YOUR BRAIN: The "Relaxation and Memory" Chemicals
Dr. Anil Bajnath continues his serious on neurotransmitters... and how these chemicals affect your brain. Last week, he talked about the "happy chemicals." Today, we dive more into relaxation and memory. Enjoy! - Alex Reid, President, Longevity Insider HQ
Let's continue our way through the neurotransmitters! If you have been feeling anxious or forgetful lately... You're going to love part two of our three-part neurotransmitters series.
So let's dive into our two brain chemicals of the day...
Relaxation Chemical: GABA
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the chief inhibitory neurotransmitter of the nervous system. This means it’s an inhibitory neurotransmitter, responsible for calming excited neurons. When GABA is released, you feel relaxed and have less anxiety. It also has anti-convulsive effects, though its role in treatment for epilepsy remains unclear.
You may have a GABA imbalance if you frequently experience:
- Seizure disorders
- Panic disorders
People who have an imbalance of GABA sometimes require medication to manage their symptoms. Pharmacological drugs have been developed to act as agonists for the GABA receptor site and are classified into two main types: benzodiazepines and non-benzodiazepines.
Benzodiazepines are essentially tranquilizers. They include popular drugs such as Klonopin and Valium, which are known to carry risks of dependence, withdrawal, and negative cognitive side effects. Both benzodiazepines and non-benzodiazepines typically give users anti-anxiety and relaxing effects that temporarily “take the edge off”.
GABA is found in varieties of green, black, and oolong tea, as well as in fermented foods including yogurt, tempeh, and kimchi. Other foods that contain GABA or boost its production include whole grains (oat, barley, wheat), soy, lentils, and other beans; nuts including walnuts, almonds, and peanuts; fish including shrimp and halibut; citrus, cheese, spinach, broccoli, and rice.
Memory Chemical: Acetylcholine
Acetylcholine is the “memory chemical” and is one of the most abundant neurotransmitters in the body. It’s an excitatory neurotransmitter and is responsible for alertness, attention, learning, and short and long-term memory. It also aids in skeletal muscle contraction to help you perform all your daily activities, from sweeping the floor to lifting weights.
Because it controls memory, people with acetylcholine imbalances often suffer from:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Myasthenia Gravis
- Memory lapses
- Calculation difficulties
- Impaired creativity
- Decreased arousal
- Impaired judgement
- Diminished comprehension
Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are the most common neurodegenerative disease experienced by the aging population. Though researchers are not completely sure what the main causes are, people who suffer from memory-loss disorders generally have lower levels of acetylcholine.
This is why it’s helpful to eat foods that impact this vital neurotransmitter, such as fatty pork, liver, fried eggs, beef, tofu, nuts, cream, milk, and fatty cheeses. These foods contain high amounts of choline, the amino acid responsible for boosting acetylcholine production in the body.
People who suffer from acetylcholine imbalances are sometimes given medications called anticholinergics. These work by blocking acetylcholine from binding to its receptors and inhibiting parasympathetic nerve functions. They are often prescribed to alleviate symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, urinary incontinence, and COPD.
Stay tuned for part three this Thursday.
To your longevity,
Anil Bajnath MD
CEO/Founder, Institute for Human Optimization
Chief Medical Advisor, Longevity Insider HQ
P.S. Here's some research on a brain-support compound that got my attention.
*Today's content is provided by the Institute for Human Optimization (www.ifho.org).