Top 10 Foods That Increase Dopamine Levels
There is one type of addiction we are all so proud of: foods. That alone can make us happy. But did you know that there are certain types of food scientifically proven at making you happier? Dopamine, a part of the so-called “happy hormones” along with serotonin and endorphins, is a neurotransmitter associated with the “reward system” in the brain that is responsible for the feeling of satisfaction and pleasure which reinforces or “motivates” behaviors, such as in drug addiction.
Dopamine also deals with learning, attention and concentration, and other brain processes associated with emotional responses. The lack of motivation, feelings of sadness, mental and physical fatigue, low sexual drive, inability to focus, remember things and connect with others, having a hard time falling asleep and getting up in the morning, and cravings for sugar and carbohydrate may indicate that you’re having a dopamine deficiency. Good news! As stated above, we list out here 10 foods that increase dopamine levels to help put some life back to you:
Perfect if eaten as toppings of oatmeal (which can also raise dopamine level), strawberries and blueberries contain tyrosine, a nonessential amino acid found similarly in a banana that is converted from the amino acid phenylalanine. It is basically essential in the production of dopamine along with other significant neurotransmitters like epinephrine and norepinephrine. They are likewise rich in the flavonoid antioxidant anthocyanin that counters oxidative stress, the improper balance between antioxidants and free radicals that could lead to oxidative damage, in some major areas of the brain which regulate dopamine. A potent source of vitamin C, berries can also be consumed to maintain optimal brain health by warding off free radicals and improving dopamine transmission in the process.
We’ve talked about berries; now let’s take a look at the most commonly consumed fruits. Quercetin, an antioxidant found in apples, is known as a preventive measure against neurodegenerative diseases while encouraging optimal brain health by stimulating dopamine. It also contains polyphenol that keeps cells away from damage. Guess it’s never really overrated to say “an apple [with its peel] a day keeps the doctor away”.
Bananas, as aforementioned, are rich in tyrosine, enough to make you feel good and increase alertness. Not to mention the other nutrients that are all good for the sustenance of heart muscles. If you want to get the most of their tyrosine content, choose ripe and sweeter bananas and consume at least one each day. The abundance of tyrosine includes watermelon in the list. On top of that, watermelon juice is fat-free and overloaded with vitamin B6 that is consumed by the body to create neurotransmitters. These amino acids fundamental for dopamine production, together with various vitamins and minerals, can all be found in these fruits so it’s sensibly better to have your daily dose in the assortment.
Of course, the thought alone of chocolates is enough to make you happy. What’s more? It will definitely increase your dopamine levels. They contain a type of amino acid which helps in dopamine production called phenylalanine.
Just remember though that the more processed chocolates used in brownies and cake will do so rather briefly. The real star? Dark chocolates. Those with more than 80% of cocoa have the highest level of phenylalanine concentration.
Cacao or raw chocolates is also an excellent source of Phenethylamine (PEA) which acts as an effective antidepressant by potentiating dopamine activity. There are so many ways you can eat chocolates: partner it up with other desserts or simply eat plain ones. Just be careful not to overindulge because the sugar and fat content can exacerbate other medical conditions like diabetes.
Nuts and Seeds
Though almonds are well-thought-out as the best, nuts, in general, are good at maintaining appropriate dopamine levels. Aside from the B vitamins B6 and folate, fiber, and zinc, raw almonds have phenylalanine and tyrosine, amino acids we already have talked about, and are healthier than salted ones.
Selenium which is extremely high in Brazil nuts gets a fair share in the dopamine discussion. Seeds are not left out in the tyrosine-rich foods list. The vitamin E found in pumpkin seeds moreover stimulate dopamine and fight off free radicals to protect brain cells. Walnuts and seeds like chia and hemp seeds meanwhile provide antioxidants, omega-3, and gamma linoleic acid that should be included in the conversation. Simply cleaning them with water and letting it sit overnight removes many anti-nutrients and makes it easier to eat.
Coffee, Tea, and Yogurt
The world’s most widely consumed drug (not necessarily the prohibited), not surprisingly, is caffeine. Present in highly expendable food products like chocolates and beverages particularly in coffee and tea, caffeine generates greater dopamine productions and concentrations within the brain, causing an increased feeling of positivity and well-being. No wonder coffee feels so good! Green tea in particular contains polyphenol, which gives its bitter taste, an effective antioxidant that does not only help sustain a healthy heart and even prevent cancer but also aid in maintaining positive mood states, protect against brain disorder like Parkinson’s, and ultimately boost the availability of dopamine and alter serotonin and dopamine metabolism in a beneficial way.
Yogurt is not exclusive for the health conscious. They should also be in demand for those who seek happiness. Foods like this are high in natural probiotics that can enhance the production of dopamine. It’s noteworthy to know that an accumulation of bad bacteria produces toxins called lipopolysaccharides (LPS) which in turn lead to disintegration and decrease in dopamine and produce changes in serotonin levels. This only shows how vital it is to ponder on the condition of our intestinal flora due to its direct correlation on our neurotransmitter productions.
Aside from addiction, dopamine deficiency is also associated with other serious medical conditions like clinical depression, Parkinson’s disease and ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder). According to some research, there is a link between omega-3 fatty acids and dopamine in which a deficiency of the former is shown to have a contributing factor in the reduction of dopamine and another important neurotransmitter in the brain.
Dopaminergic and serotonergic neurotransmission which plays a role in some psychiatric and neurological disorders can also be altered by omega-3. Though there is only a limited amount of clinical review to settle this claim, there is no harm in trying. Omega-3 enriched salmon along with other deep-water fishes like mackerel, tuna and sardines may improve dopamine levels. But who really can say no to a smoked or grilled fish?
Amino acids are basically the building blocks of protein. Therefore, eating protein foods will prompt dopamine production aside from encouraging metabolic rate. Chicken, geese, turkeys, and ducks, especially if raised in a pasture, are among the wide selection of dopamine enhancing animal products; together apparently with red meat from lamb, beef, etc. And of course, fishes (see number 7). Fatty acids and antioxidant properties in these protein foods are essential for supporting healthy neurotransmitter connections as well as decreasing inflammation in the brain. Eggs also are potent sources of protein; along with vitamin D., There are endless choices to what you can do with eggs. Be it hard-boiled, scrambled, omelets, whatever.
If ever you find yourself lacking motivation, incorporate oregano oil in your daily consumption. It does not only boost dopamine, serotonin and noradrenaline transmission but also boost the neurotransmitter function in various brain regions. Now dopamine is accountable for improving our motivation. And it has good effects in mood swings and cravings so better be motivated to start the consumption now.
Last but not the least. Green vegetables are once again bursting with tyrosine, accompanied by varied health benefits that help reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Beetroot has betaine, an amino acid that encourages the creation of dopamine. Its low amount of calories and high amount of iron is likewise an advantage.
Red beets similarly contain betaine, which also acts as an antidepressant and thus giving you an added lift. Seaweeds furthermore regulate metabolism, cleanse the blood, ease off your digestion and increase dopamine level while supporting your immune system as a whole. Kale is prolific in folate, used to activate dopamine production.
Cabbage, Brussel sprouts, arugula, cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables contain cancer-fighting compounds, normalize sugar level in blood, reduce inflammatory conditions, augment a healthy heart and are rich in sulfur compounds which play a key role in maintaining a healthy brain and optimum dopamine level.
Having considered all these, we really cannot blame those who stress-eat to help ease off the build-up of tension they’re feeling. Though it’s not really advisable to do so without moderation, it only shows that food is one of the many ways in which we make ourselves happy. Knowing certain foods do indeed increase our sense of happiness makes it even more important. So start now a healthy lifestyle if you’re not into it yet. And always keep in mind to stay happy in the process.