Since the last few weeks, I’ve had it on my mind to write about how food can be used to cure common illnesses and perhaps even provide relief for people suffering from symptoms of more complex diseases.
Of course I take the occasional anti-inflammatory after an appointment with the chiropractor or when I’m stressed and have a splitting headache, and I’m not claiming in any way that cabbage cures cancer. But did you know that familiar foods you can find in the grocery store can be used to treat a wide range of everyday ailments? The following is a list of ordinary health complaints and what you can eat (or drink) to feel better fast:
- Headache — Drink water! It may sound too obvious and too easy, but at the very least guzzle a tall glass with your aspirin. Oftentimes a headache is simply a sign of dehydration.
- Insomnia — Try a bowl of oatmeal. Oatmeal is a natural source of melatonin, which helps you fall asleep. Who knew?
- Upset stomach — Try a grilled chicken breast on a whole-wheat roll. Once you’re past the dry toast stage, add a little protein to the mix. Lean cuts like chicken are easily digested.
- Heartburn/indigestion — Munch on saltines or soda crackers. They absorb stomach acid and are bland — in other words, they won’t cause further heartburn.
- Fatigue — Grab a handful of trail mix. The complex carbohydrates in the raisins combined with the protein found in nuts will give you a perfect boost of healthy energy.
- Body aches — Cook something in olive oil. Research has shown that olive oil is an anti-inflammatory, so it may assist in suppressing pain.
- Common cold — Eat an orange. Lots of over-the-counter remedies have zinc and vitamin C to decrease the severity of cold symptoms, but why not get it naturally? Opt for the whole fruit rather than a glass of juice and you’re also arming yourself with healthy, filling fiber.
- Fever — Drink lots of clear liquids (water in particular). As the saying goes, “Feed a cold, starve a fever.” Don’t actually starve yourself of course, but do focus on fluids rather than on foods. Your appetite will return when the fever starts going down.
- Hay fever — Seek out some local honey. Eating locally harvested honey may help get your body used to the pollens unique to your region, lessening the severity of allergy symptoms. Stir it into tea or yogurt, or drizzle over fresh berries.
- Sunburn — Try watermelon. Sunburn often causes dehydration, so aside from making sure you’re getting lots of fluids, raw, juicy fruits will also keep you from getting weak and dizzy.
- Stress — Drink a cup of peppermint tea. Studies show that peppermint calms anxiety. If you don’t like the mint flavor, find your favorite and stick with it — the simple act of holding a cup of steaming tea can release calming feelings that help reduce stress.
- Flu — Have a turkey sandwich. Protein is important to keep your body strong, and turkey is also a source of vitamin B6, which is a powerful immune booster.
- Sore muscles — Eat a banana! Bananas are potassium rich, which will help you recover more quickly if eaten one to two hours post workout. For added protein, gob on one to two tablespoons of heart-healthy nut butter.
- The “blues” — Grill some salmon. This fish is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which are proven depression fighters. Come on, get happy!
So the next time you’re tempted to open the medicine cabinet, try opening the fridge instead. Be sure to make an appointment with your doctor if something just doesn’t feel right and you’re experiencing a recurrent health issue, but for life’s everyday ailments you don’t always need to pop a pill.
Stay tuned for an upcoming post on how to prevent these and other more serious conditions, and remember: You’ve got to eat great to be great. If you know your body and you feed it well, it will surely bounce back in no time.