How to Increase Dopamine Levels Naturally
What is Dopamine?
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain that affects the way the brain controls our movements. It is also central to the reward system and the pleasure system of the brain in which a person is motivated to perform certain activities based on the feelings of enjoyment or reinforcement.
Low Dopamine can cause symptoms a such as: depression, loss of motor control, loss of satisfaction, cravings, compulsions, addictions, low sex drive, and poor attention and focus, all of which can really affect the way we function in everyday life. Increasing dopamine levels is critical for our motivation and enjoyment in life, but it is important that we look for ways to raise dopamine levels in safe and constructive ways, as it is not uncommon for those with low dopamine to seek out situations to raise dopamine that may be risky and/or addictive in nature.
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How to Increase Dopamine Levels
1. Eat Nutritious Foods Rich in Antioxidants: You can increase dopamine naturally by eating foods that contain significant amounts of the amino acid tyrosine, which is a precursor for dopamine. Natural dopamine boosters are foods such as almonds, avocados, bananas (especially ripe ones), dairy products, lima beans, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds. Also, eating foods that are rich in antioxidants, such as fruits, veggies, especially watermelon and apples, helps by protecting neurons from free radical damage.
Foods to avoid are sugar, saturated fat, refined foods, and foods high in cholesterol, as well as coffee, caffeine, soda, and alcohol, as they can interfere with proper brain functioning and can cause low dopamine.
2. Exercise: You can also increase dopamine levels by exercising for at least 30-45 minutes most days of the week. Studies have shown, that to a certain extent, exercise can increase serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain. In a May 2007 article in the Journal of Neuroscience, experts note that exercise may help the brain cells that utilize dopamine to not only work more effectively, but cause the dopamine to remain active for longer.
3. Interaction with People: Our interaction and relationships with other people are closely tied to dopamine transmission. Being social and interactive with others can raise dopamine levels while social anxiety has been linked to low dopamine. Fostering and maintaining healthy relationships may be one way to help maintain adequate dopamine levels.
4. Playing Challenging and Competitive Games: Several studies have shown that game playing triggers the brain to release dopamine. This makes sense to researches as games play a big role in how the brain handles reward and exploration. Sports, card games, competitive chess, and specifically video games deliver clearly understood rewards such as advancing to new levels, gaining more lives, new equipment, and new spells or powers.
5. Sleep: Getting at least 7 hours of good old fashioned sleep is one super easy way to raise dopamine levels. This works by providing time for the body to rest and then recuperate its sufficient levels of neurotransmitters.
How to Increase Dopamine Naturally with the Paleo Diet
In essence, the Paleo diet encourages people to get back to their roots as hunters and gatherers-eating the natural foods that our ancestors hunted, fished, and gathered since the beginning of time. Today, this would mean lean cuts of meat, preferably wild game meats and grass-fed beef, which is higher in Omega-3 fatty acids and free of additives (compared with grain produced meats), as well as seasonal fruits and vegetables that are high in anti-oxidants and healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil, and coconut oil. With the exception of its elimination of foods like dairy products and dry beans, that are known to increase dopamine levels, the Paleo Diet is right in line with a dietary solution that could increase dopamine levels naturally. Not only for the foods that followers should consume, but for the foods that it strongly discourages followers from consuming. A Paleolithic diet opposes the consumption of processed foods, sugar, soft drinks, and alcohol, the exact types of foods have been proven to alter proper brain function and lower dopamine levels. The Paleo Diet provides very specific guidelines and there are many helpful literary resources available for meal ideas, including shopping tips, recipes, and other accommodating information that can make it much easier to eat better, and hopefully increase dopamine levels.
Using these natural ways to increase dopamine will not only work to help increase and maintain dopamine levels, they will also pay big dividends in other areas of your life too, such as decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, lowering stress, lowering cholesterol, increasing energy levels, decreasing risk of obesity, and generally speaking, make you a happier, more motivated person.
If you are concerned with how to raise dopamine levels, it is a good idea to consult your physician to see how you can increase your dopamine naturally.
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Paleolithic Diet. Retrieved on January 19, 2012 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paleolithic_diet#History