The good feeling you get when taking a bite of your favorite food. The pleasure you experience during intimate moments. The rush you can’t forget after winning a game. If you have never heard of dopamine before, you have certainly felt its effects.
This is because it is a vital part of your reward system. Essentially, every time you do something enjoyable, as a form of positive reinforcement, your brain releases a small amount of it. And, for this reason, dopamine plays a huge role in who you are as a person, plus your overall health. Yes, that is right. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to function as a healthy, thriving, human.
To help you better understand dopamine as well as why it is important to ensure you live a lifestyle that stimulates its production, today, we will take a look at its function, what deficiency looks like, and give you some natural ways to boost it.
The Function Of Dopamine
Commonly known as the feel-good hormone, the truth is, the function of dopamine goes far beyond triggering the sense of pleasure. A neurotransmitter chemical that is made from the amino acid Tyrosine and produced by the brain in the substantia nigra, ventral tegmental area, and hypothalamus, once created, the nervous system uses it to communicate with nerve cells via four different pathways. Each pathway helps the brain and body compute important information that regulates:
- Heart Rate
- Decision Making
- And More
Therefore, dopamine is very closely connected to your everyday life in more ways than one. It’s the stuff that keeps you going. But, with that, it is also the stuff that, when levels are low, can slow you down.
Generally, under normal circumstances, the body is able to create enough dopamine. However, there are times when lifestyle changes (lack of sleep, drug use, stress, etc.) or medical conditions (obesity, high levels of saturated fats, intake of certain medicines, etc.) get in the way, and production levels drop. When this happens, some symptoms may include:
- Chronic Back Pain
- Weight Changes
- Sleep Issues
- Trouble Concentrating
- Lack Of Libido
- Unstable, Low Moods
- And More
Even worse, many studies have even linked low dopamine or dopamine deficiency to Parkinson’s, ADHD, addiction, and Schizophrenia. Luckily, the good news is, you can do things to increase levels.
How To Naturally Boost Dopamine Levels
Combating the loss of dopamine stars by identifying ways to trigger its production, slow its breakdown, and increase receptor creation. That said, here are a few ways we like to repair and kickstart this feel-good body chemical.
While the jury is still out on the exact link between dopamine and exercise. For the most part, this is what many experts can agree on. First, it is known that moving the body boosts endorphins and works to improve mood. Second, when one increases this is an enjoyable thing for a human to experience. That said, over time, as a person learns to expect the reward of exercise, more dopamine is released and found in the blood.
Ever heard the saying ‘happy stomach, happy mind’? If not, that’s okay, we made it up. But, it definitely makes sense in this situation.
Recently several studies have been released showing that the gut and brain are very connected. In fact, they are so connected that what affects the brain many times also affects the gut. So, it only makes sense that in order to have a happy brain that is producing the feel-good chemical dopamine, one must be mindful of gut health. And, that is where probiotics come in.
We love this one because we love to eat, especially foods that are rich in vitamins and full of proteins.
Now, here are the basics of the dopamine diet. To increase dopamine production you must make sure to eat good portions of dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt, unprocessed meats (beef, chicken, duck), omega-3 saturated items (salmon and mackerel), eggs, fruits, vegetables, nuts (almonds and walnuts), and dark chocolate.
Got a favorite song? What about a tune you can’t stop humming? If yes, good! If not, go find some. Because, music, as it turns out, is amazing for dopamine production.
Most likely having to do with the enjoyment/reward association, while it is hard to know for sure how it works, what is known is that on brain scans of patients listening to music the pleasure areas of the brain light up! And, when this happens, the dopamine receptors in those areas are triggered.
The simple practice of turning off the mind, letting go of daily stressors, and allowing your thoughts to float, surprisingly, meditation has been found to boost dopamine levels by upwards of 65%. That’s a pretty big leap in the positive mood and motivation department, if you ask us!
To create and regulate dopamine, the body needs a number of vitamins and minerals. We’re talking about things like iron, vitamin E and C, vitamin B6, copper, and a few more.
If the body is low in any of the vital nutrients, it may have a hard time feeling good. So, supplementing via pills or drinking mineral-rich alkaline water is generally good practice and will ultimately lead to a body primed for neurotransmitters to function properly.
Ask yourself, how many hours of sleep do you get every night? If your answer is not enough, you need to think twice about those early mornings and late bedtimes. This is because sleep serves as a critical time for your body and brain to recover. And, when it comes to dopamine, it also helps receptors restore as well as production.
A Vibrant, Healthy, Happy Future Awaits You
Overall, while you can’t completely control your body’s natural chemical production processes, you can make some small life changes in order to improve function. Moreover, the one thing that is for sure, as you start your journey towards healthy eating, more rest, etc. you will see plenty of positive outcomes. So, from here, we wish you a vibrant, healthy, and happy future!
Please note, while the team at DYLN enjoys sharing health and wellness information with you, we want to remind you that, if you are worried about your health in any way, contact a registered medical practitioner.