Did you know that our brains and bodies can produce chemicals that make us feel happy? These chemicals are often referred to as “Happy Hormones”, and dopamine is one of the famous hormones.
But what is dopamine? Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is produced in our brain and nervous system, it is known as the “feel-good” hormone. Our brain releases it when we eat the food we crave or go for a run as part of the reward system, it contributes to feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. This important neurochemical enhances mood, motivation and focus, and helps regulate movement, learning, and emotional responses. Dopamine levels are typically well regulated within the nervous system, but there are some natural ways that you can do to increase your levels.
1. Get enough sleep
Getting enough sleep is key if you want to increase dopamine and optimize your dopamine levels naturally. Studies1 have shown that lack of sleep downregulates dopamine receptors and reduces the availability and sensitivity of dopamine receptors in the brain. Ensuring that you get enough high quality sleep can help to keep your levels of dopamine balanced. As a result, you should feel more alert and able to function better.
2. Listen to some music
Another great way to stimulate the release of dopamine is by listening to your favorite music. Researchers have found that you can significantly increase the release of dopamine in the brain by listening to your favorite music2. Make a playlist of some of your favorite music and listen to it when you feel sluggish or unmotivated.
3. Eat plenty of protein
Why does eating a protein-rich diet increase dopamine levels? Proteins are mainly made up of amino acids. All the proteins in the body are made up of about 20 different amino acids. Some of these amino acids can be made by your body, and others you get from food. An amino acid called tyrosine plays a crucial role in dopamine production. Enzymes in the body can convert tyrosine into dopamine, so having adequate tyrosine levels is important for dopamine production. Tyrosine is found in protein-dense foods such as eggs, dairy, beef, turkey, soybeans, and legumes.
4. Exercise more
It is no surprise that exercising is another natural way to increase your brain's dopamine levels. Numerous studies3 have shown that daily exercise increases dopamine neurotransmission, including increased dopamine release and increased dopamine receptor expression and binding. In addition to boosting dopamine levels, exercise stimulates the vagus nerve, boosting neurogenesis and increasing blood flow to the brain.
5. Consume probiotics
As mentioned earlier, dopamine is a neurotransmitter. Despite being based in the brain, your gut also plays a critical role in calibrating dopamine levels in your body. One study4 has found that Lactobacillus rhamnosus can increase dopamine in the frontal cortex.
6. Try rhodiola
One of the world's most popular herbs used that can enhance physical and mental performance is none other than rhodiola. It is a traditional Chinese and Scandinavian herb sometimes called golden root or arctic root. Research has found that rhodiola stimulates dopamine receptors and inhibits the enzyme in the brain that breaks down dopamine5. In addition, it can also increase
s the amount of dopamine precursors that can cross the blood-brain barrier6.
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