Melatonin is an almost identical molecule to serotonin (our key mood neurotransmitter), from which it is made, and both are made from 5-HTP, itself derived from the amino acid tryptophan which is present in most protein foods. The conversion of amino acids into neurotransmitters and hormones requires nutrient co-factors, in particular the B vitamins, so a lack of these may also be responsible for low melatonin levels. The amino acid L-tryptophan is found in protein rich food. Tryptophan requires the presence of insulin to escort it into the brain where it can be converted into serotonin, so include some carbohydrate from non-starchy high fibre vegetables and fruit.
Eat the following foods for tryptophan: chicken, venison, lamb, salmon, halibut, shrimp, cod, asparagus, pumpkin seeds, broccoli, swiss chard, green beans, cauliflower.
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is an amino acid that is the second most prevalent neurotransmitter in the brain. Amino acids build proteins in the body, and neurotransmitters are chemicals needed for the synapses to transfer information in human gray matter. GABA has an inhibiting effect, calming excited nerve impulses. This can make a person feel more tranquil and give him or her a sense of wellbeing. Without this inhibitory neurotransmitter, a person would constantly remain on edge and anxious, and not have the ability to relax.
A person who is feeling stressful and anxious may be suffering from a deficiency of this vital biochemical. This deficiency can cause headaches, depression, irritability, palpitations, and other symptoms.
L-theanine and glutamine are amino acids that are precursors of gamma-aminobutyric acid. Eating a diet rich in sources of these substances can help the body produce its own calming neurotransmitters.
Feel good GABA-producing foods that to eat include:
Bananas, Beef Liver, Broccoli, Brown Rice, Halibut, Mackerel, Oats, Whole wheat, whole grains, wheat bran, Oranges, citrus fruits, Rice bran, Spinach
According to an article posted in Supplement News in December 2008, the highest concentrations of naturally occurring GABA are found in fish (particularly mackerel) and wheat bran. While it's easy to get tired of eating large amounts of fish, wheat bran can be blended into an assortment of soups, salads, cereals and even some meat dishes.
Magnesium rich foods - rice, wheat and oat bran; herbs like sage, chives, basil, savoury; pumpkin seeds; cocoa powder or dark chocolate; flax and sesame seeds; peanuts and peanut butter; bananas; wild and brown rice; corn; and molasses.
3 Herbs that Beat Anxiety
Ashwagandha (Indian Ginseng), L-Theanine and Passion Flower have been clinically proven to boost GABA and serotonin levels in the human body. The result? You're more relaxed. Worries don't seem as big. Anxiety disappears. And over time, they help to calm your body's natural response to anxiety so you can feel like yourself again
Anxiety Beating Treat
Banana chocolate dessert or spread -
2 very ripe bananas
1/8 to 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Mash bananas then beat in cocoa until completely mixed and serve.