Food can do more than satisfy your tastebuds; certain foods can actually synthesize for neurotransmitters in your brain. Neurotransmitters have the power to effect your mood and well-being. The effects of neurotransmitters are often replicated in anxiety and depression medication and other drugs, but you can also get their effects by eating certain neurotransmitter-rich foods.

If you want to feel happier, more relaxed, and well rested without taking any medication, you may want to change your diet to raise neurotransmitter levels.

What are neurotransmitters?

Neurotransmitters allow communication between the brain, neurons (nerve cells), and all body functions. Gamma-aminobutyric acid (also know as GABA), dopamine, serotonin, acetylcholine, and norepinephrine are all important neurotransmitters that are vital for memory, learning, alertness, and sleep.

Without these five neurotransmitters, you are much more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, addiction, insomnia, and other mental disorders. 

Unfortunately, neurotransmitters are not directly found in foods. Fortunately, you can indirectly raise neurotransmitter levels through amino acids. Neurotransmitters are synthesized by the amino acids, which are used to build proteins vital to your survival, found in everyday foods. 


GABA acts as a messenger to multiple parts of the body, overall reducing anxiety, improving sleep, and providing a sense of calmness. Since it's a byproduct of plants and microorganisms, it is only found in fermented food.

If you want to feel less anxious and wake up calm and refreshed in the morning, then you may want to try the Korean dish Kimchi and Pu-Erh Tea to raise GABA levels.

2. Dopamine

Dopamine controls the brain's reward and pleasure centers. High levels of dopamine in the brain help improve memory, movement, attention, sleep, mood, and learning. Abnormal amounts of dopamine can result in Parkinson's disease and schizophrenia.

If you want a better nights sleep, an increased attention span, an improved mood or memory try and eat more fish, eggs, Spirulina, and more to raise dopamine levels.

3. Serotonin

Serotonin plays a huge role in the brains activities, mainly learning and memory. Low levels of serotonin may lead to sleep disorders, depression, and headaches. If you want to raise serotonin levels, feel energized, less foggy, and happier try to eat more kiwis, bananas, eggs, walnuts, and turkey.

4. Acetylcholine

Acetylcholine is very important for the nervous system and muscle coordination. Since it is built from the basic compound choline, an important precursor for acetylcholine, it is important to eat foods that are rich in choline.

If you want to raise acetylcholine levels it is important to eat more egg yolks, brussels sprouts, and dairy products.

5. Norepinephrine

Norepinephrine greatly affects mood, attention, and motivation. Any psych major can tell you that norepinephrine is responsible for that "fight or flight" response you may have in stressful situations.

If you want the power to fight your fears or improve your overall mood then try to eat more almonds, avocados, lima beans, and pumpkin seeds to raise norepinephrine levels.

The firing of a neurotransmitter is complicated enough, but the nice thing to know is that it happens involuntarily. So all you have to think about is fueling your body with healthy and wholesome foods for whichever neurotransmitter you may be lacking and your brain will do the rest.

Disclaimer: If you are suffering or believe you could be suffering from neurotransmitter deficiencies, then please consult your doctor.