Our topic today is nutrition for mind/mood and stress relief. And while there are some specific food and nutrients that can support mind and mood there are a lot more foods that can do just the opposite and excaccerbate stress. Pretty much anything that our bodies don’t recognize as food (like a corn dog) will activate the stress response in the body – which is also an inflammatory response. Interesting that the acronym SAD stands for Standard American Diet as well as Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Food that is loaded with chemicals, preservatives, is highly processed or sugar-laden promotes stress, depressive moods, and lowers our vibration and energy levels. Our body knows just what to do with an avocado – how to break it down and assimilate it. Our bodies are extremely challenged by a hot dog. It’s really not food, it is so highly altered from the way nature intended that the body does not even recognize it as food. So if we follow the simple guideline of eating minimally processed whole foods and limit sugar and artificial sweeteners we are well on our way to nourishing our bodies and minds in positive ways.
Aside from whole foods to benefit our minds and moods – our brains love fat – why? The brain is mostly fat and each of our brain cells is surrounded by a layer of fat called the phospholipid layer. Studies show that consuming healthy fats (specifically omega-3) can protect against cognitive deterioration. They can also positively influence mood, personality, and behavior. Also mono-unsaturated fats like avocado, olive oil have a positive effect on brain chemistry – they also satiate us – which is in itself a happy feeling. Fats to avoid are the artificial ones like trans fats and partially hydrogenated fats found in commercially prepared baked goods and fast food.as well as too many omega 6 fats found in vegetable oils.
Of course, we know that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables are good for us – but the reason is that they are packed full of anti-oxidants that dis-arm harmful molecules called free radicals, as well as provide fiber for healthy digestion and important vitamins and minerals that the entire system needs to thrive. So eating “the rainbow” and get as many colors on your plate is a great way to ensure feel-good hormones and being activated.
Stress eats up the body’s supply of B vitamins and some of us genetically have a hard time converting our B vitamins to the active form the body can use. Sources of good quality animal protein, as well as beans, legumes, dark leafy greens as well as fruits and vegetables, are good ways to assure we are well supplied in B’s.
Even if your methylation processes are hindered genetically you can help the process along by eating a whole-food, non-processed food diet, and adding a lot of these foods: Asparagus, Avocado, Broccoli Brussels sprouts green, leafy vegetables, legumes (peas, beans, lentils) and rice.