I've been asked to begin a blog that shows a "how-to" for the things that bring pleasure to my life. So, the intent of this blog is to share recipes, gardening, composting, sewing, crafts, art, everyday projects and even psychology tips to aid in healing wounds and living the life you're meant to live, a life with purpose!
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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

15 Foods to MellowOut or to Boost your Mood! Herbs, Food tackle Stress. Mother Nature's Organic, Natural Cures out of your kitchen; Gardening, Diet.

15 Foods to MellowOut or to Boost your Mood!
We all have been there, pressure at work, sadness that you cannot shake, or stressors that put you over the edge. While some may need to ask their doctor about antidepressants, or anti-anxiety medications, others may simply benefit from Mother Nature’s natural cures. You have nothing to lose, give her a shot. Mom Nature can decrease stress hormones and soothe your sleep-deprived body, here are remedies that you can find with food and herbs.
Lavender (disclaimer, pic from Corbis)
I grow many herbs and vegetables in my back yard, but you can find any of these organic remedies in your grocery stores.  I grow lavender and Chamomile in my flower pots on my deck, so that they are within a quick reach. Lavender aids stress-related sleep disorders, treating mild insomnia; it is an aromatherapy to help your mind turn itself off. Have you ever gone to bed, tossing and turning all night, thinking up solutions, To-Do lists, and of your kid’s schedules? Native to the Mediterranean basin, Lavender can come in dried flowers and in essential oils like you find in potpourri, body lotions, teas and candles. I love the calming scent of candles, but what works for me is to make up a tea with a mixture of dried Lavender and Chamomile.
Some nights it’s our minds we cannot turn off, other nights, it’s our bodies. Chamomile can help the latter. Research shows that in animals, chamomile suppresses muscle spasms, which in effect, calms the body. Chamomile is native to Europe and Asia, but in the United States you can easily find it in tea, located in any grocery store. Note anyone who is allergic to hay or ragweed may not be able to take Chamomile.
St. John’s Wort (disclaimer: Alamy photo)I found out about the effects of this perennial herb through my experiences as a pharmaceutical representative. One of my drugs was Evista, an anti-osteoporosis drug for women. Many of the women complained of symptoms that were of a PMS nature; St. John’s Wort was the usual recommendation. St. John’s Wort is credited for improving mood and increases interest in activities in mildly depressed patients. However, check with your doctor in regards to interactions with any medications you may be taking before using it.

(Disclaimer: photo from Getty Images)
Yes, a flower can take you off that edge mentioned before. It is a creeping vine that is native to southern United States; you can grow it in your backyard! Vines are so easy to grow; they take off fast, and are tolerant of most things. This pretty little flower has more than looks on its side, it is used to treat nervous stress and anxiety in Britain; it was an approved over-the-counter sedative and sleep aid until 1978—drugs advanced and took the place of herbal treatments. You can find this flower in the form of an herbal supplement, or in teas.
Valerian Root
(Disclaimer: photo found from Alamy)
Valerian root has a sedative-like effect on humans. Often used in a medicinal tea infusion and tincture, this root can be found in approximately 60 different forms, including tablets, tea, juices, and drops. Just be sure to discuss it with your doctor before using in regards to possible negative reactions with food or medications. This root is cultivated in Europe, Japan, and in the United States; its history goes back into ancient Greece (It was documented by Hippocrates).
Green Tea
Improvement in mood is the result of an amino acid in green tea, theanine, which isn't present in any of the other caffeinated beverages.. Theanine is said to have a tranquilizing effect in the brain, which results from the production of alpha brain waves that induce a state of relaxation. Additionally, theanine alters the levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. Here is a link to a recent study with it's results:  

Another benefit found in green tea is Catechins, which are antioxidants; catechins are known to take down the risk of diseases such as heart, diabetes, and Alzheimer's.  It is good for the blood (lowers cholesterol), brain, heart, and weight loss. So have a hot cup of tea and enjoy.
Okay, those are the herbs that I frequently use, now for the food. More and more doctors are looking at diet as a means to treat many illnesses, as well as prevent them. When I wrote nursing care plans for my patients, the first thing that I looked at was improving their diet. Food does affect so many things!
Sweet Potatoes
(Disclaimer: Getty Image)
The next time you have the urge to eat away your anxiety, keep in mind, we reach for comfort food like macaroni and cheese because you are craving what a carbohydrate can bring you, Serotonin, a mood stabilizer. Sweet potatoes work as a power stress-busting food because of their sweet flavor and high concentration of carbohydrates- two common stress-related cravings. To boot, sweet potatoes are high in fiber, so that you digest this complex carbohydrate in a slow and steady manner, besides keeping you full longer, fiber also keeps you physically-and emotionally-satisfied longer.
Whole Grains
Now that we have mentioned fiber, need a happiness boost? Try snacking on a healthy portion of complex carbohydrates, triggering the release of serotonin, known to be the feel good hormone; allowing you to feel calm, relaxed and happy. The ideal carbs include whole grains, cereals, oats, quinoa, brown rice, legumes, peas, beans, and lentils. Food labeling and advertising can be tricky, because food can be claimed as “whole grain” with so little of the good stuff in it. Check the label and look at the fiber content, it if says 2… you do the math, if it says, 6-12… this is a good whole grain product.
Spinach Salad
Are you feeling sluggish, can’t concentrate, or are just having trouble keeping your eyes open? Perhaps climbing back into bed isn’t an option, skip the late-afternoon coffee, which will keep you wired, -- have a spinach salad instead. Homocysteine is associated with damage to blood vessels, in addition to interfering with the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients into the brain. A decreased blood flow will leave you feeling sluggish or slow to process or recall information. Oxygen is carried in the blood, if you are low, you will feel tired. Folic acid, or folate, helps your body to process and lower homocysteine levels. Eating food rich in folate, like all green leafy vegetables, as well as potatoes, beans, peas, and mushrooms will give you that needed boost!
Salmon Burger
Anxious, worrying about all of daily life’s hurdles? If anxiety and worries are consuming your day, consider heading out to lunch with a friend. A conversation with a friend will lift your spirits and so will your meal, if you order salmon. Salmon is one of the riches sources of Omega-3, fatty acids, a nutrient that will help tame your anxiety. Omega-3 is the strongest in cold-water fish such as salmon, herring, sardines and mackerel. Extensive research has been done on the effects of Omega-3, giving results to support its prevention, and treatment of clinical depression. There is also evidence that it helps to reduce anger and irritability. Thank you Salmon! Oh, and if you’re not making this sandwich at home, ask for a whole- grain bun. ;-)
Egg Salad Sandwich
PMS, that fun visitor, or you just have the symptoms that are PMS-like, most people go to comfort food like macaroni and cheese, ice cream, or potato chips. Consider an egg-salad sandwich instead and here is why, an egg salad sandwich is the perfect combo of carbohydrate and tryptophan! Tryptophans as well as carbohydrates both enhance the release of serotonin. Avoid high-sugar, high fat carbohydrates, like sweets or chips; these choices will leave you feeling sluggish and grumpy after your blood sugar takes a spike, only to then quickly drop. Opt for wholegrain bread; pair it with Tryptophan and protein rich eggs to get the mood improvement effect of serotonin. Sunflower seeds or turkey also are high in tryptophan.
Low-fat Milk
Need a happiness boost? Vitamin D deficiency in your diet may have something to do with the source of your sadness. This nutrient has many different roles in the body, one of which is to help in the production of serotonin. We have discussed how serotonin can help you feel calm, relaxed and happy. If you are low on vitamin D, you may be affecting your body’s ability to stabilize your mood and reduce feelings of depression. To increase your vitamin D intake, look into fortified low-fat or skim milk, fortified cereals (Kashi is great), or mushrooms. Calcium and vitamin D supplements are a good idea too, especially for women nearing an osteoporosis age. -- Note, some people have seasonal depression for the same reason-- they need vitamin D (the sun provides D as well).
Peanut Butter
(Disclaimer: from Getty Images)
Feeling irritable, cranky or unfocused from lack of sleep? Both of these symptoms point to your body needing fuel. Peanut Butter or peanuts are high in vitamin B6, which helps regulate the blood sugar and stabilize mood. If you choose a natural peanut butter you can avoid the excess sugar, which could negate the positive effects of the B6. If you spread the peanut butter on a hard to break down, slow digesting, carbohydrate, such as whole-grain toast, you will stay satisfied longer.
Apple w Peanut Butter
Again, a great fuel option, your body is cranky because it needs fuel. Just be sure to refuel the right way: with foods that don’t leave you with a blood sugar crash an hour later, setting the crankiness cycle in motion all over again. To blast irritability, eat combination foods at each meal and snack. Combination foods contain a carbohydrate in combination with protein. Carbohydrates are a great source of energy that quickly burns out. Adding some protein will slow the digestion process, causing your sugar and energy levels to remain stable for a longer amount of time. The apple is your healthy complex carbohydrate and the peanut butter is a healthy protein-fat. Combining these powerhouse foods tastes delicious and gives you energy that lasts for hours!
Dark Chocolate
Leaving the best for last, dark chocolate (milk chocolate does not have the same effects); I want to explain why this cocoa treat seems to make us feel better whenever we are in need. If the stress of the day is building, what can calm you down fast? Find that chocolate bar that you have hiding in your desk drawer. Dark chocolate reduces the stress hormones that are swarming in your body. In fact, studies show, just eating a smidge of dark chocolate (1.4 oz.) has the power to lower the stress hormones cortisol and catecholamine’s in the body, reducing your anxiety and giving you that needed pat on the back. Plus, the pure joy of eating your favorite treat --let us not leave that out, it may trigger the release of endorphins in your brain, which offers an immediate happiness boost. That is two hormone helpers in one sweet treat!

1 comment:

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