Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays an essential role in the brain’s reward-motivated behavior.
Dopamine is also involved in the brain’s evaluation, decision making, and problem-solving functions, in the body’s motor control, and it regulates the secretion of prolactin.
Since dopamine influences how your brain behaves, it’s safe to say that ensuring you have a good dopamine level should be very important for everybody.
Low dopamine levels can lead to health issues such as sadness, depression, and other emotional problems. (a)
Fortunately, there are numerous ways to naturally increase your dopamine levels.
Before we go ahead and get started, I wanted to let you know I researched and assembled 47 scientifically-backed ways to achieve laser-like focus, accelerate learning, sharpen memory, & boost mental energy.
Want to check out these tips? Download my free guide “Boost Your Brain Power” here.
Exercising can increase your dopamine levels. You don’t have to spend hours on the treadmill every day, you just have to exercise on a regular basis.
Countless studies have shown the power of exercise to stimulate the release of endorphins. (1)
- Getting Enough Sleep
Sleep deprivation can drastically affect your dopamine levels. People experience changes in their dopamine D2 receptors after losing a night of sleep.
These changes can make you feel cold or hot, and they can make you unable to pay attention. To avoid this situation, make sure you rest properly each night. (2)
- Spend Time Outside
Spending time outside in the sun can increase your dopamine levels and make you happier.
People who spend at least 10 minutes in bright light exposure experience a blood flow increase in their dopamine-rich areas of the brain. (3)
- Listen To Good Music
You might e familiar with the chills you get when listening to a familiar song. Well, studies have shown that those chills are associated with an increase in your dopamine secretion.
When the piece of music you’re listening to meets your prediction, your body releases more dopamine into your brain.
So listening to music is not enough, you have to listen to music you actually like to increase your dopamine production. (4)
Meditation is often mocked or disregarded, but its effects on the human brain are backed by studies. During a mediation session of Yoga Nidra, scientists discovered that the dopamine release was increased by up to 65%.
More studies are needed to find out exactly what role dopamine plays during meditation, and how it interacts with other neurotransmitters in that state. (5)
- Eat Bananas
This might come off as a surprise, but bananas are a very good source of dopamine. A normal banana can contain 2.5 – 10 mg of dopamine in the pulp.
Surprisingly, even the peel contains a high amount of dopamine. 100g of banana peel contains 80 – 560 mg of dopamine. (6)
- Avoid Saturated Fats
Saturated fats have been associated with metabolic problems for decades. They represent one of the most significant causes of obesity, and now they’ve been linked with behavior problems as well.
A study has revealed that saturated fats suppress dopamine’s effect by diminishing its D1 receptor signaling power. On the other hand, monounsaturated fat (found in olive oil) protects against the suppression (7)
- Eat Seafood
Seafood is very rich in Omega-3 fatty acid, which can affect the release of dopamine in the brain. A seafood diet will increase the amount of dopamine released, and it can also reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. (8)
- Consume Fish Oil Supplements
You don’t like eating seafood, or you think following a seafood diet would be too expensive in your area? Well, you can always consume fish oil supplements.
These supplements contain the same active ingredient as the seafood, the Omega-3 fatty acid. (9)
- Drink Coffee
Coffee is an important source of caffeine, a stimulant of the central nervous system. Besides having a stimulating effect, caffeine can also influence the dopaminergic system.
Caffeine can maintain a higher concentration of dopamine in the brain areas linked to attention, increasing your focus and vigilance. However, you should moderate your coffee consumption. (10)
- Drink Green Tea
Green tea is another important source of caffeine, but it also contains flavonoids which can enhance caffeine’s effects. Drinking green tea is can lower your anxiety levels and increase your dopamine production. (11)
- Increase Your Protein Intake
Protein-containing foods are a valuable source of Tyrosine. Tyrosine is a large amino acid that’s the precursor of dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine.
Increasing your protein intake will, in turn, increase your tyrosine intake, which will be transformed into dopamine after it’s processed. (12)
- Eat Your Veggies
Remember when your mom told you to eat your veggies as a child? Well, it turns out, she was right. Veggies are an important source of Magnesium.
Magnesium deficiency can decrease your dopamine levels, leading to mood swings, negativity, or anxiety.
Experts estimate that almost half of the adults living in the US have a magnesium deficiency, so you better eat your veggies. (13)
- Enjoy A Massage
It seems like massages do have a happy ending, after all. A study has shown that massage therapy increased dopamine levels significantly in both men and women.
The study revealed that the subjects experienced a 31% increase in dopamine levels. So next time you pass a massage parlor, you’ll have a scientific reason to indulge. (14)
- Enjoy Physical Contact
Remember how happy you were playing tag when you were a child? Well, it seems like there was more to that game than people previously thought.
Studies have shown that pleasurable physical contact can increase the dopamine release. It also seems like tickling will further increase the dopamine levels, so make sure you tickle someone this week. (15)
- Consume Ginkgo Biloba
You surely heard about Ginkgo Biloba by now. Only listing the beneficial effects Ginkgo can have on the human body might take up the rest of the article, but do not fret, we’re only going to explain how it can influence the dopamine.
Well, studies have shown that not only does Ginkgo consumption raise the dopamine level in your body by up to 159% after a 14-day diet, but it also increases the amount of dopamine stored in your frontocortical lobe, increasing your cognitive function and thus, your productivity. (16)
- Mow Your Lawn
Some people enjoy mowing their lawn, while others hate it. Well, whether you like it or not, mowing your lawn might actually improve more than your front yard’s appearance.
Studies have shown that hexanal, the green odor compound released when grass is cut, will stimulate the release of dopamine.
It seems like smelling the fresh cut grass is better for you than you thought, so you shouldn’t complain next time you have to mow the lawn. (17)
- Consume Huperzine-A
Huperzine-A is a is a compound found in firmoss that’s been used in Chinese medicine for centuries. This compound can increase the dopamine levels by up to 153% when consumed regularly.
Don’t worry, you won’t have to eat the firmoss or visit a Chinese medicine man to get Hup-A, you can find it in various supplements. (18)
- Eat Avocados
Are you a fan of guacamole? Well, you should be. Avocados are a great source of tyrosine, one of the amino acids that are transformed into dopamine.
You don’t have to eat your guacamole with chips, which are full of saturated fats that lower the dopamine levels.
You can also eat it with sushi, veggies, or eggs. You can even eat your avocados raw. Nobody will judge you, science has your back. (19)
- Consume Red Sage
Red sage, also known as danshen or tan shen, is another ingredient used in Chinese traditional medicine.
This herb was traditionally used in vascular circulation therapies, but studies have shown that it can also stimulate the dopamine release in your body.
Red sage supplements come in various forms. You can find capsules, liquid extracts, and you can even find complex supplements containing this ingredient. (20)
- Eat Your Greens
Green vegetables are a good source of folate. Folate, also known as folic acid or vitamin B9, is one of the B vitamins you should consume daily.
Scientists found out that depressed individuals show low folate levels.
After supplementing their diet with folic acid, their dopamine levels increased, and their antidepressants had a better response. So once again, your mother was right. You should eat your greens. (21)
- Consume Shilajit
Shilajit is a nutrient found in the Himalayas, and it’s one of the ingredients used in traditional Indian medicine.
A study has shown that after consuming shilajit regularly for at least 21 days, the nutrient increases the amount of dopamine stored in your brain.
This will increase your focus and reduce your anxiety levels. And the best part is, you won’t have to gather the nutrient yourself, you can find it in different supplements. (22)
- Consume Ginseng
Ginseng is a herbal plant that’s been used in Eastern medicine for hundreds or thousands of years. This plant has many beneficial effects, and it can also increase your dopamine production.
Ginseng can increase the levels of dopamine in the brain, leading to a better cognitive processing, better attention, and auditory reaction time.
However, ginseng can also block the dopamine release if it’s combined with other stimulants, such as nicotine and amphetamines. (23)
- Eat Nuts
Nuts are very rich in protein, and they’re also an excellent source of monounsaturated fat. They contain tyrosine which is transformed in dopamine, and they will also protect against dopamine suppression.
The great thing is that almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and pistachio can make a delicious snack. (24)
- Get A Cold Shower
Cold showers can be really uncomfortable, especially during the winter, but they can also be very helpful. A study has revealed that immersing yourself in hot and cold water can produce different physiological answers.
When the subjects were immersed in warm water (32 degrees C) their heart rate slowed and their cortisol levels dropped.
But when they were immersed in cold water (14 degrees C) their metabolic rates increased by 350% and their dopamine concentration increased by 250%. So once in a while, get a cold one. (25)
- Eat Chocolate
Remember how happy you were when you received a chocolate as a child? Well, studies have shown that the happiness might actually be the result of a physiological response.
Chocolate, dark chocolate especially, contains a compound called phenylethylamine.
This compound stimulates your brain cells to release more dopamine. The resulting effect might be happiness. No, you shouldn’t eat a whole bar of chocolate to get the results, a single cube or two would suffice. (26)
- Lift Weights
Do you even lift, bro? Well, maybe you should. As fitness enthusiasts will gladly tell anyone within earshot, they feel better after they lift.
Besides the positive psychological effect of getting stronger, lifting weights will also increase your dopamine concentration levels.
An extensive study suggests that skilled exercise is better at releasing dopamine than aerobic exercise. (27)
- Be Organized
This is one of the easiest ways to increase your dopamine levels. Dopamine is released when your brain feels the need to reward you for something.
However, you don’t have to be rewarded only when you win a competition, receive a good grade at school, or when you meet a deadline.
Your brain will reward you for every simple task you accomplish. So you can trick your brain into releasing more dopamine by setting multiple tasks for each day, no matter how small. So, you’ll have to make a list.
You have to take the children to school? Check. Take out the trash? Check. And so on. Your brain will be happy that you’re so productive, and it will reward you by releasing dopamine. This brain boost is really cool, right? (28)
- Eat Oregano
You probably ate oregano until now, even if you might not be aware of it. Some pizzerias use oregano for their tomato sauce and some even put some in the pizza dough.
Oregano is an aromatic herb, and you can find it in every supermarket. This herb decreases the dopamine break down in the body. So it actually increases dopamine levels by not allowing it to break down. Smart (29)
- Eat Fibers
Fibrous fruit and vegetables are an important source of butyrate. Also known as butanoate, butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid essential for your gut’s health.
You can find this compound in apples, pears, raspberries, and beans of all sort. A recent study has shown that butyrate also plays a role in increasing the dopamine levels in your brain.
So it turns out that an apple a day really keeps the doc away. (30)
Run, Forrest, run! No really, you should run, even if your name is not Forrest. Aerobic exercise increases your dopamine levels.
Besides that, exercising can lead to a loss of weight, leading in turn to an increase in self-confidence. Increased self-confidence and positivity can also increase your dopamine levels. Double win, right? (31)
- Take Creatine Supplements
Creatine is an organic acid that occurs naturally in your body. This compound plays an essential role in ensuring your cells have enough energy throughout the day.
Creatine is produced in your kidneys and liver, but you can also take creatine supplements to increase the amount available for your body.
Creatine is usually supplemented by fitness enthusiasts because it helps their muscles grow. A study has shown that creatine can also increase the dopamine levels after a training session, and it helps to keep them stable. (32)
- Maintain A Calorie Deficit
Maintaining a calorie deficit might not be ideal for people who want to gain weight, but it will help people who try to lose some. However, a calorie deficit will also increase your dopamine levels.
When the brain notices you’re hungry and not getting enough calories, it releases dopamine to motivate you to find food. The motivation can also be helpful when you engage in other activities, besides gathering food, that is. (33)
- Take Some Risks
Dopamine is associated with your brain’s risk-taking behavior. In fact, taking risks and dopamine levels are interconnected. When you take risks, your dopamine levels rise, and dopamine makes you more prone to take risks.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to risk all your money in Vegas. You only have to take small calculated risks regularly. (34)