The Happiness Diet hits stores today. Before (or hey, even after) you run out to get your copy, this helpful Q&A lays out some of the basics of the Happiness Diet.
Can you really improve mental and emotional well-being through diet?
The Happiness Diet is the first book to connect your fork to your feelings. Before you even start changing your outlook on life to improve your emotional well-being, you should make sure your eating behavior is the best in can be so that the master mood regulator—the brain—is provided with what it needs to be strong, healthy, and happy. Emerging research in the fields of neuroscience and nutrition shows that by changing what you eat, you can improve your mental and emotional well-being, stabilize your moods, improve your focus, and even make your brain grow.
What is MAD: The Modern American Diet?
This way of eating — comprised largely of sugar, refined carbs, and industrial vegetable fats — is making us fat and depressed. You’re probably aware that our food is responsible for our epidemic levels of obesity and diabetes but you might be surprised that it’s also contributing to the skyrocketing levels of brain disorders like depression and dementia. The Happiness Diet is the solution to the MAD way of life.
How has the Modern American Diet made us sadder?
Many of the nutrients that human brains depend on for healthy functioning have been stripped from our food supply by factory farming and by modern methods of food processing. In addition, new chemicals have been added that are impairing brain function. Study after study in the medical research journals confirm that people who are most dependent on MAD-style eating habits have increased levels of depression, anxiety, mood swings, hyperactivity, and a wide variety of other mental and emotional problems.
You tell readers to stop worrying about fat, cholesterol, and even calories. This seems to go against everything we’ve heard (and even what our government tells us in their dietary guidelines). Can you explain?
Fat is your friend — the right fat, that is. You should be eating fish, grass fed beef, butter, yogurt and full fat milk. It carries many nutrients that can only dissolve in fat, such as vitamin D and E. Omega-3s are fats and they are some of the most crucial fats for protecting you against mood disorders.
The old idea about calories-in/calories-out is being thrown on its head. It turns out the kind of food you’re eating is much more important to whether or not you gain weight than the amount. That’s because food affects our hormones and the same foods that trigger our hormones to make us gain weight also leads to unhappiness. These foods are — you guessed it — most notably sugar and refined carbs.
Dietary cholesterol is not the bad guy—we now know that eating cholesterol in your diet actually has a fairly small impact on your blood cholesterol levels for most people. Instead a diet high in sugar, refined crabs, and industrial vegetable fats is increasingly known as a risk for both brain and heart diseases. In fact, your brain needs cholesterol—the science is still emerging but we know that chronic cholesterol depletion disrupts neurotransmitters that regulate mood. Low cholesterol levels have been linked to an increased risk of suicide and are also associated with an increased risk of cancer.
You say that Americans today are “overfed and undernourished”—what do you mean by that? How is the MAD way of life causing us to be deficient in essential brain nutrients?
With MAD we are expanding our waistlines and starving our brains at the same time. We’re eating more sugar and refined carbohydrates (which play tricks on your brain so you keep craving more and more of them, all the while shrinking your brain); more refined vegetable oils, which have been linked to an increased risk of depression; and more factory farmed meat and fish which leaves their flesh deficient of the very fats and nutrients our brains have required from animals since the dawn of human kind. Going back to eating wholesome foods that nurtured the development of our brains tens of thousands of years ago is the key to turning things around.
Is it true that bacon and eggs can be mood-boosting foods? What are some other surprising recommendations you talk about in the book?
There’s no reason to fear America’s favorite breakfast, if done right. Free-range eggs are a nutritional powerhouse—the perfect brain food, loaded with B6 (crucial for cognitive function) and B12 (crucial for avoiding agitation and loss of focus); and selenium (crucial for cooling brain inflammation); plus iodine (regulates thyroid), zinc (the “intelligence mineral”), omega 3-s (make us smarter and protect us from heart disease) and much more. Pasture raised pigs contain oleic acid which is linked to a decreased risk of depression in women; and both eggs and bacon contain choline, which is linked to lower anxiety and CLA, which reduces belly far and fights cancer. And while you’re at it, enjoy burgers, ice cream, and cheese–sustainably and naturally raised meat and dairy fights depression, builds brain cells and trims your waistline.
How does pairing certain foods actually boost their “happiness quotient?”
Many of the dishes humans have eaten for generations—like rice and beans, or tomatoes drizzled with olive oil—have withstood the test of time not simply because the ingredients are delicious together, but health experts believe we enjoy these combos because they’re more nutritious together than on their own. This concept is called “food synergy.” Some of the most powerful food synergies include: salmon and red wine (the polyphenols in grapes help absorb more of the brain-healthy omega-3s in fish); lemon and spinach (vitamin c in lemons help your body absorb more of the iron found in spinach—a mineral the prevents mood swings and promotes happiness); vinegar and sushi rice (vinegar decreases rice’s ability to raise blood sugar levels by 20-40%); beet greens & chickpeas (the vitamin B6 in chickpeas help your body absorb the magnesium in beet greens which work together to ease symptoms of PMS and ADHD).
What are your thoughts on Vegetarianism & Veganism? Can we achieve optimal brain health without meat in our diet?
The Happiness Diet is primarily a plant-based diet, as we know vegetables to be full of important molecules necessary for brain (and overall) health. However, we also know that without meat and animal products, the brain rots from B12 deficiency—a nutrient found only in meat and dairy. That’s not our opinion, it’s basic neurology. Vegans who eat no animal products become B12 deficient (if they don’t take supplements) and their diet also lacks sufficient long-chained omega-3 fats like DHA and EPA, the most important fats in the brain. Vegans are also missing out on other important fats like CLA, found in meat and dairy. Many vegetarians and vegans also struggle with low moods and a lack of ability to focus. However, once they start eating meat, they feel much better—just ask Dr. Drew Ramsey who was a vegetarian for over a decade! Simply put, when you look at the human brain through the lens of evolution and recent science, the kinds of meat recommended in The Happiness Diet are much-needed brain food.
Winner of a 2017 IACP Cookbook Award • Finalist for a Books for a Better Life Award
Named one of the top health and wellness books for 2016 by Well + Good and MindBodyGreen
From leading psychiatrist and author of Fifty Shades of Kale comes a collection of 100 simple, delicious, and affordable recipes to help you get the core nutrients your brain and body need to stay happy and healthy.
What does food have to do with brain health? Everything.
Your brain burns more of the food you eat than any other organ. It determines if you gain or lose weight, if you’re feeling energetic or fatigued, if you’re upbeat or depressed. In this essential guide and cookbook, Drew Ramsey, MD, explores the role the human brain plays in every part of your life, including mood, health, focus, memory, and appetite, and reveals what foods you need to eat to keep your brain—and by extension your body—properly fueled.
Drawing upon cutting-edge scientific research, Dr. Ramsey identifies the twenty-one nutrients most important to brain health and overall well-being—the very nutrients that are often lacking in most people’s diets. Without these nutrients, he emphasizes, our brains and bodies don’t run the way they should.
Eat Complete includes 100 appetizing, easy, gluten-free recipes engineered for optimal nourishment. It also teaches readers how to use food to correct the nutrient deficiencies causing brain drain and poor health for millions. For example:
• Start the day with an Orange Pecan Waffle or a Turmeric Raspberry Almond Smoothie, and the Vitamin E found in the nuts will work to protect vulnerable brain fat (plus the fiber keeps you satisfied until lunch).
• Enjoy Garlic Butter Shrimp over Zucchini Noodles and Mussels with Garlicky Kale Ribbons and Artichokes, and the zinc and magnesium from the seafood will help stimulate the growth of new brain cells.
• Want to slow down your brain’s aging process? Indulge with a cup of Turmeric Cinnamon Hot Chocolate, and the flavanols found in chocolate both increase blood flow to the brain and help fight age-related memory decline.
Featuring fifty stunning, full-color photographs, Eat Complete helps you pinpoint the nutrients missing from your diet and gives you tasty recipes to transform your health—and ultimately your life.
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The Happiness Diet
For the first time in history, too much food is making us sick. It's all too apparent that the Modern American Diet (MAD) is expanding our waistlines; what's less obvious is that it's starving and shrinking our brains. Rates of obesity and depression have recently doubled, and while these epidemics are closely linked, few experts are connecting the dots for the average American.
Using the latest data from the rapidly changing fields of neuroscience and nutrition, The Happiness Dietshows that over the past several generations small, seemingly insignificant changes to our diet have stripped it of nutrients--like magnesium, vitamin B12, iron, and vitamin D, as well as some very special fats--that are essential for happy, well-balanced brains. These shifts also explain the overabundance of mood-destroying foods in the average American's diet and why they predispose most of us to excessive weight gain.
After a clear explanation of how we've all been led so far astray, The Happiness Diet empowers the reader with simple, straightforward solutions. Graham and Ramsey show you how to steer clear of this MAD way of life with foods to swear off, shopping tips, brain-building recipes, and other practical advice, and then remake your diet by doubling down on feel-good foods--even the all-American burger.
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Fifty Shades of Kale
Kale gets sexy in Fifty Shades of Kale by Drew Ramsey, M.D., and Jennifer Iserloh, with 50 recipes that are mouth-wateringly delicious and do a body good. Release yourself from the bondage of guilt and start cooking meals with the ingredients you love: meat, cheese, and yes—even butter. Nutrient-rich kale provides essential vitamins and minerals to keep you healthy, happy, and lean—so you can indulge in your most delicious desires. Whether you’re a cooking novice or a real kale submissive, you will undoubtedly succumb to Kale’s charms.
From Mushroom and Kale Risotto to Kale Kiwi Gazpacho, Fifty Shade of Kale offers simple ways to have your kale and eat it, too, as well as nutritional information, cooking tips, and a tutorial on kale in all her glorious shades. Indulge your culinary passions with Fifty Shades of Kale: 50 Fresh and Satisfying Recipes That Are Bound to Please.
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