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.


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.


Foods that contain high amounts of serotonin include:

Cheeses and yogurts.


Tofu and other fermented products such as miso.

Nuts and seeds.

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


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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