Hippocrates had it right when he said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” When your body feels out of whack, certain foods can help set you back on the right track. By Rachael Schultz
When you have a headache
Eat: Moroccan lentil soup made with spices like turmeric and cinnamon. “This meal is free of potential headache triggers like dairy, cured meat, nuts, and chocolate. Plus, it also doesn’t require chewing, which can aggravate a headache,” says Cynthia Sass, RD, author of Slim Down Now: Shed Pounds and Inches With Pulses — The New Superfood. The soup also delivers a good dose of protein, anti-inflammatory spices, and magnesium—which helps relax blood vessels to ease headaches. You can also try these other home remedies to soothe headaches.
When you have sinus pressure
Eat: anything spicy—the heat in chili peppers can help clear up types of sinus inflammation, according to research from the University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center.
When you have a sore throat
Eat: soup made with a hot, thin broth (either vegetable- or chicken-stock base), with garlic, herbs, and vegetables; plus hot green tea with honey. For starters, both hot liquids will help drain congestion, Sass explains. “The garlic is anti-inflammatory and immune-supporting, the veggies provide nutrients for healing, and honey has been shown to help ease the pain from a sore throat,” she adds. These sore throat gargles are another trick to feel better.
When you have nausea
Eat: bananas, steamed brown rice, applesauce, and ginger tea, Sass suggests. Each of these foods is easy to keep down and tends to soothe the digestive system. Opt for tea bags with real ginger in it (like Yogi Ginger or Tazo Green Ginger) or better yet, steep some of the herb fresh in hot water. A University of Rochester study found that as little as a quarter of a teaspoon of ginger cut nausea by 40 percent in queasy chemotherapy patients.
When you have fatigue
Eat: There isn’t a one-size-fits-all remedy for this one, since the fix largely depends on the cause of fatigue. Your best bet? A leafy green salad topped with chopped vegetables and grilled salmon to give a boost of vitamins, minerals, and omega 3s, which will in turn increase your energy. Be sure to hydrate, since dehydration alone is enough to slow your energy down, says nutritionist and health coach Emily Littlefield, founder of Emily’s Powerfoods Living. If the fatigue is from a lack of sleep, avoid caffeine. “It may seem counterintuitive, but the temporary Band-Aid of coffee or an energy drink will only provide a brief false sense of energy, usually followed by even more intense fatigue, then trouble sleeping, which perpetuates the cycle,” Sass explains.
When you have menstrual cramps
Drink: a pot of hot ginger tea with a little honey and lemon. “Ginger root is soothing and calming and has been used for healing stomach pain for centuries,” says Littlefield. A study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that ginger was just as effective in relieving menstrual cramp pain as ibuprofen (whoa!). Plus, proper hydration can help reduce tension in certain muscles that contribute to menstrual cramping. These unusual period cramp remedies are also worth a try.
When you have constipation
Eat: oatmeal topped with a fiber-rich fruit and a mug of hot water with lemon. The goal here is to get your stool moving. “The fiber from the oats and fruit helps to soften stool,” Sass explains. “The drink will help stimulate your digestive muscles to contract and move waste through.” Here are other natural cures for constipation.
When you have diarrhea
Drink: a sports drink or Pedialyte, to start, Sass suggests. “The top goal is replacing fluids and electrolytes while diarrhea is active,” she says. Once it stops, continue to rehydrate, but start eating foods that are easy to digest, like bananas and brown rice. If you eat your usual fare, it can overstimulate digestive muscles or trigger unwanted inflammation or irritation, she adds. You can also soothe your stomach with these diarrhea home remedies.
When you have brain fog
Eat: two eggs any style; a whole-grain, low-sugar waffle (like Vans); and cup of black coffee. Countless studies have found that caffeine improves both alertness and attention. Between eggs and the waffle, you’ll score the perfect balance of fat, protein, and healthy carbohydrates to help avoid blood sugar dips that make you feel foggy.
When you have stress
Drink: a combo of chamomile and mint herbal teas. Refill indefinitely until you feel the hot drink calm your nervous system, Littlefield suggests. Avoid anything high in trans fats or in sugar, which a study in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology found can exacerbate other health problems that accompany stress, such as oxidative damage and the accumulation of abdominal fat, which can make you feel even worse than you already do.
Exhaustion isn’t a good look on anyone, but it’s all too easy to burn the candle at both ends in the always-connected world we live in. And when that energy slump hits, you need help. But that doesn’t mean downing a dozen cups of coffee or reaching into the candy bowl.
Sugar and caffeine will give you a quick rush, but that’s often followed by a crash. So if you’re searching for sustained energy, look for food with complex carbs, protein, and fiber. We put together this cheat sheet of things to eat and drink to beat fatigue—and a few foods that sabotage your efforts to get pumped up.
The Best Foods
The next time you’re feeling drained, try guzzling good old H2O. Dehydration may actually be at the root of your fatigue. It can lead to headaches, ruin your concentration, and put you in a sour a mood. So hit the watercooler stat.
2. Chia Seeds
Talk about something small but mighty. Chia seeds help with hydration by absorbing 10 times their weight in water. Plus, they have the right ratio of protein, fats, and fiber to give you an energy boost without a crash.
Consider this the green light to go bananas when you’re running low on fuel. In one study, researchers discovered that eating bananas worked as well as sports drinks at keeping cyclists fueled. The potassium-packed fruit also includes a bunch of good-for-you nutrients (like fiber and vitamin B6) that you won’t find in a bottle of Gatorade.
With all its protein, fiber, and iron, quinoa is the perfect thing to reach for when you’re looking to recharge. And if you need an on-the-go upper, whip up these quinoa muffin bites and grab ‘em before hitting the road.
5. Green Tea
By now, it’s no secret that green tea has a slew of health benefits. You can add putting some pep back in your step to the long list. The combination of caffeine and L-theanine give you energy without the jitters. Bonus: Research suggests that green tea boosts brainpower as well, which may come in handy when you’re down to the wire at work. Take the time to brew the tea yourself because store-bought varieties often have lots of added sugar.
The cozy breakfast food—though, let’s be honest, you can enjoy it any time of the day—will keep energy levels up. That’s because it’s high in fiber and comes with a decent dose protein. Plus, oatmeal has a low glycemic load, a fancy scientific way of saying it stabilizes blood sugar levels. (Just make sure to steer clear of instant oatmeal packets, which can be packed with sugar and salt.) Oatmeal is also super versatile—just take a look at these 30 delicious recipes to keep food boredom at bay.
Certain kinds of fat are friends, not foes, particularly when you’re talking about replenishing your energy. And almonds are packed with healthy monosaturated fats that are just what your body needs for a pick-me-up.
Beans keep you going thanks to a stellar trio of carbs, protein, and fiber. The protein fills you up, the carbs provide energy, and the fiber helps regulate blood sugar. Black beans in particular are your BFFs when it comes to an energy boost—try this black bean soup recipe next time your tank needs refilling.
9. Whole-Wheat Bread
Your body needs carbs for energy, but not all carbs are created equal. Whole-wheat bread is great for a long-lasting energy kick. It’s is a complex carb, meaning it raises your blood sugar gradually instead of hiking it up at turbo-speed.
Foods to Avoid
Sure, honey has some serious health benefits, but it’s not something you should be reaching for if you’re looking for sustained energy. Adding a few teaspoons to your tea or yogurt will give a quick rush of energy that spikes your blood sugar, which means a crash can follow.
2. Energy Drinks
If you’re looking for a pick-me-up, don’t reach for a Red Bull. Research suggests energy drinks may do little to curb sleepiness. The combination of caffeine and sugar puts your body through the ringer and may just leave you feeling dehydrated and fatigued.
3. White Bread
While complex carbs keep your energy levels in a steady state, simple carbs, like white bread, can take your blood sugar on a rollercoaster ride. Not what you want when you’re keeping a busy schedule.
There’s a reason you’re always hearing about sugar crashes. As anyone who’s made their way through their Halloween loot can attest, an energy low inevitably follows. While sweets may give you a quick hit of energy, it’s only a matter of time before you once again find yourself dragging. After all, candy’s made up of simple carbs and sugar (which spikes blood sugar only to let it drop way back down). How sweet it isn’t.
5. Junk food
It’s a cruel fact of life that the most accessible, easy-to-grab, and oh-so delicious foods wreck havoc on energy levels. Research has found that diets high in processed food tend to lead to weight gain and a more sedentary lifestyle. Talk about a lose-lose situation.
By Deane Alban Contributing Writer for Wake Up World 7th March 2015
Dopamine is a key neurotransmitter for motivation, focus and productivity. Learn the symptoms of dopamine deficiency and natural ways to increase dopamine levels …
There are about 100 billion neurons in the human brain — about as many stars as there are in the Milky Way. These cells communicate with each other via brain chemicals called neurotransmitters.
Dopamine is the neurotransmitter responsible for providing motivation, drive, and focus. It plays a role in many mental disorders including depression, addictions, ADHD, and schizophrenia.
Let’s take a closer look at dopamine — what it does, symptoms of deficiency, and how to increase it naturally.
Dopamine: The Motivation Molecule
Dopamine has been called our “motivation molecule.” It boosts our drive, focus, and concentration. It enables us to plan ahead and resist impulses so we can achieve our goals. It gives us that “I did it!” lift when we accomplish what we set out to do. It makes us competitive and provides the thrill of the chase in all aspects of life — business, sports, and love.
Dopamine is in charge of our pleasure-reward system. It allows us to have feelings of enjoyment, bliss, and even euphoria. But too little dopamine can leave you unfocused, unmotivated, lethargic, and even depressed.
Dopamine Deficiency Symptoms
People low in dopamine lack a zest for life. They exhibit low energy and motivation, and often rely on caffeine, sugar, or other stimulants to get through the day.
Many common dopamine deficiency symptoms are similar to those of depression:
lack of motivation
inability to feel pleasure
inability to concentrate
Dopamine-deficient lab mice become so apathetic and lethargic they lack motivation to eat and starve to death. Conversely, some people who are low in dopamine compensate with self-destructive behaviors to get their dopamine boost. This can include use and abuse of caffeine, alcohol, sugar, drugs, shopping, video games, sex, power, or gambling.
How to Increase Dopamine Naturally
There are plenty of unhealthy ways to raise dopamine. But you don’t have to resort to “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll” to boost your dopamine levels. Here are some healthy, proven ways to increase dopamine levels naturally.
Foods That Increase Dopamine
Dopamine is made from the amino acid tyrosine. Eating a diet high in tyrosine will ensure you’ve got the basic building blocks needed for dopamine production.
Here’s a list of tyrosine-rich foods:
all animal products
green leafy vegetables
sesame and pumpkin seeds
Foods high in natural probiotics such as yogurt, kefir, and raw sauerkraut can also increase natural dopamine production. Oddly, the health of your intestinal flora impacts your production of neurotransmitters.
An overabundance of bad bacteria leaves toxic byproducts called lipopolysaccharides which lower levels of dopamine.
Sugar has been found to boost dopamine but this is a temporary boost, more drug-like than food-like.
There are supplements that can raise dopamine levels naturally.
Curcumin is the active ingredient in the spice turmeric. It’s available in an isolated form as a supplement. It readily crosses the blood-brain barrier and can boost levels of dopamine.
Curcumin has been found to help alleviate obsessive actions and improve associated memory loss by increasing dopamine.
Ginkgo biloba is traditionally used for a variety of brain-related problems — poor concentration, forgetfulness, headaches, fatigue, mental confusion, depression, and anxiety.
One of the mechanisms by which ginkgo works is by raising dopamine.
L-theanine is a component found in green tea. It increases levels of dopamine along with other neurotransmitters serotonin and GABA. L-theanine improves recall, learning, and positive mood. You can get your dopamine boost by either taking theanine supplements or by drinking 3 cups of green tea per day.
L-tyrosine — the precursor to dopamine — is available as a supplement.
We recommend taking acetyl-l-tyrosine — a more absorbable form that readily crosses the blood-brain barrier.
Phosphatidylserine acts as your brain’s “gatekeeper,” regulating nutrients and waste in and out of your brain. It can increase dopamine levels and improve memory, concentration, learning, and ADHD.
Boost Dopamine with Exercise
Physical exercise is one of the best things you can do for your brain. It boosts production of new brain cells, slows down brain cell aging, and improves the flow of nutrients to the brain. It can also increase your levels of dopamine and the other “feel good” neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine.
Dr. John Ratey, renowned psychiatrist and author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, has extensively studied the effects of physical exercise on the brain. He found that exercise raises baseline levels of dopamine by promoting the growth of new brain cell receptors.
Dopamine is responsible in part for the high serious runners experience. But you don’t need to exercise strenuously to enhance your brain. Taking walks, or doing gentle, no-impact exercises like yoga, tai chi, or qi gong all provide powerful mind-body benefits.
Increase Dopamine with Meditation
The benefits of meditation have been proven in over 1,000 studies. Regular meditators experience enhanced ability to learn, increased creativity, and deep relaxation. It’s been shown that meditation increases dopamine, improving focus and concentration.
Crafting hobbies of all kinds — knitting, quilting, sewing, drawing, photography, woodworking, and home repair — focus the brain similarly to meditation. These activities increase dopamine, ward off depression, and protect against brain aging.
Listening to music can cause of release of dopamine. Oddly, you don’t even have to hear music to get this neurotransmitter flowing — just the anticipation of listening can do that.
Using Your Brain’s Reward System to Balance Dopamine
Dopamine functions as a survival mechanism by releasing energy when a great opportunity is in front of you. Dopamine rewards us when our needs are met. We love dopamine surges because of the way they make us feel. But according to Dr. Loretta Graziano Breuning, author of Meet Your Happy Chemicals: Dopamine, Endorphin, Oxytocin, Serotonin, we are not designed to experience a non-stop dopamine buzz. The constant hunt for dopamine boosts can turn you into a “Wolf on Wall Street” — driven by addictions, greed, and lust.
Here are some healthy ways to balance your dopamine by working with your brain’s built-in reward system.
Enjoy the Quest
Our ancestors were on a constant quest to survive. They got a dopamine surge every time they spotted a new patch of berries or a better fishing hole because this meant they’d live to seek another day. While you can still pick berries and fish, there are endless other healthy ways you can enjoy the quest in modern life.
You can forage for new music to download, specialty ingredients to cook with, a travel package bargain, a hard-to-find collector’s item, or that perfect gift for a loved one. You can engage in specifically quest-oriented hobbies like geocaching, bird watching, rockhounding, amateur archaeology, and collecting of all kinds.
The act of seeking and finding activates your reward circuits — with no regrets later.
Create Both Long and Short Term Goals
Dopamine is released when we achieve a goal. Having only long term goals gets frustrating, so set both short term and long term goals. Short term goals don’t have to be anything major. They can be as simple as trying a new recipe, getting caught up on emails, cleaning a closet, or finally learning how to use a new app for your phone.
Break up long term goals into small short term goals to give yourself dopamine boosts along the way.
Take on a New Challenge
Getting a promotion is a great dopamine boost, but this doesn’t happen very often! But you can create your own dopamine rewards by setting a goal, then take small steps toward it every day. This can be starting a new exercise program, learning French, or challenging yourself to drive home from work a different way every day, preferably without the use of your GPS.
According to Dr. Graziano Breuning, working on a goal without fail for 45 days will train your brain to stimulate dopamine production in a new way.
Dopamine and Mental Conditions
Dopamine plays such an important role in how we live our lives, it’s no surprise that when the dopamine system is out of balance it can contribute to many mental conditions.
Some of the most common conditions that have a dopamine connection:
Dopamine and ADHD
The underlying cause of ADHD is still unknown. Until recently it was widely accepted that the root cause of ADHD was probably an abnormality in dopamine function. This seems logical since dopamine is critical for maintaining focus. Most ADHD medications are based on this “dopamine deficiency” theory. Prescription medications used to treat ADHD are believed to work by increasing the release of dopamine and norepinephrine while slowing down their rate of reabsorption.
However, the latest research suggests that the main cause of ADHD lies in a structural difference in the grey matter in the brain and not dopamine.
Dopamine and Depression
Serotonin is the brain chemical most associated with depression. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa, and Lexapro are prescribed for depression and work by increasing brain levels of serotonin. But this only works in about 40% of patients who use them.
What about the other 60%?
There’s a growing body of evidence that shows low dopamine and not low serotonin is the cause of depression for many. Bupropion (brand name Wellbutrin) has proven effective for patients who haven’t been helped by SSRIs by addressing dopamine deficiency.
How to determine if your depression is more likely from serotonin versus dopamine deficiency? Serotonin-based depression is accompanied by anxiety and irritability, while dopamine-based depression expresses itself as lethargy and lack of enjoyment of life.
Study found postmenopausal women who ate more processed foods faced higher risk of mood disorder
WebMD News from HealthDay By Alan Mozes HealthDay Reporter
FRIDAY, Aug. 7, 2015 (HealthDay News) – Refined carbohydrates – such as those found in white bread, white rice and sodas – may harm more than the waistlines of older women. New research shows that eating too much of these highly processed foods might also raise their risk of depression.
Luckily, the opposite also appears to be true: The analysis also found that those who ate lots of whole grains, vegetables, fruits and dietary fiber appeared to see their risk for depression drop.
The study involved more than 70,000 women aged 50 to 79. The findings, the investigators said, only show an association between “refined” carbs and elevated depression risk, rather than a direct cause-and-effect relationship.
“[But] it is already well known that people who suffer from depression tend to crave carbohydrates,” said study author James Gangwisch, an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry with the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University in New York City.
So the researchers set out to look at the dynamic in reverse. The goal: to see whether consuming refined carbs – a known driver of high blood sugar levels – actually raises depression risk among women with no recent history of mental illness.
The apparent answer: Yes.
Gangwisch and his colleagues reported their findings Aug. 5 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The investigators reviewed nutrition and mental health records collected at 40 clinical centers across 24 states and the District of Columbia during the well-known Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study.
None of the women had any history of substance abuse, depression or any other form of mental illness in the three years leading up to their enrollment in the study.
The result at the end of the study: The more refined sugars a woman ate, the higher her blood sugar levels and the greater her risk for a bout of depression.
As to why, Gangwisch said that “one likely explanation is spikes and troughs in blood sugar [levels] that result from the consumption of these foods. Blood sugar that is too high induces an elevated insulin [hormonal] response that can lower blood sugar to levels that induce a hormonal counter-regulatory response.”
The result can be a rise in anxiety, irritability and hunger. Similarly, plunging blood sugar levels often translate into fatigue, he said.
Asked whether refined carbs might drive depression risk among other groups of people, Gangwisch said that he “would presume that our results could also apply to men, although I cannot say definitively.”
But Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis, cautioned that the dynamic could shift, depending on age and gender.
“The outcomes could be very different in younger women due to hormones, and of course in men,” she said. But “the important outcome to me, as a registered dietitian, is that the women who consumed diets higher in vegetables, fruits and whole grains had a lower incidence of depression. So, the question is not: do the [highly refined] foods contribute to depression? It is: do women at risk for depression simply choose these foods?”
That point was seconded by Lona Sandon, a registered dietician and assistant professor of clinical nutrition with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.
“When you feed your body and brain healthy, whole, nutrient-rich foods, you feel better,” she said. “You may feel better and have a better mood, simply because you know you are doing something good for your body,” Sandon suggested.
“What is not clear from the report is whether or not the depression or consumption of refined carbohydrates came first,” she added. “Many people make poor food choices when they are depressed or even stressed, and may reach for refined carbohydrates – like chocolate – in an attempt to improve their mood.”
Regardless, registered dietitian Penny Kris-Etherton, a professor of nutrition at Penn State University in University Park, Pa., said the current study is “part of an important piece of emerging literature.”
“People are just starting to explore the connection between nutrition and mental health,” she said. “And I think this work will add fuel to a fascinating area of study, which is certainly worthy of more investigation.”
SOURCES: James E. Gangwisch, Ph.D., assistant professor, department of psychiatry, division of experimental therapeutics, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York City; Connie Diekman, M.Ed., R.D., director, university nutrition, Washington University, St. Louis; Penny Kris-Etherton, Ph.D., R.D., registered dietitian and professor, nutrition, Penn State University, University Park, Penn.; Lona Sandon, R.D., assistant professor, clinical nutrition, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas; Aug. 5, 2015, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
If you wake up every morning and feel like “the thrill is gone,” you may have a dopamine deficiency. Dopamine is the main brain chemical responsible for making us feel motivated. Low levels of dopamine can manifest in some very disruptive ways. It can leave you feeling fatigued, apathetic, moody and unable to concentrate. Just as importantly, it plays a role in many mental disorders including depression, addiction of all kinds, Parkinson’s disease, ADHD, and schizophrenia. Understanding how dopamine affects your life is a key to taking control of this neurotransmitter — instead of letting it take control of you.
What Is Dopamine?
Dopamine is considered one of the “feel good” neurotransmitters, along with serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins. It has several distinct major functions. It’s been called the “motivation molecule” for providing the drive and focus you need to be productive. It’s also been called the “reward chemical” since it’s in charge of your brain’s pleasure-reward system. Dopamine plays a role in numerous brain functions involving mood, sleep, learning, the ability to focus and concentrate, motor control, and working memory.
What Does Dopamine Do?
Understanding dopamine’s functions is a work in progress. Over 110,000 research papers have been written about it, yet scientists are still trying to determine exactly what it does. Here are some of the known functions of dopamine: Dopamine is crucial to the feeling of motivation you need to work towards both long-term and short-term goals. It delivers a feeling of satisfaction when you’ve accomplished what you set out to do. Dopamine is released when your needs are about to be met .
Dopamine helped our ancestors survive by giving them an energy boost when presented with a great opportunity, such as locating a new source of food. You wouldn’t think we’d need to be motivated to find food, yet alarmingly, lab mice with dopamine deficiency are so unmotivated they starve to death — even when food is readily available. Our modern lifestyle doesn’t provide the same opportunities for dopamine boosts that our ancestors experienced, like hunting down dinner. But we still seek dopamine because of the way it makes us feel — alive and excited.
There are both healthy and unhealthy ways to get a dopamine lift. You can boost your dopamine watching or playing sports, learning something new, finishing a project, or landing a new account at work. Any form of accomplishment that gives you that “Yes, I did it!” feeling will increase dopamine. The unhealthy way to stimulate dopamine production is with addictive substances of all kinds.
Low Dopamine Symptoms
Dopamine deficiency sucks the zest out of life. It can leave you feeling apathetic, hopeless, and joyless. It makes it hard to start things and even harder to finish them. Common low dopamine symptoms include:
Lack of motivation
Inability to experience pleasure
Hard time getting going in the morning
Inability to focus and concentrate
Inability to connect with others
Inability to handle stress
Inability to lose weight
Dopamine Deficiency Related Disorders
When dopamine levels are out of balance, they can be an important factor in many mental health and other systemic disorders. Here are some of the most common conditions that have a dopamine deficiency connection.
Low Dopamine And Depression
Depression is usually thought of as due to a lack of serotonin, another “feel good” brain chemical. But there’s a growing body of evidence that dopamine deficiency is the underlying cause of depression for many people instead. This explains why selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) — depression medications that work by increasing serotonin — work for only 40 percent of those who use them. Bupropion (Wellbutrin) is an antidepressant that works by addressing low dopamine for those who have not been helped by SSRIs. There’s a difference in the symptoms of depression experienced by those with serotonin versus dopamine deficiency. Dopamine-based depression expresses itself as lethargy and lack of enjoyment of life, while serotonin-based depression tends to be accompanied by anxiety.
The Dopamine Addiction Connection
People low in dopamine are more prone to addictions of all kinds. People with dopamine addictions often rely on caffeine, sugar, smoking, or other stimulants to boost their energy, focus, and drive. What they are really doing is self-medicating to increase their dopamine levels. Using self-destructive behaviors to overcome dopamine deficiency can lead to addictions of all kinds — video games, shopping, gambling, sex, money, power, alcohol, and drugs.
Dopamine And Parkinson’s Disease
When dopamine-generating brain cells in one specific part of the brain die, it leads to Parkinson’s, a progressive neurodegenerative disease. Parkinson’s usually starts with a slight tremor in one hand. Patients gradually lose their ability to regulate their movements and emotions. There is no cure but so far the most effective treatment is levodopa, a natural compound that converts into dopamine.
ADHD And Dopamine
The underlying cause of ADHD is still unknown. But it is widely accepted that the root cause of ADHD is probably an abnormality in dopamine function. This seems logical since dopamine is critical for maintaining focus. Most ADHD medications are based on the “dopamine deficiency” theory. Prescription medications used to treat ADHD are believed to work by increasing the release of dopamine and norepinephrine while slowing down their rate of reabsorption.
Schizophrenia And Dopamine
The cause of schizophrenia is unknown, but genetics and environmental factors are believed to play a role. One prevailing theory is that it’s caused by an overactive dopamine system . Supporting evidence for this theory is that the best drugs to treat schizophrenia symptoms resemble dopamine and block dopamine receptors. However, these medications can take days to work, which indicates that the exact mechanism is not yet fully understood.
Dopamine Deficiency Symptoms In Fibromyalgia And Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Both fibromyalgia (FMS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) are associated with low dopamine levels. Low dopamine symptoms experienced by FMS and CFS patients include brain fog, achy muscles, poor concentration, tremors, poor balance and coordination, and walking abnormalities.
How To Increase Dopamine Levels Naturally
If you experience signs of low dopamine, you don’t have to live with it. There are several lifestyle changes that can increase dopamine naturally.
The amino acid tyrosine is a precursor of dopamine. Tyrosine-rich foods provide the basic building blocks for dopamine production. Phenylalanine is an amino acid that converts into tyrosine.
Virtually all animal products are good sources of both tyrosine and phenylalanine. Here are some other foods known to increase dopamine:
Almonds, sesame and pumpkin seeds
Apples, avocados, bananas, watermelon
Beets, green leafy vegetables, sea vegetables
Coffee and green tea
Dopamine is a serious medicine used in emergency situations like heart attacks and shock. So while actual dopamine supplements are not available, there are many dopamine boosting supplements you can try. The most obvious dopamine supplement to consider is l-tyrosine. Without it, you can’t make dopamine. Even if you think you get plenty of l-tyrosine in your diet, you may not be converting it effectively.
There are several forms of tyrosine supplements available. Dopamine used by the brain must be produced in the brain, so it’s important that any dopamine enhancing supplement you take gets into the brain. That’s why we recommend acetyl-l-tyrosine, an absorbable form that can readily cross the blood-brain barrier. Next, look into vitamin D, magnesium, and omega-3 essential fatty acids. Deficiencies of all three are extremely common, and each can contribute to dopamine deficiency. Lastly, you can look into taking a dopamine enhancing supplement. Here are some supplements proven to increase dopamine:
Mucuna pruriens (velvet bean or cowhage)
Some dopamine supplements contain phenylethylamine, the precursor of tyrosine, but we don’t recommend them. Phenylethylamine is pretty useless for increasing dopamine levels. Once it reaches your brain it has a half-life of only 30 seconds.
Activities That Boost Dopamine Levels
Any activity that makes you feel happy and relaxed increases dopamine. Physical exercise increases dopamine and other feel-good neurotransmitters and is responsible for what’s known as “runner’s high”. Get a therapeutic massage. It can boost dopamine by over 30 percent. Meditation increases dopamine. So do mind-focusing hobbies like knitting, home repair, gardening, painting, photography, or woodworking. Playing and listening to music you enjoy releases dopamine . Engage in “seeking and finding” activities. This emulates the hunt that provided our ancestors with their dopamine boosts. Take on new challenges and set small milestones. Accomplishing goals, even small ones, trains your brain to release dopamine.
Dopamine deficiency can sap the joy from life. It also plays a role in many mental health conditions, including depression and addictive behaviors. Make appropriate lifestyle changes to increase your dopamine levels.
Eat a diet high in dopamine boosting foods.
Get plenty of physical exercise.
Engage in stress-reducing activities.
Take appropriate dopamine enhancing supplements.
Deane AlbanThis article was brought to you by Deane Alban, a health information researcher, writer and teacher for over 25 years. For more helpful articles about improving your cognitive and mental health, visit BeBrainFit.com today.
By Carolanne Wright Contributing Writer for Wake Up World 6th February 2015
Stress is such a common occurrence in our daily lives that we have come to the point where we barely question its presence. And yet, when we ignore these heightened states of pressure, our physical, mental and emotional health suffers. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Taking a cue from those who are cool under fire, we can transform our daily experience into one that is productive, relaxed and actually enjoyable.
Danger signs of stress
According to the Mayo Clinic, chronic stress leads to heart disease, obesity and diabetes, as well as:
– Over or under eating
– Lack of focus
– Loss of libido
– Social withdrawal
Since stress also suppresses the immune system, we are more prone to colds and influenza along with cancer. Risk of stroke increases too. Thankfully, we can break this damaging cycle with a few lifestyle adjustments.
Find your center
Michelle Carlstrom, senior director of the Office of Work, Life and Engagement at Johns Hopkins University, observes that centering practices like meditation, prayer or focusing on the breath “help a person push pause, reflect and try to stay in that moment to reduce racing thoughts and reduce interruptions. . . . I believe any strategy that aims to do that absolutely reduces stress.” Even just a few minutes of centering each day can encourage an unruffled orientation.
Research has shown that using techniques which inspire positive mental states, such as appreciation and gratitude, reduce health destroying cortisol by 23 percent while increasing health promoting DHEA.
A study published in the journal Integrated Psychological and Behavioral Science found “DHEA was significantly and positively related to the affective state warmheartedness, whereas cortisol was significantly and positively related to stress effects … The results suggest that techniques designed to eliminate negative thought loops can have important positive effects on stress, emotions and key physiological systems.”
People who are calm get the recommended amount of sleep each night, between 7-8 hours. Many also take naps, recognizing the habit reduces cortisol and boosts productivity as well as creativity. Just make sure a midday snooze is kept under 30 minutes.
When stress hits, those who manage it well tend to spend time with family and friends. Socializing helps reduce tension and anxiety, while buffering negative effects. Calstrom recommends blowing off steam with close friends, workmates or family when life becomes too tense.
“It’s important to realize that everyone is functioning at a really fast pace but carrying a lot of stressors,” notes Carlstrom. “Pause, count to 10, and say ‘Is this something I need to tackle? How significant is this going to be in three months?’ Ask yourself questions to frame it and get perspective. Find out if this stress is real or if it’s perceived.”
Use vacation time
Besides increasing overall productivity and job satisfaction, taking a break and going on vacation can keep stress levels under control. Holiday trips have been shown to lower blood pressure, improve immunity and even extend lifespan.
By taking an email sabbatical, we can dramatically lower our level of stress. A study at the University of Irvine in California discovered a break from email significantly lowered worker’s stress and increased focus. Backing away from the computer also allows for more enjoyment of stress relieving, pleasurable activities.
Although there is no set cure for chronic fatigue syndrome, there are things you can do to help beat it.
I suffered from Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) at the age of 15, struck down by glandular fever and overtraining. Four years later, I recovered and then founded the CFS Health Centre as I felt the need to give other people with CFS the support and guidance I didn’t have. I’ve subsequently helped hundreds of patients recover from CFS.
Here are my top 10 tips to beat CFS:
1. Don’t pretend you’re fine. Accept where you’re at with your health.
This is a key component of coming to the realization that you need to make changes to your lifestyle and your health for the better. Pretending that you are fine and pushing through is not the answer your body is looking for.
2. Scale back your activities.
Depending on where you are at with your recovery, you need to modify and manage your lifestyle better. Sometimes doing less is more, especially when you are unwell. If you are working fulltime and burning out, or running every day only to be bedridden for weeks, it’s time to modify what you’re doing and take it down a notch.
3. Remember: you are what you eat.
Food is fuel, what we feed our body with is giving us the energy to function in day to day life. Without water and food we cannot survive and thrive. Keep it simple and consistent. The body loves consistency. Make sure you eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. Drink plenty of water and choose healthier food options that gives you the fuel you need to be optimal.
4. You have a choice whether to think good or bad, so pick a positive attitude.
We can make something a negative or a positive. My business teacher used to say to me attitude makes altitude. She was right. Work on changing your thought patterns from bad to good no matter the circumstances. Being a victim will only make you feel sad and leave you feeling worse for wear. Just remember there is always someone worse off then you right now.
5. Force yourself to relax.
90% of sufferers are high achievers and over doer’s. They don’t even know what rest means. I was the same, but CFS taught me the importance of rest and relaxation. Not everyone is into meditation. If you are, great, if you find it hard to sit still and be quite, try and find something to do that is calming and relaxing on your mind and body.
6. Be patient: healing takes time.
Be patient and look for the small improvements along the way. Don’t overdo it and try to change things overnight as this will only lead to failure. Be kind to yourself, be your best friend.
7. Be grateful for the things you do have in life.
I used to feel sorry for myself all the time, I remember walking down the street saying to myself why me, why do I have CFS, why can’t I run, etc. as I was in this negative thought, a man in a wheelchair went passed me, he looked up a smiled at me. I turned around to realize that the man in the wheel chair did not have arms or legs. From that day on, I wrote down 10 things I was grateful for each week. Having arms and legs became apparent.
Exercise done in the right way can be of great benefit for our physical and emotional wellbeing. Graded exercise therapy (G.E.T.) is where you perform daily exercises that are low intensity and low impact.
Everyone’s fitness levels vary and when your suffering from chronic fatigue exercise can seem impossible. Forget about hitting the gym for now or going for that long run you used to be able to do. start with something small. It could be as simple as walking one minute per day. As you feel that 1 minute is getting easy, bump it up to 2 minutes and so on.
Small, steady increments should be made to program when your health maintains, meaning you don’t feel any worse than what you did before doing the exercises. Avoid high intensity workouts as this will only lead to crashing and being bedridden, the “Push/Crash Cycle.”
9. Goal setting – SMART.
Set specific, measureable, achievable, REALISTIC goals. It might something small like drinking 8 glasses of water in a day. Or something bigger like aiming to get back to school or work within a month. Set small goals to start with and commit to them. This will give you direction and more importantly keep you focused on your priority to better health.
10. Get Support – Suffering from CFS not only affects you physically but emotionally too.
I suffered with anxiety throughout my recovery from CFS. It is okay to be sad and feel down. It is also okay to ask for help and support from family, friends or health professionals. Talking to someone about how you feel can take the weight off your shoulders. We are all human. A little bit of love and care doesn’t hurt anybody.