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Huberman Lab

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Mar 15, 2021

This episode explains the brain-body connections that allow the specific foods we eat to control our moods and motivation. I discuss the vagus nerve and its role in dopamine and serotonin release in the brain. I review Omega-3 fatty acids and the key role of the gut microbiome in supporting (or hindering) our mental and emotional states. Many actionable tools are reviewed and discussed related to fasting, ketogenic and plant-based diets, probiotics, fermented foods, fish oils, artificial sweeteners, specific supplements that promote dopamine and serotonin, and some remarkable behavioral (and belief) effects.

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Artificial Sweeteners and Gut Microbiome:

Anti-Depressive Effects of EPAs

Free Resource: Links to Studies on Supplements Discussed


Timestamps below.

  • 00:00:00 Introduction
  • 00:05:00 Emotions: Aligning Mind & Body
  • 00:06:41 Nutrients, Neurochemicals and Mood
  • 00:08:39 Primitive Expressions and Actions
  • 00:12:30 The Vagus Nerve: Truth, Fiction, Function
  • 00:15:45 “Vagus Stimulation”: A Terrible Concept
  • 00:16:35 Polyvagal Theory
  • 00:18:27 Vagus Senses Many Things, & Moves Our Organs
  • 00:19:35 Sugar Sensing Without Perception of Sweetness
  • 00:23:00 Eating-Induced Anxiety
  • 00:27:30 We Eat Until Our Brain Perceives “Amino Acid Threshold”
  • 00:29:45 Reward Prediction Error: Buildup, Letdown and Wanting More
  • 00:32:01 L-Tyrosine, Dopamine, Motivation, Mood, & Movement
  • 00:34:04 Supplementing L-Tyrosine, Drugs of Abuse, Wellbutrin
  • 00:38:29 Serotonin: Gut, Brain, Satiety and Prozac
  • 00:43:38 Eating to Promote Dopamine (Daytime) & Serotonin (Night Time)
  • 00:44:30 Supplementing Serotonin: Sleep, & Caution About Sleep Disruptions
  • 00:46:40 An Amazing Cost-Free Resource with Links to Science Papers
  • 00:48:05 Mucuna Pruriens: The Dopamine Bean with a Serotonin Outer Shell
  • 00:51:00 Emotional Context and Book Recommendation: “How Emotions Are Made”
  • 00:54:55 Exercise: Powerful Mood Enhancer, But Lacks Specificity
  • 00:56:45 Omega-3: Omega-6 Ratios, Fish Oil and Alleviating Depression
  • 01:01:00 Fish Oil as Antidepressant
  • 01:02:40 EPAs May Improve Mood via Heart Rate Variability: Gut-Heart-Brain
  • 01:07:24 Alternatives to Fish Oil to Obtain Sufficient Omega-3/EPAs
  • 01:09:05 L-Carnitine for Mood, Sperm and Ovary Quality, Autism, Fibromyalgia, Migraine
  • 01:16:29 Gut-Microbiome: Myths, Truths & the Tubes Within Us
  • 01:21:55 Probiotics, Brain Fog, Autism, Fermentation
  • 01:25:20 Artificial Sweeteners & the Gut Microbiome: NOT All Bad; It Depends!
  • 01:28:00 Ketogenic, Vegan, & Processed Food Effects, Individual Differences
  • 01:33:20 Fasting-Based Depletion of Our Microbiome
  • 01:35:20 How Mindset Effects Our Responses to Foods: Amazing (Ghrelin) Effects!
  • 01:38:30 How Mindset Controls Our Metabolism
  • 01:41:03 Closing Comments, Thanks, Support & Resources


Please note that The Huberman Lab Podcast is distinct from Dr. Huberman's teaching and research roles at Stanford University School of Medicine. The information provided in this show is not medical advice, nor should it be taken or applied as a replacement for medical advice. The Huberman Lab Podcast, its employees, guests and affiliates assume no liability for the application of the information discussed.

[Title Card Photo Credit: Mike Blabac]