Tyler Woods Holistic Mental Health

Mindhance Holistic Mental Health

Tyler Woods Holistic Mental Health

Neurotransmitters and Food

by Tyler Woods Ph.D. on 02/21/18

A neurotransmitter is a chemical messenger released from one nerve cell, which finds its way to another nerve cell, where it influences a particular chemical reaction to occur. Neurotransmitters control major body functions including movement, emotional response, and our physical ability to experience pleasure and pain. A neurotransmitter imbalance can cause depression, anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, irritable bowel, hormone dysfunction, eating disorders, fibromyalgia, obsessions, compulsions, adrenal dysfunction, chronic pain, migraine headaches, and even early death. Scientific and medical research indicates that our brains use more than 35 different neurotransmitters, some of these we can control and some we can’t.

There are many types of chemicals that act as neurotransmitters in the human body. The way that foods may affect these chemicals is important in understanding the possible role of diet in developmental disorders. The foods we eat can directly affect the performance of the brain. It has been proven that by eating the right foods, you can boost your IQ, improve your mood, be more emotionally stable, sharpen your memory and keep your mind young. If you give your brain the right nutrients, you will be able to think quicker, have a better memory, be better coordinated and balanced, and have improved concentration.

Three key Neurotransmitters

• Neurons, which power the message,

• Neurotransmitters, which create the message and

• Receptors, which receive the message.

Serotonin is responsible for the calming and relaxation states with a general sense of wellbeing. High levels of serotonin can cause a person to feel sluggish and drowsy. Low levels of serotonin will cause intense food cravings, insomnia, depression, aggressive behavior, increased sensitivity to pain, and is associated with obsessive-compulsive eating disorders. Serotonin is synthesized from tryptophan in the presence of adequate vitamins B1, B3, B6, and folic acid. The best food sources of tryptophan include brown rice, cottage cheese, meat, peanuts, and sesame seeds.

Dopamine and norepinephrine are responsible for alertness, fuel for enthusiasm, and motivation. Protein consumption causes these two neurotransmitters to be released into the brain. Good protein sources include meat, chicken, fish, nuts, soy products, eggs and dairy products.

Some proteins that affect dopamine levels are:

• Fish such as salmon, tuna, flounder.

• Chicken, eggs and turkey.

• Small amounts of red meat.

• Beans, such as chickpeas and lentils.

Grief is a journey not a Prozac Deficiency

by Tyler Woods Ph.D. on 01/03/15


Since when did a normal response require an antidepressant? Grief, which is a very normal response is a journey. According to the Mayo Clinic, Prozac and other SSRI'S are used to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), bulimia nervosa, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), and panic disorder. No where does it say Prozac or any antidepressant of any kind is used to treat grief. That is because grief is not a pathology, and it certainly is not a medical condition. Grief isn't something that people just get over. Grief is a part of life.

I worry more about people who do not grief. To me, there is something drastically wrong when a person is unable to grieve. However, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) which is published by the American Psychiatric Association, where 80% of their contributors have ties with the pharmaceutical companies is now is branding grief as a medical condition if a mourner feels sad for more than two weeks. Drug therapy has shown to have very little impact on grief recovery and many people have said they were unable to do their grief until after they were off medications.

Grief is a journey not a Prozac deficiency. Grief simply happens and is an automatic reaction. It is missing someone we once loved who is no longer here with us. I tell my clients that grief just means we loved. Love does not require medications, nor does the journey deep into our soul.  Grief is a normal response to loss and there is no one “right” way to grieve just as there is no one way to anticipate how the feelings of sadness, anger, loss, and loneliness will heal and evolve and resolve. There is no time table that says how long this journey will last. Grief is balancing our inner and outer realities while learning to accept the loss.

I cannot  help but feel that one of the reasons we have a difficult time healing from loss is we tend to focus on trying to accept the absence of our loved ones rather than working to reinforce the connection to those qualities that were most near and dear to us. It is important not to worry about forcing yourself to let go right away or trying to get back to some kind normal. Remember, you will have a new normal, so take your time getting used to it. Grief will send you a personal invitation to journey every part of yourself.