• Jennifer Kozek

Our Body Makes Neurotransmitters, So Give It Nutrition Instead of Psych Meds


"Those with psychiatric symptoms aren't missing certain chemicals. They are missing certain nutrients that make those chemicals." - Healing Without Hurting.

Our bodies are amazing machines. When we provide our cells with nutrient-dense whole food nutrition free of chemicals, additives, pesticides, and herbicides, our bodies flourish. If our body is nutrient deficient or full of toxins, it can lead to cell death, immunodeficiency, and physical and mental health illness. According to the July 2017 edition of Nutrients, thirty-one to forty-five percent of the United States population has some nutritional deficiency. Before a psychiatrist prescribes a psychiatric medication, testing for levels of nutrients in the body is essential.


The brain is the greediest organ of our body, with some particular dietary requirements. It's hardly surprising that nutritional deficiencies lead to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, memory deficiencies, attention, cognition issues, sleep problems, and sensory processing disorders. The most common nutrient deficiencies leading to mental disorders are omega–3 fatty acids, B vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that are precursors to neurotransmitters.


When diet and lifestyle is addressed, and an intervention is put in place to correct for deficiencies, there is a remarkable change. In a 2016 study in the Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine, "patients reported multiple benefits across all conditions addressed and felt their emotional and or neurological symptoms diminished significantly."


Other symptoms of nutritional deficiencies include weight gain due to a slower metabolism, fatigue, salt and sugar cravings, muscle weakness, diminished sex drive, hair loss, brittle hair and nails, and scaly skin. There are many causes of nutritional deficiencies including, eating a Standard American Diet (SAD) lacking essential nutrients, low absorption due to poor digestion, metabolic issues due to genetic mutations, lack of nutrients in our soil, and medications. And so, a vicious cycle ensues.


"Common medications deplete vital nutrients essential to your health." - Hyla Cass, MD.

The sad reality is that many people eat poorly-paying no attention to how their eating habits affect their mental health, and many are too quick to find the "quick fix" remedy. Our allopathic psychiatrists and doctors do not get training in a systems biology to treatment, nor are they encouraged to offer this advice. The lack of knowledge in this area is primarily because the pharmaceutical companies fund our medical schools. There is no money in good nutrition or healthy people.


Why We Need to Eat Enough Protein


Eating enough protein is vital. We can get adequate protein from many plant sources, as well as meat products. Everyone talks about how those with mental health issues need more dopamine or serotonin, which usually translates into more medication. However, if we look at the physiology behind how neurotransmitters are made in the first place, most of them depend on an adequate intake of protein. Protein is broken down into amino acids, and the amino acids are then converted to neurotransmitters with the help of other nutrients such as B vitamins and specific minerals.


Interestingly, medication does not increase the levels of these chemicals in the body; it only re-uptakes what is already there. So, if a person is deficient, the medication may do little to remedy the situation. If it recirculated back to the brain where there may be too much already, side-effects could occur.


Two of the most common brain chemicals involved with depression are dopamine and serotonin. These chemicals, called neurotransmitters, regulate mood. Serotonin deficiency can lead to depression. Hence why antidepressants known as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are typically the go-to medication treatment.


Serotonin is actually created by an amino acid called tryptophan. Niacin (vitamin B3) is part of the metabolizing process of forming serotonin from tryptophan. Therefore, niacin deficiency can also directly impact mood by affecting your production of serotonin. Dopamine is produced from the amino acid tyrosine and phenylalanine, both of which can be obtained from protein-rich foods.


Melatonin is an important hormone that helps to regulate our sleep cycle. The conversion of serotonin to melatonin is controlled by the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the hypothalamus, the coordinator of the body's circadian rhythms. Many doctors, both holistic and conventional, often recommend it for sleep problems. Although generally safe in lower doses and limited time, supplementing this powerful hormone may have some side effects. Some of them include nightmares, grogginess, seizures, tics, headaches, nausea, diabetes, small testicles, and depression. To avoid synthetic substitutes, we can provide the brain's pineal gland what it needs to make melatonin. The necessary nutrients include tryptophan, GABA, fatty acids, B vitamins, zinc, and magnesium.


As one can see, proper nutrition and getting enough nutrients is essential to our mental well-being. Instead of running to get a script, perhaps it is time to address the many other root causes of mental health issues, including nutritional deficiencies. To learn more about how to help you or your family overcome ADHD, autism, and mental health conditions, while at the same time improving your overall health I am offering a FREE downloadable PDF of an online presentation I recently gave containing these tips and much more. Learn why eating protein is essential and why microbiome diversity is critical. SIGN UP HERE to receive your free download today. To purchase my book Healing Without Hurting, click here.

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