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Life isn’t always easy, but you might experience sour moods even when everything’s going great. Your doctor can help you narrow down what’s affecting your mental health, like a decrease in dopamine production. Consider adding these dopamine-boosting foods to your diet to experience fewer depressive symptoms naturally.
What Is Dopamine?
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that regulates synaptic actions in the brain. Research also shows it exists within the central nervous system in various cell types. When the body produces enough of it, your dopamine levels regulate the neural processing responsible for moods, physical activity and more.
Health Benefits of Dopamine
People call dopamine the feel-good chemical. It’s how the brain rewards the body for successfully communicating messages between nerve cells. The hormone interacts with numerous parts of the body, so it’s actively involved in processes like:
Dopamine deficiency can happen for various reasons. You may have inherited a gene that makes your nerve cells respond less efficiently to the hormone. Sometimes, people also don’t produce enough dopamine due to an undiagnosed illness or a previous head injury.
Although your doctor can help you manage this issue and potentially write a prescription for helpful medication, you can also empower yourself at home through your diet.
Dopamine-Boosting Foods Anyone Can Enjoy
Consider your current diet to understand if it serves your health and wellness needs. If it doesn’t, you can always eat these dopamine-boosting foods to optimize your nutrition.
Save a few new oat-centered recipes to support your brain. When you take a bite of oatmeal or enjoy an oatmeal cookie, the polyphenol-rich oats will inhibit the monoamine oxidase B production in your brain.
Monoamine oxidase B is an enzyme that breaks down dopamine, but it may be too active in your brain. Inhibiting this process could be what your brain needs to effectively produce and maintain enough dopamine to support your moods and cognitive functions.
Your brain creates dopamine through a synthesis process, which includes tyrosine. Tyrosine is a hormone that converts amino acids into dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA) before the DOPA turns into dopamine.
Give your mental health a boost by eating more almonds. The nuts are high in nutrients like tyrosine, so they’re a direct source of this dopamine-producing amino acid. As long as you don’t have an allergy or digestive system upset after consuming almonds, they’re easy to enjoy in snacks, salads and even almond milk.
3. Dark Chocolate
When you’re at the grocery store this week, pickup a bar of dark chocolate. The cocoa product will give your brain some tyramine and have less of an effect on your blood sugar due to its natural sweetness levels. Tyramine is an amino acid in tyrosine, so it’s part of tyrosine’s dopamine production process.
Enjoy dark chocolate as your dessert to increase your dopamine levels and other health benefits. Cocoa is a natural source of numerous nutrients, so you’ll support your overall well-being by including this dopamine-boosting food in your diet.
Add a few slices of watermelon to your weekly diet and you’ll notice a difference in your moods. The fruit contains high levels of vitamin B6, which is a vitamin that regulates dopamine production by supporting your neurotransmitters.
There are numerous ways to eat more watermelon besides cutting it into slices. You could drop a few large chunks into your blender when you make smoothies or add the juice to mojitos when you want a refreshing drink. It also tastes great on salads or grilled kebabs, depending on what foods you typically enjoy.
A small bowl of peanuts is a budget-friendly snack that supports your health. Peanut protein is another source of tyrosine, which your brain may need to maintain its dopamine production. If you crack open fresh peanuts or find peanuts without added ingredients like sugar-filled flavor coatings, this organic food could become a foundational ingredient in your daily diet.
6. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
People depend on olive oil for recipes across the world. It’s an organic ingredient that’s useful in more ways than one, especially for people trying to improve their mental health.
Extra virgin olive oil contains a high phenolic content that reduces depressive symptoms by deploying its molecular structure to soothe inflamed nerve endings. Small amounts are helpful and are easy for the body to process as it gets used to the nutritionally dense oil. Swap it for butter when greasing a pan or drizzle it over your salads to see how it improves your mood by supporting the health of your neural pathways.
Fermented foods like yogurt are excellent tools to strengthen your mental health. Yogurt undergoes a fermentation process, making lactic acid bacteria release amino acids like phenylalanine into the yogurt. When you take a bite, the phenylalanine absorbs into your bloodstream. Your brain transforms it into dopamine through the phenylalanine-to-tyrosine conversion process.
Enjoy more yogurt every week by getting creative with your meals. It’s a great snack but could also replace sour cream on your tacos or become the base for homemade, creamy salad dressings. People also drop a dollop into smoothies when they want a higher protein content in their beverage.
8. Green Tea
Whether you enjoy a cold or hot green tea, your brain will benefit from its dopamine-boosting capabilities. The tea contains L-theanine, an amino acid that strengthens cognitive processes like creating dopamine. Your mood will improve as you include green tea in your long-term diet.
Don’t worry if you’re not a fan of drinking tea. You can add the powdered version to cookie recipes, smoothies and even hot chocolate. As long as your green tea power comes from an organic source and isn’t a chemical-based flavor replication, you’ll get the nutrients your body needs to produce and maintain your dopamine levels.
Consider Adding These Foods to Your Diet
Trying these dopamine-boosting foods could significantly improve your quality of life. As your body creates more of the feel-good hormone, you’ll experience more positive moods and increased motivation. It could be what you need to make progress toward your goals or supplement the actionable advice prescribed by your doctor.
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