Redefining Stress

How to train your brain to conquer anxiety and depression

Food as Brain Medicine

There are good tasting recipes for brain health

After three weeks out of spinal surgery without pain drugs, I can truly appreciate the value of food as medicine, at least as pain medicine. This experience comes on the exact time of the publication of my cookbook, Brain Power Cookbook (Plume Publ. 2009). Most people have known the ingredients of certain foods as helpful substances for certain health problems, especially Mother's chicken soup, and many have good scientific evidence to back them. For example, we know that omega-3's and protein do wonders for the brain development, and that L-tryptophane incites serotonin for depression symptoms. Vitamin C and B complex are excellent for stress prevention. Antioxidants, green tea and fish do wonders for your memory. But the main complaint is that anyone will get bored quickly from eating this stuff, especially when it tastes like cardboard or just slimy or strange.

Find a Therapist

Search for a mental health professional near you.

In my research in brain function, I have found that the brain has a taste preference as well. If you don't like the taste the body will not receive it with much enthusiasm and the contents, regardless of how good it may be for you, will not be processed adequately. These results should not surprise us much because the same results come from medication research. If the patient doesn't like the medication, the body will not process it as efficient as it should, and the patient will not get benefits. It holds true that if you don't like broccoli, it may not like you and you could miss out on a lot of good nurturance.

The book contains food recipes that taste good to most people who have needs to influence their moods and brain functions. The chapters include recipes for problems, such as stress and anxiety, addictions, lack of concentration, memory, sleep, depression, anger, creativity, aphrodisiac, and of course, pain. Since I am a psychologist who has done research in this area, I asked Dr. Maggie Robinson, a nutritional expert, to help me find the best tasting (and easiest) recipes with the right stuff for each of these areas.

Getting back to my special pain diet, I loved the fruit smoothies and huge consumptions of nuts, especially almonds. I like carrots, so I shared my share with our pet bunny. And I am a sucker for roasted potatoes and red onions. My testimony was not a scientific study, granted, and I have a lot of investment in this book, so I have to be honest in my enthusiasm. Nevertheless, I have studied chronic pain, immune dysfunctions, psychological stress and a host of adjustment issues for many years and can say that there is good medicine at your grocery store.

G. Frank Lawlis, PhD, is principal content and oversight adviser of the Dr. Phil Show.

more...

Subscribe to Redefining Stress

Current Issue

Just Say It

When and how should we open up to loved ones?