This Is Your Brain on Kale - Dr Drew Ramsey MD

Image courtesy Flickr/Bobbi Bowers

The frenzy over kale has turned from foodie buzz to eater roar. Around the country everyone is talking about kale. As a physician, nothing could please me more. Kale represents an important lesson for all us eaters about the power of food choices to transform our health. Sure, let’s disclose my bias right away. My new book 50 Shades of Kale (Harper/Wave 2013,) co-authored with Chef Jennifer Iserloh, is just out. It is a gorgeous tribute to our muse kale and at its core a food prescription aimed to improve your brain health.

So what’s all the kale hype about?

I love recommending kale for three fundamental reasons: Kale tops the charts of nutrient density, possesses incredible culinary flexibility, and is easy to grow almost anywhere. My ultimate measure of a food is its power to support brain health, and it is clear that more kale in your diet means a happier, healthier, sexier you — all the basic signs that your brain is running well.

How does kale do this? What’s the miracle in that crunch? Let’s start with the power of phytonutrients, molecules in plants that do amazing things. One called sulfurophane travels from your kale smoothie to your liver where it amps up your body’s natural detox power. Another called kaempferol is truly the fountain of youth — it turns on the genes that promote longer life. (Move over red wine resveratrol.) Add to this mix carotenoids, which Harvard University just linked to one’s overall sense of optimism, and glucosinolates, a known cancer fighter, and it is clear that kale is good medicine. Just step into the “Farmacy.”

Brain health depends on picking the right fats in your diet, as the brain is about 60 percent fat. One vital set of fats most eaters need more of is the omega-3s, which happen to be the main kind of fat in kale. The plant-based omega-3 ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) is linked to numerous health benefits like lowering the risk of depression and diabetes. Both diabetes and obesity wreak havoc on the brain and kale is a great first step to fighting both. High blood sugar ages blood vessels and brain cells more quickly and fat cells create “pro-inflammatory” signals and frankly, who wants an inflamed brain? The fiber in kale is naturally filling and also promotes better gut health. And kale is a naturally low-carb food, so there is no spike in blood sugar.

The brain depends on essential vitamins and minerals to function. By these traditional measures of nutrient density, kale is at the top of the charts. A cup of raw kale has just 33 calories, yet you get a huge dose of vitamin C (134 percent RDA), pro-vitamin A (206 percent RDA), and a vitamin K (684 percent RDA). Those are some hefty numbers, but what is with all that vitamin K?! We don’t hear much about this essential vitamin, but this is a nutrient to watch. Long associated with blood clotting, vitamin K is a powerful anti-oxidant that protects fat. It is a key co-factor need to make the specialized fats called sphingolipids that create the structure of our brain cells, and it promotes brain cells being more resilient by influencing gene expression. Vitamin K is also needed for bone health, and kale happens to be a great source of another bone-builder. Studies of calcium absorption from kale have shown its absorption to be superior to milk! That’s because unlike many other greens such as spinach, kale has almost no oxalates that impair absorption. Kale also has a lot of protein for a leafy green. Add to this iron, folate, and vitamin B6, all needed to make brain molecules like serotonin and dopamine, and it is clear that kale is brain food.

Think kale is a trendy foodie food? Kale has always been a farmer food as it is easy to grow, resistant to pests and drought, and provides food late into the winter. Once kale endures a frost, the leaves become slightly sweeter. The hardy plant yields fresh greens late into the winter. You don’t have to be a farmer to produce small kale crop for yourself, you just need a sunbeam and a window box. Kale can be used to cook everything from raw salads to soups to cocktails. With so many health benefits and so many ways to prepare it, it is no wonder kale is a staple around the world from Scotland to Kenya.

A Vermont folk artist T-shirt designer was recently sued for his hand-printed shirts that read: Eat More Kale. He is accused of infringing on the trademark of a certain fast food restaurant that promotes eating more chicken. But suggesting what people should eat for health is a really medical intervention. Plus, can anyone claim ownership of this phrase “eat more” except for perhaps Hippocrates himself. (“Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.) So take this as medical advice* for your brain health: Eat More Kale America and know you are building a better brain

For unique, colorful and surprising ways to weave kale into your diet, please check out 50 Shades of Kale. If you want to help spread the health of kale in your community, school, church, or health care facility, Chef Jen and I founded National Kale Day, an initiative to get every American to eat kale on Oct. 2.

 

*If you take blood thinner or have an issue with blood clotting, contact your physician before increasing your kale intake, as it can interfere with anti-clotting medications like warfarin.

 

Eat Complete

Winner of a 2017 IACP Cookbook Award  •  Finalist for a Books for a Better Life Award

Named one of the top health and wellness books for 2016 by Well + Good and MindBodyGreen

 

From leading psychiatrist and author of Fifty Shades of Kale comes a collection of 100 simple, delicious, and affordable recipes to help you get the core nutrients your brain and body need to stay happy and healthy.

What does food have to do with brain health? Everything.

Your brain burns more of the food you eat than any other organ. It determines if you gain or lose weight, if you’re feeling energetic or fatigued, if you’re upbeat or depressed. In this essential guide and cookbook, Drew Ramsey, MD, explores the role the human brain plays in every part of your life, including mood, health, focus, memory, and appetite, and reveals what foods you need to eat to keep your brain—and by extension your body—properly fueled.

Drawing upon cutting-edge scientific research, Dr. Ramsey identifies the twenty-one nutrients most important to brain health and overall well-being—the very nutrients that are often lacking in most people’s diets. Without these nutrients, he emphasizes, our brains and bodies don’t run the way they should.

Eat Complete includes 100 appetizing, easy, gluten-free recipes engineered for optimal nourishment. It also teaches readers how to use food to correct the nutrient deficiencies causing brain drain and poor health for millions. For example:

• Start the day with an Orange Pecan Waffle or a Turmeric Raspberry Almond Smoothie, and the Vitamin E found in the nuts will work to protect vulnerable brain fat (plus the fiber keeps you satisfied until lunch).

• Enjoy Garlic Butter Shrimp over Zucchini Noodles and Mussels with Garlicky Kale Ribbons and Artichokes, and the zinc and magnesium from the seafood will help stimulate the growth of new brain cells.

• Want to slow down your brain’s aging process? Indulge with a cup of Turmeric Cinnamon Hot Chocolate, and the flavanols found in chocolate both increase blood flow to the brain and help fight age-related memory decline.

Featuring fifty stunning, full-color photographs, Eat Complete helps you pinpoint the nutrients missing from your diet and gives you tasty recipes to transform your health—and ultimately your life.

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The Happiness Diet

For the first time in history, too much food is making us sick. It's all too apparent that the Modern American Diet (MAD) is expanding our waistlines; what's less obvious is that it's starving and shrinking our brains. Rates of obesity and depression have recently doubled, and while these epidemics are closely linked, few experts are connecting the dots for the average American.

Using the latest data from the rapidly changing fields of neuroscience and nutrition, The Happiness Dietshows that over the past several generations small, seemingly insignificant changes to our diet have stripped it of nutrients--like magnesium, vitamin B12, iron, and vitamin D, as well as some very special fats--that are essential for happy, well-balanced brains. These shifts also explain the overabundance of mood-destroying foods in the average American's diet and why they predispose most of us to excessive weight gain.

After a clear explanation of how we've all been led so far astray, The Happiness Diet empowers the reader with simple, straightforward solutions. Graham and Ramsey show you how to steer clear of this MAD way of life with foods to swear off, shopping tips, brain-building recipes, and other practical advice, and then remake your diet by doubling down on feel-good foods--even the all-American burger.

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Fifty Shades of Kale

Kale gets sexy in Fifty Shades of Kale by Drew Ramsey, M.D., and Jennifer Iserloh, with 50 recipes that are mouth-wateringly delicious and do a body good.
 
Release yourself from the bondage of guilt and start cooking meals with the ingredients you love: meat, cheese, and yes—even butter. Nutrient-rich kale provides essential vitamins and minerals to keep you healthy, happy, and lean—so you can indulge in your most delicious desires. Whether you’re a cooking novice or a real kale submissive, you will undoubtedly succumb to Kale’s charms.

From Mushroom and Kale Risotto to Kale Kiwi Gazpacho, Fifty Shade of Kale offers simple ways to have your kale and eat it, too, as well as nutritional information, cooking tips, and a tutorial on kale in all her glorious shades.
 
Indulge your culinary passions with Fifty Shades of Kale: 50 Fresh and Satisfying Recipes That Are Bound to Please.

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