Dopamine dysregulation refers to the condition where the brain produces either lesser levels or excessive levels of dopamine. The consequences of the condition are social and psychological in nature, apart from an impact on physical functions. Various reasons are attributed to the condition – this includes Parkinson’s, depression, substance abuse, and schizophrenia. There is a clear need to increase the levels of dopamine in the body, so as to restore routine functions and behavior of the individual. Here are is a detailed look at options on how to increase dopamine levels in the body for effectively managing different conditions.
Overview of dopamine and how to increase dopamine?
Before we look at how to increase dopamine it is important to understand more about dopamine and how it is important for good health. Dopamine, the neurotransmitter, is responsible for the mood and feelings of pleasure experienced by individuals, during or after certain actions. Commonly known as a chemical messenger, dopamine essentially works as a signalling pathway that transmits various sensations. Dopamine released in large levels gives individuals feelings of pleasure and happiness and this is precisely why it is known as a reward pathway.
By virtue of triggering the right impulses in humans, after or when performing certain actions, dopamine plays a very important role in ensuring that humans are healthy, procreate and have a fulfilling life. For instance, certain foods trigger a good feeling, and consequently, individuals consume more of certain types of food – these food products are essentially healthy for the human body and therefore play a role in ensuring good health. Similarly, individuals feel extreme pleasure during sexual acts and this helps the human race procreate. Belonging to the category of catecholamine neurotransmitters, dopamine plays an important role in routine actions and responses of humans to specific situations. On being released, neurotransmitters take on the role of hormones in the body.
Dopamine is a primary neurotransmitter, which exercises greater control over motor functions and the management of various sensory inputs and sensations. Common actions that trigger the release of dopamine include eating certain types of food, consuming intoxicants, indulging in sexual activities, playing one’s favorite music, working out and the use of painkillers. By virtue of its response in building what is called as “reinforcing behavior”, dopamine can end up being harmful to one’s health and conduct. The reinforcement of beliefs or rewards are potentially habit forming. While it plays an important role in health and routine human actions, it can also result in addiction to painkillers, recreational drugs and, alcohol or other forms of intoxication.
What happens when an individual has dopamine dysregulation?
As we begin to look at how to increase dopamine it is time to understand the effects of dopamine dysregulation. Individuals with lower levels of dopamine are likely to experience some form of depression, and could also cause a decrease in satisfaction from sex. Individuals with lower dopamine levels are likely to remain asleep for longer periods, as the neurotransmitter is responsible for inhibiting the production of melatonin near the end of the sleep-wake cycle. Restorative sleep is important for a healthy body, and melatonin, norepinephrine and dopamine are triggered at the right time to regulate the sleep-wake cylce. Lesser dopamine levels may result in an impact n the production of Prolactin that is responsible for lactation in nursing mothers.
Dopamine is intrinsically linked to the memory span and attention of individuals, contributing to cognitive abilities. Dopamine dysregulation results in the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and schizophrenia as the changes in dopamine level cause individuals to have lesser focus and poor memory. As we study more about how to increase dopamine the impact of lower levels of the neurotransmitter on human psychology is highlighted. Various psychological problems are associated with lower dopamine levels. Parkinson’s is partially attributed to a reduction in dopamine levels as a result of the destruction of neurons that are responsible for the secretion of dopamine. This is precisely why one of the treatment regimens for Parkinson’s involves the use of medications that boost dopamine levels.
The role of dopamine in mental health conditions, as mentioned above, is summed up in the following. Individuals with schizophrenia are known to have lower levels of dopamine and symptoms of the condition include hallucinations, delusions and a distinct lack of motivation or inclination to indulge in actions that give pleasure. Individuals with symptoms of ADHD are known to have lesser levels of dopamine in the brain. Similarly, anxiety in individuals is attributed to lower levels of dopamine. The human body reacts to various situations with a ‘fight or flight’ response and when individuals have the right levels of dopamine in the body, the individual is in total control as the dopamine helps handle false alarms that could be triggered. When dopamine levels are lower, individuals respond to all situations with alarm, and this is one of the reasons why certain individuals are always anxious and insecure.
Overview of how to increase dopamine levels in the body naturally
As we look at how to increase dopamine in the body, here is an overview of a few natural ways in which you can easily boost dopamine levels. Exercise is vital for overall body health and the right amount of exercise in the body will help boost dopamine. For instance, exercise helps the brain develop new cells and brings down the rate at which brain cells age. This has an impact on dopamine levels and helps individuals experience better moods. Food products such as almonds, eggs, chicken, avocados, and fish are known to increase tyrosine that helps increase dopamine levels in the body. Adequate sleep is important for the human body and additionally sleep is linked to dopamine levels in the body. Sleep has a direct effect on the condition of the nerve cells and pathways and this is responsible for the levels of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine. Other methods that can be used to increase dopamine levels is to indulge in mood enhancing activities – listening to music or partaking in activities that give sensation of pleasure. Finally, supplements in the market are known to help individuals enjoy a boost in dopamine levels.
Cheat sheet of things to do to enhance dopamine levels
Now that we have an idea of the various actions that can be performed on how to increase dopamine levels, here is a detailed look at different actions that can be performed easily.
Dietary intake related actions
Certain products have ingredients that are important for maintaining dopamine levels in the body. For instance, proteins, amino acids and antioxidants are all important for maintaining the right amount of dopamine in the body. It is therefore necessary to increase the intake of certain food products.
#1 Amino acid – phenylalaine : Amino acids are regarded as the basic units of protein and certain amino acids are related to certain conditions in the human body. Parkinson’s, certain skin conditions such as vitiligo, arthritis, depression and ADHD are all linked to phenylalanine. Food products that are rich in protein, including soy, meat, eggs, fish and dairy are known to have high levels of phenylalanine and are therefore recommended to help increase dopamine levels.
Similarly, tyrosine is another amino acid that helps increase dopamine levels. It is possible to have enough of this amino acid as it is found in a variety of food products. In addition to the products listed above, the following are recommended – almonds, beef, coffee, milk, yogurt, green tea, watermelon and bananas.
#2 Antioxidant – resveratrol : The antioxidant resveratrol is vital for maintaining dopamine levels in the body and is also additionally know for properties that help in managing various diseases/conditions. Food products that are rich in resveratrol include cocoa, cranberries, peanuts, blueberries, and wine. Similarly, dark chocolate, and grapes are also rich in the antioxidant and are therefore recommended to be taken regularly, in the right quantities.
#3 Products that are rich in caffeine : Products that are rich in caffeine are also known to have a positive effect on dopamine levels. Studies have revealed the connection between caffeine and brain functions that are responsible for attention and focus. Products that are rich in caffeine include coffee, dark chocolates and tea. One of the most important aspects that need to be remembered is that certain food products contain multiple ingredients that are all known to help boost dopamine levels.
#4 Hormone – pregnenolone : One of the hormones that are directly linked to dopamine levels, pregnenolone is commonly known for its properties in helping mood. It is directly related to dopamine levels in the body and is therefore recommended to be taken by individuals with lesser dopamine levels. Food products that are rich in the hormone include butter, meat products, eggs and dairy products. As the liver is known to help in the production of the hormone, it also helps to ensure that the health of the liver is maintained to ensure more pregnenolone levels.
#5 Omega-3 fatty acid – This is directly related to certain conditions and behavior in individuals and makes it one of the most important ingredients to be a part of diet. DHA helps increase dopamine levels and is typically recommended for treating conditions that include dementia and ADHD. Seafood and certain plants are rich in DHA and this includes sardines, herring, salmon, mackerel and seaweed. Other food products that are rich in DHA include flax seeds and lake trout. Seafood is a popular choice as it contains other ingredients that contribute to good health.
#6 Vitamin B9 : Vitamin B9 commonly known as Folate is another important ingredient that is directly linked to various brain functions. For instance, mood, depression, memory, appetite, and various perceptions are all linked to folate. Individuals re recommended to intake adequate levels of folate to maintain dopamine levels in the body. Food products such as nuts, certain fruits, vegetables that are leafy and green are rich in VitaminB9. Similarly, poultry products, meat and fruit juices are also rich in Vitamin B9 and are recommended for increasing dopamine levels.
Dietary modifications – avoid/reduce certain products
As we learn how to increase dopamine levels in the body, it becomes clear that it is necessary to reduce intake of certain products as this has an impact on dopamine levels either directly or indirectly. Endotoxins are known to have an inhibiting effect on dopamine levels in the body and it is therefore necessary to reduce intake of endotoxins. Lipopolysaccharides are one among the common toxins that have a detrimental effect on dopamine levels. Methods that can be used to help counter the effects of the endotoxins is t consume food products that create good bacteria in the guts. For instance, consumption of probiotic foods such as yoghurt and kimchi are known to help in the production of good bacteria. This helps in keeping endotoxin levels lower. Similarly, consumption of food products that sugary in nature keeps lipids and polysaccharides low in the body. While sweet products are known to induce feelings of pleasure in the body, it could end up creating dependence or have an impact on other neurotransmitters that have related functions. It is therefore necessary to have sweetened products in moderation.
Hedonistic actions help in boosting dopamine levels
Among the various measures that we need to know about how to increase dopamine levels, the simplest method is to indulge in actions that are hedonistic in nature. The feel-good factor is of primary importance and it is essential to be involved in actions that make us feel good. For instance, a pet is a source of joy that can make individuals feel good and happy. Similarly, having human contact and spending time with near and dear ones is important. Dopamine supplements are available in the market for individuals who need a boost. For instance, curcumin, L-theanine, gingko biloba, and acetyl-l-tyrosine are all supplements that are known to help increase dopamine levels. A\other simple measures include spending more time outdoors, having adequate sleep, playing music, and involving oneself in creative activities. Walking, exercise and enjoying the finer aspects of life help boost dopamine levels naturally, which will in turn have a positive effect on overall health and mood.