Acetylcholine (A-Sea-Tull-Co-Lean) is a neurotransmitter that is released by our neurons and helps with contraction in our cardiac, skeletal, and smooth muscles. Think of it like a ‘modulator’ for muscles and control of attention. As you know, too much or too little of anything is bad so if your acetylcholine receptors are blocked then your muscles will feel stiff and you will have a hard time moving them. As acetylcholine is released then the muscles will continue to contract properly and as soon as acetylcholine stops then the muscles relax.
There is also a direct relationship between acetylcholine, serotonin, dopamine, and the other neurotransmitters. The actions of dopamine are opposed by another neurotransmitter called acetylcholine and studies are showing that an imbalance in these two neurotransmitters can cause a variety of neurological disorders, one major one is parkinson’s disease. Now if you think about this on a deeper level, 90% of your serotonin and 50% of your dopamine is actually made in your gut. As the father of medicine Hippocrates says, ‘All Disease begins in the gut’, so perhaps we are getting close in understanding the relationship between the gut health and disease.
Neurotransmitters were mentioned in an earlier post where acetylcholine was defined as the ‘learning’ neurotransmitter. It is involved in thought, learning, and memory and is found in many brain foods. Studies have show that this chemical is produced in several locations in the brain which assist in memory retrieval, memory processing, and increased cognitive functioning.
Ways to increase acetylcholine:
- Take foods high in choline. These foods include eggs, beef, and seafood. The consumption of high dietary fats are needed for the synthesis of this beautiful chemical.
- Take a choline supplement. Most supplements take time to work in the body because they have to build up in your blood stream. Find a good and reliable brand and start off with a small dosage of 100 mg and build your way up.
- Start training. Since acetylcholine is associated with motor function, there is certainly an inverse relationship of the positive effects of exercises on acetylcholine levels in the brain.