Dopamine is a chemical messenger in your brain that has several functions in the body. Dopamine is involved in reward, motivation, attention, memory, and the regulation of body movements. It is considered the body’s “feel-good” chemical. When it is released in large quantities in the body, it produces pleasure and reward. This causes a person to want to repeat the behavior that caused them to experience these pleasurable feelings.
Dopamine Boosters That Are Healthy
For a normal and healthy person, dopamine levels are usually well regulated in the body. However, for someone in recovery from drug addiction, especially long-term drug addiction, dopamine levels can be way off. This can cause a person in recovery to struggle with relapses continuously. Here are some healthy ways to increase dopamine.
Eat Lots of Protein – This is made up of amino acids. One amino acid, tyrosine, plays a critical role in producing dopamine. Enzymes within the body turn tyrosine into dopamine, so it is very important to have enough tyrosine to produce dopamine. Phenylalanine, another amino acid, can also make tyrosine. You can find tyrosine and phenylalanine in protein-rich foods such as beef, eggs, turkey, soy, dairy, and legumes. Studies show that increasing tyrosine and phenylalanine in a person’s diet can increase dopamine levels in the brain.
Eat Less Saturated Fat – When this is consumed in large quantities may affect dopamine signaling, from what studies have shown. In addition, some research has indicated that diets high in saturated fats may increase inflammation in the body, which can also affect dopamine. There has also been a link between high saturated fat in the diet and poor memory and cognitive function.
Consume Probiotics – Studies have shown that the gut and brain are closely linked. Probiotics help a person maintain a healthy gut by replenishing good bacteria, and certain bacteria in the gut can produce dopamine. This can affect both mood and behavior and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Eat Velvet Beans – Velvet beans or Mucuna Pruriens are high in L-dopa, the precursor molecule to dopamine. Studies have shown that these beans can even be more effective than some Parkinson’s medications. However, velvet beans can be toxic in high amounts, so you do have to be careful.
Exercise Often – Exercise is fantastic for improving mood and boosting natural endorphins. It can even boost dopamine if it is done regularly. Exercise is also great for helping with anxiety and depression.
Get Enough Sleep – Good sleep hygiene and regular sleep (7 to 9 hours a night) can help regulate your body’s natural dopamine rhythms. Conversely, lack of sleep can reduce dopamine in the brain, which can cause reduced and poor coordination.
Listen to Music – Music is a great way to stimulate natural dopamine in the brain since music can boost dopamine levels.
Meditate – Meditation is a practice where one clears their mind and focuses on letting their thoughts go. Studies have shown that those experienced in meditation have improved mental and physical health due to increased dopamine levels in the brain.
Get Enough Sunlight – Sun exposure/vitamin D is a great natural way to improve mood and boost dopamine levels. Unfortunately, some people suffer from a seasonal affective disorder or SAD in the winter and cold months. SAD is a condition where people are sad and experience depression when they aren’t exposed to enough sunlight.
Consider Supplements – It is important to regularly visit your doctor to ensure that you aren’t deficient in any of the necessary nutrients needed to make enough dopamine. For example, vitamin D, magnesium, iron, niacin, folate, and vitamin B6 are necessary to create dopamine. If you are deficient in any of these, you may want to consider taking a supplement or supplements.
How Do Dopamine Levels Lower and What are the Effects of it?
A couple of other important things to know about dopamine is that stress can lower dopamine levels. So it’s important to eliminate any stress in your life that you have control over. Also, like drugs and alcohol, sugar only provides a temporary increase in dopamine, and then the body crashes, leaving you feeling down. These temporary boosts will eventually affect the rate at which your body produces dopamine naturally. Cutting down on too much processed sugar will help to regulate natural dopamine levels. When a person’s dopamine levels are too low, they will experience a lack of motivation and find it difficult to experience pleasure in things that once excited them. Some of the other symptoms of low dopamine can include:
- Lack of motivation
- Low libido
- Muscle stiffness
Vital Role of Dopamine in Your Body
Dopamine also plays a vital role in our mental health. Too much or too little of the chemical can cause various mental health disorders and challenges. Depression, addiction, Parkinson’s disease, and schizophrenia are all conditions that have been directly linked to low levels of dopamine.
Treat Your Abuse With Evoke Wellness at Cohasset
If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction, our addiction professionals are available around the clock to assist you. Evoke Wellness at Cohasset offers evidence-based treatment programs and solution-focused addiction treatment to cater to each patient’s individual needs. Our programs will lead you on the road to long-lasting recovery. So you don’t have to suffer any longer, call us today.