Before you attempt to increase dopamine with supplements, you must understand why you need that “special boost” in the first place. Chances are, you may not necessarily need supplements but rather a minor lifestyle change.
There are times when we feel down and don’t really know why; I’ve been there. Although nothing special has happened, we are unable to reach a satisfactory state of mind. In these cases, low serotonin levels may be the cause.
A fast life pace, poor diet, and lack of exercise may cause your serotonin levels to drop, resulting in a highly variable and generally low mood.
However, there are ways to increase serotonin naturally. We will see them throughout this article.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is synthesized, among many other places, in the brain. Traditionally, it has been assigned the name of the “happy hormone.”
Serotonin is in charge of regulating your state of mind
This neurotransmitter, which also plays a fundamental role in regulating your intestinal functioning, has the capacity to carry out the chemical reactions necessary to increase the feelings of well-being and satisfaction.
Similarly, serotonin can help you better cope with the stress and tension of everyday life. However, when stress levels are considerably high, it tends to decrease.
So you run the risk of experiencing some emotional instability…
Also, a deficit of serotonin, together with a whole set of external and internal factors, can facilitate the appearance and development of any depressive disorder.
The reason is that when your body stops synthesizing it, due to stress, diet deficiencies, etc., you are less able to control the ups and downs in your mood.
This “happiness neurotransmitter” is synthesized in the body thanks to the action of tryptophan. This molecule is an essential amino acid vital for proper brain functioning.
Fortunately, tryptophan is found in a wide variety of foods, so the consumption of these, along with a healthy lifestyle, can help increase serotonin levels and consequently make you feel much better.
How to increase the amount of serotonin in the brain?
As mentioned above, there are several different ways to increase serotonin levels in the body.
The following are some tips and tricks that you can practice if your mood gets a bit shaky:
1. Decrease stress levels
As specified at the beginning of the article, serotonin can help you manage stress better.
Constant stress decreases serotonin and increases oestradiol levels in the blood, thus lowering your defenses and worsening your physical and psychological health.
Another effect of stress is diet-related, the main pillar for the correct synthesis and maintenance of serotonin levels. When stressed, the organism requires foods rich in fats, carbohydrates, and sugars, three of the main serotonin enemies.
Therefore, it is not recommended for you to wait until you feel down to start worrying about stress and diet. You should get ahead of the game by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Remember that prevention it’s always best!
2. Avoid coffee consumption and stimulant drinks
Drinks with high caffeine content, such as coffee or some soft drinks or energy drinks, increase the secretion of adrenaline and cortisol, which are the main antagonists of serotonin.
Besides, these drinks are also characterized by their high sugar content, which makes them extremely stimulant with very little nutritional value.
3. Performing physical exercise
It is well known that physical exercise facilitates serotonin metabolism and therefore increases its levels.
For this reason, regular physical activity can help keep your serotonin high, as it also increases your tryptophan levels.
4. Look for sunny places and lots of light
Another factor that has a powerful effect on serotonin production is vitamin D. In addition to food, vitamin D increases with sunlight exposure. These sun rays are vital to help obtain vitamin D since it is synthesized in the skin.
In this fashion, working in spaces with a lot of light, exercising outdoors, or taking a walk in nature are the perfect allies when it comes to feeling emotionally well and stable.
5. Make sure you get enough sleep
Lack of sleep is yet another major enemy against stress and fatigue. While you are asleep, the body restores serotonin levels, so adequate rest will also be critical in keeping your mental health intact.
How to increase dopamine with supplements
Certain natural supplements increase serotonin and dopamine. They can also improve brain function and combat mild depressive states or simple discouragement.
Bear in mind that these two neurotransmitters harmonize blood pressure, enhance rest quality, and provide that small boost of energy and well-being to get your day started.
Some articles and studies report a series of supplements capable of treating depression and general brain disorders. Nevertheless, although most of these are of natural origin and effective, today we’ll stick with food options first.
The happy hormone quartet
The good old “happiness quartet” comprises four natural chemicals in the body: endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin.
There are certain foods that, because of their nutritional components, favor and harness the cerebral chemistry able to alleviate the symptomatology associated with depression. Thus, improving humor and an overall positive mindset.
However, multiple studies make clear that there is no food capable of completely resolving any depressive disorder.
Maintaining a healthy diet rich in key foods that help serotonin and dopamine is a strategy that needs to be combined with a psychological approach and, in some cases, pharmacological treatment.
Even if you don’t suffer from any depression, it is still advisable to regularly consume these foods.
9 Foods that increase serotonin and dopamine
One aspect that must be clarified is that serotonin and dopamine levels oscillate in the body for various reasons. Depression is one of them; however, many others must be taken into account:
- Going through times with a lot of stress
- A diet rich in saturated fats, sugars, industrial foods, etc.
- Thyroid diseases
- Taking meds and drugs that block / reduce serotonin and dopamine production
Knowing all this, it’s important. It never hurts to be aware of the importance of maintaining a proper diet and, of course, to establish regular reviews with your doctor and monitor your health.
Let’s see below the foods you have at your disposal, which can favor the production of two of the most valuable neurotransmitters: serotonin and dopamine.
Oats are part of what is known as “smart” carbohydrates. What does this mean?
Basically that there are foods that have a calming effect on the brain. One of them is complex carbohydrates (mostly wholemeal foods), which also have another wonderful attribute: They support tryptophan production, an essential amino acid from which serotonin is synthesized.
Furthermore, oats possess five essential amino acids: isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, and phenylalanine. All of these elements are great for improving your mood right after waking up.
Among the foods that increase serotonin and dopamine, banana is undoubtedly one of the most prominent. Bananas alone don’t fight depression symptoms. However, they provide you with a natural boost of energy, optimism, and health.
Some of the effects of banana in the brain are simply sensational:
- It favors tryptophan production
- It’s loaded with vitamins A, C, K, and B6, basic components to promote the synthesis and metabolism of multiple neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine
- Banana is rich in natural sugars, which combined with its natural fiber, offers an incredible strength and energy contribution to overcoming periods of decay
Many people today avoid eating eggs for fear that it will raise their cholesterol levels. However, several studies have confirmed that eggs can actually take care of your health because they provide good (HDL) cholesterol. The key is to consume them in moderation.
Likewise, eggs and dairy products help produce tryptophan and vitamin B6, necessary substances for the production of serotonin and dopamine.
I’m sure you were hoping to see this magnificent food on this list. Indeed, you may consume chocolate every day, especially in the morning, however, without exceeding one ounce per day of dark chocolate, the purest form and sugar-free.
Thus, among the foods that increase serotonin and dopamine, chocolate is one of the favorites. Besides being one of the most delicious foods, it provides you with exorphins, a natural analgesic that reduces pain.
Pineapple is undoubtedly one of those foods not to be missed from your diet. The reason? There’s many of them:
- Pineapple is anti-inflammatory and relieves anxiety
- It is rich in vitamin C, ideal for promoting circulation, concentration, and motivation
- It’s very appropriate at night since it helps to produce melatonin, the sleep hormone
- Pineapple is diuretic and detoxifying
It’s a treasure trove of vitamins B1, B6, E, potassium, magnesium, iodine, copper, and folic acid.
On a side note: Pineapple became one of the most consumed foods in 2014. After a series of published studies supporting its health benefits, it has become the fruit of choice for most people.
Fish such as salmon or mackerel are rich in B-complex vitamins. This type of essential nutrients is essential to promote the production of serotonin and dopamine.
As we have already indicated before, the brain needs a regular supply of omega-3 (present in the salmon) to improve processes like your attention, memory, or state of mind.
It is said that chickpeas are “the ingredient of life.” A phrase that is undoubtedly accurate because among the foods that increase serotonin and dopamine, this type of legume has been for centuries one of the most appreciated.
In fact, many countries have known since antiquity its virtues to improve the mood and confer energy. That is why a good hummus dish accompanied by olive oil, garlic, and paprika is one of the most common and appreciated foods in the Middle East.
8. Bell peppers
Another food that increases serotonin and dopamine is the bell pepper. Especially if it’s red, it’s dark shade color reveals its richness in antioxidants, and the brain loves it.
Furthermore, you cannot forget about capsaicin, a chemical compound that many people love (and others avoid). The burning sensation it produces increases endorphin production and improves your well-being.
<<TIP: It’s better to consume it raw. Just a few strips in salads and it will promote your internal balance and good mood.>>
9. Sunflower seeds
Sunflower seeds possess wonderful nutritional properties. As if this was not enough, our beloved “seeds” are rich in tryptophan, that essential amino acid for serotonin production.
Lastly, it’s important to remember that sunflower seeds are much healthier if consumed raw. Even better without salt or other components. Just a handful in salads or smoothies, and you’ll be able to take advantage of all its virtues.
How to increase dopamine with supplements: Choosing the right ones
Tryptophan supplements are prevalent and important for dopamine. If you feel like for some reason you aren’t getting enough tryptophan from your particular diet, you can always resort to increasing dopamine with supplements (tryptophan).
Low energy, difficulty sleeping, and bad moods are signs that you may be low on this amino acid, which is key for your body to produce serotonin & dopamine, the “happy hormones.”
Why do we need tryptophan?
L-tryptophan is an essential amino acid that may increase dopamine with supplements of its kind. The body cannot produce it alone; that’s why you must get it through foods and supplements.
Tryptophan is fundamental for growth and development, but the most outstanding feature is that it works as a precursor of serotonin, a neurotransmitter involved in the regulation of mood, stress, and appetite.
First, the body converts tryptophan from food into 5HTP or 5-hydroxytryptophan; and later, this is transformed into serotonin.
Also, tryptophan is indispensable for the synthesis of melatonin, the key hormone to regulate sleep-wake cycles, so that it contributes to a night of better sleep.
It is also necessary to produce vitamin B3 or niacin, which ensures the proper functioning of the nervous and circulatory systems, among many other functions.
For all these reasons, it is considered that having good levels of tryptophan helps prevent disorders such as insomnia, depression, anxiety, and premenstrual syndrome, among others.
Tryptophan deficiency symptoms
A low intake of this nutrient can cause a deficiency in vitamin B3 and increase the risk of suffering anxiety, insomnia, stress, or depression. If you spend a lot of time with high levels of stress, tryptophan requirements become higher.
As we have said, L-tryptophan is an amino acid that can only be obtained through diet and/or supplements.
Through diet alone, it isn’t easy to reach large quantities of tryptophan. However, when excessive consumption of supplements of this amino acid (in particular 5-HTP) is added to the diet, side effects can arise.
Also, even more, serious disorders can occur in some people, such as eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS), which causes muscle tenderness and blood disorders.
On the other hand, 5-HTP has interactions with various drugs. For all these reasons, supplements should only be taken under professional indication.
Now you know how to increase dopamine with supplements and natural foods. Please, don’t hesitate to share your comments with us. Cheers!