What does dopamine have to do with your happiness you ask?
Well, dopamine is responsible for feelings of pleasure, euphoria, motivation, focus, and concentration. These emotions are the result of dopamine increase and can be produced in many different natural and non-addictive ways.
The satisfaction of accomplishment, gratification of loving relationships, or even the simple pleasure of taking a walk in nature are some of the experiences we may truly feel happy about; dopamine is the brain chemical that creates these pleasurable feelings.
I think you will agree with me when I say:
...sometimes we feel down, tired, unmotivated and don't even know the reason why we have these feelings...
Well, it turns out that one of the main reasons to this is that dopamine can affect our everyday lives; from the ability to feel pleasure and happiness to being energetic and staying motivated.
Low dopamine levels can have an impact on both our physiological and cognitive performance, but there are many natural ways to increase dopamine levels and allow ourselves to enjoy the pleasures of life.
But wait... What is this neurotransmitter and how does it work?
Dopamine – What Is It, And How Does It Work
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter (chemical messenger) that sends information to the brain and body via the nervous system. It’s essential to our daily brain and bodily functions, including memory, motor control, and focus.
When dopamine is released, it crosses a very small gap (synapse) in our brain and then attaches to a dopamine receptor on the next nerve.
What this means is that when dopamine levels are depleted, the information cannot be transmitted properly to the brain and body causing impaired functionality in behaviour, mood, cognition, attention, learning, movement, and sleep.
Dopamine Deficiency – What Are The Symptoms of Low Dopamine Levels
When an individual has low levels of dopamine or in other words, experiences dopamine deficiency, emotions cannot be correctly regulated.
Mental impulses that translate to feelings of sadness are created and therefore, the most common low dopamine symptoms are the same signs associated with depression. The most common dopamine deficiency symptoms can be:
- Lack of interest in life
- Reduced motivation
- Inability to feel pleasure
- Disturbed sleep patterns
- Mood swings
- Feelings of hopelessness or guilt
- Poor memory
- Inability to focus and concentrate
- Addiction to caffeine or other stimulants
- Weight gain
7 Foods to Relieve Stress and Enjoy Life
Dopamine Increase for a Productivity Boost
Since dopamine is strongly associated with low levels of mood and motivation, it is also directly linked to improving our productivity and energy levels throughout the day.
In other words, we can feel like everything seems easier to do, become more focused on small tasks and even be able to wider picture. This in turn will boost our productivity levels, helps us stay motivated throughout the day as well as enjoy doing activities that once felt monotonous in the past.
The best part?
Improving our dopamine production via different ways (that will soon visit) can not only lead to being more productive, but also:
- Make us enjoy the moment.
- Maintain a healthy mental function.
- Fight against depression and improve mood levels.
- Improve our ability to remember and recall information.
- (Indirectly) Assist with weight loss and getting rid of excessive weight.
- Avoid following unhealthy habits or addictions that can have a serious impact to our lives.
Okay... Now that we understand how dopamine impacts our mood and productivity levels, what can we do to increase it in a natural way?
6 Ways to Increase Dopamine Levels
1. Adopt the Right Diet
If you think that you have low dopamine levels, eating the right foods is the first thing to consider. Dopamine is synthesized from the amino acid tyrosine, which we intake from food or natural supplements like Fused Reaction™.
Meat, dairy, fish, and poultry are all excellent sources of tyrosine. There are also several vegan and vegetarian options that contain tyrosine like apples, bananas, strawberries, avocados, green leafy vegetables, peanuts, almonds and oatmeal (R).
In addition to the above you may also find the following to also help you with your mood and productivity levels: beets, chocolate, coffee, fava beans, green tea, lima beans, olive oil, oregano, nuts, rosemary, sea vegetables, sesame and pumpkin seeds, turmeric and watermelon.
But what happens if you don’t feel that confident in the kitchen?
Let’s be honest… Not everyone is a master chef.
Well, if we were we could easily go and compete in one of those tv programs. An easy solution to this is to simply pick easy recipes that you like (that include some of the above ingredients) and try them out.
Here is a list of some of our favourite ‘cooking recipes’ websites:
2. Set A Routine Schedule
An easy way to increase dopamine levels is to get in a healthy routine and follow it. Your routine should include adequate time for both work and rest.
Ideally, your day should be comprised of seven to eight hours of sleep per night in addition to physical activity.
Sleeping to much or too little, combined with lack of regular exercise can deplete the brain of dopamine.
The reason behind this is that proper sleep allows the brain to recover from the day’s operations and recharge its supplies of neurotransmitters.
Not sure how you can follow a routine?
Truth to be told, it’s a hard task to master. Not to worry though; technology will once again come to the rescue.
These are suggestions of different apps you can use to put your daily activities in order while helping you make sure to follow them:
3. Reduce Stress When Possible
If you are experiencing high levels of stress, your dopamine levels could drop dramatically.
High stress levels are associated with dopamine deficiency, and reducing stress is one of the best ways to take increase your dopamine levels.
Effective methods to reduce stress include:
- Manage your time
- Sleep more
- Talk to someone
- Regular exercise
4. Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise promotes the production of dopamine. Studies indicate that exercise can have positive effects to neurotransmission, thus, positively affecting the brain’s dopamine and serotonin levels.
Exercise also has the ability to increase blood flow and oxygen to the brain, which in turn enables new cell growth, dopamine production and overall brain health.
Now, you may ask: do I need to be a fun of the gym?
The quick and easy answer to this is no. Exercise doesn't always have to include long sessions at the gym.
Types of exercise you can easily try out include:
- Running or jogging
- (And yes, even) Dancing
5. Experience New Things And Activities
I can't stress this enough:
Doing new things in your life can not only provide you with more experiences, but also result to a feeling of achievement or accomplishment, which is a great way to boost your dopamine levels.
There are numerous new activities that you can engage with every single day, and those may either short or long term ones.
Playing a new game, trying out a new recipe, going to a new park or even learn guitar or something that you like, which at the same time can be crossed off your life’s 'to do' list.
This is a list of our top three activities and resources you can use to implement them:
- Meet new people in social activities - Meetup
- Learn a new instrument - Yousician
- Learn a new language - Duolingo
6. Take The Right Natural Brain Supplements
Even though dopamine is synthesized in the body and can’t be taken as a capsule or pill, there are many natural brain supplements that can aid in increasing your dopamine levels. Adding them to your daily diet can effectively work for your health’s benefit and improve dopamine production.
L-Tyrosine Is A Dopamine Booster
L-tyrosine is one of our most favourite brain dopamine supplements and will always be on the top of our list as it’s a precursor to dopamine.
We will soon explain why...
L-Tyrosine has many health benefits as it’s an amino acid which is produced in our body (not in the desired amounts though).
What this means is that low amounts of l-tyrosine in our body can lead to anxiety, changes in mood and even feelings of fatigue and tiredness (R). Something that l-tyrosine can help with.
Among many health benefits, the vast amount of research papers out there suggest that L-tyrosine supplements can help maintain our cognitive resources which are used by our brain to effectively remember information (R, R).
Recent studies also demonstrated that this nutrient can further boost our ability to focus and react faster promoting a sharp brain and a healthy cognitive function (R).
To be specific, a research that took place at the University of Amsterdam showed that participants were able to stop (e.g. react) faster to signals after having tried the relevant ingredient.
L-Theanine Can Improve Mood Levels
L-theanine supplements and dopamine production are also closely linked with each other. Among the many health benefits L-theanine can deliver to our brain and well-being, it is mostly well-known for its ability to increase our learning capabilities and mood levels via dopamine production.
Even though theanine can be consumed by drinking green or black tea, many individuals prefer the raw form found in retail products.
The reason to this is that drinking more than 3 cups of tea per day can lead to headaches due to the caffeine which is also found in the beverages.
Nevertheless, the L-theanine extract when consumed at the advised by the retailers dosage, can help you have feel relaxed while improving your focus and concentration at the same time (R).
Gingko Biloba Can Improve Your Brain Performance
Ginkgo biloba is also considered to be a dopamine booster supplement. Research shows that the flavonoids found in Ginkgo may function as Monoamine Oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) (R).
This essentially refers to the fact that the enzyme MAOI helps the proper break down of dopamine once released in our brain. Animal studies have shown that the gingko biloba extract can improve dopamine production in parts of the brain that are associated with problem solving, learning and motivation.
Vitamins Will Maintain Your Brain Health
There are many vitamins like zinc, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 (also known as folate) that act as mood boosters and are needed to synthesize dopamine and main promote a healthy neurotransmission.
The amount of these vitamins found in our body are often decreased because of various factors like too much stress, unhealthy diet and even exposure to toxic environment which doesn’t allow or body to properly produce the right levels of dopamine.
Supplements rich in vitamins can further help improve our mood levels and create emotions of happiness and relaxation.
Wait, that’s not all…
We have learned how we can improve dopamine production via different ways, but shouldn’t we also avoid decreasing it (and getting back to where we started)?
Factors that Can Decrease Our Dopamine Levels
In a similar way to following natural ways and supplements that contribute to dopamine production, there are also different factors or supplements that may result in decreasing it.
If you are looking to produce feelings of enjoyment and stay productive while avoiding dopamine deficiency, you may want to avoid manganese, melatonin, lithium and even long-term intake of 5-HTP (R, R, R).