Are you one of those often feeling a little depressed, battling mood swings or even disoriented and wondering what could be the underlying reason? Well, it is not uncommon to battle various emotions in these stress filled days but do not lose your hope yet.
Mental health is prominent, and it can be improved with certain lifestyle changes and by following a healthy diet.
Many of us encounter certain amounts of ups and downs in our daily life owing to stress, anxiety, problems related to personal and professional commitments. And it is also not uncommon in most cases where people tend to take up smoking, alcohol and other negative habits in order to beat these emotions.
Agree or disagree, our emotions, behavioural patterns, decisions are dictated by brain and sometimes by heart. Brain being a complex structure plays a pivotal role in both the physical and mental wellbeing and are regulated by chemicals also known as neurotransmitters – Dopamine, Serotonin, Norepinephrine and Acetylcholine.
While all these neurotransmitters perform a wide range of functions, doctors and scientists are quite intrigued by various tasks regulated by Dopamine including sending signals from body to the brain.
What Is Dopamine?
Dopamine is a natural chemical – a neurotransmitter found in the body and its main functions involve carrying signals from body to the brain. It not only regulates body movements but is pivotal in triggering emotional responses. Dopamine in right amounts is crucial for the wellbeing of both body and mind as its deficiency can affect sleeping pattern, moods, learning abilities, concentration and motor abilities too.
What Causes Dopamine Deficiency?
Dopamine deficiency is usually caused due to drop the in the body’s ability in generating the chemical or problem with the brain receptors. Low levels of dopamine are most found in patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, verbal and auditory hallucinations, delusions etc.
In few cases, it is also triggered by prolonged use of certain drugs, drug abuse as it brings down D2 receptors and restricts the release of dopamine. It is also commonly found in people suffering from obesity and could be genetic.
However, in young people and healthy adults diet plays a major role in dopamine deficiency. People consuming high sugar and saturated fats reportedly suffer from lower levels of dopamine. Lack of protein-based foods too can lead to dopamine deficiency, as it compromises on I-tyrosine, an amino acid which plays a major role in triggering dopamine in the body.
What Are The Symptoms of Dopamine Deficiency?
The symptoms triggered due to deficiency of dopamine differ from person to person. In people suffering from neurogenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s etc, the symptoms are different owing to the high dosage of drugs.
Signs and Symptoms:
- Low energy levels
- Extreme fatigue, demotivation
- Low self-esteem, guilt feeling
- Low sex drive
- Inability to focus and concentrate on task at hand
- Hallucinations, suicidal tendencies in severe cases
The person may also suffer from disturbed sleep patterns, recurrent pneumonia, GERD, muscle cramps, muscle stiffness, constipation that affect physical wellbeing.
How Is Dopamine Deficiency Diagnosed and Treated?
Dopamine deficiency is diagnosed by observing the symptoms, lifestyle, medical history of the patient. It is treated with the help of medication, psychiatric counselling but the recent studies revealed that making simple changes in diet – now known as Dopamine diet can significantly lower the symptoms.
What Is Dopamine Diet?
Also known as Happy Diet, this food plan is aimed at releasing dopamine in required amounts. It not only triggers happy, active mood but also aids in restricting sudden mood swings often associated with clinical depression.
Including farm fresh, protein rich foods into the diet plan is the first step towards including Dopamine diet in to your lifestyle. Nutritionists recommend doing away completely with carbohydrate, starch rich, fatty, greasy food items and substitute them with protein and omega 3 rich foods.
These changes help in triggering the release of amino acid – tyrosine that stimulates the production of dopamine which in turn brings happy mood, pleasure instantly.
What Are Dopamine Boosting Foods?
Plant Based Protein:
Eating natural and plant-based protein is the in thing, especially if you are a vegetarian or a vegan. Make it a point to include soy, legumes and beans to meet your daily dose of protein demands made by the body and to trigger dopamine.
Nuts & Seeds:
It has established beyond doubt that nuts and seeds are as important as vegetables and fruits in our daily life for the overall wellbeing. Loaded with Omega- 3 fatty acids and amino acids, nuts and seeds stimulate the production of tyrosine which in turn acts on generating dopamine. Make it a point to snack on these natural wonders daily, to up the production of dopamine and also to counter those midday hunger pangs.
Milk, cheese, curd are an amazing source of tyrosine – the amino acid and can instantly increase the levels of dopamine. Nutritional powerhouse of calcium, vitamins A, D, B12 dairy products are your must-have for a healthy body and mind.
Feeling a little low? Take solace in chocolates. These yummy foods be it dark, white or brown produce serotonin another neurotransmitter responsible for happy moods and another compound phenylethylamine acts upon the brain cells to release dopamine.
Eggs are rich in protein tyrosine, extremely important for maintaining the levels of dopamine in the body and for carrying signals to the brain. Kickstart your day with eggs for keeping you active and in good mood throughout the day.