Taking L-tyrosine for 4-6 weeks should reach full effectiveness to cut cravings. You’ll notice that you are not reaching for that bag of potato chips anymore, and you won’t be craving and visualizing every snack and meal throughout your day.
L-tyrosine is widely available at health food stores or vitamin stores at only about $15-20 per bottle.
While increasing intake of foods rich in the amino acid L-tyrosine as well as supplementing with L-tyrosine itself can up-regulate dopamine production in the brain, there are still other dietary factors that can also influence dopamine levels. The omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood have a significant effect on dopamine levels so they too become part of The Dopamine Diet.
One of the notable features of brain and nerve cells is the high percentage of the omega-3 fat DHA. In fact, the brain is comprised of 60% fat with DHA being the most prevalent. Because of DHA’s unique structure, it can bend and change shape rapidly. This “flip flop” action of DHA occurs up to a billion times per second in brain cells which facilitate the rapid transfer of electrical signals which, in turn, become our thoughts and emotions.
Poor electrical transmission in brain cells has a direct effect on dopamine production. In fact, virtually all disorders of the brain, including dopamine-related disorders, are associated with reduced levels of DHA in brain tissue. Supporting the brain’s electrical signals is just one way DHA boosts dopamine. DHA also boosts dopamine levels by reducing the production of the enzyme that breaks down dopamine. More recently, scientists have discovered that DHA is converted to a compound called neuroprotectin D-1 which protects brain and nerve cells from stress and toxins. Neurprotectin D-1 helps maintain the integrity of the dopamine-producing cells as well as the receptor cells. Omega-3 supplementation trials have shown up to a 40% increase in dopamine!
Dietary sources of DHA come almost exclusively from seafood. While fish and fish oil are the most common sources of DHA, one of the richest natural sources of DHA is squid. As an interesting side note, squid ink – also used in some exotic foods – is very high in dopamine! Most places around the world enjoy squid in the form of calamari (squid tentacles and mantle), but unfortunately this part of the squid is low in fat and therefore low in DHA. Some cultures, primarily in Asia, consume the entire squid and reap the benefits of its rich DHA content. While most of us are not brave enough to consume squid eyes and viscera, you can get the same DHA goodness from a squid oil supplement, which is becoming more and more common on the shelves of health food stores. As part of my Dopamine Diet protocol, I encourage the consumption of 1-2 tsp of squid oil daily. Surprisingly, some brands of squid oil actually taste very good and can be easily mixed with food.
As a bonus, here’s one of my favorite dopamine-boosting recipes:
Fava Bean Dopamine Delights
Makes 12 crostini
12 brown rice crackers
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup fava beans, shelled
1/2 small Spanish onion
1 organic garlic clove
1 tbsp finely diced red pepper
10 black olives (pitted)
6 sprigs tarragon, leaves only
Cook the fava beans in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Purée the beans in a food processor with the onion, garlic, olives, the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil, and the tarragon leaves. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Just before serving, spread the fava bean paste onto the rice crackers. Garnish with the diced red pepper and a sprinkling of black pepper.