Presented by BetterHelp.
In today’s fast-paced world, it’s only natural to look for ways to improve your mental wellness and lower anxiety. One unexpected way to boost your mental health may already be sitting on your spice rack. From an exhilarating rush of endorphins to calming anti-anxiety effects, let’s take a look at what the powerful compounds in spices can do for you.
Hot spices have an interesting effect on your brain and body. When you eat a hot spice or hot pepper, your body receives a painful, burning sensation. So why torture yourself?
It turns out your body releases endorphins in response to that burning feeling of the spice. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that can create a sense of euphoria that is akin to the high you get from exercise, sometimes called “runner’s high.”
To get more of those feel-good endorphins, try working up to higher heat levels if you’re having trouble with hot peppers at first. Check the Scoville Scale to understand how hot your pepper is, and slowly work your way up the scale by adding more heat to your diet.
Cinnamon has been shown to aid in both memory and cognition due to the bioactive compounds coumarin, cinnamaldehyde, and tannins that may reduce inflammation in the brain. In studies, cinnamon was linked to slowing or preventing the cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s Disease.
There are easy ways to get more cinnamon into your daily diet that don’t involve sugary desserts. Try adding some cinnamon to your morning coffee or spiced tea. Cinnamon is often found in curry powder, or try making your own golden milk spice mix.
Tumeric and Saffron
Tumeric and saffron have been studied together for their ability to reduce depressive symptoms in people experiencing major depressive order. Again, the benefits seem to derive from the active components in the spices.
In turmeric, curcumin is the key bioactive that is associated with alleviating depressive symptoms. Tumeric has enjoyed a reputation for hundreds of years for healing anxiety and depression in the Ayurvedic medical tradition.
In saffron, the active compounds of safranal crocetin, crocin, and picrocrocin have been identified and studied. Saffron has demonstrated positive mental benefits that include neuroprotective and antidepressant qualities, as well as the ability to enhance memory.
Good old black pepper is one of world’s the most common spices, but its possible brain benefits are anything but commonplace. The primary bioactive component in black pepper is known as piperine. In studies, piperine has been associated with anti-anxiety effects.
Pepper is widely used in recipes, but consider other ways to get more of this spice in your diet. Some people add pepper to coffee. Adding some cracked pepper to your next salad or meal gives a fresh flavor and may help with a mood boost.
Create Your Own Spice Mixes
A great way to add every spice on this list is with a spice mix. Try making up your own spice mixes for a curry, tea or golden milk. You can vary your recipes to include more of the beneficial spices you need.
More Ways To Care For Your Mental Health
Adding a little more spice to your life could help improve your mental well-being and alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression, but it doesn’t mean this approach is right for everyone.
Sometimes, diet and lifestyle changes aren’t enough. But you are not alone. There are treatment options available, and online therapy offers uniquely flexible ways to interact with a therapist.
BetterHelp online therapy is one such online mental health platform that can make getting started faster and easier. With BetterHelp, you can be matched with a licensed therapist in about 24-48 hours. Once you begin, you can use in-app messaging to contact your therapist 24/7 to ask questions or report symptoms.
Another benefit to working with an online therapist is being able to participate in sessions from the privacy and convenience of your home. But no matter how you decide to take care of your mental health, know that you are not alone. There’s caring support waiting for you when you’re ready to take the next step.