10 Ways to Increase Dopamine to Remain Motivated and Energetic

0
image

Present in the brain, Dopamine is a chemical messenger, which performs many important functions. It is related to reward, memory, motivation and attention and also helps control the movements of the body.

When the brain releases dopamine in large amounts, it creates euphoric feelings like those of reward and pleasure, and this makes you repeat a particular behavior. [1]

When the levels of dopamine are low, there is decrease in enthusiasm and motivation in people for those things that would otherwise excite them.

The nervous system regulates the levels of dopamine but you can also adopt some measures to increase the levels.

ADVERTISEMENT

Ways to Increase Dopamine Levels

Consume Sufficient Amount of Protein

Proteins are made up of amino acids. There are about 23 amino acids, out of which, some can be made by the body, while others we can get from food. Tyrosine is one amino acids, which is responsible for dopamine production.

Enzymes in the body convert tyrosine to dopamine. Thus, tyrosine should be present in enough amounts in the body, so that it gets converted into dopamine. Phenylalanine is an amino acid, which can also synthesize tyrosine.

Tyrosine and phenylalanine are present in foods like beef, eggs, soy and more. If you increase the amount of tyrosine and phenylalanine in your diet, dopamine levels also increase and this improves the memory. [2] So, if you are not including these foods in your diet, dopamine levels will go down.

Consume Less Saturated Fat

Saturated fats like animal fats may interfere with the production of dopamine when eaten in large quantities.[3] However, till date, such studies included only rats.

One study showed that rats, who received 50% of their calories from saturated fats, had decreased production of dopamine as against those animals, who got the same amount of calories from unsaturated fats.

These changes happened without any difference in weight, sugar levels and hormones. According to some researchers, diets high in saturated fats increase inflammation in the body, leading to lowered dopamine levels. However, more research is needed to establish the fact.

Increase the Intake of Probiotics

Lately, it has been known that gut and brain are interrelated. Gut has also been termed as the ‘second brain.’ It contains nerve cells that produce dopamine. So, some bacteria that are present in your gut can produce dopamine, which affects the behavior and mood.

Some bacterial strains, when consumed in large quantities, can reduce depression and anxiety. More research is needed regarding the exact role of dopamine.

Consume Fava or Velvet Beans

These contain high amounts of L-dopa, which is a precursor to dopamine. According to studies, consumption of these beans increase the levels of dopamine. This is particularly helpful in Parkinson’s disease, which is triggered due to low dopamine levels.

A study indicated that consuming around 250 gm of cooked fava beans improved the levels of dopamine and alleviated symptoms of Parkinson’s. [4] Also, it has been found that supplements of velvet beans are more effective with lesser side effects than the conventional Parkinson’s medicines. However, you must consult your doctor before incorporating these in your diet.

Don’t Miss Out On Exercise

Exercise increases the levels of endorphins and boosts mood. You can notice improvements in mood just after 10 minutes. Exercise boosts the dopamine levels in the brain.

A three-month study found that an hour of indulgence in yoga at least 6 days in a week considerably increases the levels of dopamine in the brain. Doing aerobic exercise frequently helps relieve symptoms in patients of Parkinson’s. Exercise also improves motor control in patients with Parkinson’s disease.

ADVERTISEMENT

Get Adequate Amount of Sleep

Studies in animals suggest that the levels of dopamine are very high in the morning, when we wake up, and they start falling gradually by evening, when it is time to sleep.

Lack of sleep interferes with the normal functioning of biological clocks. When people stay awake during the night, dopamine levels tend to be low the next morning. Dopamine promotes wakefulness, so when it is less in amounts, it is relatively easy to sleep after a night of sleep deprivation.

Nevertheless, low dopamine levels result in other consequences, such as reduced concentration and not being able to coordinate. When you get enough sleep during the night, the levels of dopamine remain balanced, and so, you stay more alert and are able to function optimally.

It is recommended to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night and also maintain proper sleep hygiene. This can be done by not changing the time of sleeping and getting up, avoiding consumption of caffeine and lowering the level of noise in the bedroom.

Enjoy Music

Listening to music stimulates the release of dopamine in the brain. Many studies depicted that it activates the reward and pleasure center of the brain.

A study to understand the effects of music on the production of dopamine found that there was a 9% increase in the dopamine levels of brains when participants listened to instrumental songs that gave them goose bumps.[5]

It has also helped people with Parkinson’s get control over their fine motors. [6] Until now, all the researches have considered instrumental music for understanding the effects of music on dopamine to ensure that the change in dopamine levels is due to the melodious music and not because of the lyrics. Research needs to be done to know if songs with lyrics also have the same or better effects.

Practice Meditation

With meditation, you can focus inward, and keep your thoughts afloat away from the influence of attachment and judgment. It is related to improving the physical as well as mental health. This can be attributed to increase in levels of dopamine.

A study showed that there is 64% increase in the levels of dopamine one hour after meditating.[7] It is believed that people, who regularly meditate, have a positive mood and stay motivated.

Bask in the Sun

When someone suffers from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), they feel sad and are gloomy during winters, when there is not enough sunlight. Exposure to sunlight increases the level of dopamine while low sunshine can decrease its levels.

Also, after exposing yourself to sun, you may want to repeat the behavior but remember that too much exposure to sunlight could be harmful. Hence, it is important to stick to safety guidelines.

You must expose yourself in moderation as a lot of exposure can cause damage to the skin and increase the chances of skin cancer. Also, avoid going out during peak hours when the UV radiation is maximum. Use a sunscreen before stepping out in the sun.

Go for Supplements

Minerals and vitamins are required for making dopamine, including iron, folate, niacin, and vitamin B6. If the body lacks these nutrients, you will not be able to produce enough of dopamine.

Get your blood tests done to identify the deficiencies; if any. If this is the case, you can have supplements. Apart from proper nutrition, supplements have also been known to increase dopamine levels. These supplements could be magnesium, curcumin, vitamin D and green tea.

Conclusion

Dopamine is a chemical in brain that affects mood. It is related to feelings of motivation and reward. It is important in regulating the body movements too. Some diet and lifestyle modifications can help boost the levels of dopamine naturally.

Diet comprising proteins, minerals and vitamins, probiotics, saturated fat helps produce optimum levels of dopamine. In case of some diseases like Parkinson’s, fava beans can help restore the levels of dopamine.

Lifestyle habits like having adequate sleep, listening to music, meditating, exercising and sun basking can all help enhance dopamine levels.

SHARE ON
FacebookTwitterGoogle PlusPinterest