Feeding Happiness│Serotonin & Dopamine Diets: How They Promote Mental Health & Well-Being

Learn about the powerful effects of serotonin & dopamine & how to get more into you diet.



What is Serotonin and Dopamine?

Dopamine and serotonin are neurotransmitters, or ‘chemical messengers’ found in our brains which play a vital role in our mental health.


These roles, including their effects on emotional well-being, are also present in metabolism as well as sleep and memory.


When these chemicals are imbalanced in your body, profound effects can also be seen in the mind. When a deficit in these “happy hormones” is present, issues including low-moods can be noticed in the short-term, and in long-term issues such as depression can manifest.


So, what is dopamine and where can I find it?

Dopamine is a chemical released by neurons in the brain. It aids in the control of the pleasure-reward system of the brain. This system effects your motivations, desires, and cravings. Dopamine is used in our bodies to create norepinephrine and epinephrine, your feel-good hormones.


Foods that contain high amounts of dopamine include:

Dairy products: Milk, cheeses, yogurts.

Unprocessed meats: Chicken, turkey, and beef.

Vegetables: Red beets, avocado, and artichokes.

Fruits: Apples, berries, watermelon, bananas, and papayas.

Omega-3 rich foods: Wild-caught fish, eggs.

Legumes: Walnuts, almonds, lima beans, and seeds including pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame.

Dark chocolate.


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Serotonin is another neurotransmitter, or ‘chemical messenger’ found in the brain. 

Though, much of the serotonin in our bodies is produced in our gut, which is where over 90% of our serotonin resides. Therefore, keeping a healthy gut is integral. This can be aided by adding probiotics to your diet in the form of supplements or those naturally occurring in foods.


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Foods that contain high amounts of serotonin include:

Cheeses and yogurts.

Pineapples.

Tofu and other fermented products such as miso.

Nuts and seeds.

Omega-3 rich foods: Wild-caught fish, eggs.

Turkey.

Dark chocolate.


The No-Nos

Did you notice I didn’t mention sugar? Sugar does, in fact, trigger the production of these feel-good hormones, but it is short-lived and can cause addiction. Steering away from highly processed and high sugar content foods, while incorporating the above choices into your diet is your best bet in creating a feel-good diet.


I'll be diligently working on bringing you some easy, healthy recipes to incorporate these mood-boosting power houses to your diet. Keep an eye on the blog for FEEDING HAPPINESS recipes.

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