We have pointed out in a couple previous posts that high levels of stress and drinking soda can cause or create imbalances in neurotransmitter levels over time. However, there are a number of other factors that can cause imbalances in these precious chemicals.
The single most important factor that a person can control on a daily basis that impacts their brain chemistry is what they eat and drink. We’ve already discussed how soda can deplete key neurotransmitters over time, but there are other habits that also create imbalance. These include eating fast-food regularly and/or high-fat, high-sugar foods, lots of processed (aka ‘junk’) foods and not eating sizeable portions of vegetables (i.e., colorful foods that contain fiber, tons of vitamins and minerals and that don’t need a label) and good quality proteins on a daily basis. The reason is two-fold: (1) a poor quality diet doesn’t supply the body with the necessary building blocks (i.e., amino acids and cofactors) to make the necessary neurotransmitters, and (2) most of these foods are so depleted in nutrients that they actually rob the body of vitamins and minerals to process them. Either way, getting the right foods into your body is a key to correcting this potential cause over time.
Another area that can create imbalance has to do with environmental toxins. These include such things as industrial cleaners, air and water pollution, solvents, heavy metals, herbicides, pesticides, drugs and countless chemicals that we can be exposed to in one form or another on a regular basis. Many of these chemicals cause what is referred to as ‘neurotoxicity’ which means that they can permanently destroy neurons and/or brain cells that can dramatically effect neurotransmission over time. The key here is to develop a plan of action to identify where these toxins may be coming from, minimize further exposure and help the body eliminate stored toxins while repairing the damage as much as possible.
The last major factor that can play a role in neurotransmitter imbalances is genetics. Some people are genetically predetermined to have suboptimal neurotransmitter levels. This is why you can often see patterns in families with such disorders as migraines, insomnia, depression, anxiety, OCD, ADD/ADHD, weight problems and trichotillomania.
The good news is that no matter the cause, the solution is to get the body the necessary nutrients it needs to rebalance proper neurotransmitter function. You may not be able to control all the factors that can cause neurotransmitter dysfunction, but you can control what you eat, how you handle stress and choose to give your body the nurturing and support necessary to achieve optimal neurotransmitter function – this will allow you to overcome any of these deficits and live your life the way you want.