How to trigger dopamine?

In this post we are going to answer the question ‘’How to trigger dopamine?’’ We will show you the most effective natural ways to increase dopamine levels in your brain.

How to trigger dopamine?

Ways to increase dopamine levels:

  • Exercise.
  • Increase omega-3 intake.
  • Sleep well.
  • Meditate.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is synthesized, among many other places, in our brain. Traditionally, it has been named after the “happiness particle” or the “happiness neurotransmitter.”

The reason is that serotonin is the main one in charge of regulating our mood. This neurotransmitter, which also plays a fundamental role in the regulation of our intestinal function, has the ability to carry out the chemical reactions necessary to increase our feeling of well-being and satisfaction.

In the same way, serotonin can help us better cope with the stress and tension of day to day. However, when stress levels are considerably high, it tends to go down. So we run the risk of experiencing a certain emotional instability.

In addition, the serotonin deficit, together with a whole set of external and internal factors, can facilitate the appearance and development of any type of depressive disorder. The reason is that when our body stops synthesizing it, for reasons of stress, due to deficiencies in our diet, etc., we are less able to control the ups and downs in our mood.

This neurotransmitter of happiness is synthesized in our body thanks to the action of tryptophan. This molecule is an essential amino acid vital for the proper functioning of our brain.

Fortunately, tryptophan is found in a wide variety of foods, so consuming these, along with a healthy lifestyle, can help us increase serotonin levels and, consequently, feel much better.

Dopamine: the neurotransmitter of pleasure… among other things

Dopamine, whose chemical formula is C6H3 (OH) 2-CH2-CH2-NH2, is frequently mentioned as the cause of the pleasant sensations and the sensation of relaxation.

However, with dopamine and the rest of neurotransmitters something happens, that prevents these substances from being related to a very specific function: they influence to a greater or lesser extent the entire functioning of the brain in general, in all emotional, cognitive and vital that is carried out at that time.

This means that when dopamine or any other neurotransmitter is linked to specific emotional states or mental processes, this is because the appearance of the latter is related to an increase in the level of certain neurotransmitters in some areas of the brain linked to that state or process in question.

In the case of dopamine, among its functions, we also find the coordination of certain muscle movements, the regulation of memory, the cognitive processes associated with learning, and it has even been seen to play an important role in decision-making.

How to increase the amount of dopamine in the brain?

As mentioned previously, there are ways to increase the levels of dopamine in our body. Although there are man-made ways to keep our serotonin levels high, there are many other natural – and much more satisfying – ways to raise it.

Next we will see a series of recommendations or tricks that we can carry out when we feel that our mood is not very positive.

1. Try to lower stress levels

As specified at the beginning of the article, serotonin can help us better deal with stress. However, when levels of this are excessive, it is the stress that exerts a damaging influence on serotonin.

Constant stress decreases serotonin and increases our levels of estradiol in the blood, the stress hormone, decreasing our defences and worsening our physical and psychological health.

In addition, another of the effects of stress is related to food, the main pillar for the correct synthesis and maintenance of serotonin levels. When we feel stressed, our bodies ask us for foods rich in fats, carbohydrates and sugars; three of the main enemies of serotonin.

Therefore, it is not necessary to wait until we feel down to start worrying about our stress and our diet, but it is best to maintain a healthy lifestyle that helps us avoid, or at least counteract, this decline

2. A varied diet rich in tryptophan

It is necessary to insist on the importance of achieving a nutritionally varied and balanced diet. Most foods contain tryptophan. However, there are a number of them that are distinguished by having a high content of this amino acid. These are:

  • Turkey and chicken meat.
  • Blue Fish.
  • Dairy products.
  • Pineapple, avocados and plums.
  • Spinach, beets, carrots, celery, dates, and broccoli.
  • Nuts (which also provide magnesium and omega-3).
  • Whole grains and brown rice.
  • Sesame and pumpkin seeds.
  • Legumes such as chickpeas, lentils or soybeans.
  • Dark chocolate.
  • Spirulina.

Therefore, a healthy diet that contains these foods on a daily basis will help us to satisfy our needs for tryptophan and, therefore, to keep our levels of serotonin high.

3. Avoid eating simple carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates are highly refined sugars that are digested very quickly and have little nutritional value since they do not contain enough essential nutrients.

Foods that contain simple carbohydrates include:

  • Pastries and sweets with refined sugar.
  • Non-integral pasta.
  • White rice.
  • White bread.

4. Increase omega-3 intake

In addition to tryptophan, there are many other elements present in food that can help us increase our serotonin levels. A diet rich in fatty acids, such as omega-3, favors the production and regulation of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and adrenaline.

One of the main sources of healthy fats is oily fish and shellfish. However, there are other foods such as avocado, walnuts and flax, chia and hemp seeds, foods rich in alpha-linolenic acid.

5. Avoid drinking coffee and stimulating drinks

Drinks with a high caffeine content, such as coffee or some types of soda or energy drinks, increase the secretion of adrenaline and cortisol; substances that, as we have seen before, are the main antagonists of serotonin.

In addition, these drinks are also characterized by their high sugar content, which makes them extremely exciting foods with very little nutritional value.

6. Physical exercise

It is well known that physical exercise facilitates the metabolism of serotonin and therefore increases its levels.

For this reason, doing physical activities regularly can help us keep our serotonin levels high, since it also increases our tryptophan levels.

7. Find places with sun and lots of light

Another compound that has a powerful effect on the production of serotonin is vitamin D. In addition to food, this vitamin D increases with exposure to sunlight. These sun rays are a very important help to get vitamin D, since it is synthesized in the skin from its rays.

In this way, working in bright spaces, exercising outdoors or taking a walk in nature will be perfect allies when we feel emotionally well and stable.

8. Sleep the necessary hours

Lack of sleep is another of the main enemies in our fight against stress and fatigue. While we sleep, our body restores our serotonin levels, so adequate rest will also be essential when it comes to keeping our mental health intact.

9. Let’s try to avoid addictive behaviors

At the brain level and specifically with regard to dopamine, addictions provoke a paradoxical response, because although in the short term the satisfaction of an addictive behavior releases the neurochemical reaction of the reward (which involves the pleasure of dopamine).

This study showed that in the medium and long term, addictive behaviors negatively impact dopamine levels and effectiveness, making it, so to speak, “less sustainable”, as if we were depleting the resource.

In addition to obvious addictions such as alcoholism or gambling, this can also be observed in a very everyday fact: our fascination for social networks, in whose activity dopamine is also involved but in this very unhelpful way.

10. Let’s try to make lists and accomplish small tasks

Unlike the previous point, there is a form of daily and minimal reward that does generate a positive effect on our dopamine levels: achieving small achievements throughout our day.

Few things are as frustrating, indeed, as realizing that we forget to comply with a pending or that these accumulate in a cumbersome way on our routine. Do not allow it and, rather, realize that with a little organization you can complete your tasks.

11. Dedicate ourselves to something

We use this verb thinking above all about its noun: dedication. When we dedicate ourselves to a specific project that involves our creativity, enthusiasm and our interest, we are also cultivating our dopamine, nurturing it.

We are going to give a special tour of the place where we live, let’s practice gardening, write, take photos…

12. Listen to music, lots of music

Several studies in contemporary neuroscience have revealed the close relationship between music and dopamine. The music that our brain receives with pleasure is almost immediately transformed into pure dopamine.

13. To meditate

Another activity intimately and profitably linked to the human brain is meditation, which in the West has had a boom that has barely been counted in decades but has been practiced in the East for centuries.

Regarding dopamine, meditation helps, above all, to sweep away the mental processes – fear, tension, worry, sadness, resentment – that prevent its free and continuous flow.

14. Take some natural supplements

Also from the East and its antiquity, we have good wisdom regarding certain natural supplements that contribute to the feeling of well-being and, neurochemically, to the generation of dopamine. 

Roots such as turmeric and ginkgo biloba have long been associated with purifying the mind, as well as certain active ingredients in green tea (especially L-theanine).

Dopamine is in a way a metaphor. Of what? Of well-being. If you entered to read this note, it is surely because your wish is simple: to be well. If you really want it, the path necessarily goes through detoxification in all areas of our lives.

Do we eat industrialized food or as natural as possible? Do we exercise? What is the quality of our personal relationships? Do we do things that we like..?

FAQS: How to trigger dopamine?

How can I get dopamine fast?

You’re expected to abstain from the kinds of things you usually enjoy doing during a “dopamine fast,” such as alcohol, sex, drugs, gaming, talking to others, going online and, in some extremes, enjoyable eating.

What foods trigger dopamine?

We can find it in foods in the form of levodopa, such as: legumes, lima beans, banana, tomatoes or green beans. In addition, our body is also capable of making dopamine from tyrosine, which is present in meat, fish or eggs.

What are the side effects of too much dopamine?

An excess of this hormone can lead to mania, hallucinations or schizophrenia.

What does low dopamine feel like?

How can we tell if our dopamine levels are low.

  • Lack of general interest.
  • Lack of motivation.
  • Procrastination (delaying activities that need to be done)
  • Difficulty feeling pleasure.
  • Altered sleep patterns.
  • Restless leg syndrome.
  • Fatigue.
  • Sadness.

How do you detox from dopamine?

It consists of depriving yourself of everything that generates pleasure in the day to day to have a “dopamine detoxification” and allow the brain to be more productive.

In this post we answered the question ‘’How to trigger dopamine?’’ We have shown you the most effective natural ways to increase dopamine levels in your brain.

If you have any questions or comments please let us know!


Kalat, J. W. (2015). Biological psychology. Nelson Education.

Wise, R. A. (2004). Dopamine, learning and motivation. Nature reviews neuroscience, 5(6), 483-494.