Calm Yourself with Calming Foods Neurotransmitters are the brain chemicals that communicate information throughout your brain and body. The brain uses neurotransmitters to tell your heart to beat, your lungs to breathe, and your stomach to digest. They can also affect mood, sleep, concentration, weight, and can cause adverse symptoms when they are out of balance. Neurotransmitter levels can be depleted many ways. It is estimated that 86% of Americans have suboptimal neurotransmitter levels. Stress, poor diet--protein deficiency, poor digestion, poor blood sugar control, drug (prescription and recreational), alcohol and caffeine can deplete them. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is found in the gastrointestinal tract, nervous system and blood platelets. It helps to regulate mood, appetite, sleep, and also supports memory and learning. Studies show an association between serotonin levels and mood. The good news is you can naturally increase your serotonin levels with food instead of drugs. • Complex carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes, brown rice, oatmeal, amaranth, buckwheat, millet and quinoa allow your brain to process more serotonin. • Eating protein and healthy omega-3 fats, found in fish, walnuts and flax, will also improve mood. • B vitamins, which are abundant in fresh leafy greens and in chemical-free, pasture-raised meat, are another important factor because they're needed for serotonin production. • Leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, collard greens, are high in folic acid, a B vitamin. Low levels are linked to depression. • Bananas contain vitamin B6. They are high in potassium, an important electrolyte for a happy and calm mind. • Other foods rich in vitamin B6: turnip greens, garlic, cauliflower, mustard greens celery, fish, poultry, and lean beef. • Tryptophan is the precursor to serotonin; these foods are high in tryptophan: turkey, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. • Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, yogurt, miso, and Kombucha, pickled foods (beets, radish, Korean kimchi) assist in digestion and assimilation of the important nutrients you need for serotonin. So try some of these foods and notice if you feel more relaxed and uplifted. Bon appetite! To receive more helpful tips for caregivers, pick up your copy of Barbra's book Calmer Waters. You can also visit Barbra at her website: https://barbracohn.com/ This blog has been brought to you by CPG News & Information Services.