Diet to boost “hormone of happiness” dopamine

A hormone of happiness, dopamine is a neurotransmitter that drives your brain’s reward system. If you have been praised at work by your boss, or listened to music you love, or had a session in your favourite gym, you experienced that delicious feeling of everlasting joy. It is the feeling of pure satisfaction and growing confidence in your own capabilities, the feeling that makes you happy. It is dopamine’s job. But there is one more way to increase the dopamine level in your blood – food. Your diet can get you the same ecstatic effect

Synthesized in the brain and kidneys, dopamine plays several important roles in the body. In the brain, dopamine functions as a neurotransmitter – a chemical released by neurons (nerve cells) to send signals to other nerve cells.

Dopamine can be synthesized indirectly from the essential amino acid phenylalanine or directly from the non-essential amino acid tyrosine. The metabolic pathway is:

L-Phenylalanine → L-Tyrosine → Dopamine

These amino acids (especially tyrosine) are found in nearly every protein and so are readily available in food. There are some foods that have dopamine naturally, but it is incapable of crossing the blood–brain barrier and must be synthesized inside the brain

A recommended daily intake for phenylalanine and tyrosine is 25mg per kilogram of body weight: this is 1750mg (phenylalanine + tyrosine) for a 70 kg person.

Good sources of phenylalanine are eggs, chicken, liver, beef, milk, and soybeans. Other sources include spinach and leafy greens, tofu, amaranth leaves, and lupine seeds. Many high-protein foods such as chicken, turkey, fish, milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, cheese, peanuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, soy products, avocados, and bananas are rich in tyrosine.

Foods rich in tyrosine

Below is a list of 14 foods highest in tyrosine which is presented as amount of milligrams per 100 grams of food with the percentage of recommended daily intake Daily Value – % DV

1. Cheese

Parmesan, for instance, contains 1995mg of tyrosine per 100g (228% DV). Eating cheese can provide you with the amino acid tyrosine, which helps create dopamine. As an alternative to standard types of cheese, many people like to eat cottage cheese because it has lower fat.

2. Meat

Lamb and beef contain 1386mg of tyrosine per 100g (158% DV), and lean pork chops – 1228mg and 140%, respectively.

3. Fish

A 100g serving of salmon contains 1157mg of tyrosine (132% DV). Omega 3 fats also may be linked to dopamine production.

4. Chicken and Turkey

A 100g serving of chicken or turkey contains 1155mg of tyrosine (132% DV).

5. Eggs

One egg has 250mg of tyrosine (30% DV).

6. Soy

Soy and its product contains on average 1497mg of tyrosine per 100g (171% DV)

7. Beans and lentils

274mg of tyrosine per 100g or (31% DV) have been found in beans and lentils.

8. Whole grains

Raw oats, brown rice, millet, bulgur, quinoa, and pearled barley contain about 160mg of tyrosine per 100g which is about 20% of daily intake.

9. Spirulina

This seaweed is rich in tyrosine

10. Red beets

Red beets deserve your special attention. They contain “betaine” which has been suggested to regulate levels of neurotransmitters that improve your mood. Beets also contain tyrosine, so they are a double whammy of raising dopamine.

11. Apples

Apples contain quercetin, to prevent degeneration of neurons and boost dopamine.

12. Bananas

Bananas include the amino acid tyrosine, which boosts dopamine. If you eat ripe bananas, you may be getting more tyrosine. Some sources have suggested that the “riper” the banana, the greater the tyrosine contents.

13. Berries

Strawberries and blueberries include tyrosine, like bananas

14. Green Tea

Green tea contains polyphenols, good for brain and heart function, as well as dopamine production

Even if your natural tendency is to be more down than up, your diet can help you experience a brighter and happier life.

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