If you’re feeling down despite the warmer weather, you may be deficient in the brain chemical dopamine, which dips progressively as we age. Dubbed the “happy hormone,” optimal dopamine levels keep us feeling good, motivated, alert, and focused. Sunlight cues the brain to release more dopamine — but there are a few more things you can do to boost your levels. Check out these science-backed tips for raising your dopamine levels so you can feel better fast.
Get tyrosine into your diet.
Cheese and turkey are rich in tyrosine, an amino acid that’s used by the body to produce dopamine. Getting more tyrosine into your diet may increase dopamine production, which may help you feel happier and even strengthen your memory. Other foods that pack a payload of tyrosine include chicken, fish, yogurt, almonds, avocados, and sunflower seeds. Below, check out our recipe for turkey tetrazzini that has delicious tyrosine-packed ingredients, all in one pot.
One-Pot Turkey Tetrazzini
Ingredients (Serves 4):
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup diced onion
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 3 cups milk
- 12 ounces fettuccine
- 2 cups cooked, shredded turkey
- ½ cup sour cream
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Parsley sprigs
- In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat; add onion. Cook, stirring, until tender, 2–3 min.
- Add chicken stock and milk; bring to boil. Add pasta; cook until al dente, 10 min.
- Fold in shredded turkey; continue cooking until pasta is done, 4–5 min.
- Stir in sour cream, Parmesan, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper; remove from heat.
- Transfer to serving bowl; garnish with parsley sprigs.
Note: Before adding a tyrosine supplement into your routine, make sure you check with your healthcare provider, as these supplements can interact with other medications and cause unpleasant side effects.
Take a dip in a cool bath.
Findings published in the North American Journal of Medical Sciences suggest that immersing your body in cool water can increase dopamine levels; hydrotherapy can also benefit fatigue, anxiety, and help manage pain. Researchers explain that even briefly exposing skin to cold temperatures stimulates the body’s sympathetic nervous system, spurring a significant uptick in dopamine release.
Sniff some rosemary.
Inhaling rosemary’s fresh scent for 30 minutes may boosts dopamine levels, suggests an animal study published in BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies. Researchers say that rosemary’s camphor and alpha-pinene send stimulating signals to the brain that spur dopamine release. For an easy way to scent the air, simply simmer a few tablespoons of rosemary in an uncovered slow cooker with water. Or make a DIY room spray by adding 25 drops of rosemary essential oil, 4 ounces of witch hazel, and 4 ounces of distilled water to a spritz bottle, then mist the air around you.
There’s a compound called berberine that’s found in plants such as goldenseal and Indian barberry. And a study in the journal Signal Transduction and Targeted Therapy found that berberine may increase dopamine levels. Study authors say berberine increases the activity of dopa mine-producing gut bacteria. Try: Solaray Vital Extracts Berberine 500 milligrams (Buy from iHerb, $20.99 for 60 capsules).
This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.