Neurotransmitters - The Effect of Neurotransmitters on...

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The Effect of Neurotransmitters on Various Aspects of the Human Mind 11/20/2008 Abstract 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 an individual. 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. The neurotransmitters in foods are also thought to be able to help in mild cases of depression or memory loss. Literature Review 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). The 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 one nutrient. 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 a person. The three main types of neurotransmitters are dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. 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 (Christie). 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). So 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,
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This note was uploaded on 03/10/2010 for the course BIOSC 101 taught by Professor Hughes during the Fall '07 term at Clemson.

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Neurotransmitters - The Effect of Neurotransmitters on...

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