What do you do when life gets you down? A lot of people who experience unhappiness, brain fog or mood swings think that antidepressants are the only answer, while those suffering from fatigue often end up chugging vast quantities of caffeine or seeking prescription meds. What these people often fail to realize is that nature supplies us with effective ways to deal with these issues. Instead of putting dangerous medications into your body, why not try filling it with foods that contain the right nutrients to combat your problem?
Parsley Health Medical Director Dr. Tiffany Lester recently shared with Mind Body Green her list of the top four foods that can heal these problems without causing any of the scary side effects that are often associated with antidepressants and other drugs.
It is not surprising to find leafy greens on any sort of healthy food list, and they can be particularly helpful to those dealing with unhappiness and mood swings. Foods like bok choy, collards and kale are all chock-full of B vitamins like folate, helping your body to produce sufficient amounts of dopamine and serotonin. Best of all, they won’t increase your risk of committing suicide the way antidepressants do. In addition, their high fiber content helps to support a healthy gut.
Fermented foods in general can help to support healthy gut bacteria. Pickles, tempeh, yogurt and sauerkraut are all good choices, but Dr. Lester singles out kimchee as being particularly useful. When your gut flora is not in balance, it can directly affect the chemistry of your brain, bringing on depression and anxiety. Eating a small amount of fermented foods each day can help your brain remain calm when stress sets in.
One study found that participants who ate naturally fermented foods such as pickles, sauerkraut and kimchee experienced fewer symptoms of social anxiety, and those who benefited most from fermented foods were those who had a genetic predisposition to social anxiety disorder.
Coconut is enjoying immense popularity right now among healthy eaters, with coconut oil and coconut water showing up in health food stores and regular grocery stores in increasing numbers. However, it is coconut butter that stands out from the pack. Dr. Lester likens it to “rocket fuel for the brain,” thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to support a healthy balance of hormones. It also contains more fiber than regular coconut oil. It can be added to oatmeal or even blended into your favorite cold brew coffee.
You can make coconut butter easily by placing some dried shredded coconut in a food processor and processing it until it forms a thick paste that is similar in consistency to peanut butter. This may take more than 10 minutes depending on your processor blender, so you need to be patient. Be sure to use unsweetened coconut. You can also add a bit of coconut oil if you are having trouble with the coconut flakes sticking to the side of your blender.
It might sound simple, but a lot of people overlook the importance of drinking water. It is not only important for your physical health, but also for your mental health. Studies have found that even mild dehydration can lower people’s moods. You need to keep your brain hydrated if you want to be in a positive mood, so Dr. Lester recommends a daily water intake of half your body weight in ounces.
Of course, any time you drink water, you’ll want to make sure you are using clean water that does not contain any heavy metals or other toxins. Remaining hydrated throughout your day is a better approach than skipping water for most of the day and then downing a lot of it at once later on to compensate.
The next time you find your mood in need of a lift, whether you’re feeling unhappy or fatigued, try eating one of these mood-lifting foods and consider incorporating them into your regular diet.