• Affects Limbic system: reward, pleasure, motivation
  • Protects against autoimmunity: works with immune system and thyroid in particular
  • Affects Thyroid and regulates heart rate and blood pressure
  • Affects adrenal function, kidneys and T-cells
  • Affects Brain Power, Motor co-ordination, Cognition and learning
  • Dopamine dampens glutamate activity leading to enhanced memory and learning
Food habits and Weight Management
  • Controls metabolism – when metabolism is low, fat burning is low and fat accumulation is increased; low metabolism also leads to unconscious attempts to increase energy via use of stimulants and high energy yielding foods
  • Controls motivation via limbic reward – low dopamine leads to loss of emotional or physical satiation and continued uncontrolled eating and food cravings in search of dopamine reward
  • Low dopamine leads to
    • not feeling happy
    • not recognising fullness / satiation with food
    • small snacks or meals not being sufficient
    • feelings of hunger after a meal
Hormonal interactions
  • Progesterone receptors modulated by Dopamine
  • Dopamine interacts with Growth Hormone, Testosterone, Cortisol and DHEA and Dopamine is involved in TSH release
  • Dopamine receptor sensitivity determined by Thyroid hormones which also determine dopamine levels
    • eg low TSH, T4, T3 leads to low dopamine and low receptor sensitivity
    • think of conditioned sensitivity
    • note that excess dopamine leads to receptor burnout and desensitisation
  • Thyroid connection
    • T3 needed to convert amino acid tyrosine to dopamine in brain – low thyroid leads to low T3, low dopamine and also low serotonin
    • Chronic stress can cause downregulation of thyroid hormones and metabolism
      • Both effect blood sugar and energy levels, thus hypothyroidism can be protective against excess cortisol
      • Cortisol can become depleted during chronic stress and cortisol is needed to produce thyroid T3 and T4
    • Low thyroid may be caused by diet
      • Low calorie intake places body in starvation mode, whereby metabolism is downregulated; equally low protein intake can downregulate metabolism
      • Iodine deficiency or excess
      • Anti-thyroid nutrients
        • Gluten foods such as wheat, barley, rye, oats are both allergenic and can cause bloating as well as hyperinsulemic reactions that lead to sleepiness
        • Soy foods – suppress thyroid function (see this study)
        • Cruciferous vegetables – cauliflower, cabbage, collards, broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale, turnips, rutabagas
  • Loss of power and symmetry impacts energy and drive, causing weight gain, fatigue and diminished libido
  • Depression and lack of motivation
  • Inability to experience pleasure, social anxiety and low sexual desire
  • Learning disorders, ADD, Addictions
  • Parkinson’s
  • Psychosis and schizophrenia
  • Mania, hypersocial and increased libido
Symptoms of deficiency
  • Feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness
  • Inability to handle stress, anger and aggression whilst under stress, easy loss of temper
  • Inability to finish tasks, disorganised and late for appointments
  • Lack of focus, easily distracted
  • Desire to isolate socially and lack of concern for family and friends
  • Need to consume caffeine to be alert
  • Low libido
Causes of deficiency
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Low stomach acid: leading to low methyl donors
  • Antacids (inhibit stomach HCL) , Oral contraceptives, Hormone Relacement Therapy
  • H. Pylori
  • Low protein in diet
Food modulators
  • Insulin surges connected with high carb meals lead to aminos being uptaken by muscles and not brain
  • Soy consumption inhibits conversion of key amino acid tyrosine into dopamine (see this study)
  • Diets low in protein and low in carbohydrates lead to protein being used for energy or by muscle for repairs, thus leading to deprivation of aminos available for dopamine
  • Protein rich meals: Game meat, Beef, Pork, Turkey; Fish; Eggs, Cheese
  • Oats and Chocolate increase dopamine
Herb and supplement modulators
  • L-Dopa – extract from the Mucuna pruriens bean
  • Blueberry extract
  • Phenylethyamine (PEA), DL-Phenylanine
  • Vit B6, N-Acetyl Cysteine, Alpha Lipoic Acid
  • Amino acid L-Tyrosine which:
    • can restore adrenal ability to withstand stress
    • can provide anti-depressant and stress protective powers
    • acts as the primary component in pleasure promoting enkephalins, and also in making thyroid T3 and T4
    • can be used to replace coffee first thing in day
    • Note that excess L-Tyrosine can cause jitters and raise blood pressure

Additional resources

Adapted from:

Braverman, E. (2009). Younger (Thinner) You Diet. New York, N.Y.:Rodale.

Kharrazian, D. (2013). Why Isn’t My Brain Working? Carlsbad, C.A.: Elephant Press

Ross, J. (2002). The Mood Cure. New York, N.Y.: Penguin

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