Do You Feel Your Life Rewards You?

Welcome to Saturday all!  Let's dive straight in on this topic today - it can be applied to all from babies to boomers!

One of the most common human behavioural traits is the act of seeking a sense of reward following an event - eating, drinking, working, exercising, copulating (apply this one to consenting adults please) that we undertake.  It is natural to want to feel empowered, on top of the world, inspired and energised and even more natural to experience these feelings following something as simple as eating nutritious food and exercising.  If however, you are seeking more intense 'stimulation' to satisfy a lack of reward despite consistent exercise and nutrition, there may be some chemistry that needs to be looked at.  Simply put, if you are hungry, thirsty, sedentary, sleepy or horny - you are (by way of the amazing make up of the human body) designed to successfully quell those sensations by eating, drinking, moving, sleeping or communing (with a consenting adult). Unfortunately, there are some humans in our community who sadly don't satisfy these urges by the natural balance and require higher levels of stimulation.

If you feel you need to eat, drink, smoke, snort, or shag (and in some criminal cases more elevated activity) your way to happiness and reward, there may be some chemistry needing attention deep inside the mysterious chambers of your brain - namely the limbic system - namely your hypothalamus.  This highly intelligent part of you is the main control centre in reward need:stimulation:satisfaction and delivers chemical messages (neurotransmitters) that start off the cycle of you looking for whatever it is that satisfies that urge.  One of those chemicals is Dopamine.

Some of us have a fault in a gene that manages dopamine pathways - you'll know who you are if you are always seeking adrenalin highs via any high risk activity.  Some of us just don't eat enough of the foods containing the nutrients that help our brain to produce adequate amounts of dopamine - low levels of which are linked to anxiety, depression and addictive behaviours.  The dopamine pathways can require high levels of 'stimulation' in order to stop calling for more chemical production - in the cases of cannabis, nicotine, cocaine and heroine, these substances satisfy the dopamine urges quite effectively, however the addiction process when it wears off is equally as strong.  Some say sugar also creates issues in a similar way and in children, this pathway gets a good work out if they are offered and allowed to have frequent processed (and in some sensitive cases fruit) sugar rich foods.

If you are comfort eating (consuming food for any other reason than for hunger), addicted to smoking and recreational drugs and are struggling to get on top of it all, this area of your health could be well and truly helpful in your success in beating an addiction.  With my 'Seeking Reward', patients, I run specific programs to assist with healthy dopamine production resulting in better outcomes for controlling reward urges.  Feel free to contact me for further information.

Remember -It takes an all out assault when combatting a stubbornly low dopamine production. Foods high in tyrosine and iodine are really helpful in supplying nutrients for dopamine production, exercise is great to lift endorphin (feel good hormones) production and reducing stimulants are all ways to help fire up the natural reward centres of your brain.  Get into nature (bush walks, beach walks, bike rides and camping - you rarely feel terrible after these do you?

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