Both dopamine and norepinephrine are synthesized in the body by the amino acids tyrosine and phenylalanine. By eating protein rich foods like red meat, poultry, seafood or hard cheeses, we boost our levels of tyrosine aiding in our metabolizing of norepinephrine. Tyrosine is an amino acid that is found in most proteins and readily converted from the essential amino acid phenylalanine in the human body.
Phenylalanine degrades into tyrosine, which in turn metabolizes into dopamine and norepinephrine. Phenylalanine is not made internally by humans and thus needs to be found in our diets. Lucky for us, it is contained in most protein-rich foods. Good sources are dairy products, avocados, nuts, seeds and legumes, leafy vegetables, whole grains, poultry, fish, some seafood and some diet beverages. Phenylalanine uses the same active transport channel as tryptophan to cross the blood-brain barrier and, because of that, when phenylalanine increases it lowers the production of serotonin key for keeping our energy and endurance going.
Thus, the one neurotransmitter that needs to decrease to get the full affect of your consumption of aphrodisiacs is serotonin. Studies report that your brain in the attraction phase of love absorbs up to 40 percent less serotonin. With lower levels of serotonin in your system, you become hyper-focused on your love. The primary objective in an aphrodisiac meal is to keep serotonin levels super low. We accomplish that by keeping tryptophan out of the scene. If tryptophan hits your system before tyrosine, then your mood and internal chemistry will become more relaxed and calm, not excited with increased energy. Literally that means "Put down the bread before eating your protein."
You now know why we are looking to encourage the production of a certain internal chemistry of love in our bodies. Having this internal chemical cocktail dancing in your body during your date night will aid you in optimizing the effectiveness of your aphrodisiacs.
Three Categories of Aphrodisiacs
The first category involves a full engagement of all of your senses. This initial aphrodisiac agent envelops you and your love before the first taste sensation enters your mouth. It's how we prepare for and initially engage with our love on our date night. What music did we listen to as we got dressed? Did we think about what our partner would like to see us wearing when we choose our outfit? How did we design our environment to evoke a romantic feeling? Are there fresh flowers, candles and a playlist of our favorite songs? This first category invites the production of endorphins to set the stage for a night of pleasure. As Dr. Ruth says, "When it comes to sex, the most important six inches are the ones between the ears." Thus the first step toward a night of passion begins by mentally getting ready to receive the full affect of your aphrodisiacs and by creating the romantic ambiance.
The second category includes those substances, foods and beverages that give you an instant impact. You experience their effects almost immediately after they hit your system. This second category is what most individuals think of as aphrodisiacs. They think true aphrodisiacs are only those substances that give an immediate arousal or boost to their libido. Substances that have an immediate impact are alcohol, capsicum (spicy foods) and certain smells that an individual finds arousing. Other quick hits from this second category of aphrodisiacs come from ginger, ginkgo and foods or supplements that give you a super dose of vitamin E—like spinach, avocados, nuts, sunflower seeds and squash.
The third category represents the nutrients that should be in your diet on a regular basis so that when you need them to achieve your peak state they are available to your system. The physical and mental state you want your aphrodisiacs to help you achieve is one where your stress is lowered, all your senses are fully engaged, you are acutely focused on your love, you have great blood circulation, and your energy and endurance levels are up. The saying is true that what is good for your heart is good for your sex life. This category of aphrodisiacs is long and includes zinc, vitamin C, iron, iodine and vitamin E.
The Structure of an Aphrodisiac Meal
The first thing to hit your lips, if you drink alcohol, is a libation which will give you an immediate hit of dopamine and, for the ladies, a dose of testosterone to jump start your sexual desire. Dopamine will work in partnership with the endorphins in your system to solidify in your brain the meaning and pleasure you are deriving from this magical evening. The first bite of food should always be a protein. Getting this very first bite right encourages energy, endurance, focus, good blood circulation and oxygen to your entire body. A high-protein, low-carbohydrate meal helps to raise your levels of dopamine. Bottom line: do not eat carbohydrates or excessive sugars before protein. Hold off on the carbs and sugar till dessert.
Now you are prepared to get all revved up and feel sexy the whole night long!