The 4 Mood-Boosting Food Groups I Recommend To All My Patients: An M.D. Explains
My philosophy toward health has always been food first, medicine or supplements second. I will do anything to avoid taking a bunch of pills—even if I know they offer a quick fix.
I know I'm not alone.
Many patients come to me at Parsley Health to address issues like mood swings, brain fog, fatigue, and just general unhappiness. Many of them have been prescribed antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs in the past and are having a hard time with the side effects. As their doctor, I try to get to the root cause of their problems. We work on a variety of lifestyle changes, but I almost always recommend a shift in diet right from the start.
Eating is something everyone has to do. So we might as well choose foods that make us thrive—not just survive. Food is at the forefront of our minds during the holiday season (or is that just me?), and as the temperature drops, our moods can drop right along with it. Pick it right back up naturally with these four healing foods.
1. Coconut butter
Coconut butter has more fiber than plain coconut oil and is like rocket fuel for the brain since it is anti-inflammatory and supports healthy hormone balance. I like to add a scoop to a warm cup of oatmeal or blend it with my morning coffee in place of creamer.
2. Leafy greens
Rich in B vitamins like folate, leafy greens such as kale, bok choy, and collards help the body produce adequate amounts of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. Bonus: They're excellent sources of fiber, which supports a healthy gut.
Kimchee and other fermented foods like sauerkraut, pickles, and tempeh support a healthy gut bacteria. When our gut flora is unbalanced, it has a direct effect on our brain chemistry via the vagus nerve and can lead to anxiety and depression. The vagus nerve is like the nervous system superhighway that allows our gut and brain to communicate. Adding a small amount of fermented foods daily to your diet can naturally calm the brain during stressful times.
While this technically isn't a food, it's still an essential. Keeping the brain hydrated is key to maintaining a positive mood. Drink half of your body weight in ounces a day.