The Effect of Neurotransmitters on Various Aspects of the Human Mind
The average American lunch might include something along the lines of a turkey and
cheese sandwich, which is pretty healthy.
What you might not know is that the white bread and
turkey in that sandwich causes your brain to work at a slower pace, often leaving you feeling
lethargic and drowsy, while the cheese acts as a brain booster to increase brain activity resulting
in increased mental alertness.
Every single nutrient, vitamin, and mineral in a digestible food
come together to form a unique blend that can completely change the perception and mindset of
The complementary connection between food and mood is an inevitable one that
affects us every day, whether we realize it or not.
Despite the common misconception that food
exclusively affects the physicality of a human being, the mental state of an individual can be
altered through the intake of certain foods with specific chemical compositions.
neurotransmitters in foods are also thought to be able to help in mild cases of depression or
What is it about food that yields this kind of power?
“It is food’s ability to alter the
production or release of neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers that carry information from
one nerve cell to another” (McManamy).
Basically, neurotransmitters are responsible for
carrying information to the brain about the body’s emotional state.
Food can alter the
manufacturing of neurotransmitters through the nutrients it contains.
Nutrients are the
forerunners to neurotransmitters, and the number of existing forerunners in a digested food
determines the amount of a certain neurotransmitter that is produced (McManamy).
overproduction or lack of a certain neurotransmitter causes the body to feel a distinct emotion,
ranging from sluggishness, to tranquility, to vivacity.
As we know, foods are not made up of just
This is what makes the food-mood connection so unique.
The many nutrients in
one food each play their part and come together to create a distinct combination of nutrients to
activate the absorption or release of certain neurotransmitters, again creating a certain feeling in
The three main types of neurotransmitters are dopamine, norepinephrine, and
Dopamine and norepinephrine come hand in hand, both resulting in the brain being more
alert and observant (Christie).
The amino acid that helps produce these two neurotransmitters is
called tyrosine, which excites the consumer and can lead to increased attention and energy
Food that is rich in dopamine and norepinephrine include all foods with high amounts
of protein such as dairy products, meat, fish, sunflower seeds, beans, and nuts (Boeree 2003).
next time you want to feel energized, forget the coffee.
The caffeine in coffee improves focus
and stimulation, until the crash that follows, which includes headaches, irritability, lack of focus,