You might know that during a dopamine fast you avoid absolutely anything that brings you pleasure. Food, sex, exercise, social media, video games, chatting with friends. That includes coffee too. The goal is to reset your brain’s reward system and avoid those juicy dopamine hits. So how can we do it and maintain our health?
What happens if your dopamine levels are too low?
When your dopamine levels are low either because of drug use, poor nutrition, lack of sleep, stress and chronic use of antidepressants, a lot of symptoms like mood swings, poor attention levels, food cravings and depression can manifest
Some signs and symptoms of conditions related to a dopamine deficiency include:
- muscle cramps, spasms, or tremors
- aches and pains
- stiffness in the muscles
- loss of balance
- difficulty eating and swallowing
- weight loss or weight gain
- gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- frequent pneumonia
- trouble sleeping or disturbed sleep
- low energy
- an inability to focus
- moving or speaking more slowly than usual
- feeling fatigued
- feeling demotivated
- feeling inexplicably sad or tearful
- mood swings
- feeling hopeless
- having low self-esteem
- feeling guilt-ridden
- feeling anxious
- suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm
- low sex drive
- lack of insight or self-awareness
How do you fix low dopamine?
So, what are some safe, healthy, natural ways to boost your dopamine levels you may ask? Here are the top 6 ways to increase dopamine naturally:
1. Eat foods rich in Tyrosine. In order to make dopamine, your body needs tyrosine which can be found in almonds, bananas, avocados, eggs, beans, fish, and chicken.
2. Exercise regularly. In general, physical exercise is one of the best things you can do for your brain. It increases the production of new brain cells, slows down brain cell aging, can increase your levels of dopamine. Exercise has also been associated with improved mood and overall a better outlook on life.
3. Learn to meditate. The overall health benefits of meditation have been demonstrated through hundreds of research studies. Many of those have shown that meditation increases dopamine leading to improved focus and concentration. Even if you’re new to meditation, there are many helpful guided meditations for beginners to help you get started. Check out Dr. Amen’s podcast on the positive benefits of meditation for our brains.
4. Get a massage. It has long been suggested that one way to keep dopamine levels high is to avoid stress, which is nearly impossible in this day and age. To counter the effects of stress, research has demonstrated that massage therapy increases dopamine levels by nearly 30% while decreasing cortisol (a stress hormone) levels.
5. Sleep. To ensure that your brain increases dopamine naturally, you’ll want to make sure that you’re getting enough sleep. This includes setting aside time before bed away from the computer or TV screen. Sleep helps all the cells in the body repair and renew. It gives the brain a chance to wash away toxins that build up during the day and helps keep the nerve cell connections and pathways active and constantly self-renewing. Lack of sleep has been shown to reduce concentrations of neurotransmitters, including dopamine, and their receptors.
6. Listen to music. It is no surprise that listening to calming music can increase pleasurable feelings, improve mood, reduce stress, and help with focus and concentration. Research has demonstrated that much of this is achieved due to an increase in dopamine levels.