110915 Dopamine and happiness

No matter an avid CrossFit athlete, drug addict, or high school biology student; there is no doubt that you have heard of dopamine and its effect on your mood. Along with hormones like Seratonin, Dopamine acts as a neurotransmitter linking your endocrine system and your brain about the state of things. 

Exercise is probably where Dopamine sits atop the myriad of side effects produced in physical stress. When your body produces the hormone, it is quite out of a purely paleolithic motive. Killing your hunt or escaping the lion about to eat you would produce an effect of wellbeing and alter your bodies functions. Today, CrossFitters (me included) thrive on the feeling that the dopamine connection brings. As a pleasure seeker, the horrible yet beautiful feeling after a tough workout keeps me coming back over and over again. 

My real connection or point I am trying to convey today is about the dopamine response that occurs during and after eating. There is SOOOOO much science out on the quality, quantity, time, speed and method of your eating habits. The rate and flow of the hormone release is also studied heavily on rats and obese patients to see how we can alter this most important neural hormone. 

As I have discussed before, it all begins in the gut. What you eat and the state of your gut health will firstly, and most importantly, determine the uptake into the Vagus Nerve and begin telling your brain the status of things. Let's cover a couple points about this:

1) Sugar. You know what I am going to say. It is killing you faster than you think. Sugar not only begins a tidal wave of endocrine response including insulin production and dopamine flow. Because sugar is a drug, your dopamine receptors light up when it is present and the satiety button never really gets pushed. Like other drugs, your brain will desire more and more of the substance because the receptors are firing which creates over stimulus and ill health. Think of the drug addict that used to blast one line of cocaine when He/she first started and now needs 3 grams just to keep cool. Sugar is a legal drug and it is put in everything tho allow the brain to get its fix. 

2) High Fat foods. Saturated, Unsaturated, Mono and poly unsaturated fats are in all the foods we eat. If you don't have the fat, you get sugar and we just spoke to that. Fat is intregral as it gives you energy and helps absorb nutrients. What needs to be cautioned is the over consumption of fats and eating the right ones. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to regulate dopamine levels so as to not spike them or keep them too low. These are your fish oils and others found in grass fed proteins. Alike, you can get your saturated fat intake through coconut oil and nuts which produce a similar effect. If you notice, there is a trend of cleanliness going on here. When you begin to consume (as most american do) Omega-6 and Trans Fats, then we run into problems. These fats, (canola oil, soybean oil, vegetable oil) cause hormonal imbalance and multiple system damage. Dopamine responds to these fats by dumping and then starving the receptors of the hormone which produces mood swings and depression. If you remember Super Size Me, one of the classic feelings that the host experienced was acute depression between meals. It is due to bad fats.

To leave it here for digestion... pun intended... rememeber that the brain/gut connection is the key to your overall health and well being. If you can balance the dopamine levels in the brain you can remain clear and focused like a true athlete. Giving in to your wonton desires leaves you empty and depressed. Eat for brain happiness!


8min Quality AMRAP

200m ROw
8 Wall Press
8 Elbow to Instep
5 Med Ball Shrug and Pull Unders

*Mobilize the wrist and run through the squat flow sequence

Skill Work:

Strict Press
3X5 *Use load from 8/13 +2.5#

Floor Press
3X10 @ body weight


Black and Blue Tattoo
Go every :90 for as long as possible

5 Hang Squat Clean 135/95; 155/105 ADV.
8 Front Rack Lunges
6 Push Jerks