Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays a major role in mental health. It is naturally produced in your brain and adrenal glands and is the chemical that signals feelings of pleasure. Dopamine has been linked to cognition, voluntary movement, motivation, punishment and reward, sleep, mood, attention, inhibition of prolactin production (involved in lactation and sexual gratification), working memory and learning.
Wow, that is an impressive list – and one that should really motivate us to be ‘thinking dopamine’.
How can we naturally increase dopamine in our brain? Let’s look at three natural ways to increase your dopamine and three things to avoid (or significantly reduce).
The Do List:
1. Exercise – The first has to be exercise. Play sports, go for a brisk walk, lift weights. Bottom line, get active. The Mayo Clinic indicated that physical activity stimulates dopamine production and triggers feelings that combat depression. Sitting on the couch and watching TV is not good for your dopamine levels.
2. Eat protein – Dopamine is produced within our body from tyrosine, which is a nonessential amino acid found in chicken, turkey, fish, peanuts, almonds, avocados, milk, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, lima beans, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds.
3. Get folate – Also known as Vitamin B9. Folate occurs naturally in food. Sources of folate include many beans and vegetables and some fruits. A partial list is black-eyed peas, lentils, okra, spinach, romaine lettuce, broccoli, asparagus, avocados, sunflower seeds, beets, and bananas (especially ones that are quite ripe).
The Don’t List:
1. Eat sugary foods – Sugary foods are linked to reduction in your body’s ability to produce dopamine. Avoid these as much as possible.
2. Drink caffeine – caffeine boosts the neurotransmitters in your brain and increases serotonin temporarily, but afterwards causes a reduction in dopamine. Particularly avoid caffeine if you suffer from depression.
3. Drink alcoholic beverages – alcohol limits neurotransmitter in your brain in a similar manner, resulting in a drop in dopamine levels.
Get off the couch, get active, eat well and avoid eating ‘bad stuff’, your dopamine levels will thank you for it.
– The Alternative Daily