#96 Can We Eat To Beat Depression? with Dr Drew Ramsey

07 Apr 2021

Mental health is a hugely complex multifactorial issue with many causes that can have its roots in pain, psychological trauma, childhood and the complexity of family life. But, through the lens of traditional psychiatry, food, inflammation, the importance of gut health and nutrition have largely been ignored.

We’ve had some incredible guests on the pod to talk about this subject in the past including Professor Felice Jacka, Dr Uma Naidoo and Dr Ramsey himself. But the magnitude of the problem and the need to address these issues that are responsible for the leading cause of disability worldwide motivates me to continue having these difficult but important conversations on the podcast.

Drew Ramsey, MD is a leading innovator in mental health, combining clinical excellence, nutritional interventions and creative media. He is an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia and in active clinical practice in New York City.

His latest book ‘Eat to Beat Depression’  is perhaps his best yet, which includes a practical guide to how and why food is central to psychiatry and how you can take care of your brain and  mood with food.

As always, Dr Drew Ramsey brings his unique and humble style of humour, joy and playfulness to what is a difficult topic to talk about, not to understate the subject but to make it more accessible and provide an invitation for more discussion around these subjects.

I humbly tip my hat to all the work he’s done and continues to do in teaching both the  public and fellow clinicians the value of nutrition in medicine.    

I hope you  enjoy todays discussion

You can find the recipe Drew made me on YouTube and the Podcast show notes, plus the links to his courses and TED talk all below.


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What a pleasure to have Drew on the show again today - its always a delight to chat and hear his amazing insight into mental health.
Ive added some great resources for you below here:

Dr Drew Ramsey Kale & Basil Pesto Recipes:
Kale and Basil Pesto (serves 4)
Pesto expands your greens intake beyond salads, stir-fries, and sautés . Use the formula to find your favorite combination . Basil and pine nuts are the classic pesto base, but there are so many other nuts and greens that make nutritious options . On our farm we started with this version adding 1 cup of kale and swapping the pine nuts for cashews and pepitas, which deliver more iron and magnesium . For optimal freshness, and to avoid excess excess salt and added fats, use raw, unsalted nuts and seeds . You can deepen the flavor by toasting then cooling the nuts before adding them to the pesto . Place them on a baking sheet in a 350°F oven for 7 to 10 minutes, checking and tossing regularly, until browned .
We make and freeze pesto, as it is such a versatile base. For a killer creamy sauce great with grilled vegetables and meats, swap in 1/2 cup yogurt or sour cream for the olive oil . Or make it vegan by swapping in 1/3 cup nutritional yeast or miso for the Parmesan .
Kale Pesto
  • 2 large lacinato kale leaves (about 1 cup) Kosher salt
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2  cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup unsalted, raw cashews (or try toasted—see headnote)
  • ¼ cup unsalted, raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds—see headnote)
  • 2 Brazil nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled Juice of 1 large lemon (about 3 tablespoons), plus more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 . Remove the tough ribs from the kale leaves and discard them . Roughly chop the kale, sprinkle with salt, and use your hands to massage them it until they feel wet and soft, 15 to 20 seconds . Place in a food processor or blender . 2 . Add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth . You may have to scrape down the sides a couple times . Taste and season with more salt and lem- on juice if needed .
Pesto Formula (Serves 4 -  about 2 Cups Pesto)
Each time I think I know pesto, I hear about an option I’d never considered: pistachios and sunflower seeds or cilantro and radicchio . That is part of pesto’s role in fighting for your mental health—the endless variations and tastes . Use this formula to help you find your combinations .
  • 3 cups fresh basil and greens
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup unsalted nuts (toasted or raw)
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons acid (lemon or lime juice, or a light-colored vinegar), plus more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
Combine all the ingredients a food processor or blender and process until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed . Taste and season with more salt and acid if needed .

GUEST: Dr Drew Ramsey

Drew Ramsey, MD is a leading innovator in mental health, combining clinical excellence, nutritional interventions and creative media. He is an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and in active clinical practice in New York City. His work and writing have been featured by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Lancet Psychiatry, and The Today Show, BBC, and  NPR, which named him a “kale evangelist.” He’s given two TEDx talks with a third coming this Fall. He is the author of three books, Eat Complete: The 21 Nutrients that Fuel Brain Power, Boost Weight Loss and Transform Your Health, 50 Shades of Kale, and The Happiness Diet. His e-course, Eat To Beat Depression, helps people maximize their brain health with every bite. He is on the Advisory Board at Men’s Health, the Editorial Board at Medscape Psychiatry, and is a Scientific Adviser to the stigma-fighting non-profit Bring Change To Mind.  He splits his time between New York City and rural Indiana where he lives with his wife, children and parents on his 127 acre organic farm and forest.

with Dr Drew Ramsey

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