Neurotransmitter Series Part 4: Glutamate

by | Sep 19, 2019

Today we’re talking about glutamate! A fascinating neurotransmitter that plays a role in emotional amplification and memory.

Those who have high levels of glutamate will experience intense emotions… when they’re happy they’re REALLY happy. When they’re sad, they’re REALLY sad.

This is also why glutamate has been an additive to foods for many years. Particularly, fast food, frozen meals, commercial coffee, etc.

Think of it like this… you eat a fast-food burger and it triggers a pleasure response from how good it tastes… then there’s added glutamate so that emotion is amplified.

You’ll probably want more of that burger!

MSG was the common form used in food until reports came out about the neurotoxicity of excess glutamate so many places stopped using MSG.

However, now they use glutamic acid which also is readily converted into glutamate

Anyway, it’s not a situation where more is bad and less is better. Too little glutamate and we can have trouble focusing and retaining information.

It’s the Goldilocks of neurotransmitters

Glutamate amps up the nervous system and is converted into GABA (via the GAD enzyme) which calms down the nervous system.

Therefore, it’s unlikely to have both high levels of glutamate and high levels of GABA simultaneously.

Interestingly enough, ketones increase the expression of the GAD enzyme so a keto diet can balance this glutamate to GABA ratio, but proceed with caution bc keto also decreases serotonin.

Individuals with high glutamate and low GABA will be more anxious, very emotional, take things personally, get offended easily, and will have dramatic mood swings.

Glutamate is also increased through higher carb and blood sugar and decreased through lower carbs and blood sugar.
Periods of low carb, limiting consumption of frozen meals, fast food, etc can help reduce excess glutamate.

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