A few weeks ago I spoke about serotonin and why it is good for us, this week I want to touch on another important neurotransmitter – dopamine!
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in the brain’s ‘reward centre’ and several other bodily functions such as attention, mood, movement, memory and motivation. Dopamine levels that are too high or low can have significant impacts on the body, with links between dopamine and conditions such as ADHD and Parkinson’s disease.
Dopamine, known as the feel-good hormone, is crucial for our everyday functioning, particularly if we want to function at an optimal level! Harvard Health suggests Dopamine can be triggered by anything that brings you happiness – such as eating foods that you crave, exercising or anything you enjoy. However, the association between dopamine and reward can also be problematic, and in some individuals may lead to addiction when they feel rewarded from drugs.
It is in our human nature to seek out things that trigger dopamine into our reward system, which is why we tend to keep going back to those foods or activities that make us feel good!
So, how can you naturally increase your dopamine levels? Psychology Today suggests a number of steps you can take, including:
- Regular exercise
- A healthy sleep routine
- Include foods rich in tyrosine in your diet – think more cheese, meats, fish, dairy, soy, seeds, nuts, beans and lentils
- Avoid excessive caffeine, sugar and processed foods
- Avoid excessive stress through breathing and meditation
Personally, I find the practice of breathwork, meditation and ice baths help reduce my stress levels, which will naturally increase dopamine. Research has also found the body produces more dopamine and serotonin as a response of exposure to cold water!
So, if you’re looking to optimise your daily functioning and increase your feel-good hormones, perhaps it’s time to consider incorportating ice baths into your routine! If this interests you, please reach out using the link below to chat more!