Following a rainbow diet, meaning including a variety of fruits and vegetables, can go a long way in boosting dopamine levels naturally. Herbs such as dandelion, ginseng, and peppermint can also contribute to the increase of dopamine output.
Did You Know?
Parkinson’s disease, that is marked by low dopamine levels, affects around 60,000 Americans every year.
When it comes to managing Parkinson’s disease effectively, following a dopamine-friendly diet is a must. As we know, this condition causes progressive loss of motor functioning, and is marked by difficulty with movement and balance. This happens due to the inadequate production of dopamine, a hormone (neurotransmitter) secreted in the brain, and that plays a key role in regulating muscle movement. No wonder, lack of dopamine has been associated with involuntary muscle movement, which causes trembling and the inability to hold objects firmly.
Dopamine is also important for the proper working of the brain’s pleasure system. Its deficiency can make it difficult to experience pleasure, thus leading to depression. Low dopamine levels leave an individual demotivated, disinterested, as well as increase the chances of him/her getting addicted to drugs, caffeine, and alcohol.
One of the best ways to boost dopamine levels is to add dopamine-rich foods in one’s diet. The brain primarily uses amino acids to make dopamine. One can say that the amino acids are precursor to dopamine. So, adequate supply of amino acids is essential to ensure healthy dopamine levels. Amino acids are considered to be the building blocks of proteins. Therefore, it makes sense to consume foods that are good sources of proteins. Following are the foods that increase dopamine output:
Among the many amino acids, tyrosine is a major contributor that helps form dopamine. Tyrosine is abundantly found in the following fruits:
- Prunes (dried plums)
Antioxidants that display protective effects against free radical damage can play a crucial role in the treatment of neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease. Antioxidants can certainly reduce the impact of free radicals that inflict damage to the brain cells. Their ability to neutralize free radicals may work to improve dopamine output. Therefore, increase your antioxidant intake by eating a variety of fresh fruits and green vegetables. Quercetin, a strong antioxidant agent, is present in apples, and reportedly provides excellent neuroprotection in neurological conditions. As such, make sure that you get a steady supply of antioxidants from your regular diet.
Vitamin B6 Foods
Low dopamine levels may respond to the increased intake of vitamin B6. Studies have shows that vitamin B6 is essential for the synthesis of dopamine in the brain. Adequate vitamin B6 from dietary sources like avocados, tuna fish, pistachios, sunflower seeds, and cooked spinach can certainly help boost dopamine levels.
Foods High in Folate
Folate nutrition too can be helpful in this regard. Animal-related studies have shown that a diet low in folate can predispose dopamine-producing cells. So, nutrient deficiency of vitamin B6 could be one of the factors in lowering dopamine levels. Hence, getting a daily dose of folate from foods like cooked beans (black-eyed peas), lentils, asparagus, raw spinach, and fruits like oranges and mangoes is very beneficial.
Foods high in omega-3 essential fatty acids are particularly useful for people affected with Parkinson’s disease. Omega-3s are known for their anti-inflammatory effect, which helps combat inflammation throughout the body. Neuroinflammation, which refers to inflammation of the neural tissue inside the brain, has been linked to Parkinson’s. Omega-3s foods, with their potent anti-inflammatory action, can help fight this neuroinflammation and contribute to manage this condition more effectively. Omega-3s foods such as walnuts, salmon, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and tofu can help elevate dopamine levels, and moreover, enhance the functioning of this neurotransmitter.
Foods High in Magnesium
Deficiency of dietary magnesium can also lower dopamine levels. Moreover, magnesium, being a muscle relaxant, its inadequate intake can cause cramps and spasms (involuntary muscle movement), which is a common symptom of Parkinson’s. In order to control these muscle-related symptoms and boost dopamine supplies, it is necessary to have sufficient intake of magnesium from natural sources like dark-leafy vegetables, nuts, soy beans, and whole grains.
An important constituent found in red beets is betaine, an amino acid which is equally important in the production of dopamine. Betaine helps increase the levels of S-adenosylmethionine (SAM-e), a naturally occurring compound in the body. SAM-e, that displays antidepressant activity, promotes the synthesis of dopamine.
Daily intake of this herbal tea can also work wonders. This tea is an excellent source of polyphenols; potent antioxidants. Therefore, having this tea can decrease free-radical damage in the brain cells, as well as contribute to the increase dopamine production.
Following are some herbs that can assist in upping the levels of dopamine:
- Ginkgo biloba
- Red clover
Preliminary studies have observed that CoQ10 supplementation can assist the increase of dopamine output and alleviate the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Coenzyme Q10 shows a promising potential in curbing the loss of dopamine, as well as providing neuroprotection in chronic neurodegeneration. A daily dose of 1,200 mg of CoQ10 can particularly benefit individuals affected with Parkinson’s disease. Taking a multivitamin, which is a combination of vitamins B, C, and E, can also assist in increasing dopamine.
Levodopa (L-dopa), is a commonly recommended medication for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. However, to boost its efficacy, the timing of the medication should not coincide with intake of foods high in proteins. This is because, protein-rich foods can inhibit absorption of L-dopa, which may aggravate symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. So, if you have taken the medication, wait for minimum an hour before having protein foods. In case, you have just eaten your protein-rich meal, wait for minimum 2 hours before taking L-dopa dose.
Disclaimer: This NutriNeat article is for informative purposes only, and should not be replaced for the advice of a medical professional.