How to Increase Dopamine Naturally

How to Increase Dopamine Naturally

Author: Philippa Gold  Editor: Alexander Bentley  Reviewed: Matthew Idle
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How to Increase Dopamine Naturally

 

A walk around your local pharmacy will likely lead you to find supplements promising to increase your energy levels and improve your mood. Although some of these supplements may have been tested, there is no evidence that many of them actually work.

 

There are plenty of people who buy supplements to increase their dopamine levels, but there are just as many individuals that seek out natural ways to improve their levels of the chemical.

 

Dopamine is one of those buzzwords currently used by the media and marketers to sell products. You likely already know that dopamine is important. Yet, you may not realize that you can increase your dopamine levels naturally and without taking supplements created in a lab.

 

Learning to increase your dopamine levels naturally can change your life. Along with increased wellness and energy, improved dopamine levels can help your concentration, good habits, and mood. It can also help you find relief from the symptoms of depression.

 

In terms of successful addiction recovery, learning how to increase dopamine naturally, without the need for medication can be the difference between sobriety and relapse11.M. Briguglio and B. Dell’Osso, Dietary Neurotransmitters: A Narrative Review on Current Knowledge – PMC, PubMed Central (PMC).; Retrieved September 18, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5986471/. Indeed, many relapse prevention strategies include working on increasing dopamine naturally, without the need for supplements or pills.

 

What is dopamine?

 

Dopamine is a chemical messenger located in the brain. The chemical is essential for a variety of functions including memory, behavior, movement, motivation, sleep, and mood. Dopamine is the brain’s reward system. If you participate in beneficial behavior, dopamine rewards you and motivates you to continue the same behavior.

 

For example, if you do something enjoyable, dopamine is released in your brain. The reward of dopamine will encourage you to do the same activity again because it felt good. Unfortunately, dopamine can be released by alcohol and/or drugs. It is connected to addiction as well.

 

If you have low dopamine levels, you could suffer from addiction, depression, Parkinson’s disease, and schizophrenia. In addition, you could be unmotivated, struggle to concentrate, and apathetic22.H. J. Olguín, The Role of Dopamine and Its Dysfunction as a Consequence of Oxidative Stress – PMC, PubMed Central (PMC).; Retrieved September 18, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4684895/.

 

Symptoms of low dopamine levels include:

 

  • Low libido
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Insomnia
  • No motivation
  • Fatigue/tiredness
  • Lack of attention
  • Apathy
  • Listlessness

How does dopamine work?

 

Most naturally produced dopamine is created in your midbrain. From there, it is distributed to different parts of the brain. The medical word is still unsure just how dopamine works in the brain. Dopamine has four major pathways inside the brain. Each pathway controls a different bodily process. Three of the pathways are reward pathways in the body.

 

Low dopamine levels are caused by a variety of aspects

 

You may suffer from low dopamine due to:

 

  • Medical conditions like schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, depression, and bipolar disorder
  • Substance abuse and addiction
  • Poor diet with inadequate nutrients for brain health
  • Problems with the Vagus Nerve
  • Certain medications like antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs can stop the production of dopamine
  • Gabapentin fluctuations
  • Serotonin Syndrome

Increasing your dopamine naturally

 

Dopamine reinforces your desire to do activities that create a sensation of pleasure. This can be positive and negative. You can have too much dopamine. Too much of the chemical slows your brain’s production of dopamine. You may also build up a tolerance to dopamine. This is why addiction gets worse. You grow a tolerance to dopamine; therefore, you must increase the dose of your drug or alcohol of choice.

 

You can naturally increase your dopamine levels by participating in activities. These activities give you the chance to build up your dopamine levels and improve well-being. So, how do you increase your dopamine levels naturally?

 

Have a healthy diet

 

A healthy diet can increase your dopamine levels. Foods like almonds, eggs, fish, and chicken contain tyrosine and are excellent for increasing your dopamine. Tyrosine is an amino acid that occurs naturally in the body. Dopamine is created using tyrosine and it is found in foods rich with protein.

 

Yogurt and kefir can increase the production of dopamine. Coffee can also boost your dopamine, but levels drop after consuming it. Drinks such as coffee can create caffeine addiction.

 

Sleep

 

An inadequate amount of sleep can cause your dopamine levels to drop. It is important to get enough sleep each night to be healthy. On average, adults should get seven hours or more each night. If you don’t get enough sleep at night, your dopamine receptors could be affected. Sleep deprivation may cause dopamine receptors to be suppressed.

 

Exercise

 

Regular exercise doesn’t just improve your body, but it improves your mental health. Exercising on a regular basis increases dopamine levels. Dopamine levels increase when you do exercise. After working out, many people feel a “high”. This may be due to increased dopamine levels.

 

Listen to music

 

Music has the ability to improve your motivation. By listening to your favorite songs, you can improve your dopamine levels. Research found that listening to your favorite songs may lead to a release of dopamine in the brain.

 

Mindfulness and meditation

 

Mindfulness and meditation are tools that have been used for centuries. Both have a significant impact on mental health. Meditation has been found to increase dopamine levels.

 

Reduce processed sugar

 

Soda and candy contain processed sugar. Processed sugar has the ability to improve your dopamine levels, but these increases are temporary. In addition, the increase is artificial. Consuming processed sugar may make you feel great quickly, but you will crash following the sudden elation. Once you come down, you will likely feel down.

 

By cutting out processed sugars, your body won’t experience artificial dopamine increases. Therefore, you won’t experience crashes after the sugar high wears off. In addition, you won’t become addicted to sugar.

 

Eliminate stress

 

Stress may cause a decrease in dopamine levels. If you can control or eliminate the amount of stress in your life, you can improve your dopamine levels. There are activities you can participate in to reduce the amount of stress in your life. Activities such as meditation and exercise can reduce the stress you experience.  It also helps to try and limit negative thinking and ruminating.

 

Get some sun

 

A lack of sunlight can lead to poor mental health and low mood. You may even experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is a condition that affects an estimated 10 million men and women in America.

 

Just 20 minutes of sunlight per day on your skin can improve your mental health. By getting sunlight in the morning or late afternoon, you can greatly improve your mental health courtesy of increased dopamine levels.

 

You can increase dopamine levels naturally by making a few changes to your day. Altering your day and adding these healthy routines can be the difference you need to increase dopamine levels.

 

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  • 1
    1.M. Briguglio and B. Dell’Osso, Dietary Neurotransmitters: A Narrative Review on Current Knowledge – PMC, PubMed Central (PMC).; Retrieved September 18, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5986471/
  • 2
    2.H. J. Olguín, The Role of Dopamine and Its Dysfunction as a Consequence of Oxidative Stress – PMC, PubMed Central (PMC).; Retrieved September 18, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4684895/
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