A few weeks ago I was on a facebook live cast, and one of my buddies from Precision Nutrition chimed in while I had asked the crowd for additional resources on how our nutrition can enhance dopamine levels in our brain. The discussion was a tie into my journey into the world of active recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, and there were a number of people on that cast that were curious as to how to rehab their own brain chemistry based on what they are eating.
Welcome to a fairly nerdy post, and more on this post will be developing when the fabulous Holly Monster from Precision Nutrition gets back to me on all the food research surrounding this topic. :-p
Ok! So. . .what the hell is Dopamine and why is it so important from a health perspective?
The Dopamine is Dope!
A quick run down on this fun little neurotransmitter comes straight from psychology today. “Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain‘s reward and pleasure centers. Dopamine also helps regulate movement and emotional responses, and it enables us not only to see rewards, but to take action to move toward them. Dopamine deficiency results in Parkinson’s Disease, and people with low dopamine activity may be more prone to addiction. The presence of a certain kind of dopamine receptor is also associated with sensation-seeking people, more commonly known as “risk takers.”
ok ok ok! So with a description like that, it can be easy to see why those of us with a previous drug/alcohol addiction have had issues with mood stabilization and impulsive behavior. Literally, we have spiked and plummeted our dopamine levels over and over and over again with repeated exposure and active use of substances, which ultimately leads to relapse, active addiction, and not to mention some wild and crazy behavior. For more on that discussion, click this link.
So. . .what’s this got to do with FOOD?
Food and Your Brain- Boosting Dopamine Naturally (#wedorecover)
We all know that eating healthy results in a TON of healthy energy and a strong body, but if we dig a little deeper, we can see that by changing our eating habits can actually enhance our overall brain chemistry. this is super important for those of us who have suffered from everything under the sun such as anxiety and depression, not to mention a very unique way to start correcting damage done by drugs and alcohol. In fact, my Paleo Niche may be happy to hear that Dr. Lorain Cordain has already written the book and an incredible article on dopamine and nutrition. You can read that all here.
My personal recommendation today is to keep things simple, and get yourself educated on eating a whole food based diet. You can begin by reading up with a number of books I have listed below. When beginning a new dietary habit, make sure that you ssslllooowwwllly incorporate new foods into your diet. If you have been abusing a lot of sugary foods, caffeine and (for lack of a better term) junk, start by blocking out one healthy meal a day and increase that to 2 per day over the course of a few weeks. Within a month, you’ll be eating a whole food diet in no time (hmmm. . .I need to get back into my shopping article . NEXT WEEK FOR SURE!)
Ready to boost your brain and body? Here is a list of the 6 top foods that can boost your dopamine levels (AND CHOCOLATE IS ONE OF THEM! YAS!) For a more comprehensive reading on this subject, here are my top three favorite books on whole food based diets. Recipes in two of them are included. HUZZAH!
That it for today folks! EAT UP! Food is restorative, no matter how far down the rabbit whole you may have been with poor habits before. You can do the thing, so do it! You’re worth it!
Let NOTHING stand in your way!