Healing foods found in your kitchen

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Healing foods found in your kitchen

Next time you’re ailing, consider heading to your kitchen before opening your medicine cabinet.  Your pantry can be a good first place to start when preventing or controlling chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. This is particularly true when you regularly eat a healthy diet composed of plenty of produce, whole grains, and moderate amounts of good fats and lean protein.

But other ailments such as headaches or nausea can also be treated with certain foods bringing welcomed natural relief without resorting to over-the-counter concoctions.  Here are some healing solutions using food for minor yet frustrating symptoms:

·      Ginger for nausea

Ginger has long been known and extensively studied for its potential in soothing nausea especially during chemotherapy and pregnancy.  In the journal Integrative Medicine Insights, a 2016 review found ginger to be an effective and safe solution for nausea and vomiting.  Its magic appears to be related to the fact ginger seems to help move food out of the stomach quickly, possibly turning off neurotransmitters such as serotonin that can contribute to nausea.

Drinking ginger tea can be good way to get the nausea controlling benefits – to make ginger-root tea, steep 1 ½ teaspoons of freshly grated ginger in 1 ½ cups of boiling water (add honey if you like).  Let it sit for 10 minutes, then strain the ginger out before drinking. 

·      Hydration for headaches

When feeling a headache coming on, reach for a tall glass of water.  Dehydration is a common cause of headaches, so water may be able to nip it in the bud before it gets going.  Also consider having a combination of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fat to prevent blood sugar dips which can lead to headaches.  A good example of this would be having a snack of an apple with a handful of walnuts or maybe peanut butter with a banana.

For some people, drinking a caffeinated beverage such as coffee or tea might offer some relief.  But for others, caffeine can trigger a headache and may need to avoid it.  There are certain foods that have been shown to be reputed headache instigators such as aged cheese, cured meats, chocolate, artificial sweeteners, MSG, and soy.  Also alcohol is more likely to cause a headache than other foods especially if heavily fermented like wine. 

·      Feed your belly fermented foods

Your gut is composed of trillions of bacteria, fungi, and yeast that make up your gut microbiome.  Most of these bugs are necessary for keeping your gastrointestinal tract running smoothly by digesting food and metabolizing nutrients and possibly ward off infections, control weight, and protect against heart disease.

To keep your microbiome happy, feed your gut fermented foods.  Foods such as plain yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, miso, kombucha, tempeh, and kimchi are all good places to start for good gut health. 

·      Fix heartburn with fruit

Most people with heartburn have been advised to eat smaller, frequent meals, skip spicy foods, and avoid eating or drinking within 3 to 4 hours before bedtime.  This advice can help reduce the likelihood of future fights with heartburn but what about what to do when the burning sensation strikes?

Some research suggests that low-acid fruit can act as a natural antacid so having a cantaloupe or pears could tame the agony.  Chewing sugarless gum may be another solution as studies have found that it might reduce reflux after a meal. 

Also cutting back on consumption of sugar can help.  A study in the journal Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics found that reducing refined carbohydrates such as table sugar, eliminated heartburn symptoms. 

·      Eat more fiber but without causing more gas

We are always told to eat more food with fiber for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and to aid digestion.  As wonderful and necessary fiber is, sometimes eating high-fiber foods can cause unpleasant side effects such as flatulence and belching.  If belching is a problem, cut out chewing gum, smoking, drinking carbonated beverages and gulping down foods and liquids quickly.  This causes excess swallowing of air. 

If excess gas or bloating is an issue, you can still eat beneficial fiber rich foods such as broccoli, beans, and cauliflower, but introduce them in small amounts to help your digestive system adapt. 

Also anytime you increase your fiber intake by including more vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains into your diet, also increase the amount of water you drink.  As fiber moves through your digestive tract, it forms a bulky mass. Much of the fluid from this mass is withdrawn in your colon for use by your body.  If water intake is too low, your stools may be dry, hard and difficult to pass.  The more water you drink, the more fiber absorbs it making your stool more bulky and soft and easier to pass.  It is recommended that women should consume between 8-10 cups of water daily and men should drink between 10-12 cups daily.