Dopamine is a key brain neurotransmitter that plays a role in motivation, productivity and concentration. Dopamine helps us plan better and resist impulses that could hamper our ability to reach our goals. A low dopamine level can lead to a lack of motivation, fatigue, addictive behaviour (drugs, alcohol, tobacco), mood swings and memory loss.
Eating tyrosine-rich foods increases dopamine
Here is a list of tyrosine-rich foods that may have a direct impact on dopamine levels: almonds, avocados, bananas, beets, cabbage, green tea, lima beans, oregano, peanuts, rosemary, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, turmeric and watermelon.
To be avoided at all costs: saturated fats and sugars (including artificial sweeteners).
Exercising is one of the best things we can do for our brain. It increases neuron production and slows down their aging process; it acts on serotonin and norepinephrine levels and helps us manage stressful situations.
You can reap these benefits without engaging in intense physical activity. Taking walks or doing low-impact exercises such as yoga and tai chi are great for both mind and body.
Spending more time outdoors
The sun’s rays help increase the number of dopamine receptors and produce vitamin D, which activates the genes that release dopamine.
More than one thousand studies have provided evidence on the benefits of meditation. People who meditate on a regular basis enjoy increased learning ability, greater creativity and deeper relaxation.
If meditation isn’t your thing, you can still achieve a meditative state by engaging in creative activities such as photography, drawing and knitting, to name just a few.
Listening to music
Listening to music can help release dopamine. X-rays show that the brain’s pleasure centers light up when music is played; this also occurs when engaging in other pleasurable activities such as eating, making love, etc.
Therapeutic massage increases dopamine and serotonin levels and helps reduce the stress hormone, cortisol.
Petting an animal
Petting an animal helps increase dopamine levels in the person doing the petting and the pet.
Research suggests that a lack of sleep can affect dopamine receptors and reduce their numbers.
Taking a cold shower
Taking a cold shower (14 degrees Celsius) can lead to a substantial increase in dopamine levels: as much as 250%!
Training your brain to naturally boost its dopamine levels is also a way of training your brain to resist substances that artificially increase dopamine (sugar, alcohol, drugs, tobacco, etc.).
***This article includes information for educational and should not be interpreted as a recommendation for a particular treatment, product or plan of action. The use of this information should not replace a consultation with or the advice of a qualified professional.