Foods To Avoid when Testing Neurotransmitters

Lylen Ferris, ND | October 26, 2021

It is well established that neurotransmitters are synthesized from amino acids from the diet. For this reason, it makes sense that diet can have an impact on things like mood, energy, and motivation. In fact, when feeling low, some patients may habitually reach for comfort foods dense in naturally occurring serotonin or catecholamine precursors, unknowingly “self-medicating.” 

As we strive to measure total body neurotransmitters, these foods may cloud the picture and potentially impact treatment protocols. Wine, cheese, and chocolate have been shown to influence catecholamine secretion; other listed foods can make serotonin and 5-HIAA levels appear higher than expected. In fact, four hours after the consumption of these foods, solely food-induced elevations in serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine have been observed, with some elevations lasting up to 16 hours. 

The Doctor’s Data neurotransmitter collection recommendations include a list of foods that can elevate neurotransmitter levels and should be avoided for 48 hours before and during urine collection. These foods include: 

  • Avocados 
  • Eggplant 
  • Tomatoes 
  • Bananas 
  • Melons 
  • Pineapple 
  • Grapefruits 
  • Plums 
  • Nuts / nut butters
  • Wine 
  • Cheese 
  • Chocolate  

While avoidance of these foods maybe an inconvenience to patients, think of it like a fasting blood draw for glucose. If a patient wakes up and has a pastry for breakfast before having their blood drawn, glucose levels may appear elevated. The same may be true with the above-mentioned foods and neurotransmitter levels. It’s best practice to avoid these interfering factors for a more precise measurement of endogenous neurotransmitter levels, which may then lead to the most appropriate and therapeutic treatment plan. 



  • Jong, W. H., Post, W. J., Kerstens, M. N., Vries, E. G., & Kema, I. P. (2010). Elevated Urinary Free and Deconjugated Catecholamines after Consumption of a Catecholamine-Rich Diet. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism,95(6), 2851-2855. doi:10.1210/jc.2009-2589. 
  • Kema IP, Schellings AM, Meiborg G, Hoppenbrouwers CJ, Muskiet FA. Influence of a serotonin- and dopamine-rich diet on platelet serotonin content and urinary excretion of biogenic amines and their metabolites. Clin Chem. 1992 Sep;38(9):1730-6. 
  • Wurtman, R. J., & Wurtman, J. J. (1995). Brain Serotonin, Carbohydrate-Craving, Obesity and Depression. Obesity Research,3(S4). doi:10.1002/j.1550-8528.1995.tb00215.x 

Advanced Neuroendocrine Foundations:

Considerations for achieving the best outcomes in your patients

Laura Neville, ND

November 3, 2021 at 9:30 AM and 12 PM Pacific

Approximately 60 minutes with Q&A

Learning Objectives:
  1. Familiarize yourself with neurotransmitter imbalance symptoms.
  2. Discuss the importance of a total, comprehensive, integrative approach to patient care.
  3. Explore various obstacles to cure (blood sugar imbalance, stress, gluten sensitivity, dysbiosis, inflammation, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, etc.) that will be different for each patient.
  4. Gain insight into neuroendocrine interactions (adrenal, hormonal and neurotransmitter) which can influence a patient's symptom presentation.
  5. Consider the complexities of supplementation protocols for patients with numerous imbalances.

Lab Interpretation Workshop:

Fertility and Progesterone-Related Symptoms

Dan Kalish, DC

November 10, 2021 at 4 PM Pacific

Approximately 60 minutes with Q&A

Join Dr. Kalish for this lab interpretation workshop focused on fertility problems and other hormone-related complaints such as PCOS, migraines and PMS. We will review lab tests related to hormone assessments, as well as GI and detox issues that can trigger hormone imbalances. The goal of the course is for you to gain confidence in best practices around the safe and effective use of progesterone.

Disclaimer: All information given about health conditions, treatment, products, and dosages are for educational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice.



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