In his book Eat to Beat Depression and Anxiety, Dr. Drew Ramsey tells readers that “the most important aspect of nutrition is feeding your mental health, feeding your brain cells and your neurons.” Each week, Ramsey recommends, you should add something new, focusing on a food category essential to fueling your mental health. Some of the highlights, with comments from Ramsey, include:
Week 1: Leafy greens
Why are leafy greens so good for your mental health? Well, there are lots of reasons, but one of them is that they are nutrient dense. They provide many different nutrients, both classic nutrients, vitamins and minerals, and phytonutrients, which are molecules found in plants that promote health and contain a lot of fiber. Leafy greens are great brain food because you get lots of those nutrients you need for mental health and you get lots of satiety from eating a fibrous food. I want you to diversify away from just eating salads and think about more than just kale or mixed greens. You can add many varieties of green vegetables in different ways and this is the basis of how nutritional psychiatry works.
Week 2: Rainbows
These are colorful vegetables. These are good for our mental health because looking at different colors means you are looking at different phytonutrients. Many new data suggest that these help us regulate inflammation via the microbiome.
Week 3: Seafood
Personally, it was a very difficult category for me. As I mentioned in the book, I didn’t really eat seafood until I was about 30 and now, years later, I really enjoy seafood. is a large category of food. This is where we find the concentrated source of long chain omega-3 fatty acids and some very important nutrients like selenium and iodine. Many of the different nutrients on the antidepressant food scale are found in seafood. Many people need help with their seafood intake. Many recipes in Eat to Beat Depression and Anxiety, such as the dashi or the wild salmon burger, are meant to help people incorporate more seafood into their lives.
Week 4: Nuts, beans and seeds
It’s been a month now since you’ve incorporated brain foods into your life, hopefully more leafy greens, rainbows, and seafood. This next category of foods includes everything from one of my favorite recipes in the book, cocoa buckwheat pancakes, because cocoa, the base of chocolate is, is a seed of the cocoa tree and it’s something that I didn’t incorporate into my cooking at residence. Now I use it all the time. Beans like navy beans are a great source of potassium which is one of those anti-depressant nutrients that many people don’t know about, but which is essential for our health and sanity.
Week 5: Fermented Foods
If you’ve been excited about brain food or are new to this space, the microbiome is a wonderful new concept. These are all the organisms that live in our gut. These are bacteria, viruses and parasites that naturally live in our colon and help modulate our immune system and inflammation. It’s a big part of new thinking about how we want to manage our mental health and take care of our brains. Fermented foods like kefir, kombucha, kimchi, and sauerkraut are foods that feature in Eat to Beat Depression and Anxiety recipes, but also foods that we should all consider adding to our diets.