Food infiltrates every moment of our lives from the average everyday meal to celebrating significant events and traditions with loved ones. Food can alter our weight, relieve illness, support health or lead to negative outcomes such as heart disease, cancers and diabetes.
The choices made surrounding what foods are incorporated and excluded from our diets not only manifest themselves in our appearance but also in our emotions, personality, and psychological states. The following are the top 15 foods to change your life in ways not commonly known:
1. Spinach and Asparagus for Fatigue
Both these foods contain high amounts of folic acid, iron and magnesium, which are used by the body to synthesize red blood cells. This in turn helps to deliver oxygen in the body aiding to combat mental tiredness and physical exhaustion. In addition these foods contain several other B vitamins such as B-6 or pyridoxine, which converts amino acids in the body for increased energy and is a precursor for dopamine. Higher levels of dopamine reduce stress and depression leading to an overall state of contentment.
2. Coconut Oil and Coconut Water for Agitation
The soothing scent of coconut has been shown in various studies to decrease heart rate, blood pressure and anxiety resulting in a calming effect on the body. This is achieved through both a natural effect on the brain as well as through maintaining blood sugar levels. Coconut also causes stimulation of the thyroid gland. The oil is often used by masseuses due to this effect and can often reignite memories of a peaceful, tropical vacation. The thyroid gland balances sex hormones and the anti-oxidants found in coconut may help to increase sex-drive.
3. Garlic for Mental Slowness
Garlic naturally reverses the effects of scopolamine, an anesthetic in the brain, improving memory and mental performance. It also inhibits Caspase 3, an enzyme responsible for the death of cells, thus helping to protect neurons in the brain. Garlic extract has also been shown in numerous studies to reduce amyloid plaques in the brain, which are the primary cause of Alzheimer’s disease. Allicin, the main compound in garlic, additionally helps to reduce illness and yeast infections that can often cause stress and negative feelings.
4. Dark Chocolate for Body Image and Stress
The anti-oxidants found in dark chocolate, due to its high cocoa content, cause a decreased response in the body to stress. These polyphenols and flavonols decrease cortisol and epinephrine released by the adrenal glands and decrease blood pressure. Cortisol is directly responsible for weight gain and can be harmful when secreted in high amounts long-term. Chocolate also contains stearic acid, which is a unique beneficial saturated fat that decreases the LDL levels or bad cholesterol in the body.
5. Ginger for Depression and Pain Relief
Chronic pain as a result of inflammation and gastrointestinal distress can often cause stress, depression and an overall uneasy mood. Ginger has a natural compound that reduces inflammation and treats intestinal tension. Ginger is also high in magnesium, which helps to regenerate neurons through the reduction of cell death in the brain. This combats depression, which is often diagnosed in individuals with a deficiency in the mineral. The Benefits of Alcohol is a unique alternative way of incorporating the root into your diet.
6. Walnuts for Memory Loss
Walnuts contain α-linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid broken down into arachidonic acid, and supplementary polyphenols that help to support the maintenance and regeneration of nerve cells throughout the body including the brain. Arachidonic acid is distinctively responsible for growth and repair of neurons. This directly aids in decreasing forgetfulness and helps to reverse the natural signs of brain aging. When consumption is high as you age, walnuts may help to reduce mental illness and the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
7. Cinnamon for Lethargy
The scent of cinnamon has been shown to increase alertness when performing various daily tasks such as driving. A cinnamon tea can help with focus and attentiveness while working. It is also a natural warming agent to soothe emotional feelings. The high level of manganese in cinnamon helps to reduce mood alterations during the menstrual cycle and can be useful for overall mood imbalance.
8. Strawberries for Vision Loss
Strawberries contain lycopene, which is used in the synthesis of beta-carotene, an anti-oxidant and precursor to vitamin A, which maintains the health of the cornea in the eye. This in turn prevents cataracts and maintains healthy night vision. Vitamin A also decreases the risk of macular degeneration and helps to maintain lubrication of the eye.
9. Green tea for Attention
The tea contains the amino acid theanine as well as catechins, which are the most powerful antioxidants in foods. These substances not only increase attention and focus but also help to improve mental processes in the brain. These antioxidants improve memory by supporting neuronal synapses and causing the release of dopamine. L-theanine also increases the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA, providing natural relief from anxiety while the low level of caffeine helps with concentration. In addition green tea has also been shown to increase metabolism, which promotes weight loss
10. Turkey and Tofu for Insomnia
Both these foods contain high amounts of the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is the precursor for serotonin, niacin and most importantly melatonin. The body cannot produce tryptophan on its own and therefore it must be obtained through the diet. Higher levels of the amino acid in the body help improve the quality and onset of sleep. A deficiency in tryptophan or niacin can cause tiredness throughout the day.
11. Oysters and Brown Rice for Dementia
Both oysters and brown rice contain high amounts of selenium, which acts as an anti-oxidant in the brain by reducing oxidative stress on neurons. This is especially important in aging individuals to prevent dementia, depression and natural aging of brain tissue. Studies have shown a decreased chance of being diagnosed with dementia when higher levels of selenium are consumed. It also helps to regulate thyroid hormone in the body, which in turn regulates metabolism. Zinc is also found in these foods, which is required for the production of digestive enzymes in the pancreas and body.
12. Basil for PMS
Basil contains the compound eugenol, a natural anti-spasmodic that helps to relieve cramping and nausea during the menstrual cycle. This can also improve symptoms associated with the early stages of pregnancy. Basil also contain anti-inflammatory effects, which act as a natural painkiller that can help alleviate the pain associated with cramping.
13. Salmon for Sadness
DHA and EPA found in salmon are n-3 fatty acids that improve mood and decrease aggression. These monounsaturated or healthy fats help with the production of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. Increased dopamine and serotonin levels prevent postpartum depression, depression, schizophrenia and ADHD. EPA is also useful in preventing bipolar disorder and acute psychosis by maintaining healthy brain tissue. In addition both fatty acids also support increased learning and memory.
14. Yogurt for Anxiety
The probiotics and beneficial bacteria found in yogurt help to increase the concentrations of GABA as well as GABA receptors in the brain. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter which decreases heart rate, slows breathing and diminishes the fight or flight response in the body. Traditional anti-anxiety medication works in this same way. Yogurt is also helpful for stress and as a gastrointestinal aid, adding helpful bacteria to your intestines
15. Clementines for Weakness
Clementines contain high amounts of vitamin C, which is used in the body to enhance iron absorption in the intestines. The iron is then used to produce red blood cells helping to alleviate weakness. Vitamin C is also an important component in wound healing due to its use in collagen synthesis.
Food is often thought about only in relation to weight even though the choices surrounding what is incorporated into our diets can directly dictate how we feel mentally and emotionally. With this knowledge you can live a happier as well as healthier life. The top 15 foods to change your life can be incorporated easily in daily meals and snacks. Although food can induce negative symptoms such as fatigue, headache, high blood pressure, anxiety and more, it can also help in many beneficial ways.