Nutrition and PTSD

food brain

Healing Now: Compliments of Brain Health Foods

Your brain runs on the simple sugar, glucose. In order for you to have the energy you need to be able to manage emotions, create a sense of calm and make good decisions your brain needs enough glucose to run all of its systems at the same time. To put into example, have you heard of the term “hangry”? It’s a slang term referring to someone irritable because they are hungry. This behavior is because their brain does not have enough glucose which means that they are not able to make enough “happy hormones” or neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine as glucose is a critical nutrient that is used to fuel the mind and body.

What is the healthiest source of glucose? Complex carbohydrates, which are found in unprocessed foods that come from plants. Your body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose. The closer the carbohydrate is to its natural form, the better. So that means a wide variety of veggies, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains. And whenever possible, Non-GMO, organic foods.

Eating or not eating has consequences that range from mental to emotional to physical, which makes nutrition very important in PTSD. Especially if you’re on a quest to reclaim some balance and self-regulatory control, you need to be giving your body and your brain what it needs to optimally function.

Below you will find a few brain healthy foods that can be used to boost your brain’s overall health.

Omega-3 is a natural anti-inflammatory found in foods like kale, spinach, mustard greens and fatty fish (like salmon). It’s essential to recognize that the body does need inflammation to protect itself damage.   However, the typical American over consumes foods that spike inflammation levels, typically found in fast food or processed foods. We like to rely on omega-3 dense foods to provide a perfect balance.

Nutmeg is an anti-inflammatory that will be pre-packaged and ready to purchase. Sprinkle this spice on your apple sauce or throw some in your hot chocolate.

Cinnamon contains an active ingredient called manganese which assists in regulating blood sugar and neutralizing free radicals. Cinnamon can go on just about anything but, try to sprinkle some on an apple and bake for about 15 minutes on 250 degrees. It’s the perfect dessert!

Capsaicin is the compound that packs the heat in peppers but can act as a pain reliever for sore muscles. This compound also helps the body fight off depression by producing endorphins when consumed.  When an individual is relapsing from amphetamine, capsaicin can be essential for treatment. In fact, it’s the only treatment after an amphetamine withdrawal occurs. Throw a couple peppers and some chicken on some sticks for a delicious and nutritious kabob.

Turmeric contains the chemical compound called curcumin that is absorbed in the body when combined with standard black pepper. Turmeric goes excellent in soups, on top of chard veggies and with curry and rice.

St. John’s Wort can be quickly grown in your front yard or picked up at the farmer’s market around the corner.  Use the leaves and flowers in the dried-out form to create a calm and relaxing tea.

Lavender is a delicious ingredient when cooking shrimp kabobs, salads, and stews. The leaves can be broken off, crushed or dried for later use. Pick up some lavender seeds to grow your own or purchase in the state you’d wish to consume.

Luckily, there are many foods, herbs, and spices that can help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression that are often associated with PTSD. Studies have shown that symptoms of PTSD have dramatically decreased when switching to foods that provide health benefits to the brain. It’s important to know that herbs and spices can benefit the overall health of the mind, but should not replace doctor’s orders or standard care.

Check out your local Farmers Markets to find fresh organic and nutritious fruits and vegetables fueling a healthy vibrant brain.