Check out these 3 brain-boosting recipes from Dr. Drew!
It all started on a small family farm in Southern Indiana for Dr. Drew Ramsey, MD. Thanks, in part, to a childhood spent helping his parents harvest honey and grow organic vegetables, healthy natural food came to influence his life and medical practice.
Throughout college and medical school, Ramsey learned more about healthy eating. But things really changed when he moved to New York for his residency and was introduced to new foods and culinary trends.
“I was an Indiana farm boy,” Ramsey says. “I became more of a New Yorker and was introduced to a lot of food that I knew from my medical training were very important to my health, like seafood, oysters and kale. That really spurred my love and study of nutrition.”
His passion for food became the center of his education, his career as a psychiatrist and his new book Eat Complete:The 21 Nutrients That Fuel Brainpower, Boost Weight Loss, and Transform Your Health. It was apparent to Ramsey that eating right leads to feeling better, mentally and physically. Now, it was simply a matter of using that knowledge to help others feel their best.
Food for Thought
His overall philosophy is that our brains are made of food, and when we consume certain nutrients, our brains grow bigger, smarter and happier.
See also 8 Instant Mood Boosters.
“If you’re missing certain nutrients, your brain can’t focus, you’re sad, and you’re more likely to get demented. It’s very clear that food has got to be part of our conversation when it comes to improving our mental wellness,” he says.
In Eat Complete, Ramsey starts by explaining how food and mental health are connected. He discusses all 21 nutrients including magnesium, which stimulates brain growth, Vitamin E, which may decrease inflammation in the brain and Iron – one of the most critical elements to brain function as it transports and provides oxygen to every cell of the body.
Readers are then able to review their own diet using a nutritional assessment that Ramsey developed for his clients. From there, they can choose from 100 recipes to find the ones that will deliver the nutrients they may be missing.
Is Gluten Making You Crazy?
Ramsey believes that, in some cases, medication can be replaced by a proper diet, especially if someone is gluten-intolerant.
“There’s a reason why there’s a buzz around gluten when 1-2% of the population [have] Celiac Disease,” Ramsey says. “When you have Celiac’s and you eat gluten, it makes you mentally crazy. People get agitated, irritable, incredibly depressed. That’s 3 to 5 million people in America whose health is radically transformed once they cut out wheat and other gluten-containing foods.”
See also Should You Avoid Gluten?
As a result, most of the recipes in Eat Complete are gluten-free. Ramsey asserts that most people don’t have any problems getting enough wheat and gluten in their diets. Instead, there seems to be a negative connection between gut health and overexposure to gluten. Ramsey also lives in a gluten-free household and understands how challenging it can be for families to avoid it.
The Key to Cooking Healthy Food? Keep it Simple.
Eat Complete is meant to be straightforward, featuring recipes that have a few key ingredients.
“We are all too busy,” Ramsey says. “It should be simple.”
Take for example the Quinoa-Mushroom Frittata, which he believes is a great option for busy parents, because it's an easy way to sneak more veggies into kids' diets.
Ramsey is also the master of upgrades. Use his favorite meal as an example: spaghetti and meatballs.
“You think about that [dish] initially as a big plate of empty carbs, gluten and meat. In our house we use a great quinoa pasta and probably not as much pasta as you might get...” Ramsey says. “The sauce is going to be full of veggies, as are the meatballs. They will have a lot of onions in them; they can have less meat, because I use a breadcrumb filler. The sauce will have things like onions, carrots, and, a lot of times, I really love to put a little craziness in the sauce and add in some things like olives and anchovies.”
This “classic made clean” is a prime example of his overall philosophy that healthy food can be simple and delicious.
And, fortunately, his philosophy includes dessert.
“I’m a big advocate of dessert because life and food should be enjoyed. I don’t like feeling guilty while I’m eating dessert,” Ramsey said.
Ramsey aims to change clean eating from something that is confusing and complicated to delicious, simple and economical. Specifically, he strives to make people excited about the foods they’re choosing and eating by talking to his patients about their food, where they shop and who they are sharing their meals with. This is one of the most fun parts of his job, Ramsey says.
“That’s really the goal of Eat Complete – to back that up with the science of what our body needs and translate it to food,” he says.
Here are 3 top tips to Eat Complete:
- Nutrient Density: Focus on eating foods that include the highest concentration of nutrients. This way every calorie is packed with nutrients and you are eating efficiently.
- Culinary Flexibility: Find ways to be versatile with the foods you’re eating. Changing up the use can prevent boredom and can give a nutrient boost to a variety of meals. One ingredient could be used in a soup as well as in a breakfast meal, salad, smoothie, snack, or drink.
- Local Access: Find places around your community that sell local, seasonal food. Farmers’ markets are an ideal place to buy fresh, in season, local, and nutrient dense ingredients.