When Food is the Best Medicine

When most people get a headache, feel nauseous, or are struggling with digestive woes they reach for the medicine cabinet. Below: the case for raiding your fridge and pantry instead!

As someone who has taken more than her fair share of medicine in life, I love to avoid popping pills if at all possible. It’s not that I am against medicine – when I was diagnosed with JRA, doctors and the drugs they prescribed are what enabled me to lead a mostly normal life. I just think that we tend to rely too heavily on OTC drugs that are too harsh on our bodies and make it easy to avoid addressing the underlying problem.

Also, man-made medicine is not perfect. If you’ve ever listened to the end of any pharma commercial, you have probably felt very alarmed and uncomfortable during the reading of potential side effects at the end. That is why I am a firm believer in self medicating with FOOD! Because last time I checked, there aren’t too many horrifying side effects to strawberries :) Here’s what to do when facing some of life’s most pesky health issues.

Seasick. Motionsick. Sick-to-your-stomach sick.

candied_ginger-1

What did you drink when you were a kid with the flu? Ginger ale, perhaps? Well, you probably don’t need all the artificial flavors and added sugar, but you certainly do want the ginger! Ginger naturally contains painkilling and anti-nausea compounds. I like to reap the benefits by drinking a hot cup of ginger tea. If you don’t love the taste, you can start out by trying crystallized or candied ginger, gin gins, or adding fresh ginger to any pressed juice or smoothie.

You can’t stop going to the bathroom…

green banana

Eat a green banana. Studies like this one have proven that green bananas are useful in the management of persistent diarrhea. This is because green bananas are high in starch (which has not yet been converted to sugar) and high in protopectin (which has not yet been converted to soluble pectin, an easily digested fiber found in ripe bananas), both of which slow the digestion process. Green bananas also contain short chain fatty acids that help your body absorb nutrients more easily, which is why it is so helpful in recovering from the runs. Yogurt in small quantities has also been shown to help with this cause because the good bacteria it contains goes after the harmful bacteria in yourgut. Just make sure to avoid lactose overload (dairy is notoriously not great on a finicky stomach).

You’re wondering if you’re ever going to go to the bathroom again.

Berries

Try the magical formula. Light exercise + fiber + a stimulant + water. Start by going on a light jog then refueling with fresh, fibrous fruit like blackberries or a very ripe banana. Follow with a cup of green or black tea or a cup of coffee and lots and lots of water. Warning: too much coffee can have the opposite intended effect. The benefit of coffee (and teas with caffeine) is that it stimulates your muscles to contract, making it easier to produce a BM. However, too much coffee can actually make a stool harder to pass since it is also a diuretic, meaning it draws liquid out of stools. To strike the right balance, keep the serving size of the stimulant relatively small (think no more than a tall coffee at Starbucks – maybe even slightly less than that) and make sure to drink a ton of water.

“I’m burning up for you baby” Sincerely, Your Heart

apple-cider-vinegar

Experts aren’t exactly sure why apple cider vinegar works so well to suppress heart burn. One theory is that it causes the sphincter muscle at the base of the esophagus to contract, closing the opening that stomach acids can sneak past. To reap the benefits, try mixing 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar with 1 cup of water and drinking before each meal.

You’re getting sick. You can feel it in your bones.

Vitamin-C-2

Now is the time everybody starts dropping like flies. Avoid the whole seasonal sickness thing by building your immunity now! You know that Vitamin C is good for you, but did you know strawberries have more Vitamin C than oranges? Other great sources of Vitamin C (which helps the body fight off illness by stimulating the production of white blood cells – cells that attack intruders) include papaya, broccoli, pineapple, kiwi and oranges. The second you feel an illness coming on is the perfect time to really clean up your diet and focus on food groups like fruits, veggies (especially carrots, bell peppers and dark leafy greens, which are high in immunity-boosting vitamin A), and healthy fats (look for almonds and sunflower seeds, both high in vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant). Garlic is also a powerful immunity booster: it’s antiviral properties are even helpful in preventing certain types of cancer!

Do you have any homemade remedies or medicinal foods you swear by? Let me know in the comments below!

Have a beautiful day everyone!

xx

C