You may have heard that Dopamine works in the reward center of our brain, and that it can provide you with some pleasurable stimulus that transforms into a feel-good status. However, that's not all it does and its functions are far greater and more important than that.
First of all, we have to say that Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, which means it is a "chemical that ferries information between neurons", according to Psychology Today. Whenever we do something we enjoy, our brains trigger a dopamine release that can lead to a sort of rush.
Since Dopamine is involved in reinforcement too, some research suggests it's more related to wanting than liking, or, as Mental Health America puts it: "it doesn't actually make you feel good or happy, it simply makes you want to do [a pleasurable] thing again." That's why whenever you eat a delicious cookie or go on a very satisfactory shopping spree, you feel so good that you want to do it again.
As a matter of fact, Dopamine also plays a role in other important bodily functions such as:
Dopamine is produced in a two-step process as it comes from the amino acid L-dopa, which forms after another amino acid, Tyrosine, is processed by our bodies from food. Harvard Medical School points that "there is evidence that a diet rich in tyrosine also may improve memory and mental performance". Avocados, bananas, soy, chicken, and dairy are all foods with high levels of tyrosine.
Cases of Dopamine low levels are linked to Parkinson's disease. Mood can also be affected by Dopamine in our bodies and that's why some cases of depression or ADHD can be related to a deficiency of this neurotransmitter.
Dopamine motivational effects lead us to start and complete a task. MHA says "people with low levels of dopamine tend to look first at the difficulty of the task rather than the reward they'll receive for completing it."
On the other hand, an excess of Dopamine can lead to obesity, mania and even some addictions. Bipolar disorder can also be triggered by dramatic fluctuations in high and low levels of
With a proper diet and a healthy lifestyle, you can improve your Dopamine levels easily. Here are some tips to achieve that:
COMPLETE A TASK
Set your mind into pursuing an activity and developing it until you see it through. Look for tasks you truly enjoy or that you must complete (for school or work, perhaps) and tackle it by reaching small goals. You'll get it done in no time!
DO SELF-CARE ACTIVITIES
If you find that something you once enjoyed a lot doesn't really excite you anymore, your Dopamine might be on the low. Meditating, as well as other self-care routines, has shown to increase Dopamine. Get a haircut or a bike ride, do yoga, get a massage or a video gaming session, share a meal (and a chat) with a friend, dance for a while... you get to do what you really, really love.
EAT FOODS YOU LIKE
Do you have a certain dish in mind every time you feel sort of down? Go for it! Although a fried treat isn't that bad every once in a while, be careful to keep the impulses on the healthy side. Remember that proteins are more useful than saturated fats when we talk about making the most out of neurotransmitters.
CELEBRATE LITTLE WINS
Allow yourself to recognize any kind of achievement, no matter how relevant it is. You can actually celebrate by pampering yourself with a self-care activity or by having that treat you're craving for. Expressing gratitude is also a nice way of celebrating our wins (plus, it isn't expensive at all!).
BRING SOME SUPPLEMENTS INTO THE MIX
Aside from Tyrosine, our body needs some other vitamins and minerals during the Dopamine production process. Magnesium, Iron, Vitamin B6, Niacin and Folate are just a few of the required nutrients. In order to keep a balanced state of body and mind, you can also count on the supplement line from Kosmic Dust. Check our online store, where you'll find a great selection of products to help you achieve your full potential.
It's important to stress that you should always seek professional help in case you consider you might need assistance getting an accurate diagnosis of symptoms of high or low levels of Dopamine.
These are our picks among the most useful accessories and tech that every Digital Nomad must have.
Carbs, proteins and fat are the main macros we need for our body to function properly.
Although it isn't officially recognized, the consequences of this disorder are very real.