I am still reading the book "The Edge Effect" by Eric Braverman, MD.  This book focuses on the brain to improve health and longevity.  GABA is a neurotransmitter that helps to calm the brain.  According to the author, if you are experiencing a GABA deficiency, you may begin to feel anxious, nervous, or irritable.  Many of us experience these symptoms regularly due to stress, so of course, GABA would not be the only deficiency we may be experiencing.  Other indicators of a GABA deficiency from the book "The Edge Effect" are as follows:  Feelings of dread, blurred vision, protein cravings, cold or clammy hands, feeling of a lump in the throat, dizziness, TMJ, phobias, PMS, mood swings and more.  A lack of GABA can lead to numerous physical and mental health concerns.  If you find that you are struggling with personality, memory or attention issues, it may be worth checking out your GABA levels.  The author recommends adding foods with glutamine, which is a precursor of GABA to balance a GABA deficiency.  The following is the list of foods recommended:  Almonds, bananas, broccoli, brown rice, halibut, lentils, oats, oranges, potatoes, spinach, walnuts and whole wheat and whole grains.  Many times, if one neurotransmitter is deficient, others may also be deficient.  Many times, it is necessary to look at imbalances in the entire system in order to feel better, and improving our diets is a great place to start.  Have a great day!  Shanna
I am back to neurotransmitters. I am currently reading a couple of books that focus on this topic - both for mood and for weight loss.  Acetylcholine is not a neurotransmitter that we hear a lot about.  More familiar ones are serotonin and dopamine.  Interestingly, a lack of acetylcholine in the system can lead to a person isolating him or herself from human interaction.  According to Eric Braverman in his book "The Edge Effect", a person with balanced acetylcholine has the following attributes:  hardworking, detail-oriented, devoted and exacting.  He also states that perfectionism and self-discipline are the hallmarks of this personality type - qualities that can be pluses or minuses depending on the extent of brain imbalance.  It is interesting to me to see this profile.  More and more people that I know are perfectionistic.  This is positive for some, but almost debilitating for others.  Life can be very difficult if we perceive that everything has to be perfect.  The author also states that the perfectionist is a person who maintains self-control at the expense of relaxation, enjoyment, and warmth.  This can affect the work environment in in ways such as having difficulty transitioning from one task to another, or accepting that something is done "good enough".  It this tends to be your nature, and you feel out of balance, some foods with choline that may be helpful in restoring balance are almonds, broccoli, eggs, peanut butter, and many kinds of fish.  Another indicator that you need more choline may be a craving for fatty foods.  More on neurotransmitters next week.  Have a great day - Shanna
I have been scanning through numerous diet books lately.  The conflicting information is amazing.  There are recommendations for no protein, all meat, no legumes, no grains, no fruit...the list goes on.  The real problem is that we are all from different cultures and backgrounds, and what might work for one person, is not necessarily ideal for someone else.  I was reading the book Younger (Thinner) You Diet by Eric Braverman, MD.  He spent time talking about neurotransmitters and their affect on our ability to lose and maintain weight.  The first neurotransmitter he discusses is dopamine.  He ties rapid or significant weight gain to a dopamine deficiency.  Dopamine is important because it effects or physical and mental energy.  This also has an affect on on metabolism - slowing it down, also.  If you are someone who always gains weight, even when you haven't changed your eating habits, it may be due to a dopamine deficiency.  According to Dr. Braverman, "Without the right amount of dopamine, the circuits in our brains do not relay the message that we feel satisfied and full.  Instead of walking away from the table, we'll just keep eating and eating and eating:  We are never emotionally or physically fulfilled by food, no matter how much we've eaten."  The following is a list of indicators from the author which point to low dopamine in the system:
  • Do you recognize when you are full? 
  • Do you feel happy after eating?
  • Can a small snack like a piece of fresh fruit tide you over until the next meal?
  • When following other diets, have you found that you were always hungry, even after you finished a meal? 
  • Do you drink copious amounts of liquid with your meal?
If you answered no to any of the above questions, you may want to consider changing your diet to lift your dopamine levels. Recommendations to lift dopamine levels in the body include eliminating sugary foods and processed "simple" carbs from the diet.  It may be beneficial to get your vitamins, minerals and amino acids checked to see if your system is out of balance.  Next week - I will talk about acetylcholine - have a great day - Shanna