Let’s talk dopamine.
For those who don’t know, dopamine is the neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure center. In other words, it’s the chemical that makes us feel good. Guess what?? There are some things you can do and foods you can incorporate that can help to increase your dopamine levels naturally.
Let’s start with foods. It is important to know that foods don’t actually contain dopamine, rather some have an amino acid called tyrosine that stimulates the production of dopamine in your brain.
• Proteins such as beef, cheese, chicken, eggs and turkey can help stimulate dopamine; and fish such as halibut, salmon and rainbow trout also contain omega 3 fatty acids that can also help.
• Fruits that increase dopamine production are apples, bananas, blueberries, papaya, prunes, strawberries and watermelons. These foods contain antioxidants that nourish the brain and help elevate dopamine levels.
• Vegetables that are rich in folate also help stimulate dopamine production. Some of these vegetables include artichokes, avocados, black beans, broccoli, cauliflower, chickpeas, kale, lentils, and spinach. One vegetable that may have other mood boosting properties is red beets. Beets contain tyrosine AND betaine which has been known to regulate levels of neurotransmitters, which then improves mood.
It’s not all about food…
Here’s a list of other things that you can incorporate into your daily routine that may also help stimulate the production of dopamine:
1. Get Your Jam On – Music makes us feel good. In fact, research shows that listening to music has the same effect on our brains as eating our favorite foods or watching our favorite TV shows!
2. Make a Checklist – Dopamine increases when we are organized and finish tasks. If you have a busy day ahead of you, write down everything you need to do and check them off as you go. You will feel so satisfied when you see everything checked off!
3. Get Your Move On – Exercise is not only important to our physical health, but our mental health as well. Any type of physical activity helps to relieve stress, which in turn increases dopamine levels. Simply taking a walk or climbing some stairs can give you a jolt of dopamine and in turn make you feel good about yourself.
4. Create Something – Finding a hobby that you enjoy, that allows you to be creative and can definitely stimulate the production of dopamine. Whether it is writing, painting, dancing, singing, or anything you can imagine, just let your creative juices flow!
5. Get Your Zen On – Meditation can have a significant effect on dopamine production if done properly. The goal of meditation is to achieve a state of self-fulfillment, and it clears out all of the mental clutter and replaces it with presence and fulfillment. In other words, let go of stuff that cannot be controlled and focus on what it happening right here, right now. Your brain will thank you!
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