7 Calming Superfoods and Herbs to Balance Your Mood
If you're living on planet Earth right now odds are you're dealing with a heightened level of stress. And while we can't irradicate it from our lives, we can certainly bring loving awareness to how it is affecting our body and mind and do as much as we can to support ourselves during this time of change and uncertainty. Food and supplements are most likely not going to fix anyone's problems on their own, that's for sure, but diet plays such a pivotal role in how we feel that it can't be overlooked.
If you could use a little extra calm in your life, give these 7 superfoods a try and see how you feel.
Matcha is like a green elixir of mood-enhancing nourishment. It's got a magical little compound known as L-theanine, an amino acid that simultaneously calms the nervous system while boosting energy and promoting mental clarity. Not only that but it's packed full of antioxidants and polyphenols that help reduce overall inflammation and protect against free radical damage. It can also easily become part of a healthy, uplifting morning ritual, especially if you find your normal cup of coffee is too harsh on the nerves during these stressful times.
Out of nut milk but craving a matcha latte? Try blending your matcha tea with raw coconut butter for an instant coconut matcha latte.
If ever there was a superfood to boost morale, it would have to be cacao, the base ingredient of chocolate. Cacao is naturally full of unique compounds that have a very direct effect on our brain chemistry, stimulating the production of serotonin and dopamine, two neurotransmitters that help reduce stress and elevate the mood. Cacao even contains a cannabinoid known as anandamide that lights up specific receptor sites in the brain associated with feelings of euphoria and bliss. Just make sure you're choosing the highest quality raw chocolate available to maximize its mood-elevating effects.
Greens are naturally rich in magnesium, a critical mineral for helping reduce stress and tension in our muscles, and supporting an overall calm state of being. Greens such as kale, chard, arugula, spinach, etc, are rich in many other vitamins and minerals as well, all of which are especially important for supporting the immune system during times of heightened stress. Not only do greens help fortify our blood through a plethora of nutrients, but they also contain plentiful fiber which helps keep our digestion moving along, making them a great ally during these times when most of us aren't getting as much physical activity.
Not only do Brazil nuts make a satisfying snack rich in healthy fats and protein, but they also contain a compound known as ellagic acid which research has shown acts as a neuroprotectant and even has antidepressant properties. Not only that but Brazil nuts are one of the best sources of mineral selenium on the planet, a mineral that acts as one of the body's master antioxidants to help us stay well. Want to mix it up? Try enjoying raw brazil nut butter with celery for a mineral-rich, low sugar snack that's great for your body and your brain.
Celery juice offers the body a flood of mineral salts, which are crucial for our overall health. Mineral salts have a highly beneficial effect on the central nervous system, helping to ensure proper nerve impulses and function. Celery juice also helps cleanse the digestive system and balances an acidic pH, one of the many negative effects of chronic stress. If you don't own a juicer, try blending chopped celery with a little purified water, then straining through a nut milk bag to remove the fiber. Be sure to add a few heads of celery to your next grocery list.
Valerian root has been used since ancient times to promote a tranquil state and more restful sleep. It's relaxation superpowers lie in its ability to interact with an amino acid found in the brain known as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a chemical messenger that helps regulate nerve impulses. Research has shown that there is a correlation between low levels of GABA in the brain and chronic stress, anxiety, and low quality sleep. Valerian can be found in tincture form in most health food stores or online, just be warned, the smell is very earthy and pungent.
While drinking any kind of warm tea helps one feel immediately more calm and cozy, chamomile tea has even more pronounced effects thanks to a special antioxidant called apigenin. This compound found in chamomile flowers binds to receptors in the brain that may reduce anxiety and promote a calm, relaxed state of being. Plus, sipping on tea makes a wonderful nighttime ritual to help encourage the stress of the day to away for deeper, more restful sleep.