Goodness, y'all. If 2020 hasn't driven any other point home—and we all know, there are a billion and one to ponder—it's the fact that now, more than ever, we've got to do all that we can to proactively care for our mental health and well-being. This includes seeing our physician if we're not feeling well. This includes making an appointment to speak with a reputable therapist, counselor or life coach, if we need some help working through some things. This means taking some time off of social media and turning off our phones so that we can take a break from all of the "noise" that is constantly around us. This means making pampering and chilling out top priorities. This means finding inner peace. You know what else? This also means practicing watching our diet. No joke.
One day, I'll have to get into how certain foods can actually affect your mental health in negative ways (checking out "Why You Should Consider Leaving Fast Food Alone" is a good starting point). But today, for now, let's look at 10 foods that are actually proven to improve your mental stability and longevity. Because, in times like these, we all can use every ounce of help that we can get…right? Amen.
It really is important to eat fruits and veggies when they're in season; that way, you can get the most nutrients out of 'em. That said, when it comes to blackberries, the best time of year to consume them is between the end of the summer and the beginning of autumn. If you wait until then to cop some, you'll end up with berries that are packed with vitamins C and K, fiber and manganese, along with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that will help to support oral health and strong bones. Something else that blackberries contain is anthocyanins; these are natural compounds that fight to inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
The reason why you should consider eating blackberries to improve your mental health is because anthocyanins also help to keep free radicals from damaging your brain cells in a way that could ultimately lead to memory loss. Also, thanks to the fruit's anti-inflammatory properties, blackberries can reduce brain inflammation that could possibly lead to long-term cognitive decline.
One of my favorite meats is definitely lamb. I mean, give me some lamb chops and you've got a fan for life! Anyway, aside from being high in protein, lamb is also a good source of omega-3 and 6, along with vitamins B12 and B3, zinc and selenium. All of these point to this kind of meat providing quite a few health benefits. For instance, lamb is high in heme iron (a type of iron that is easily absorbed into your bloodstream); creatine (an organic compound that creates muscle mass); glutathione (which is a big time antioxidant), and Linoleic Acid (LA) which is an acid that can actually reduce your chances of having a heart attack. In fact, lamb contains more LA than any other meat does.
Lamb is dope when it comes to your mental health because it's also considered to be a dopamine-rich type of food. Dopamine helps to get you in a better mood, improves your memory, counteracts depression and can even make you less impulsive.
The tiny veggie trees known as broccoli are good for you for a myriad of reasons. Broccoli has protein, fiber, a ton of vitamins C and K, folate and Vitamin A in it. The antioxidants in broccoli help to fight off free radicals; the bioactive compounds it contains reduces bodily inflammation; its fiber decreases the chances of constipation; its bioactive compound sulforaphane helps to slow down the signs of aging, and the Vitamin C that's in broccoli will keep your immune system healthy and strong.
Another compound that broccoli has in it is kaempferol. There are studies to support that it's effective at reducing the inflammation of neural tissue. Plus, its other bioactive compounds are able to support healthy brain function too.
4. Shiitake Mushrooms
Although I'm not a vegetarian (or vegan), whenever I'm in the mood to go for a meat alternative, believe it or not, I typically reach for mushrooms. To me, they have a "meat-like texture" to them without all of the preservatives that a lot of "fake meat" contains. When it comes to mushrooms that are super healthy, you can't do much better than shiitake ones. They contain a fair amount of protein and fiber, but where these mushrooms really shine is the fact that they're high in copper and Vitamin B5. Plus, they contain compounds that will lower your cholesterol levels and boost your immune system, and they contain antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties that can reduce viral, bacterial, or fungal infections.
Shiitake mushrooms also have a good amount of zinc in them. This is great to know because zinc is a mineral that is scientifically proven to reduce depression-related symptoms while calming your nerves so that you're less anxious.
5. Swiss Chard
When the topic of dark leafy greens comes up, oftentimes it's ones like kale or spinach that immediately come to mind. But if you want to add some variety to your greens-eating collection, be sure to get some swiss chard into the mix. For starters, it's high in fiber. But what's really mind-blowing is swiss chard contains a whopping 716 percent of the Vitamin K that your system needs on a daily basis and 214 percent of the Vitamin A that you need as well (not to mention that it contains magnesium, manganese, potassium, iron and copper too). Swiss chard is also high in antioxidants that can help to protect your heart, lower your blood sugar levels and keep your weight in balance.
Thanks to the magnesium that's in this particular green vegetable, swiss chard can help to speed up the healing process of a migraine, put you into a better mood and, there are even studies that reveal magnesium can help to treat certain neurological disorders as well.
Maca is a medicinal root from Peru. Over the past several years, it's become all the rage because it also provides loads of health benefits. Maca offers 133 percent of the daily amount of Vitamin C that your body needs. Maca also contains 85 percent of the daily copper that your system requires too. It contains a pretty impressive amount of fiber and protein, along with a good amount of iron, potassium and Vitamin B6. If you're looking for something that will boost your libido, improve your partner's sperm quality or relieve menopausal symptoms, maca's totally got your back. Some athletes also take maca in supplement form in order to boost their endurance.
If you're feeling a little stressed out, getting some maca into your system might be just what your body desires. That's because another benefit of maca—whether in supplement or powder form—is it also helps to reduce anxiety and depression-related symptoms; this is, in part, due to the flavonoids that are in it.
C'mon. Is there anything better than a piece of grilled salmon and rice, a salmon caesar salad or some fresh salmon sushi? Aside from how delicious these meals are, salmon has omega-3 fatty acids to lower your blood pressure and give you a boost of energy; vitamins A, D, E and K to support your bone and eye health; B vitamins to level out your cortisol levels, and fatty acids to lubricate your joints and also keep your skin healthy and radiant.
The omega-3 fatty acids in salmon are really good for your mental health because they can help to elevate your memory retention. Plus, those acids, combined with the Vitamin D that is also in this type of fish, can help to give you a boost of energy and feelings of positivity on the days when you are feeling a little on the low side.
8. Brown Rice
Brown rice is a whole grain. Off top, that makes it a food that is good for your overall health and well-being. It's got fiber, protein and a ton of manganese (81 percent of your reference daily intake). Brown rice also contains selenium, magnesium, phosphorus and vitamins B1, B3 and B6. Since this is the kind of whole grain that also has phytic acid and polyphenols in it, brown rice can lower your blood sugar. The selenium in it can help to prevent your arteries from clogging up and its fiber amount can help to keep you regular and toxin-free.
Brown rice does your brain a world of good because it's also got the natural compound Gamma-Aminobutyric (GABA) acid in it. It's kind of a long story but, basically what GABA does is help to slow down the neurons in your brain so that you don't feel as upset, worried or anxious as you would if they were running full throttle. The more you know, y'all.
9. Seeds and Nuts
Do you like to snack on seeds like pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and chia seeds or nuts like almonds, cashews or peanuts? If so, good for you. Whether you realize it or not, when you eat seeds and nuts like these, your body is getting a good dose of monounsaturated fats (which decreases your chances of having heart disease or type 2 diabetes), zero dietary cholesterol, lots of fiber, plenty of antioxidants, and vitamins and minerals like vitamins B6 and E, folate, magnesium, calcium, zinc, copper, selenium and plant iron.
Something else that both seeds and nuts have an abundance of is serotonin. This is good to know because it's a natural neurotransmitter in your body that regulates your moods, your sleeping patterns, your libido and your appetite. When serotonin is flowing throughout your body, your mental health and well-being is better in every way.
Cinnamon is a must-have spice for any woman. It maintains vaginal health. It's a great aphrodisiac. It contains strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It lowers the amount of bad cholesterol that's in your system. Cinnamon also has the ability to reduce the amount of insulin resistance that's in your body. It fights viral and bacterial infections. There are even studies which reveal that cinnamon slows down the growth of HIV cells.
As far as your brain goes, not only does cinnamon fight to stifle the build-up of tau (a protein that can eventually lead to Alzheimer's disease), whether you smell it or consume it, cinnamon is a spice that increases cognitive function and memory. So, whether you decide to sprinkle it on a favorite drink or bake with it, make sure to add cinnamon more to your diet. Your mental health will thank you for it in so many different ways!
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (email@example.com) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Three Influencers Show Off Their 2022 Holiday Hair Looks Using Their SheaMoisture Faves
This post is in partnership with SheaMoisture.
For Black women, there’s one compliment that will boost our confidence like none other: “Come through hair!” You know the vibe! Walking into a room with folks acknowledging that your hair is laid for the gawds, and the effort that it took to get it there, is a top five feeling. And with the holiday season just weeks away, you’ll be hearing that quite often. Between Thanksgiving gatherings with the family, Friendsgiving, company parties, and Christmas get-togethers, the opportunities to let your hair show up and show out aren’t too far away.
Apart from the holiday stuntin’, the end-of-year slow down is also the perfect opportunity to reevaluate the year your hair has had. Whether you kept it cute with protective braids, went big with blowouts, or let loose with textured twist-outs, this is the perfect time to give your hair the gift of TLC - tender lovin’ curls. Like the weather, our hair goes through seasons and has different needs depending on what we’ve put it through. Perhaps the transition into fall/winter has left your curls a bit parched and in need of some serious hydration. Or maybe your strands could use some restorative conditioning after taking it down from a convenient protective style. No matter what category you fall into, SheaMoisture has hundreds of ways that you can clean, treat and refresh your hair for a healthy shine that will bring you into the new year right. Bring your curls back to life with the nourishing and fragrant Coconut & Hibiscus line. Boosted with natural ingredients such as coconut oil, neem oil, carrot oil, and shea butter, this line is the antidote to reviving thirsty, dehydrated hair. Even better - with SheaMoisture’s custom quiz, you can get a hair analysis that will lead you to the right products for your hair needs. Say hello to sleek edges, and moisturized, stronger strands.
In need of a little hair-spiration? We got you covered! xoNecole and SheaMoisture have teamed up with three natural hair influencers to debut their holiday hair looks. Meet Ambrosia Malbrough, Jasmin Moses, and Daye Covington - beauty bawses who’ve created some incredible holiday looks that are stylish and easy to achieve. They also gave us the scoop on the SheaMoisture products they’re loving right now, as well as their 2023 hair goals.
Read on for more:
Daye Covington Kicks Her Twist Out Up A Notch With A Voluminous Updo
“I wanted to create a style that was super cute but also easy to pull together, so I went with a puff and tendril combo! It's a style that can be done on freshly washed curls or one that can be done on old hair. [It’s perfect for] when we're short for time but want to add a little razzle-dazzle to our hair before a special occasion. It's very versatile!”
“My favorite Shea Moisture product hand's down is the Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie! That is definitely a #TeamNaturalHair staple. Coconut is one of the ingredients that my hair favors. I also find that medium/light creams absorb best in my hair, so it's no surprise that I get amazing definition and moisture when I use the Curl Enhancing Smoothie. I love it for twist-outs, braid-outs, and rod set styles. Any product that can give me versatility when it comes to styling plus added moisture, that's what a staple is for me!”
“I would love to dye my hair back to blue! It was my favorite hair color, but unfortunately, my 9-5 now prohibits unnatural hair colors. I'm pushing it with this dark plum color, but I look forward to the day where I can transition into a new stage of life and go back to blue. In the meantime, I'm focusing on length retention. I've been doing well for 2022 and have had no major cuts so I'm hoping to stay consistent with my routine in 2023.”
Follow Daye on Instagram @dayelasoul
Ambrosia Malbrough Made Magic With Poppin’ And Defined Finger Coils
“[Finger coils] is a style that I don’t do often, it takes much more time than my usual wash and go. But that extra time put in makes it extra special and so worth it. The results are beautiful. It’s a style that offers many days of wear, too!”
“[Earlier this year] I did my 4th big chop. This time around hit different as a mom of two. I don’t always have the extra time on my hands to put into my hair, so the short ‘do has been convenient. I’ve realized that not all wash days are created equal even if I use the same products. However, my 4c coils are loving the products I'm using now”
“Since I’ve been having my hair dyed, I’m looking forward to trying Shea Moisture’s new Mongongo and Jojoba Oils High Porosity Moisture Replenish Hair Masque. I am currently growing my hair out and plan on having fun with more highlights and a new shape - possibly a shag cut in 2023!”
Follow Ambrosia on Instagram at @brosiaaa
Jasmin Moses Shows The Secrets To Her Jaw-Dropping Curly Ponytail
“I love doing a sleek ponytail with my baby hairs laid to a T! It helps so my hair isn't in the way when I am cooking and running errands, but it's still snatched to provoke anyone in the room to stop me to say 'girllll your hair is laid!'. I like to add a little razzle dazzle by adding my cute, naturally curly ponytail extensions. It elevates the look perfectly for the holidays.”
“It took me from my freshman year of college to now, almost seven whole years, to know what works for my hair. I love protective styles like wigs and braids because my hair thrives when I don't mess with it. When I leave my hair alone, it grows the best, so I love taking off my wig when I get home, oiling my scalp and putting my bonnet on for bed! When I do wear my natural hair out, what helps me maintain the health of my hair is to get in a rhythm with my hair. [I do] my wash days on Sunday, wear it in a wash n’ go all week, and repeat the next Sunday.”
“My 2023 hair goal is to get back to my 2021 hair length! Recently, a hairstyle damaged my hair causing me to lose 4 inches in length, which was not fun. So I’m working on getting [my hair] back to its original health and keep growing from there! I am also looking forward to trying the Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie as a one-product wash n’ go! I hear such great things about it and I think it will give me hold while also keeping my hair lightweight and voluminous. I’m also excited about the Coconut & Hibiscus Defining Styling Gel and Edge Gel.”
Follow Jasmin on Instagram @slimreshae
Exclusive: Teyana Taylor And Director A.V Rockwell Explore Black Motherhood In New Film, 'A Thousand And One'
“This was a match made in denim and door-knocker heaven!” Actress Teyana Taylor jokingly said after letting out a laugh. She was referring to her relationship with the main character Inez De La Paz, in the film A Thousand and One, approaching theaters nationwide this Friday.
Set against the backdrop of 90s - early 2000s Harlem at the inception of gentrification, A Thousand and One chronicles the life of a 20-something-year-old mother of color raising her son. The film captures the realness and relatability of motherhood, family, and marriage. The movie stars multi-talented actress/entertainer Teyana Taylor, William Cartlett, Aaron Kingsley, Josiah Cross, Aven Courtney, and Terri Abney. It was executive produced by Lena Waithe and was written and directed by A.V. Rockwell.
This film was written through the lens of the often complicated relationship between mothers and sons. However, it isn't your typical movie about urban Black motherhood. No one gets shot, has a drug addiction, and if you ask me, Inez De La Paz (Teyana Taylor’s character) is a ‘shero’; she saves the day, or at least Terry’s life (her son).
This multilayered film touches on the challenges faced while establishing a life following a prison sentence, the flawed NYC foster care system, motherhood, marriage, love, the relationship between a father and son, and Black NYC neighborhoods at the onset of gentrification.
"There's a lot of pain in it, and in order to express pain, there has to be a love that comes with it. So I felt like the movie was a love letter to Black women but a heartbreak letter to New York City…. We contributed so much to the city and made it the special place that it is," said Rockwell. I asked myself, 'How do I reconcile the fact that this place that I love and that is home to me never loved me?'
Teyana Taylor and Aaron Kingsley Adetola.
Photo courtesy of Focus Feature Films
Both Rockwell and Taylor are New York natives, Rockwell is from Queens, and Taylor is from Harlem. The pair agreed they directly related to the lead character, Inez. During our conversation, Taylor explained how we could all connect with Inez. "Inez is within us from being judged or considered difficult for your strength, for your voice, for your tone, no matter how right you are, you're wrong because you're too loud… When you minimize yourself, it's an issue. You're not enough, and when you maximize yourself, it's too much," she said.
According to Rockwell, Taylor auditioned for the role and earned it fair and square, "Nobody can take away from the fact that she earned this role in all the right ways. I think it's great to have that cherry on top. The fact that she's a Harlem girl and that this is a movie about protecting her neighborhood not only what it means to us New Yorkers but what it means to black identity and history in general," she said. "Not only are we honoring Harlem, [but] she is [also] a part of that history that we are trying to protect. I'm really proud of that as well. This person who is a part of this historic neighborhood gets to be the one leading the torch of this role."
We all know Taylor as the uber-talented singer, dancer, actress, fashionista, entrepreneur, artist, wife, and mother. She seems to do it all so effortlessly, but Taylor described the role as therapeutic. It allowed her to put down that superwoman persona while filming on set. "The easy part about this role was that I'm already a mom, so I'm naturally nurturing… In some ways, Inez became very therapeutic for me because it was the only time that I could actually be weak and turn off my strength, and cry and let out all of the things I was battling," the "Rose in Harlem" singer revealed.
Director A.V. Rockwell
Photo courtesy of Focus Feature Films
After watching Taylor master the leading role of this complicated story, it's not absurd to think she may be awarded extensively for her portrayal of Inez. Taylor told me she's ready for everything to come but isn't looking to get too comfortable while soaking up the likely inflow of accolades, "I'm ready. I think it's everything that I prayed for. I think this is God saying ok, here you go… I'm blessed, and I'm grateful, and I just want to continue to just keep working hard and not get too comfortable. Stay hungry, stay the hustler that I am…this is really only just the beginning."
It's not every day we get to see a film with a Black woman starring in a leading role. Furthermore, it's not common to see a Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize-winning movie directed by a Black woman. It's no secret that diversity in Hollywood is uncommon, and the aforementioned are all the more reasons we should visit theaters this Friday to see A Thousand and One.
Not only is this film amazing storytelling, but the production of this film helps to move the needle of diversifying Hollywood and creating spaces for Black women in the film industry forward.
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Feature image by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images for Focus Features