Foods that can reduce stress - Drew Ramsey MD

If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that stress levels are high these days. It’s easy to feel like there’s nothing we can do about it.

That’s why I was really happy to talk with CNN about the ways we can take charge of our stress and mental health using food.

How can food influence stress? We mostly think of stress influencing what we eat, “anxious eating”, reaching for snacks and comfort food, or for severe stress, eating less food due to an impaired appetite. Nutritional Psychiatry asks us to flip the script and think about how food influences how our minds perceive stress and trigger physiological responses.

Instead of thinking of food as ‘stress eating’ or ‘guilty pleasures,’ we can think of using food to shape the lens in how we experience stress.

To help modulate the many stressors we are all experiencing, we highlighted some of Nutritional Psychiatry’s favorite foods:

Oily fish and shellfish

The longest, most complex fat you eat is DHA, a “long-chained” omega-3 fat. With all the hoopla about omega-3 fats and fish oil supplements, a lot of people missed the memo that omega-3 fats from plants and animals are different. I’m a big fan of plants, but for some nutrients like long-chained omega-3 fats, vitamin B12, and complete protein there are better options. There is a reason seafood is linked to more robust mental health and while seafood occupies three of the top five spots on the Antidepressant Food Scale (AFS). 

Red Peppers

Another top nutrient when it comes to brain health is vitamin C. Most folks think of oranges as the best source for vitamin C, but next time grab a red pepper! One red pepper has over 150 percent the recommended daily intake. This is one major reason that red peppers are also one of the “power players” I describe in my new book, Eat to Beat Depression and Anxiety.

Fermented foods

The microbiome, meaning all the bacteria, viruses, and even parasites that reside in your gut….influence how you experience stress, the clarity of your thoughts, and quality of your mod. That’s why we talk a lot about fermented foods in the Brain Food Clinic. I know my diet has changed a lot because of this research and I’m eating more kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and even a bit of sourdough (yes I am trying to feed my microbiome with toast. Don’t judge me lol.) There are so many options when it comes to these powerful foods and they are great for our microbiome and mood. One of my favorites in this category, and another power player in my new book is kefir. My go-to kefir recipe? A kefir-based, nut and banana smoothie.

This smoothie packs a healthy dose of healthy probiotic bacteria for the microbiome as well as potassium, nuts, cinnamon and cacao for their many anti-inflammatory properties. It’s a fantastic energy and brain boost!

As a nutritional psychiatrist, I understand that mental health is complex. I also understand that we get to decide how we feed our brains with each meal. Food has the power to be medicine when we approach it this way. I hope you check out the article from CNN and are curious to learn more about the new science of mental health and food that I cover in Eat to Beat Depression and Anxiety now available for pre-order!

Eat Complete

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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