Here Is How Dopamine Affects Your Digestion
- 3 mins Read
- Health Conditions
- Digestive & Liver Health
- Dr. Jatin Bhide
Know that rush you feel after you’re done with your exercise routine? Or when you listen to music that you vibe with? Or even after having a scrumptious meal made by your mom? Well, the ethereal feeling you get is all because of the feel-good chemical called Dopamine (DA). Healthy levels of dopamine can make you feel motivated and increase your productivity.
Here is what dopamine does to your body, and how it plays a role in your food intake and digestion.
What is dopamine?
DA is a neurotransmitter in the brain. This means it acts as a chemical messenger between your neurons. It’s involved in reward, motivation, memory, attention and even regulating body movements. It is released when your brain is expecting a reward or when you are longing for pleasure through certain activity. It could be food, shopping, or anything in the world that you enjoy. The problem is when you don’t get your desired food, despite longing for it the whole day, your disappointment will lower your dopamine levels and dampen your mood. What may also happen is that it further intensifies your desire which makes you crave that food even more. It’s a cycle of motivation, reward, and reinforcement. Hence, DA plays a major role in your motivation.
Effect of DA in food intake
Before getting into the digestion part, let’s be clear about how it affects our food intake. The DA release has been significantly influenced by the reinforcing effects of food. In the hypothalamus part of our brain, the DA release is closely associated with the duration of certain food consumption, which is a determining factor in our feeding patterns. Therefore, DA is required to initiate each food consumption as well as the number of food items and duration of consumption.
On the other hand, DA can reduce food intake by acting hypothalamus. Hence, DA is associated with both short-term (individual meals) and long-term (hunger) regulation of food intake.
Effect of DA on digestion
Dopamine can even impact different organs of the digestive system. Here is how:
- Dopamine can increase the exocrine secretions of the digestive enzymes and boost digestion.
- It also affects movement in your small intestine and colon to help move food through your system.
- Dopamine helps in making sure that the contents of the digestive tract don’t pass through too quickly. This gives the enzymes and organs sufficient time to digest and absorb the nutrients.
- Dopamine also helps in increasing the secretion of insulin from the pancreas.
- Not just this, dopamine has a protective effect on the mucosal lining of the digestive tract. This helps in the prevention of peptic ulcers.
How to boost your dopamine levels naturally
Now we know that optimum levels of dopamine can regulate our food intake and digestive process. So here’s how you can boost your dopamine levels naturally:
- Eat more proteins and probiotics.
- Exercise regularly, try to get in 6 hours of exercise in a week or 1 hour for 6 days.
- Get a good night’s rest and sleep. This may help regulate your body’s natural dopamine rhythms.
- Listening to your favorite instrumental music can also boost your dopamine levels.
- Try to meditate regularly. Meditation has been shown to boost dopamine levels in regular meditators.
To summarise, dopamine is a very important factor when it comes to food intake and digestion. It not only controls our mood but also significantly influences our digestion system. This is why maintaining optimal levels of Dopamine is important.
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Eisenhofer G, Åneman A, Friberg P, Hooper D, Fåndriks L, Lonroth H, Hunyady B, Mezey EV. Substantial production of dopamine in the human gastrointestinal tract. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 1997 Nov 1;82(11):3864-71.
Valenzuela JE, Defilippi C, Diaz G, Navia E, Merino Y. Effect of dopamine on human gastric and pancreatic secretion. Gastroenterology. 1979 Feb 1;76(2):323-6.
How Does Dopamine Affect the Body? Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health/dopamine-effects
What’s the Difference Between Dopamine and Serotonin? Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health/dopamine-vs-serotonin
10 Best Ways to Increase Dopamine Levels Naturally Available from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-to-increase-dopamine