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Dr. Drew Ramsey, Part 2: Good Mood Foods For Focus And Calm

Eggs give you focus. Yogurt calms anxiety. Salmon feeds your brain. Dr. Drew Ramsey gives dietary tips for promoting mental health and wellbeing.

ramsey-happiness

Photo: Courtesy of Dr. Drew Ramsey

Dr. Drew Ramsey combines his love of fresh foods with his Hoosier common sense and studies in psychiatry in the new book The Happiness Diet.

Food For Thought

In part 1 of the Earth Eats interview with Dr. Drew Ramsey about his new book The Happiness Diet, he said carefully chosen meat can be great for brain health.

But what’s better than grass-fed beef? Wild salmon!

We all know that the omega-3 fats found in salmon are good for heart health. “I think what doesn’t get out there enough is that your brain is actually made of fat,” he says, “and probably the most important fats in your brain are the omega-3 fats.”

Eat Healthy Already!

He was motivated to write this book to get the word out about how diet affects brain health. The Happiness Diet isn’t reinventing the wheel — it’s plant-based with an emphasis on whole foods. Ramsey admits that in a lot of ways, it’s a common sense way to eat. “But I feel like we’ve been telling people to eat more vegetables for the last 30-40 years, and vegetable intake isn’t increasing as much as it should,” he says.

Perhaps linking healthy eating with brain health and mood stability will be the final bit of motivation some folks need to change their eating habits.

Mood Stability

Ramsey says healthy eating can be an effective treatment for depression, ADHD and anxiety. Even if you’re not dealing with these disorders, the average American experiences 2-3 days of feeling blue every month.

“What you can do with diet is reduce the intensity of how down you get and increase the stability of your mood,” he says.

Memory And Focus

For folks looking to improve focus and memory, Ramsey recommends eating stimulants like coffee, dark chocolate and eggs.

Eggs are especially beneficial as they contain the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and a variety of B-vitamins — all for very few calories.

Instead of picking up energy drinks to survive a long study session, Ramsey suggests drinking green and dark teas. In addition to feeding your brain, they decrease inflammation, “and we know that inflammation is underlying a lot of different diseases these days.”

Ramsey had plenty of long study sessions when he was in medical school at Indiana University. His solution was to eat spicy foods as a way to refocus and change his mood state. He has no hard data proving this theory, so pop a chile pepper and see if it works for you!

Anxiety

Feeling anxious? Ramsey says that anxiety is a symptom. As a psychiatrist, he wants to know where that comes from.

Perhaps it’s a result of being pre-diabetic. Those folks aren’t able to process simple sugars efficiently. The resultant lowered blood sugar can lead to anxiety. “Anyone who’s been too hungry knows that,” he says. “You get irritable, you get anxious.”

Perhaps you’re overloading on those stimulating foods, like coffee, chocolate and eggs.

Or, perhaps your gut is the problem. “There’s nothing that makes people more anxious than an unhealthy gut,” he says. Foods that promote gut health are high in fiber and naturally probiotic.

“A local Greek yogurt is just a great way to get the nutrients that the bugs in your gut need.”

Annie Corrigan

Annie Corrigan is a producer and announcer for WFIU. In addition to serving as the local voice for NPR's Morning Edition, she produces WFIU's weekly sustainable food program Earth Eats. She earned degrees in oboe performance from Indiana University and Bowling Green State University.

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