A report by Mike Mahler
Sources: Dr Eric Braverman’s “Younger You” and “The Younger You Diet”
Optimal brain health for well-being and outstanding physical performance requires
optimal levels of the four main neurotranmistters: Dopamine, Acetylcholine, GABA, and
Dopamine and acetylcholine are essentially our energy neurotransmitters, we need
optimal levels of both to feel vibrant and excited about life. We also need them for
optimal levels of growth hormone and energy for intense workouts. GABA and Serotonin
are essentially our relaxation hormones; we need both to deal with stress and to recover
from hard training.
Dopamine is a powerhouse neurotransmitter and it is what gives you the boost to get out
of bed in the morning and take charge of your day. It also plays a big role in the sex drive
and sexual function. Dopamine is also a powerful growth hormone booster and lowers
levels of prolactin. Prolactin is a nasty hormone that lowers testosterone levels in men.
Dopamine is intimately connected to addictive behavior. People with low dopamine
levels are often addicted to sources of quick pleasure and easily succumb to addictions.
Acetylcholine is the memory neurotransmitter and is also involved with reaction time.
Without adequate levels of acetylcholine your memory will suffer, as will your speed and
reaction time. Acetycholine is also involved with optimal growth hormone production.
GABA is an anti anxiety neurotransmitter. When GABA levels are low you just do not
feel right and have a hard time relaxing. This of course will hamper sleep quality and
overall well-being. You need GABA to calm down in the evening and to restore after the
daily stresses of life.
Serotonin is often referred to as the anti-depression neurotransmitter. When your
serotonin levels are too low you will feel burned out and disconnected. You will have a
hard time enjoying life and will go through each day worn out. You will lack motivation.
Serotonin is very important for workout recovery and restoration.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter and neurohormone. Dopamine is a precursor to the
adrenaline hormones norepinephrine and then epinephrine. Dopamine is the brain’s
power source that keeps you fully alive and alert.
Dopamine works like a natural amphetamine giving us power and controlling our energy.
High levels of dopamine increase focus.
Dopamine has many functions in the brain including important roles in behavior and
cognition, voluntary movement, motivation, rewards, sleep, mood, attention, and
learning. Dopamine is commonly associated with the pleasure system of the brain,
providing feelings of enjoyment and reinforcement to motivate a person proactively to
perform certain activities. In the frontal lobes dopamine controls the flow of information
from other areas of the brain.
Dopamine also regulates prolactin production. Prolactin is a hormone that counteracts the
sexual arousal effects of dopamine. High levels of prolactin results in impotence and low
libido. Prolactin decreases testosterone levels in men and estrogen in women. Dopamine
keeps prolactin in check and thus dopamine must be optimized for testosterone levels to
When your dopamine levels are balanced you’ve got plenty of energy, your day is
organized, and you feel social and confident. Low dopamine affects emotional stability.
People with low dopamine are often loners, eccentrics, shy individuals, procrastinators,
codependent, masochists, and obsessive-compulsive. When dopamine is low you do not
feel motivated and alive. You have low energy and a feeling of being burned out.
Without dopamine your body and your brain will lose its vitality. You will feel tired and
burned out all of the time. Initial symptoms of low dopamine include fatigue and light-
headedness. If you have a severe dopamine deficiency you will have a low sex drive, fat
gain, and difficulty performing simple tasks.
All addictions (food, drugs, sex) are linked to a brain chemical imbalance. Low dopamine
plays a role in addictive behaviors.
The low dopamine person needs more food or more pleasure gratification to achieve what
is considered a normal level of satisfaction. An addictive brain seeks the dopamine high
in the form of rewards and pleasures.
Dopamine and food
The brain and body are always trying to maintain homeostasis. Thus, each time we eat
the brain naturally releases less dopamine. People often try to eat more to get an increase
in dopamine to no avail.
If your dopamine levels are low your brain has fewer dopamine receptors. When you
consume low nutrient food that doesn’t produce dopamine it becomes much more
difficult for these receptors to transfer feelings of satisfaction. This results in eating more
garbage food in a desperate attempt to get your fix, which results in the receptors
becoming less efficient and eventually causes them to break down. The bottom line is
you have to eat more low nutrient food to get an adequate dopamine boost. Healthy food
provides more nutrition per calorie and you do not have to eat as much to get the same
The connection between the stress hormone cortisol and dopamine
Whenever a brain chemical declines a hormone is activated to take its place. In the case
of dopamine, the body ramps up cortisol levels (stress hormone). Cortisol acts as a back
up energy reserve so that the brain and body can continue to function. This is fine for
short stressful periods. Cortisol helps with dopamine support when you’re under stress,
because during stressful times you burn immense amounts of dopamine. However, when
you’re stressed for too long problems occur from the extended high cortisol levels. When
your brain is continually turning to cortisol for energy, it becomes a way of life. You’re
addicted to the cortisol rush and have the illusion that you’re in control and staying on top
Excess cortisol leads to fat gain with particular emphasis in the stomach. If you’re fat
and still have high energy, chances are your body is burning cortisol like crazy to support
your low dopamine levels.
Increasing Dopamine levels
Low dopamine problems can be reversed by increasing dopamine through food, nutrition
supplements, and stress management. When you do so you will no longer rely on cortisol
to support energy needs.
Healthy food choices increase metabolism strength by ramping up dopamine levels.
These foods and nutrients will increase your dopamine levels to the point where
eventually you will retrain your brain to create more dopamine on its own.
Cut out foods that lower dopamine
• Sugar and other forms such as high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, fructose,
dextrose, agave, sucralose, molasses, and syrup. Use Stevia as your main
• High glycemic carbohydrates: cake, crackers, white bread, white rice, pasta, pies,
potatoes, and processed foods. Basically all of the garbage that you like to snack
Increase consumption of the amino acids phenylalanine and tyrosine by eating more
high protein foods and wheat germ.
Add supplements such as:
• Power drive, which has 3 grams of tyrosine per serving.
• Acetyl-l Carnitine: Research shows that ALC elevates both acetylcholine and
dopamine in specific regions of the brain. ALC enhances cellular energy in the
brain and supports all bodily functions that have a high-energy demand. Taking
several carnitine analogs at the same time is a more comprehensive approach as
each analog has a precise benefit. I use and recommend Beverly Nutrition’s
Quadracarn. 2-3 caps three times per day with or without food. 3-4 caps taken
before workouts works well for a nice mental lift. ALC also helps the body free
up fat for energy and is a great fat loss enhancer.
• Phosphatidylersine: lowers cortisol levels. Great when taken in the evening to
help you wind down. 400-800mg per day after workouts works wonders.
• B vitamins for energy and stress management (1-4 tabs per day)
• Folic Acid enhances dopamine transmission (most B-100 supplements contain
• R Lipoic Acid, enhances blood flow, increases glutathione levels, and helps drive
nutrients into the muscles and liver.
• Macuna and tribulus also increase dopamine.
Caffeine can help with low dopamine levels. Coffee for example provides a jump-start
for low dopamine. Too much caffeine increases stress hormones so keep it to no more
than 200mg per day (100mg twice per day). Very few have the discipline to only
consume 1-2 cups of coffee per day. One develops a tolerance to the caffeine boost from
coffee with regular use, which always results in increased consumption of coffee. Once
that occurs the potential benefits are nullified and adrenal resistance is around the corner.
Add spices to your diet such as: Basil, cayenne, cumin, turmeric, sage, rosemary, garlic,
nutmeg, and ginger. Nutmeg is great in morning protein shakes for a nice energy and
dopamine boost. Cinnamon works great as a blood sugar regulator and should be taken
with meals several times per day.
Drink tea every day. Loose tealeaves are better than tea bags. 1 teaspoon of black tea and
1 teaspoon of green tea boiled in 10oz of water twice per day.
Ramp up DHEA levels by taking transdermal magnesium oil twice per day. DHEA is the
ultimate stress management hormone and has a protective effect on testosterone by acting
as a back up reserve.
Sources “The Younger Thinner You Diet” and “Younger You” by Dr Eric Braverman,
Dopamine support supplements (in order of importance)
1. PowerDrive (1 scoop twice per day. Have one of the doses 30 minutes before
2. Quadracarn 2 caps 2-3 times per day:
3. Macuna (3 caps per day before workouts)
4. Phosphatidylersine (400mg-800mg after workouts or in the evening)
5. B-100 vitamins: (1-4 caps per day. Trader Joes brand)
6. R-lipoic Acid (200mg 2-3x per day with food)
Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that monitors brain speed. It controls the speed at
which the electrical signals from the brain are sent throughout the body. It also regulates
the rate at which we process sensory input and access stored information. Acetylcholine
is the main neurotransmitter that creates a younger faster brain.
Acetylcholine is critical for muscle function all over the body and brain function.
Phosphatidylersine and phosphatidylcholine create the channels in the brain cell
membrane to allow nutrients to go into the cells, toxins to go out, and keeps cells
nourished and clean which is critical for a sharp mind. The typical unhealthy diet is often
way too low in choline.
A healthy, high acetylcholine brain is fast moving, quick thinking, and moist, so
information can pass easily from the brain into the body. This is critical for optimal
physical performance. The faster the brain can communicate with the body the better the
Dopamine has a reward and pleasure seeking focus, while acetylcholine is your
awareness neurotransmitter. It provides ample fuel for creativity and memories. The
connection between Alzheimer’s disease and low acetylcholine is tremendous.
Loss of brain cognition is tied directly to declining acetylcholine levels.
The latest brain research links both diabetes and dementia to acetylcholine. Low levels of
acetylcholine are directly linked to a loss of insulin and IGF-1 (growth hormone) function
in the brain.
When you are deficient in acetylcholine you crave fatty foods like what is easily
accessible via fast food and desserts. Fat is the building block for acetylcholine. Foods
high in fat provide an instant boost in acetylcholine.
However, over consuming fat is not the long-term answer to improve acetylcholine
levels. What we want to do is give the brain the fuel it needs to make acetylcholine.
Unhealthy fat clogs your brain and hampers brain production of acetylcholine. Foods that
are high in fat are generally low in nutrients and thus do nothing to improve your health.
Low fat diets are not the answer either as we need a good amount of healthy fat for
optimal hormone production, healthy skin, hair, joints, and energy. Get at least 30% of
calories from fat and focus on healthy sources such as: Udo’s Oil, avocadoes, nuts, seeds,
olive oil, and coconut oil.
Weight Gain and Brain Health
A healthy brain is filled with fats and oils. In fact a healthy brain contains more than 60%
fat. 30% of that is the fatty acid DHA which can be found in marine algae and fish oil.
ALA can also be converted in the body to DHA. However, there is a big difference
between having a good amount of fat in the diet and being fat. Too much fat
accumulation hampers brain health.
When you gain fat it does not just add to your body, it accumulates insides your organs
and brain. When the brain has too much fat it has to work harder to function.
Excess fat also accumulates in areas of the brain in the form of cholesterol. Cholesterol is
the building block of all of the sex hormones such as Testosterone, estrogen, DHEA, and
pregenelone. However, as you get older your brain starts to slow down and you can no
longer convert cholesterol into sex hormones efficiently. Your body in a desperate
attempt to make hormones gives you the signal to consume more fatty foods to make
more cholesterol with the hope of converting it into hormones compounding the problem
Increasing Acetylcholine levels
• You can increase acetylcholine production by increasing intellectual stimulation.
Engaging your mind often keeps it strong and healthy.
• Eat foods that are high in choline. Choline is a nutrient that begins as a B vitamin
and is converted through digestion into acetylcholine. Choline also helps block fat
accumulation in the liver.
A good amount of choline per day is 425mg for women and 550mg for men. One hard-
boiled egg has 125mg of choline and one tablespoon of lecithin has 232 mg of choline.
High amounts of choline are also in olive oil, avocadoes, nuts and seeds, and lean meats.
Other good sources of choline include: blueberries, oranges, wheat germ, tofu, celery,
cauliflower, fish, and broccoli.
• Eat more lecithin. Lecithin is a nutrient used by your body to make choline. Foods
high in lecithin include: cauliflower, egg yolks, and wheat germ.
• Add spices to your diet such as Turmeric. Turmeric stimulates the production of
acetylcholine and has been proven to help unclog amyloids, the garbage that
mucks up the pathways of the brain. Other good spices for the brain are basil,
cumin, sage, and peppermint.
• Add some supplements: Power drive in addition to containing tyrosine which
boosts dopamine, contains 1 gram of choline per serving. Acetyl-l-carnitine found
in Quadracarn also helps ramp up choline levels and is great for brain function
and athletic performance.
• Take alpha-GPC. Alpha GPC is a precursor to choline and has also been shown to
ramp up the exercise related Growth hormone response. 400-1200mg taken an
hour before a workout provides a nice choline boost as well as an increased IGF-1
response from exercise.
Acetylcholine support supplements (in order of importance)
1. PowerDrive (1 scoop twice per day. Have one of the doses 30 minutes before
2. Quadracarn 2 caps 2-3 times per day:
3. Phosphatidylersine (400mg-800mg after workouts or in the evening)
4. B-100 vitamins: (1-4 caps per day. Trader Joes brand)
GABA: (Gamma-aminobutyric Acid)
GABA is a neurotransmitter that functions as the brains relaxation agent. It helps regulate
the nervous system and keeps all other brain neurotransmitters connected. GABA is the
opposite of dopamine. Dopamine fires one up and GABA helps one unwind and relax.
When you have an abundance of GABA your mind is at peace and your body functions
When GABA is insufficient anxiety increases. You feel overwhelmed, anxious, and just
not right. Migraines, mood swings, sleep issues, anxiety, and panic attacks are all tied to a
When you lose optimal GABA levels your brain can no longer send its signals smoothly
and effortlessly to the rest of the body.
Characteristics of a GABA deficient person
• Shy and anxious
• Drama queen
• Aggressive (not in a good way ;-)
Anxiety stimulates the release of the stress hormone cortisol, which hampers fat loss and
hormone optimization. Anxiety due to GABA and serotonin deficiencies is the primary
mechanism behind the drive for binge eating.
Improving GABA Levels
GABA deficiencies can be addressed by making better food choices. The more GABA
producing foods you eat the more GABA you will be able to create. The goal of a high-
GABA diet is to ensure the body has enough raw materials for creating a steady supply of
the amino acid glutamine. Glutamine is a precursor to GABA.
Glutamine is found abundantly in high quality complex carbohydrate sources such as:
beans, lentils, sprouted brown rice, oatmeal, whole wheat breads, dairy, meats, and fish.
Also focus on foods that increase the B-vitamin Inositol. Inositol gives GABA a nice
boost. Examples of food high in inositol include: beans, broccoli, lentils, mangoes, nuts,
oats, spinach, oranges, and kale.
Add spices to your diet that help with stress management: cinnamon, oregano, cloves,
Add teas to your plan. Teas contain the amino acid theanine. Theanine helps you stay
alert and relaxed at the same time.
Focus on stress management skills and learn to relax. Get massages regularly; meditate
daily, and practice tai chi, yoga, or chi gung. Take daily walks in which you focus on
Nutrition supplements that help with GABA include:
• Magnesium Oil: (400-800mg based on bodyweight. More info below)
• B-100 vitamins: (1-4 caps per day. Trader Joes brand)
• Glutamine AKG: (5-20 grams per day: before and after workouts and before
• GABA (1-5 grams before bedtime)
• Theanine. 500mg-1000mg whenever you feel stressed or have anxiety:
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that allows you to experience pleasure and self-
confidence. It manages the biochemical messages leaving the brain and creates the
electricity for sight and rest, and also controls cravings. Serotonin keeps the right and left
hemispheres of your brain in balance. You will become depressed when this balance is
If your brain is out of sync, the left and right hemispheres will be off balance and your
brain’s ability to recharge itself is hampered. A serotonin loss creates a disconnect
between the rationality of the left side of the brain, and the creativity of the right side of
the brain. When this occurs you can’t think clearly which affects mood and sleep.
When your serotonin levels are optimal you are excited and ready to take charge of your
life. You welcome new challenges and are in a personal growth phase. When your
serotonin is high, you experience a great mood during the day and restful sleep at night.
When your serotonin levels are low so is your self-confidence. You don’t feel vibrant and
ready to take on life. People with low serotonin are often risk adverse and have trouble
sleeping at night. When you do not feel right for too long depression inevitably follows.
Anxiety and living in fear from low serotonin are major age accelerators.
In addition to requiring serotonin to feel good, we need night serotonin for restoration.
Serotonin helps you relax and wind down in the evening so that you can restore fully for
the next day.
As we age serotonin levels start dropping and having a poor mood is often the first sign
of a serotonin deficiency. When your dopamine levels are low you have a feeling of
fatigue. When your GABA levels are low you feel anxious. However, when your
serotonin levels are low you do not feel much at all. As a result you will become
withdrawn and depressed.
Food cravings for sugar and salt often stem from low serotonin levels. These foods may
offer a quick fix but it is one that does not last. Thus a vicious cycle of more food
cravings occurs in order to get your fix. Foods that are high in sugar, sodium, fat, and
chemical additives are extremely addictive. The more you have the more you want. These
kinds of “food” (they contain nothing healthy to sustain you and can hardly be called
food) increase bodyfat rapidly, which is very hard to take off.
Increasing Serotonin Levels
1. Get more sleep
Sleep is the ultimate ant-aging protocol. Lying in bed tossing and turning does not cut it.
You must get into a deep sleep (sign of deep sleep is vivid dreaming) to reap the
restorative benefits of sleep. When you don’t sleep in a deep state, all your fears, phobias,
obsessions, compulsions, become intensified. This will make being at your best when
awake very difficult to say the least. You need seven hours of deep sleep to boost
serotonin levels. That is being conservative. Many will find they feel optimal with nine
hours of sleep.
You need sleep for optimal serotonin levels but the catch is you need optimal serotonin
levels in order to sleep deeply.
When sleep is poor, stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline go up. This increases
your blood pressure. Studies show that women are more sensitive to the deleterious
effects of poor sleep. Women have an increased risk for hypertension from sleep
The Brain needs sleep in order to reset. Poor sleep ultimately results in poor memory,
slower reaction time, and poor concentration. Prolonged lack of sleep will result in
irritability, anxiety, and depression.
Your immune system repairs your brain and body when you are sleeping. When you do
not get enough quality sleep you are hampering this critical process.
When serotonin levels are low leptin levels will be low as well and the message that you
are full takes much longer to reach the brain. If serotonin levels are really low the
message may never reach the brain leaving you in a state of constant hunger no matter
how much you eat. This is known as leptin resistance.
Interestingly the amount you need to eat to feel satisfied has more to do with your brain
(balance in the brain) than how much you weigh. Your brain has to be nourished from
food in order to send out the signal to stop eating. The wrong food choices will not
nourish your brain.
When you are sleep deprived you lower the levels of leptin and increase the levels of
ghrelin. One of the most effective ways to control hunger is to attain adequate sleep.
When sleep is low growth hormone levels are also compromised. GH is needed to control
the ratio of muscle to fat. When you do not have enough GH, you are more likely to
increase body fat rather than build muscle.
2. Food choices for increased Serotonin
Broccoli, pears, brown rice, and oatmeal increase serotonin and also soak up excess
Increase the amino acid tryptophan. The body needs tryptophan from food and uses it to
make serotonin. Eating foods high in tryptophan can improve your mood rapidly. Some
examples of high tryptophan food include: avocado, chocolate, rolled oats, wheat germ,
organic yogurt made from raw milk, and whole raw milk.
3. Add Spices
Saffron, marjoram, peppermint, spearmint, dill, nutmeg, and turmeric are all great
antidepressants that boost serotonin.
Cinnamon has also been shown to reduce carbohydrate cravings and increase insulin
sensitivity. Have a teaspoon of three spices with each meal (including protein shakes,
homemade protein bars).
4. Take Magnesium
According to Dr Carolyn Dean author of “The Magnesium Miracle” magnesium is
required for the release and uptake of serotonin in the brain cells. Stress depletes
magnesium rapidly. If the magnesium is not replenished then serotonin is not picked up
and depression results. (400-500mg twice per day. I think the best option for magnesium
supplementation is magnesium oil which also raises the hormone DHEA which is also a
mood elevator and helps with stress management.)
5. Meditation and restoration exercise
Meditate daily for 30 minutes. After workouts and before bedtime are good options (I
like the holosync program http://www.mikemahler.com/store_cds.html) and practice
forms of restorative exercise such as tai chi, yoga, chi gung. For every hard training
session you have balance it with a form of restorative exercise.
Serotonin Support Supplements
Magnesium Oil (400-1000mg depending on bodyweight and activity level)
Vitamin D: Very important for the immune system and mood elevation. Also important
for fat loss. 2000iu to 7000iu daily(get a blood test to see where you are at)
B-100: B-100 vitamins: (1 cap with meals to support protein utilization)
5 Http: (50-100mg) great supplement to take in the evening (after dinner) to reduce sugar
cravings. Will help with deep sleep as well.)
DHA (marine algae or from fish oils) 300-600mg twice per day. DHA is the most
abundant fatty acid in the brain. Your brain is 60% fat and 30% of that is DHA. Pregnant
women in particular need to consume a good amount of DHA as the baby will take it
from the mother’s brain if it is not supplied in the diet.