Foods That Double Up as Medicine
-May 10, Hannah Hargrave, Nutrition -
If you’re trying to prevent or treat a medical condition it’s perfectly natural to make your doctor your first port of call. But the prescription you pick up from the chemist isn’t the only thing that can improve your health because the supermarket also plays host to a plethora of medications masquerading as food.
How you fuel your body plays a huge part in your health. We know to limit fat and sugar intake and to pack our fridges with nutritious fruits, vegetables and lean proteins. But there are also certain foods which have such powerful medicinal effects they can assist in preventing and treating certain conditions and even chronic diseases.
Fermented foods for diarrhea
If you’re dealing with an unpleasant bout of diarrhea you might want to reach for pickled or fermented foods. The likes of yoghurt, pickled vegetables, miso and kefir contain living bacteria which helps maintain the digestive tract. Consuming them not only treats diarrhea but it can prevent it too.
Ginger for menstrual cramps
Ginger has been proven to be effective in relieving inflammation and pain and this includes menstrual cramps. The spice – which is most often consumed in the form of tea – can also ease the nausea which often accompanies period pains. One scientific review of seven clinical trials showed that taking 750 to 2000 milligrams of ginger powder during the first four days of a women’s menstrual cycle was effective pain relief.
Turmeric for inflammation
Turmeric’s incredible anti-inflammatory properties have been compared to those of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs which makes it a pretty impressive spice. The powerful antioxidant, curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric and it has strong anti-inflammatory effects. Turmeric has been proven to help treat and prevent numerous diseases from arthritis to heart disease, Alzheimers and cancer. The levels of the all important curcumin aren’t high enough in the spice you buy off the shelves though. So if you want to reap the full benefits you will need to opt for a turmeric extract which contains mostly curcumin itself.
Oatmeal for high cholesterol
Oats are one of the healthiest grains on the earth and are packed with powerful antioxidants. They are great for your heart and can help lower cholesterol and even aid weight loss too.There have been numerous studies showing foods high in soluble fiber – like oatmeal – lowers ‘bad’ cholesterol by absorbing it into your bloodstream. It’s recommended you consume between five to 10 grams or more of soluble fiber per day to decrease cholesterol.
If you’re bored of your bowl of oatmeal for breakfast try rustling up one of these 3 delicious dinners using porridge oats.
Beans for high blood pressure
Cooked dry beans, lentils and peas are great for protecting against high blood pressure. Kidney, lima, white and pinto beans contain very high levels of potassium which is needed to balance out the negative effects of salt to help lower blood pressure. Split peas, lentils and soybeans are also very high in potassium.
If you are trying to lower your BP it’s a good idea to reduce the amount of salt in your diet too.
Peppermint for Irritable Bowel Syndrome
If you live with irritable bowel syndrome you know the symptoms are painful and unpleasant, but adding peppermint to your diet – most effectively in the form of enteric coated capsules – has been shown to greatly improve abdominal pain, bloating and gas.
Researchers believe the menthol contained in peppermint relaxes the intestinal smooth muscle and dulls the pain receptors.
If you found this article interesting you might also like to find out what your 5-a-day should really weight and why researchers say drinking four cups of coffee a day is good for your heart.