What is Dopamine?
The human brain has around 86 million neurons, all of which continually communicate with each other through neurotransmitters. These are chemicals present in the brain and there are many different kinds of neurotransmitters in action, one of which is dopamine.
This neurotransmitter is a key component for motivation and focus, meaning it can greatly affect how productive an individual is — it’s why dopamine is commonly referred to as the ‘motivation molecule’.
Dopamine increases your ability to focus and concentrate on any given task, meaning it can provide you with an enhanced drive to set and achieve goals. For instance, when you get that sense of satisfaction from achieving a goal you set for yourself, it’s all down to dopamine!
Furthermore, dopamine allows for many positive feelings to be experienced, such as enjoyment, satisfaction, bliss, and euphoria. This can be linked to the fact that dopamine is also in charge of the pleasure-reward system in the brain.
Just like dopamine can provide us with many positive feelings and plenty of motivation, a lack of dopamine can have detrimental effects to our psyche. Those with low dopamine levels tend to really lack that bite and zest for life.
Dopamine deficiency is usually identified by a lack of motivation, apathy, struggling with concentration, increased procrastination, fatigue and even feelings of hopelessness and depression.
As any of these symptoms usually combines with low energy levels, anyone suffering from dopamine deficiency may rely on stimulants such as caffeine or sugar to get them through the day.
Given how negative the effects that can be caused by low dopamine levels, it makes sense that you should always aim to increase these whenever possible.
How to Increase Dopamine Naturally?
Boosting dopamine levels isn’t just possible, it’s actually a lot easier than most assume. There are many different ways to naturally increase the levels of this brain chemical, and they are certainly worthwhile considering the many benefits that can be gained. Here are a few tips:
Dopamine consists of the amino acid tyrosine, so when you consume foods that contain this nutrient you can naturally provide the body with the basic building blocks necessary for dopamine production.
Examples of food products that can help boost dopamine include:
- Lima Beans
- Sesame seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
Similarly, foods that contain natural probiotics can offer increased dopamine production, including yogurt and kefir.
Certain brain boosting supplements have the ability to increase the levels of dopamine and other neurotransmitters that help with mood and brain health. Some supplements contain curcumin, the active ingredient present in the dopamine-increasing spice turmeric, so be on the lookout for isolated forms of curcumin in supplement products.
Likewise, ginkgo biloba is one of many mood herbs that can help to increase dopamine in the brain, as too can L-theanine, a compound present in green tea that increases several neurotransmitters including dopamine, serotonin and GABA.
Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your brain health. By increasing your blood flow, it allows more beneficial nutrients to reach the brain faster, helping to boost production of healthy new brain cells whilst simultaneously slowing the aging of brain cells. Not only that, but dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine levels are also increased with exercise.
Strenuous exercise isn’t necessary to achieve higher dopamine levels! Just going for regular walks or other forms of gentle exercise (e.g. yoga, tai chi, etc.) is enough to provide your brain with the necessary boost!