Dopamine seemed to become a buzz word in 2022 as people’s awareness of this natural feel-good substance increased. So what is it and how can people increase it? Koibito Poke digs into the topic of dopamine and how it helps the body.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “dopamine is a naturally occurring substance in the brain that helps provide control of movement and activities such as walking and talking.” But it goes beyond that. The Cleveland Clinic explains that dopamine is known as the “feel-good” hormone because it “gives you a sense of pleasure… [and] the motivation to do something when you’re feeling pleasure.”
Dopamine is part of the body’s reward system and it comes into play when it comes to what humans eat and drink. And that explains why junk food and sugar can be so addicting. “They trigger the release of a large amount of dopamine into your brain, which gives you the feeling that you’re on top of the world and you want to repeat that experience,” the Cleveland Clinic explains. Low dopamine can make people feel tired, unmotivated or unhappy. People experiencing low dopamine may also have mood swings or trouble sleeping or concentration.
And because dopamine helps process trauma as well as balance moods and brain chemicals, low dopamine levels can affect depression, according to the Mayo Clinic.
But how can health-minded people can get more of experience without the junk food or sugar binge? An article on the Amen Clinics website offers some suggestions for balancing dopamine including the following:
Increase protein in the diet and decrease carbohydrates. Without succumbing to a no-carb diet, people can improve their dopamine levels by simply adding high-quality proteins and limiting the not-so-great carbs such as highly processed and sugary foods. Eating foods high in tyrosine, “an amino acid building block for dopamine,” such as almonds, bananas, avocados, eggs, beans, fish, chicken and dark chocolate can also help increase dopamine levels.
Exposure to sunlight can also help increase dopamine in the brain. Even as little as 15 minutes in the sun in the early morning or evening can help.
Regular exercise is another great way to balance dopamine levels. The Amen Clinics states: “Physical exercise increases levels of dopamine, while slowing down brain cell aging. Exercise has also been associated with improved mood and a better overall outlook on life.”
Additional ways to increase or balance dopamine include meditating or praying, indulging in massage therapy, listening to soothing or calming music and getting plenty of quality rest. “Lack of sleep has been shown to reduce concentrations of neurotransmitters, including dopamine, and their receptors.”
For those that want to balance their dopamine, the simple recipe of whole nutritious foods (like the ones mentioned above) plus exercise is a great place to start. Add in a few of these other suggestions for a dopamine boost and that feel-good feeling all the time! For a delicious meal high in quality protein, stop into Koibito Poke and customize a delicious and nutritious bowl.