There are over a hundred neurotransmitters present in the human brain. Dopamine is one of them and is known as the motivation chemical of the brain and is responsible for providing the drive and focus that a person needs to be productive during the day. Dopamine is responsible not only for maintaining your focus levels throughout the day, but also for your attention span, motivation, and your ability to experience pleasure. You will notice that people who are dopamine-dominant tend to be focused go-getters and can come across as being a little intense. However, if you lack the right levels of dopamine in the body, then you may experience symptoms such as fatigue, forgetfulness, lack of focus, apathy, lower levels of motivation, moodiness, and difficulty concentrating. You can now also increase your dopamine levels naturally and function at an optimum level with high levels of motivation and focus. So how to increase your dopamine levels naturally? Let us take a look.
Why Do You Need Dopamine?
Dopamine is an important neurotransmitter or a chemical messenger in the human brain. Dopamine has many functions and is involved in memory, reward, motivation, attention, and even in the regulation of many body movements. When the brain releases dopamine in large amounts, you start experiencing feelings of pleasure and reward. When you have low levels of dopamine in the body, you start having lower levels of motivation and a decreased enthusiasm to go about even your daily activities that used to excite you earlier.
Having a constant supply of dopamine in the body can provide you with benefits such as:
- Helping you lose weight.
- Counteracting depression.
- Making you feel more alive.
- Helping you resist impulsive behavior.
- Helps stop certain addictions as well as self-destructive behavior.
- Improves memory.
- Helps avoid Parkinson’s Disease.
What are the Symptoms of Dopamine Deficiency?
But how do you know you have low levels of dopamine? Here are certain common symptoms that indicate that you are suffering from dopamine deficiency.
- Lack of interest in daily activities.
- Inability to experience pleasure.
- Decreased levels of motivation.
- A tendency to procrastinate more than normal.
- Altered sleep patterns.
- Continuous fatigue.
- Restless leg syndrome.
- Mood swings.
- Poor memory.
- Addictions to stimulants, such as caffeine or drugs.
- Inability to focus or trouble concentrating.
- Weight gain.
- Self-destructive behavior.
Parkinson’s disease is an example of having an extreme dopamine deficiency. When you experience extreme dopamine deficiency, there will be a permanent and degenerative diminishing in your motor skills, such as tremors and muscle rigidity.
How to Increase your Dopamine Levels Naturally?
The nervous system is responsible for regulating your dopamine levels, but it is possible to increase your dopamine levels naturally as well.
Increase your Intake of Tyrosine and Phenylaline
Tyrosine is a protein that is the building block of dopamine. This is why you must ensure to consume enough of this protein to increase your dopamine levels naturally. Here is a list of the common foods that are rich in tyrosine:
Enzymes in your body will turn tyrosine into dopamine. This is why it is important that you have adequate levels of tyrosine in your body for dopamine production. Tyrosine can also be produced from the amino acid phenylalanine. Similar to tyrosine, phenylalanine can also be naturally found in foods that are rich in protein such as turkey, beef, soy, legumes, dairy, and eggs. Several studies have successfully shown that an increase in the amount of phenylalanine and tyrosine in one’s diet can boost the levels of dopamine in the brain. This has been proven to improve memory and also promote deep thinking. On the other hand, if you eliminate tyrosine and phenylalanine from your diet, your dopamine levels will fall. This is why it is so important to have a good intake of proteins to increase your dopamine levels naturally.
Lower Your Sugar Intake
Too much of sugar is not good for your body for many reasons. Sugar is known to change the chemistry of your brain, as it disrupts dopamine levels. This is one of the reasons why people experience a sugar rush or a sugar high after eating sweets. In a similar manner in which drugs and alcohol deplete the levels of dopamine, sugar also does the same. Sugar actually mimics the same euphoric pathway that the body experiences through drug and alcohol use, meaning a decrease in the dopamine levels that may even lead to sugar addictions. This sort of compulsive behavior addiction is the same, regardless of whether it is initiated by cocaine, alcohol, or sugar. The foundation of this behavior is an overpowering desire for dopamine.
When you limit your sugar intake, you will be able to fight off this addictive dopamine depletion and sugar craving cycle. However, if you are struggling with a sweet tooth, then you can take the help of chromium picolinate supplements to help decrease these sugar cravings. Cutting of sugar in your diet helps a lot in increasing your dopamine levels naturally.
Cut Down on Saturated Fat
Studies done on animals have shown that saturated fats can cause disruption in the process of dopamine signaling in the brain if they are consumed in very large quantities. Saturated fats include those found in animal fat, full-fat dairy, palm oil, butter, and even coconut oil. While these studies have so far only been done on rats, the results, nevertheless, have cast a doubt over the consumption of saturated fats with regards to dopamine levels in the brain. Based on the results of these studies, researchers believe that diets that are rich in saturated fats are likely to increase the inflammation in the body, which is likely to cause changes in the brain’s dopamine system. However, more research is still needed on this front to firmly establish whether saturated fats can reduce dopamine levels in the body. So you can try and reduce saturated fats to improve not only your overall health, but also to boost dopamine production in your body naturally.
Reduce your Caffeine Intake
Many people resort to their daily caffeine intake to get the energy boost that helps kick start their day. However, while caffeine gives you an energy boost, similar to sugar, it only lasts temporarily and it may actually end up causing more harm than food. This is because after experiencing the initial energy boost, the dopamine levels in the brain start to fall. This is why it is a better option to either opt for a cup of decaf or minimize your consumption of coffee to battle dopamine deficiency and naturally increase dopamine levels in your body.
Start Taking Probiotics
Probiotics have been closely associated with improving your gut health and is closely linked to the health of your brain as well. This is because the gut is also referred to as the body’s ‘second brain’ due to the fact that it contains a huge number of nerve cells that are responsible for producing many types of neurotransmitter signaling molecules, including dopamine. Many studies have, over the years, made it clear that many bacterial species that are found living in the gut are also able to produce dopamine, which impacts mood and behavior in the exact same manner as the dopamine produced in the brain. Research has shown that when consumed in significant quantity, certain strains of bacteria that are commonly found in these probiotics can help lower the symptoms of depression and anxiety substantially in both humans and animals. However, more research is still required to firmly establish a link between probiotics, mood swings, dopamine production and gut health. But there is no harm in starting to take probiotics to increase your dopamine levels naturally.
Start Consuming Velvet Beans
Also known as Mucuna pruriens, velvet beans are known to be naturally rich in L-dopa, which is the precursor molecule to dopamine. Studies have shown that eating velvet beans helps increase the levels of dopamine in the body naturally, particularly in people who suffer from Parkinson’s disease. Studies done on supplements of Mucuna pruriens have found that they are even more long-lasting and more effective than the traditional medications used for treating Parkinson’s disease and also have fewer side effects. While velvet beans are the natural sources of L-dopa, if you are going to introduce velvet beans into your diet or start taking the supplements, you should only do so after consulting with your doctor.
Load up on Resveratrol
Resveratrol is an antioxidant that can help you increase the dopamine levels in the brain naturally. Being an antioxidant, resveratrol also helps in fighting heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer. Some food sources that contain resveratrol include: dark chocolate, cocoa, cranberries, blueberries, grapes and pistachios. So binge on these food items to increase your dopamine levels naturally.
Increase Your DHA Levels
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is a fatty acid that is used frequently in the treatment of type 2 diabetes, dementia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and coronary artery disease. DHA is also used for the treatment and prevention of depression. DHA increases the levels of dopamine in the brain by supporting the electrical signals produced by the brains and also decreasing the production of the enzyme that is responsible for breaking down dopamine. Some foods that are rich in DHA include: Mackerel, Salmon, Sardines, Herring, Lake Trout and Seaweed. So make sure to include seafood at least twice a week to naturally increase your dopamine levels.
Keep Exercising Regularly
Exercise is a must for maintaining good health and an active lifestyle. Exercise boosts the levels of endorphins in the body, which are responsible for improving one’s mood. Even 10 minutes of aerobic exercise can bring about an improvement in your mood. You will notice even more improvement in your mood after exercising for 20 minutes. Aerobic exercises are also known to benefit people suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Studies have shown that when a person exercises regularly, it significantly improves motor control and has a beneficial effect on the dopamine system as well. So exercise daily no matter what, as exercise is a great way to naturally increase your dopamine levels.
Check If You Have a Magnesium Deficiency
Magnesium deficiency is a big contributor to lowering dopamine levels in the body. It is estimated that over half of the population around the globe could very well be deficient in this essential mineral and not even be aware of it. If you eat a diet that is heavy in junk or processed foods, then it is highly likely that you have a magnesium deficiency. Some of the common symptoms of magnesium deficiency include: constipation, high blood pressure, palpitations or rapid heartbeat, muscle spasms or pains, headaches, fatigue, depression, anxiety, mood swings and irritability.
Your doctor will perform some basic blood and urine tests to determine if you have a magnesium deficiency. Another diagnostic test known as a sublingual epithelial test is also used to check for magnesium in the cells, and it is deemed to be a more effective and more reliable test than blood and urine analysis. If you suspect that you may be having a magnesium deficiency, you should consult your doctor at the earliest to schedule a test to check for the same, as adequate magnesium levels are a must for adequate level of dopamine in your body.
Dopamine is one of the most important chemicals in your brain that the body requires to maintain your mood and to help keep you motivated. Dopamine also helps regulate the movements of your body. While dopamine levels are generally regulated by the body, sometimes it may happen that due to your lifestyle or a poor diet the levels of dopamine go down. There are many ways to increase the levels of dopamine naturally and some of these ways are discussed in this article.
Do remember that a balanced diet that contains adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals, proteins, probiotics, as well as the right amount of saturated fat, can help keep your body healthy and also produce the dopamine required naturally. Healthy lifestyle choices such has getting sufficient sleep, exercising, meditating, indulging in activities you like to get rid of stress, can all help boost your dopamine levels naturally.