Overall, a healthy, diverse diet can do wonders for our brain and hormonal health, which equals balanced stress levels. We spoke with clinical nutritionist and founder of Candid Health, Cassie Brown, to break down the deets.
“The key nutrients that contribute to our brain wellness and healthy inflammation levels, which support our ability to relax, are magnesium, B vitamins, antioxidants like beta-carotene, vitamin C and E, quality protein, omega-3s, and fiber from complex carbohydrates,” Brown starts. That is the baseline, but it’s not all about supplementation. A diet rich in these nutrients is loaded with the goods we need to maintain this state of equilibrium.
“It’s important to note that the calming mineral, magnesium, needs sufficient B-vitamins to be properly absorbed and utilized, and vice versa.” This could mean pairing meals with proper supplementation but also pairing certain foods to make sure they complement each other’s bioavailability. Here are some foods that can either pair well together, or contain everything we need in one tasty package to help us chill.
“Sweet potatoes are rich in magnesium, B-vitamins, and tryptophan, which is a calming amino acid. If you want the additional gut health, keep the skin on to get the beneficial fiber that’s going to help reduce stress.”
“Dark berries and cherries have been known to have mood-boosting antioxidants and fiber, which both have been proven to help strengthen your stress response and recovery,” Brown shares. Berries in general are the ultimate brain food, great for memory and overall cognitive health!
“Cooked leafy greens like spinach, collards, and rainbow chard are extremely nourishing and have an abundance of magnesium, antioxidants, and folate that produces dopamine.”
“Fermented foods increase healthy probiotic bacteria within our guts, and higher levels of beneficial bacteria have been shown to reduce cortisol levels.” Another reason to leave the skin on that sweet ‘tater—to boost our guts’ prebiotic content to feed the gut bugs we get from fermented goodies.
Nuts and seeds
“Both nuts and seeds contain omega-3s, protein, antioxidants, and minerals that lower inflammation and increase brain health, which, in turn, reduces stress levels.”
“Legumes like lentils are filled with protein, B-vitamins, fiber, and minerals that detoxify and support mood.” Beans, beans, the magical fruit, as they say … for brain health!
This protein-rich fowl is loaded with tryptophan to help you sleep off the big meal— just don’t forget to hydrate and maybe take a walk before hitting the sheets on a full tummy.
Chocolate … yay
“Dark chocolate of 70% cacao and higher is filled with calming antioxidants, which lowers cortisol and contains tryptophan, which produces serotonin.” Whenever possible, opt for the darker the better. And bake with raw cacao powder rather than processed cocoa for a richer, tannic flavor and a higher antioxidant load.