30 Foods to eat for optimal health

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No one’s discounting the accuracy of modern medicine, of course, but sometimes you can help treat (or at least, help along) common health issues with staples found in your kitchen!

Here are 30 go-to goodies to boost your health!

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GENERAL HEALTH

1. Lemons for immune function

Lemons have high vitamin C and antioxidant content, which is great for your immune function. All citrus fruits are good vitamin C sources, but lemons in particular are low in sugar content (for comparison, an orange has about the same vitamin C content as a lemon, but double the sugar and calories). Pop slices of lemon in your water bottle for a refreshing and healthy drink throughout the day.

2. Yogurt for gut health

Yogurt is a probiotic food, which means that it introduces live, active strains of “good” bacteria into your digestive tract. Probiotics help maintain the pH balance in your digestive tract, reducing unpleasant gut symptoms. Make sure probiotics are always present in your gut by eating a cup of unsweetened, low-fat yogurt a day.

3. Seaweed for thyroid function

Seaweed is high on iodine absorbed from the ocean. Sufficient amounts of iodine will be good for your thyroid, the organ that regulates metabolism and a range of other processes in your body. Snack on nori, wakame, kelp, and kombu or add them to your meals to fulfill your daily requirement for iodine. Take care not to eat too much though, as too much iodine will throw your thyroid function out of whack!

4. Grapefruit for liver health

Grapefruit contains naringin and naringenin, two antioxidants that protect the liver from injury. Liver damage can occur if there is excess fat buildup in the liver cells, as this promotes inflammation. Naringin and naringenin supplement the enzymes that burn fat, preventing fat from depositing in the liver.

5. Lemon balm tea for cold sores

Cold sores are blisters around the mouth caused by a non-sexual strain of the herpes virus. Lemon balm tea has been proven to have antiviral properties that speed up healing and prevent flares. Lemon balm is a kind of mint (not lemon!), so application of cool, soothing lemon balm tea on the blisters provides pain relief.

6. Tomatoes for prostate health

Tomatoes have lycopene, an antioxidant that impedes cancer cell production and reduces tumor growth in the prostate. Cook your tomatoes or use pureed tomato products like catsup and tomato paste to make absorbing lycopene easier for your body.

7. Dark chocolate for heart health

Dark chocolate (note – not milk chocolate!) contains flavonoids which can lower blood pressure and protect the lining of the blood vessels. This reduces your risk for hypertension and coronary heart disease. Limit your snacking to one square of dark chocolate per day, and choose a bar that is made of at least 70% cocoa.

8. Blueberries for brain health

Blueberries are rich in antioxidants that protect your brain cells from free radical damage. A 2012 study supposes that antioxidants from blueberries can preserve cognition and motor control by the brain. Consume a cup of blueberries a day to help improve memory and prevent deterioration of your brain cells.

9. Pomegranates for healthy skin

Pomegranates contain polyphenols that lengthen the life of skin cells that create collagen and elastin. It is also rich in ellagic acid, an antioxidant that protects your skin from sun damage, and anthocyanins and tannins that prevent skin cancer. You can eat pomegranates to harness their effects, or use them as a scrub on your skin!

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KIDS AND TEENS’ HEALTH

10. Applesauce for diaper rash

Babies and toddlers get diaper rash when they shift to solid foods and get diarrhea as the digestive tract adjusts to different kinds of foods. The soiled diaper rubs and irritates your child’s skin, causing the rash. To prevent diarrhea—and thus, diaper rash—you can feed your child a BRAT diet (banana, rice, applesauce and toast). This is an easy to digest but bulk-forming diet that can halt diarrhea and reduce wet diapers.

 11. Chamomile for croup

Children are prone to croup, a viral respiratory infection that causes an inflammation of the voice box and windpipe. Drinking chamomile tea can help stop the inflammation, while inhaling the steam from the tea can melt sticky mucus coating the airways. Chamomile also has calming properties, bringing down your child’s respiratory rate and helping them breathe easier. 

12. Bacon for epilepsy

It’s not just a greasy, guilty treat! Bacon is high in fat, and studies show that high-fat, low-carb diets are beneficial for kids with seizure disorders like epilepsy. Swap out carbohydrate sources of energy for fat-based ones like bacon, mayonnaise, butter, eggs, cheese, and cream to reduce seizures.

13. Sugar for hiccups

Hiccups are caused by an irritation of the vagus nerve, which causes spasming of the diaphragm. Swallowing a teaspoon of a substance made of dry, coarse granules (sugar and salt will both work, but a whole teaspoon of sugar is much more pleasant!) will give the vagus nerve new sensory information to process and distract it from causing the spasms.

14. Honey for acne

Raw honey contains small amounts of hydrogen peroxide, lending it antiseptic properties. Apply honey to your skin to head off the growth of bacteria in your pores. Its sugar content and acidity will also make it harder for bacteria to survive.

 15. Bananas for asthma

Studies have found that bananas may decrease the incidence of wheezing. The fruit’s high potassium and antioxidant content may play a role in strengthening lung and respiratory function, so symptoms of an asthma attack may be less severe.

16. Oysters for ADHD

Oysters are a rich source of zinc, a mineral that regulates the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain and helps kids with ADHD focus. Zinc also has a soothing effect on the brain, because as dopamine floods your brain receptors, you feel ‘rewarded’ and calm. Adding oysters to your diet may help if you find yourself struggling to concentrate.

17. Garlic for flu

Raw garlic contains a compound called allicin, which has antibiotic, antiviral decongestant, and expectorant effects—perfect for getting rid of stubborn cold and flu symptoms. Of course, you can hardly be expected to eat a whole head of garlic raw! Instead, slice a garlic clove into tiny pieces and suck out the juices, or add to a salad dressing.

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WOMEN’S HEALTH

18. Ginger for dysmenorrhea

If you suffer from dysmenorrhea pain, brew tea made from ginger root when you have your period—drink one cup, two to three times a day. Ginger promotes circulation, improving oxygen supply to the muscles of your uterus and abdomen, which can help to relieve cramps.

19. Leafy greens for anaemia

Sometimes, heavy periods can cause anemia. Iron deficiency anemia can occur because your body draws on its iron stores to create more red blood cells. Replace lost iron by eating leafy greens such as spinach, kale, broccoli, and collard. 

20. Olives for nausea

When you feel like vomiting, the body increases the production of saliva to protect your teeth from the impending expulsion of stomach acid. Pop an olive in your mouth when you’re nauseous—olives contain tannin, a compound causing dryness of the mouth. It tricks the body into thinking you’re not actually going to vomit—and thus, hopefully you won’t.

21. Baking soda for UTI

Women get UTIs more often than men, because shorter urethra means bacteria from outside the body have a much shorter distance to travel to get to the bladder. If you have a UTI, drink a mixture of ¼ teaspoon baking soda in 8 ounces of water on an empty stomach. Baking soda is alkaline and it will reduce the acidity of the bladder, making it a less friendly breeding ground for bacteria.

22. Whole grains for migraines

That rhymed! Whole grains are rich in riboflavin or vitamin B2, which helps decrease the severity and frequency of migraines. If you are prone to migraines, add whole grains such as brown rice, whole wheat, and quinoa to your diet to bring down your number of “headache days”.

23. Moringa for lactation

Lactating moms can stock up on moringa, a leafy green native to Asia and Africa. Moringa is a galactagogue, a substance that increases the production and flow of breast milk.  It’s also rich in amino acids, antioxidants, iron, calcium, and vitamins A, E, and K.

24. Soy for menopause

Soy contains isoflavones, which are phytoestrogens (compounds that mimic the effect of estrogen). These can help reduce the effects of the natural drop in estrogen levels that women experience during menopause. Eat soy products to counteract menopausal symptoms like hot flashes.

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ACCIDENTS AND INJURIES

25. Aloe vera for burns

The cool extract of aloe vera provides pain relief for burns. It also has antibacterial compounds that may prevent the burn from getting infected, and enzymes that speed up wound healing. Apply aloe extract to your burn and surrounding areas three times a day. 

26. Cucumber for insect stings

Cucumbers are astringents, which means that they contain chemicals that constrict body tissue (that’s why they’re great for reducing eyebags and wrinkles!). This same effect is also good for relieving the pain of insect stings. Apply cold cucumber slices to stings from wasps, bees, hornets, and other insects.

27. Fatty fish for fractures

Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium, which is essential in bone generation. Of course, the best way for the body to produce vitamin D is by exposing your skin to sunlight –  but you can help that along by increasing vitamin D in your diet. Fatty fish like sardines, salmon, and swordfish are good natural dietary sources of vitamin D. 

28. Turmeric for wounds

Turmeric is a peppery spice found in mustard. It contains an antioxidant called curcumin that reduces inflammation and promotes wound healing. Season your food with mustard or turmeric when you have an open wound to help it heal faster.

29. Oatmeal for poison ivy

Oatmeal is an age-old cure for poison ivy rashes. Grind a cup of oatmeal into a fine powder, and pour it into a pouch made from cheesecloth (or the toe of a clean nylon stocking). You can pop the pouch in the bathtub and take a soak in the oatmeal solution, or apply the pouch directly to the affected area.

30. Chicken broth for food poisoning

The priority during food poisoning is rehydration, and plain water won’t cut it because it lacks electrolytes. To restore both fluids and electrolytes, sip on some flavourful chicken broth. It’s filled with protein, salt, and nutrients, plus it’s tasty enough to tempt your appetite, but still mild and easy to digest.
 
All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions and to ascertain whether a particular product or treatment described on this website is suitable in their circumstances.

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