Dopamine is an important neurotransmitter in the brain and is essential to healthy functioning of the central nervous system. Dopamine helps regulate mood and emotion. When you have enough dopamine in your body, you will feel pleasure, euphoria, have appetite control and increased clarity and focus. If you don't have enough dopamine in your system, you can be prone to feelings of depression, worthlessness, have cravings and compulsions, and an inability to pay attention.
Eat foods that increase levels of dopamine. Many sources of food contain the ingredient tyrosine, including bananas, avocados, lima beans, dairy products, almonds and pumpkin seeds. Foods rich in antioxidants, such as fruits and vegetables, also boost your dopamine levels. Chicken, eggs and other protein-rich foods help raise the levels of dopamine and serotonin, both contributors to depression.
Avoid refined foods and foods with sugar, saturated fats and cholesterol. These foods can interfere with brain function and reduce levels of dopamine in your body. They also increase your risk of heart disease. Avoid consumption of coffee and other drinks high in caffeine. Caffeine contributes to depression because it artificially inflates the amount of serotonin in your brain, boosting your mood temporarily.
Exercise. Working out is a natural way to raise the level of dopamine in your body. Regular workouts help combat depression and increase energy. Vigorous physical activity can produce a euphoric feeling, or "runner's high." The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends adults have 2 1/2 hours per week of moderate physical activity for maximum health benefits.
Spend time with family and friends. Cultivating relationships with loved ones can help boost your dopamine levels. Socialising and being around friends and family members affect your neurotransmitters by increasing self-confidence, happiness and focus. Isolation contributes to depression.
Purchase dopamine supplements. You can buy natural amino acid supplements at health-food stores or online to help increase your dopamine levels. These supplements carry the right amount of amino acids to restore your brain to healthy functioning and have little to no side effects.
Too much dopamine can trigger addiction, hyperactivity and an inability to sleep. Beware of any drug that promises to give you a "dopamine high."