8 Ways to Raise Dopamine with Diet – Part 4 of the Dopamine Series
1. Eat tyrosine rich foods:
I have a lot of caveats about eating dairy, as I’m not a fan of most of the neurological disorders, autoimmune conditions, gut pathologies, and food allergies I see. But it is very high in tyrosine. If you eat it, I highly recommend you invest in local, grass-raised animals not raised on antibiotics and growth hormones as your source. In addition, I only recommend raw A2 dairy products.
You can find a farmer here at www.eatwild.com
-Beef, lamb, pork chops, fish, seafood, chicken, turkey, pumpkin seeds, other nuts and seeds, eggs. Notice the overwhelming preponderance of animal meats on this list? This is in order of tyrosine content. Maybe this is why all those Paleo-diet folks are smiling so often?
For my favorite meat suppliers: https://brainandbodysolutions.com/product-category/meats-coffee-wine/
-white beans and lentils, wild rice, spinach
I am not a fan of eating ANY of these due to their plant toxins and antinutrients such as phytates and oxalates. Spinach is so toxic to humans it should NEVER be consumed, in my professional opinion.
Of course, there are more on this list, but these are some of the highest tyrosine-containing foods.
2. Decrease how much sugar you eat.
Sugar uses the same pathway that alcohol and drugs use to give you that euphoric, mellow high. Chronic use of sugar, alcohol, stimulant drugs, and cigarettes eventually decrease your levels and make it harder to achieve that high. This sets up the deep urge to get MORE and the vicious cycle of addiction. You may already be sugar-addicted, and it is hard to tackle. But it is possible. Clearly, decreasing caffeine, alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes is overtly implied as well as they ALL decrease your dopamine levels.
Another huge factor why when teenagers drink, smoke, and experiment with drugs it has profound and dangerous results on their brain. With the current high rates of teenager depressive diagnoses, the effect of social media bullying, and suicide rates, I do not possess a laissez faire attitude around how these toxic substances are destroying our children’s happiness and leading to addictive and destructive behaviors by changing brain function.
3. Omega 3 especially DHA: The brain is estimated to be 60-70% fat of which most of it is DHA.
DHA helps speed up the transmission of brain signals.
Trans fats from seed oils inserted into cells instead of DHA are now known to play a role in the disrupted brain signal transmission in progressive degenerative neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
DHA also decreases the production of an enzyme that breaks down dopamine allowing for higher levels of dopamine to remain in the brain.
A lack of DHA in the diet will result in an overproduction of this enzyme and lower dopamine levels. DHA comes primarily from fish and seafood and grass-finished beef.
I am not a fan of taking these as supplements.
But the best version might be fish eggs from salmon:
4. Sunlight is a nutrient.
It creates dopamine by passing through your eyes. This is most important at sunrise and sunset when there are very high IR-A rays and no UV rays.
It also activates DHA in the skin and eyes to create the piezoelectric effect and help make “charge” which is needed to thrive.
5. Magnesium: This may be my favorite mineral.
Sadly, our foods are very deficient in magnesium. It is a calming and relaxing mineral that keeps nerves calm and muscles relaxed. Take before bed with the amount of bowel tolerance. That means you take enough before your stools are too loose or you are too gassy, because it can do that, and no one needs to be bothered by that all day! The best way is to absorb it by taking epsom salt baths every night. Buy the big bags and pour it in very generously. This is good for your kids, too.
I’d much rather magnesium become “Mother’s Little Helper” than some of the other toxic substances stressed-out parents are using to cope with the stress and rigors of managing so much. Can you tell I need my magnesium baths?
The best bedtime magnesium supplement on the market:
6. Stress management:
Thinking you are constantly about to get eaten by a lion is wearing out your brain in more ways than we comprehend. You’re not getting chased by a lion, but traffic in Atlanta can create the same stress response in your body if you allow it.
And, LAWD, See-19 and all the masks and stickers!
All those stress hormones released with nowhere to go and no way to do what they were made to do breaks your body down.
Physical explosive movements are the answer here; we call that “exercise” or fight-or-flight.
You’re not getting attacked by a crocodile, but thinking that you will never fall in love again and be alone forever after a breakup is a type of disordered thinking that recreates trauma and pain somatically.
Here, you may need to hire help to help point out how your private logic is just that: private and not at all what your therapist or best friend would call “logical.”
Or try an empowering self-technique like EFT at the very least. There are many ways to reduce your perception of stress.
I find the most powerful way to reduce stress levels is to truly experience the neurophysiological feeling of forgiveness. This is harder than it sounds, but remarkably effective. But try anything!
Meditation is proven to reduce cortisol levels and change the performance of the brain.
Psyche-K is an amazing technique.
Neurofeedback is remarkable in creating the physiology of forgiveness as well.
Of course, my office provides many of these services if you need them: https://brainandbodysolutions.com/neurofeedback
7. Set short term goals:
It’s important to have a long-term vision for framework, but the brain likes WINNING, so let it WIN!
When you win, you get some dopamine. You can align your brain by giving it the reward of dopamine when you reach your goals. You need to write them down, and you need to place them where you can see them. The goals should be measurable and realistic.
Get help with this if you tend to over-schedule and/or write down way too many things on your To-Do List every day. Reaching a goal can release dopamine, which feels good; so failing to reach goals will decrease dopamine and make you feel bad.
Creating unattainable goals or constantly overloading your TO-DO list everyday is a big red flag that you need coaching on creating these short-term goals. The goal should be 3 months maximum, but I prefer people to start with weekly goals, and in many cases we need to create daily ones.
Can you understand now why video games with their constant and immediate reward systems are eventually addictive via the dopamine pathways? Candy Crush anyone?
I often recommend 500-1000mg first thing in the morning on an empty stomach ONLY AFTER we manage all the steps ABOVE FIRST!
I am not telling you this so you take a short-cut to pop a pill! But tyrosine supplementation is still sometimes needed for some brains.
It has a slight stimulant effect on the body so taking it again midday works well for some people, and I don’t recommend it at night. Many of my patients need to take it 2-3 times per day. As with all supplements there are contraindications that working with a well trained health-care provider can help provide protection. For instance, if you have high blood pressure or mania, don’t take tyrosine.
I offer potency-guaranteed supplements at least 10% off for everyone (up to 20% off for patients) on Fullscript. Sign up here: https://us.fullscript.com/welcome/rimka
I hope this helps you bring more balance and better thinking by balancing the diet for the molecule of more we call dopamine. Tell me what you think in the comments.