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how to obtain your daily dose of wellbeing

serotonin, dopamine, GABA and hormones such as oxytocin contribute to your wellbeing but how are they made, what triggers their release and how can you maintain your daily dose of wellbeing?

 

1. serotonin - feel-good chemical

serotonin is your feel-good chemical messenger and is "one of the most famous modulators of regulating mood, sleep-wake cycles, and appetite," according to Dr. Katsuhiko Miyazaki from the Neural Computation Unit [1]. The precursor to serotonin is the nutrient tryptophan, an amino acid you can predominantly find in animal proteins. According to a 2015 study, healthy adults that consumed a tryptophan-rich diet were less prone to experiencing depressive symptoms and anxiety [2].

Tryptophan is converted into the amino acid 5-HTP prior to serotonin (5-HT) but 5-HTP can also be extracted from Griffonia seeds or synthesised and taken as a daily food supplement.

2. dopamine - reward & pleasure

according to the Natural Medicines Database, dopamine is responsible for modulating emotional states, sex drive (libido), body movements [3], and the capacity to handle your everyday stress [4].

tyrosine is an isolated natural nutrient and the building block to dopamine. You may be interested in tyrosine as it has been shown to release spikes of dopamine in regions of the brain centrally involved in emotional response and reinforcing behaviours [5]. Rich sources of tyrosine can be found in animal-based protein such as beef, fish, and eggs; the top plant-based sources of tyrosine are seaweed, pumpkin leaves and cooked mustard greens [6]. Vegan-friendly tyrosine supplements are available similar to brain feeds 750mg tyrosine supplement made from fermented corn.

3. GABA - aids relaxation

GABA's primary role in the brain is to relax the nervous system without sedation. It can limit one's stress response by reducing blood pressure, heart rate and muscle contraction [7].

theanine is an isolated natural nutrient extracted from green tea [8]. Theanine is a fast-acting, non-sedative relaxant that reduces the impact of excitatory pathways in the brain and in doing, so it increases the relative concentration of GABA in the brain. This results in general feelings of calm and wellbeing [9] but if you're looking to obtain the therapeutic dose of theanine from tea, you would need to consume up to 15 – 20 cups of green tea [10]. Most theanine supplements use a synthetic Suntheanine which is produced as a racemic using ethylamine, l-glutamine and a multi-stage synthesis but you can obtain 250mg 99% theanine capsules extracted green tea.

4. oxytocin - bonding or love hormone

oxytocin plays a key role in reinforcing positive feelings towards people you love and helps you build strong personal alliances with others to develop a sense of belonging [11]. Psychologist Ruth Feldman and her team measured the blood oxytocin levels in 62 pregnant women during their pregnancy. They found that those with higher oxytocin levels throughout the pregnancy and in the first postpartum reported more behaviours that supported the formation of exclusive relationships with their babies [12]. If you are looking to increase your oxytocin levels, it is released in the brain during sex, it is heightened by skin-to-skin, and it is highly significant during childbirth and breastfeeding [13].

5. acetylcholine - cognitive processing

acetylcholine is released when conducting cognitive tasks such as memory retention and learning [14]. An animal study published by Cognitive Behaviour Research showed increased concentration of acetylcholine improved attention during sustained attention performance tasks [15]

Alpha GPC is an isolated nutrient and building block to acetylcholine which is known to freely cross the blood-brain-barrier [16]. Alpha GPC has been shown to increase acetylcholine levels 1-3 hours post-ingestion [17] and you can read more about world's first 500mg capsule containing 99% alpha GPC here.

[1]Miyazaki et al (2020) Serotonergic projections to the orbitofrontal and medial prefrontal cortices differentially modulate waiting for future rewards. Science Advances. [2]Lindseth et al (2015) The Effects of Dietary Tryptophan on Affective Disorders. U.S. National Library of Medicine. [3]Nootriment (2018) Is Tyrosine the Best Dopamine-Boosting Supplement to Take? [4]Grevet et al (2002) Behavioural effects of acute phenylalanine and tyrosine depletion in healthy male volunteers. Journal of Psychopharmacology. [5]Tyree, S. & Lecea, L.D. (2017) Lateral Hypothalamic Control of the Ventral Tegmental Area: Reward Evaluation and the Driving of Motivated Behavior. Frontiers in systems neuroscience. [6]Nutrition Data (2018) Foods highest in Tyrosine. [7]Farmer et al (2003) GABAergic mechanisms involved in the vagally mediated heart rate response to muscle contraction as revealed by studies with benzodiazepines. National Library of Medicine. [8]Adhikary et al. 2017) l-theanine: A potential multifaceted natural bioactive amide as health supplement. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine. [9]Juneja et al. (1999) L-theanine - a unique amino acid of green tea and its relaxation effects in humans. Trends in Food Science & Technology. [10]Vuong et al. (2011) L-Theanine: properties, synthesis and isolation from tea. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. [11]Planck, M. (2019) Mothers' behaviour influences bonding hormone oxytocin in babies. Science Daily. [12]Feldman et al. (2007) Evidence for a Neuroendocrinological Foundation of Human Affiliation: Plasma Oxytocin Levels Across Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period Predict Mother-Infant Bonding. Psychological Science. [13]Wu (2017) Love, Actually: The science behind lust, attraction, and companionship. Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. [14]Zeisel et al. (1991) Choline, an essential nutrient for humans. The Federation for American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal. [15]Himmelheber et al. (2000) Increases in cortical acetylcholine release during sustained attention performance in rats. Cognitive Brain Research. [16]Zeisel et al (1991) Choline, an essential nutrient for humans. Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.  [17]Examine (2018) Alpha GPC. 

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