131 (216) 236-0060
Dr. Keith S. Ungar and Dr. Andrew Kender, Chiropractic Physicians
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