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The Bright Side of Dope - Mother Nature’s Drug

Published in Sweat Equity Magazine, June July 2016

Lance Armstrong showed his true colours in 2010, when US federal prosecutors pursued allegations of him doping, which he vehemently denied. As it turns out, Armstrong had half the equation right. Dope-amine is an organic chemical that’s produced naturally by the brain and which plays several important roles in the overall functioning of your mind and body. The part that Armstrong left out (that is, the ‘amine’ of dope-amine) makes all the difference in the world; in fact, it’s the difference between landing gold medals and landing yourself in jail.

Indeed, not all of us are training for the Tour de France, but I’d hazard a guess that if asked if we could use an energy boost or an extra dose of motivation, most of us would say yes!

There’s a reason why caffeine is the most widely consumed “drug” in the world. Although it has the same mind-altering effects as similar drugs, it’s consumed so often that nobody thinks twice about their first fix to kick-start the day or a mid-afternoon pick-me-up to get through a sluggish afternoon. Not everyone turns to coffee; some of us reach for the cookie jar for that extra boost, but the effect is the same. These may be fine and well short-term and in moderation, but eventually you hit a wall: the caffeine doesn’t work because your tolerance is up and it's wreaking havoc on your adrenals. The sugar is settling nicely around your midline and the post-sugar crashes do nothing to help get your butt to the gym. The old faithfuls are failing you. But you just can’t stand slugging your way through the day.

The thing is, Mother Nature has a solution—and a legal one at that. That solution is dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter produced naturally by the brain that helps control its reward and pleasure centres. It also helps regulate movement and emotional responses and, not only enables us to see the benefits of healthy living (particularly exercise and mindful eating), but actually motivates us to take action towards achieving it.

Sound too good to be true? It’s not. These three supplements will help bring your dopamine levels to an all-time high, without stressing your adrenals or forcing you to endure another post-sugar crash. Try them out for yourself!

  1. The L-theanine in green tea improves mood. Get your dopamine fix by taking theanine supplements or by drinking three cups of green tea a day.

  2. Turmeric is derived from the ginger family and readily crosses the blood–brain barrier, boosting levels of dopamine. Blend some into your smoothie, toss fried veggies with it, or enjoy a spicy turmeric tea.

  3. Tyrosine is a building block of dopamine. Increasing your consumption of tyrosine-packed foods, like fava beans, seaweed, ricotta cheese, and edamame beans, helps boost dopamine levels.

Mother nature never fails to provide exactly what we need to thrive!

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