The Dopamine Diet
I have a pretty meat-y post for ya here! This one is all about a new theory on over-eating, which is quite interesting. Food can truly be addictive.
Eat to live, or live to eat. In today’s world, many of people do the later of the two. 1 in 5 of today’s adults are overweight with 1/3 of them being obese. The abundance of fast food containing lots of fat, sugar and calories has led to an adaptation of a faulty sense of energy needs; we think we need more than we do! This is because these “pleasure-foods” (such as refined carbohydrates, oil, and diets sodas for instance) give us a feel-good mood boost and leave us wanting more.
DOPAMINE: Dopamine is a neurotransmitter involved with the pleasure center of our brain which is released in high amounts during gratifying activities. Dopamine has many roles in our body such as….
- Control of movements
- Brain power
Too little dopamine leave you craving food, sex or stimulation. Too much dopamine leads to addictive behaviors.
When dopamine is too low people tend to over-eat. This is because it is used in telling your body when to stop eating.
How do dopamine levels get low? When we eat addictive stimulants (think chocolate, caffeine, sugar and cigarettes)
our levels of this particular neurotransmitter get messed up. Chronic dopamine surges actually cause a LOSS of dopamine activity and receptors in charge of satiety decrease their activity, leading to you needing more and more to sustain that feeling of pleasure. Some people also have a genetic predisposition to low-dopamine levels. You can get your levels tested during a simple urine analysis.
If the damage is done and your dopamine levels happen to be on the low side there are ways to reactivate the inactive receptors. A way to do this is by increasing the intake of foods that are high in the amino acid tyrosine. (Tyrosine is a building-block of dopamine) As receptors reactivate you will get and increased pleasure from smaller amounts of food (pretty cool, huh?)
Foods high in tyrosine include
- Ricotta cheese
- Dark chocolate
- Wheat Germ
Studies have shown that Omega-3’s can also have an effect on dopamine. FUN FACT: the brain is 60% fat! Eating a diet rich in these healthy omega-3’s will help support your brain’s electrical signal pathways (which in-turn keeps dopamine receptors happy and healthy)
Here are a couple recipes that provide tons of tyrosine to whip those dopamine receptors back into shape!
- 1 cup ricotta
- 1 tbsp honey
- Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
Mix all ingredients until well combined. Enjoy on toast or apple slices.
Wheat-Germ Oatmeal (of course an oatmeal recipe… I think I need to go to oatmeal-addicts anonymous)
- 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 cup wheat germ
- Fresh berries for topping
Bring 2 cups of water and the salt to a boil. Stir in the oats and cook on medium-low heat for about 10 to 20 minutes, depending on desired consistency. Stir in the wheat germ, cover the pot and let it stand for a few minutes before serving.