Good Mood Food
and Types of Neurotransmitters

Good mood food helps to create the right balance between the inhibitory neurotransmitters and the excitatory neurotransmitters.

Both types of neurotransmitters are involved with setting the right mood and creating good mood food.

Inhibitory Neurotransmitters are calming which is required for relieving anxiety and stress.

Excitatory Neurotransmitters are stimulating which is required for focus and getting the job done.

Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that shuttle across spaces between your cells and bind to receptors that relay its signal.  There are many neurotransmitters, but they will usually only function as inhibitory or excitatory.

Signs of Neurotransmitter Imbalances

  • Addiction to Sugar & Carbohydrates
  • Addiction to Nicotine
  • Addiction to Drugs (legal & illegal)
  • Addiction to Alcohol
  • Addiction to Caffeine & Coffee

Symptoms of Neurotransmitter Imbalances:

  • Depression & Restlessness
  • Impulsive Behaviors
  • Eating Disorders
  • Poor Concentration & Learning Skills
  • Chronic Pain
  • Adrenal Fatigue

People that have neurotransmitter imbalances usually turn to addictive behaviors instead of relying on healthy good mood foods.

Good Mood Food - Serotonin

Serotonin is one of the most well known inhibitory neurotransmitters.

Serotonin is turned into melatonin in your pineal gland.  It's needed for a good nights sleep! 

Did you know serotonin is also crucial to your digestive system?

Serotonin is made from an amino acid called tryptophan. 

Tryptophan is also converted into vitamin B3 which is usually deficient in people with lots of stress.

Serotonin will help to balance the excitatory neurotransmitters and does promote the feeling of peace. 

However, too much serotonin will actually become a very negative experience.

Low tryptophan levels can lead to low levels of serotonin production.

This could lead to health problems such as depression, insomnia, and weight gain.

Amino acids like tyrosine (makes dopamine), isoleucine, and leucine all compete with tryptophan.

This competition between various amino acids could lead to low tryptophan levels.

Foods High in Tryptophan

  • Organic Animal Proteins such as Turkey, Buffalo, Elk, Beef, Liver, Lamb, Goat, Venison, Eggs, and Pork
  • Grass Fed Dairy such as Raw Whole Milks, Swiss Cheese, Mozzarella Cheese, Cheddar Cheese, Gruyere Cheese, and Romano
  • Wild Caught Seafood such as Tuna, Halibut, Salmon, Mahi Mahi, King Crab, Lobster, Clams, Oysters, Shrimp, and Scallops
  • Organic Seeds such as Flax Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Sesame Seeds, and Sunflower Seeds
  • Organic Nuts such as Almonds, Hazelnuts, Pine Nuts, Pistachios, and Chestnuts
  • Organic Grains such as Oats, Wheat, Buckwheat, Barley, Rye, Rice, Corn, and Millet

You'll get a good dose of Tryptophan at Thanksgiving dinner!

  • Organic Vegetables such as Potatoes, Broccoli Raab, Onions, Mushrooms, Green Peas, Cauliflower, Sea Vegetables, Asparagus, and Winter Squash
  • Organic Fruit such as Avocado, Apricots, Figs, Kiwi, Peaches, Papaya, Blueberry, Strawberry, and Elderberries
  • Organic Legumes such as Soybeans, Soy Sauce, Lentils, White Beans, Chickpeas, Navy Beans, Kidney Beans, Mung Beans, and Peanuts

Good Mood Food - Dopamine

Dopamine is the feel good chemical which functions as both an inhibitory and excitatory neurotransmitter.

Dopamine stimulates both bliss and pleasure in people.  Although for the most part, dopamine will mainly be excitatory.

Dopamine is also the precursor to Epinephrine aka adrenaline.  An imbalance of dopamine is strongly associated with addictions.

Too much dopamine can increase your sense of hearing, vision, smell, taste, and touch.  And can lead to misinterpreting experiences.

With low levels of dopamine you will not be able to focus or feel any satisfaction.

On the other hand, with high levels of dopamine your focus may become too intense.

Drugs such as caffeine, nicotine, and cocaine will significantly increase your levels of dopamine.

This can result in feelings of paranoia and suspicious thoughts.  Or locking yourself up in a bathroom!

Dopamine is made from the amino acids phenylalanine and tyrosine.

Phenylalanine is the precursor to making tyrosine.

And tyrosine is the main amino acid required for dopamine production.

Foods High in Dopamine Amino Acids

  • Wild Caught Fish such as Salmon, Halibut, Rainbow Trout, Mackerel, Sardines, and Striped Bass
  • Organic Animal Proteins such as Red Meats, Pastured Duck, Pastured Chickens, and Pastured Eggs
  • Grass Fed Dairy such as Ricotta Cheese, Provolone, Yogurt, and Cottage Cheese
  • Organic Fruits such as Avocado, Banana, Jackfruit, Navel Orange, Pineapple, and Watermelon 
  • Organic Vegetables such as Beets, Artichoke, Mustard Greens, Peas, Turnip Greens, Spinach, Watercress, and Seaweed
  • Organic Chocolate such as Dark Chocolate and Cacao Nibs
  • Organic Nuts such as Walnuts and Almonds
  • Organic Seeds such as Sesame Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, and Pumpkin Seeds
  • Organic Legumes such as Fava Bean, Lentils, and Soybeans
  • Organic Grains such as Oatmeal and Wheat 

Glutamate the Main Excitatory Neurotransmitter!

Glutamate is the most abundant excitatory neurotransmitter. 

Glutamate which is an amino acid is naturally found in animal foods and in plant foods. 

Glutamate is required for both learning and a functioning memory.  Low levels of glutamate will lead to poor brain activity

However, high levels of glutamate will deplete your glutathione levels which could then lead to neuron destruction.

MSG is a substance high in free glutamate or free glutamic acid.  And we all know how this toxic substance can excite your brain cells to death.

Glutamate is needed for a good attention span and brain energy.

And glutamate along with complex carbohydrates, vitamin B6, Zinc, Taurine, and Magnesium increases GABA which is a Major inhibitory neurotransmitter.

Consuming too much free glutamate (especially the excitotoxin MSG) can actually cause depolarization of your brain cells.

And free glutamate can also create calcium blockages in your cell membranes.

Interestingly enough, plant foods that contain glutamate such as the tomato will have much more free glutamate when they become very ripe or cooked for too long.

Also, foods high in bound glutamate like animal foods will become a big problem when you cook them for too long or process them in a way that creates free glutamate.

Most processed foods will be high in free glutamate.

Foods High in "Natural" Glutamate

  • Grass Fed Dairy such as Parmesan Cheese and Hard Aged Cheeses
  • Organic Animal Proteins such as Rabbit, Turkey, Most Red Meats, and Cured Meats
  • Seafood such as Shrimp, Scallops, Salt Water Fish, and Fresh Water Fish
  • Organic Seeds such as Sunflower Seeds and Pumpkin Seeds
  • Organic Grains such as Wheat, Barley, and Oats
  • Organic Nuts such as Pistachios and Almonds
  • Organic Fruits & Vegetables such as Ripe Tomatoes, Corn, Broccoli, Peas, and Mushrooms
  • Organic Legumes such as Peanuts, Cashews, Soybeans, Lentils, Black Beans, Pinto Beans, and Navy Beans

Processed Foods High in Glutamate

These foods tend to be highly processed and will usually contain a high amount of free glutamate ......

Commercial Soy Sauce, Ultra-Pasteurized Dairy, Commercial Parmesan Cheese, Commercial Fish Sauce, Dried Kelp, and Processed Hydrolyzed Foods (soy burgers, protein bars, protein powders, etc.)

When you have an Imbalance....

Many people that have a neurotransmitter imbalance will resort to drinking coffee, drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, or taking drugs.

The problem with this scenario is that these substances seem to only temporarily fix the symptoms of a neurotransmitter imbalance by giving someone an artificial high.

And the catch is that this habit will then damage and create more of an imbalance with your neurotransmitters.  In the long run, it's a much better idea to rely on good mood foods to create the "right high".

Good Mood Food Tips

Carbohydrates help to make good mood food because they help to clear the way for tryptophan (which produces serotonin) by eliminating competing amino acids.

However, consuming excessive amounts of carbohydrates will be detrimental to your neurotransmitters (especially dopamine) in the long run.

Vegans and strict vegetarians are at great risk of creating a neurotransmitter imbalance when their diets are too low in protein and too high in carbohydrates.

And people who consume high amounts of cooked and processed animal meats without adequate carbohydrates (low carb diets) will be at risk of exciting their neurons to unsafe levels.

Cooking food destroys essential amino acids such as tryptophan that make serotonin and increase the amount of free glutamate in food that will excite your brain.

Raw or rare animal foods and seafood help to make good mood food because they can help balance out the two types of neurotransmitters.

Also, combining amino acids found in milk with the phenylalanine in chocolate (helps make dopamine) produces a more pleasurable good mood food.

Essentially, good mood food is about creating the right balance of carbohydrates, amino acids, and other nutrients to balance out the two types of neurotransmitters - inhibitory and excitatory.

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