The brain has over 100 chemicals that are used to send and receive messages to and from the body to help us do everything from running to sleeping.
People and supplement creators do, however, mostly focus on five brain chemicals and refer to these as ‘good chemicals’ since boosting these chemicals can improve your mood, enhance your focus and memory, and boost your overall health.
In this guide, we are going to take a closer look at the five good brain chemicals that you might want to boost for improved well-being and a happier life.
What are the 5 Brain Chemicals?
Boosting the right chemicals in your brain can make a huge difference in your life, especially if you have a chemical deficiency or if you suffer from a mental disorder like depression, ADHD, anxiety, PTSD, or something similar. Lots of people indulge in nootropics and supplements that alter brain chemicals so they can feel better or increase their performance and productivity levels.
Here is a quick look at five important brain chemicals that you can alter for optimal health, better productivity, and mood.
Dopamineis a chemical that serves many functions and it is often referred to as the “feel-good” neurotransmitter. This neurotransmitter has an effect on our behavior, emotion, and cognition. The chemical also communicates with the frontal lobe in the brain and allows us to feel pleasure.
The neurotransmitter is involved in the following main body functions:
- Blood circulation
- Executive functioning
- Heart and kidney function
- Memory and focus
- Mood and emotion
- Motor control
- Pain processing
- Pancreatic functioning
- Stress response
- Reward-seeking behavior
How to Boost Dopamine Naturally
There are quite a few ways to boost your natural dopamine production including some that can affect your mind negatively.
This neurotransmitter is often secreted when we are rewarded or when we receive things we want. The craving for dopamine, or that feeling of pleasure, often results in addictive behaviors.
You get a dose of dopamine when you play that TV game you have been thinking about, enjoy an alcoholic beverage that you have been craving, or indulge in a delicious slice of cake. This is why people tend to repeat certain activities or habits over and over again even though these habits might not be good for them.
This neurotransmitter can also be used for being more productive because dopamine cravings can be a terrific motivational tool to help you accomplish goals. Consider healthy ways to stimulate the reward centers in your brain.
You could, for example, reward yourself with a walk after completing a task. Or reward yourself with a lavish hot bath if you have been particularly productive that day. These reward systems could encourage you to work harder to accomplish your goals.
Alternative Methods for Boosting Dopamine
Dopamine production can also be boosted by taking certain supplements. Here is a quick look at the main supplements to take if you want to boost your mind’s ability to produce dopamine, so you can feel heightened sensations of pleasure when you receive rewards.
- Amino acids
- Ginkgo Biloba
Serotoninplays a huge role in your mind and body. This hormone affects the communication between brain cells and helps with sleeping, eating, digestion, and mood. High levels of serotonin can make you feel calm, confident, and patient. But when your serotonin levels are low, it can result in excessive nerve cell activity which can lead to symptoms of depression, anxiety and bone health issues.
How to Boost Serotonin Production Naturally
One of the best ways to get more serotonin is by spending more time in the sun. Because your skin synthesizes serotonin, the hormone production is naturally enhanced when you spend more time outside. To boost your serotonin levels, you should try to spend at the very least 10-15 minutes per day outside in direct sunshine. A therapy lamp can also be helpful if you work long hours or live in a dark and cloudy region with limited sunshine.
Alternative Methods for Boosting Serotonin Levels
Serotonin production can also be enhanced by eating the right foods. It is best to focus on foods that are high in protein, iron, riboflavin and vitamin B6 because these foods offer large quantities of tryptophan amino acids that boost serotonin production.
Here is a quick look at foods that contain ingredients that will boost serotonin production:
- Nuts and seeds
You can also increase your serotonin levels by taking certain supplements. Here is a quick look at common supplements that can enhance your body’s ability to produce serotonin:
- St. John’s Wort
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan)
- SAMe (S-adenosyl-L-methionine)
Glutamate and GABA
Glutamate is the most common excitatory neurotransmitter and is found throughout your brain and spinal cord. Glutamate is important for all sorts of functions. These chemical messengers assist in early human brain development, cognition, learning, and memory. This is why so many smart drugs are focused on glutamate.
When glutamate levels are too low in children, it can result in learning disabilities as well as delays in physical development.
But with glutamate supplements or stimulants, you do need to be careful. When glutamate levels are too high, it creates an imbalance that can make it hard to concentrate, causes hyperalgesia, anxiety, restlessness and ADHD-like symptoms (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).
This is whereGABAcomes in. GABA (gamma-amino-n-butyric acid / gamma-aminobutyric acid) is used to calm your brain down. This chemical is helpful for improving sleep patterns, relaxation, anxiety regulation, calmness without causing drowsiness, focus, and muscle function.
How to Boost Glutamate Naturally
There is no supplement for glutamate on the market at the moment. The best way to boost glutamate is by focusing on a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Lifestyle changes like exercise can help boost your body’s natural ability to produce glutamate. A2016 Glutamate study done on 40 individuals indicated that exercising for 20 minutes boosted glutamate levels in most adults.
Eating certain foods can also naturally boost glutamate production. Here is a quick look at foods that can boost glutamate production:
- Many vegetable types
How to Boost GABA Naturally
Glutamate deficiencies are pretty rare but a lot of people struggle with excessive glutamate production. This can be balanced out by increasing your GABA levels.
There are quite a few different ways to boost your brain’s GABA production. To boost this calming chemical, you can try the following natural remedies:
- Meditation and yoga: These workouts are scientifically proven to calm your nerves and might increase GABA production.
- Regular exercise: Regular aerobic exercise promotes blood circulation which can assist in GABA signaling in the human brain.
- Eat the right foods: Choosing the right food is a great and easy way to support GABA production.
- Consume certain herbs: Some herbs act as GABA activators and can gently increase your GABA production. You can focus on herbs like Kava, Ashwagandha, Valerian, Passionflower and Lemon balm.
Here is a quick look at the best foods to eat to increase GABA levels:
- Aged, cured, and preserved foods like cheeses and meats
- Slow-cooked meats and poultry
- Bone broths
- Protein products like eggs, meat, fish, shellfish
- Vegetables like tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts, seaweed, potatoes, and more
- Fruits like berries and bananas
- Green, black, and oolong teas
Other Ways to Boost GABA Production
GABA can be consumed in the amino acid form via dietary supplements. These supplements have been shown to be tremendously effective for easing anxious feelings and for promoting sleep. It also has a soothing effect on your nervous system and can also boost concentration.
For optimal results, you can look out for GABA supplements. There are a great many popular brand names that supply GABA dietary supplements including NOW supplements, Horbaach, Amazing Formulas Pharma, Serene Sciences, and many others.
Norepinephrineis also called noradrenaline and is produced by your adrenal glands. This is the main neurotransmitter for the sympathetic nervous system and is responsible for transmitting signals across all nerve endings in your body.
Noradrenaline is associated with your fight-or-flight mechanism as well as other physical actions. This chemical affects your heart rate and blood pressure levels.
When your norepinephrine levels are low, you tend to feel sleepy and lethargic with a lack of concentration. Low norepinephrine levels are also associated with symptoms of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance abuse.
But when these levels are boosted too much, you can experience euphoria, your thoughts can run away with you and your muscles can become twitchy. You can also struggle with nervous hands and limbs, and your feet will tend to go cold while your blood pressure levels climb too high.
How to Naturally Increase Norepinephrine
There are quite a few ways to naturally increase norepinephrine in your body. It is also good to focus on increasing your serotonin levels because these two brain chemicals work together and have a very similar effect on the body.
By boosting norepinephrine, you will feel more alert and full of energy, while boosting serotonin can enhance your mood.
Here is a quick look at the best ways to boost norepinephrine production:
- Adequate sleep
- Focussing on small accomplishments
- Listening to music
- Eating dopamine rich foods like chocolate
- Adapted cold showers or cold water therapy
Other Ways to Increase Norepinephrine
Norepinephrine is often an active ingredient in anti-depressant medication. If you struggle with a bad mood, depressive feelings, and low energy levels then it might be best to book an appointment with your doctor so you can get prescription medication that contains norepinephrine.
The right supplements can also boost your norepinephrine production. Here is a quick look at the best supplements to raise your norepinephrine levels:
- Pantothenic acid
- Vitamin C
Oxytocinis more commonly referred to as the “cuddle hormone.” This hormone is produced or stimulated when you bond socially.
Oxytocin was first recognized when medical professionals realized its significance during childbirth and breastfeeding. The release of this hormone triggers a bond between infants and parents.
Oxytocin is also produced during sexual intimacy, when we bond emotionally with friends and family, when we enjoy physical contact like hugs, or when we play with pets like cats and dogs.
This cuddle hormone offers a great many benefits. The hormone reduces anxiety, builds trust, improves your mood, builds stronger connections, and is important for other social advancements.
Natural Ways to Boost Oxytocin Production
There are lots of different ways to stimulate this happy hormone in your body. Here is a quick look at the top natural remedies to boost oxytocin production:
- Listening to music
- Getting a massage
- Spending time with friends
- Have intercourse
- Cuddle or hug loved ones
- Do something nice for someone else
- Play with or pet your domestic animals
- Go for a walk in the sun
Other Ways to Boost Oxytocin Production
If you have a tough time feeling emotional connections, or getting that happy feeling from petting animals, enjoying yoga or meditation, or spending time with loved ones then your body might have a tough time producing oxytocin.
A healthy diet can boost your ability to produce oxytocin. Here is a quick look at some foods or supplements that you can consume to boost your oxytocin production:
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin C
- Dietary fat
We hope that you found this guide useful and that you now know what are the 5 brain chemicals to boost for achieving a healthy mind. If you want to learn more about other supplements that can boost your brain health, memory and concentration, then you should have a look at some of the other guides we have onPromindBuild.
Our site is focused on products that promote mental well-being so you can take good care of your mental health and live the best life you can possibly live.