Dopamine is a major neurotransmitter that plays a key role in many aspects of human behavior. It is also in charge of your pleasure-reward system. If you have enough dopamine, you feel more alive, focused, productive, and motivated. However, lifestyle habits, diet, and illness can deplete dopamine levels in your brain, resulting in reduced motivation and decreased enthusiasm for things that normally would excite you. The good news is that there are some things you can do to naturally increase your dopamine levels, such as the following:
Eat dopamine-boosting foods – You can get dopamine from apples, avocados, bananas, beans, eggplants, oranges, peas, plantains, and spinach. However, dopamine obtained from food doesn’t cross the blood-brain barrier. If you want to increase your dopamine level with food, you must also consume foods that contain L-tyrosine. Dopamine is made from this amino acid, and eating foods rich in L-tyrosine helps ensure that you have the basic building blocks needed for dopamine synthesis. Some foods that contain L-tyrosine or increase dopamine through other mechanisms include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beets, leafy greens, nuts, olive oil, peanuts, sea vegetables, and other protein-rich foods. Probiotic-rich foods like kefir, yogurt, and sauerkraut may also increase the natural production of dopamine.
Avoid dopamine-depleting foods – Just as there are foods that boost dopamine, there are also those that deplete it. Saturated fats are not only bad for your health, but also for your brain, so avoid foods high in saturated fats if you’re trying to increase your dopamine levels. Sugar may boost dopamine temporarily, but this is an unhealthy substance that is more drug-like than food-like, and ultimately contributes to dopamine deficiency. Likewise, avoid artificial sweeteners like aspartame, which reduces both dopamine and serotonin levels.
Take dopamine-enhancing supplements – There are natural supplements that help regulate dopamine levels through different mechanisms. Some increase the amount of dopamine available, while others keep dopamine from being broken down too quickly. Other supplements increase the number of dopamine receptors or help existing receptors work better. Some supplements you may try include L-tyrosine, velvet bean (Mucuna pruriens), curcumin, ginkgo biloba, and essential nutrients required for dopamine synthesis, including B vitamins, vitamin D, magnesium, iron, and healthy fats. (Related: Got DEPRESSION or anxiety? Try supplementing with Mucuna Pruriens to raise your natural dopamine levels.)
Get moving – Physical activity keeps the brain healthy; it boosts brain cell production, slows down brain cell aging, and improves the flow of nutrients to the brain. It also increases dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine levels in the brain. Walking or doing yoga, tai chi, or qi gong are some exercises you may try. Even standing up frequently during the day can counteract the dopamine-reducing effects of sitting for long hours.
Meditate – Meditation is the practice of clearing your mind, focusing inward, and letting your thoughts flow without judgment or attachment. This healing practice offers many brain health benefits. It balances brain chemicals, including dopamine; creates stronger neural connections; reduces brain inflammation; increases brain plasticity; promotes blood flow to the brain; and reduces stress hormones.
Listen to music – Looking for a fun way to promote dopamine release in your brain? Listen to your favorite songs more often. Interestingly, even the anticipation of listening to music can already stimulate the release of dopamine.
Get a massage – You can also increase your dopamine levels through physical contact. Getting a massage or hugging someone boosts dopamine levels, at the same time reduces your stress hormones.
Get enough sleep – Sleep deprivation can reduce dopamine sensitivity in the brain, leading to excessive feelings of sleepiness. Getting a good night’s sleep may regulate your body’s natural dopamine rhythms.
Lose some weight – Overweight and obese people tend to have fewer dopamine receptors than those who have an average weight. Because dopamine controls the brain’s pleasure center, obese people receive less pleasure and satisfaction from eating, which leads them to eat more. An ideal way to lose weight is to practice intermittent fasting. This will also help regulate your dopamine receptors.
Take a cold shower – Taking a cold shower can boost dopamine by as much as 250 percent, according to a study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology. This is because it can boost mood and productivity all day.
Follow a healthy diet and make the necessary lifestyle changes to boost your dopamine levels and stay motivated. Learn more about dopamine and how it can boost your mental health at Mind.news.