Using Food Choices As The First Step To Healing Yourself

Food as medicine

 

Food as Medicine: Healing Your Body and Mind with Food

 

This is not intended to provide medical advice. Do not use it as an alternative to seeking help from a medical professional.

Introduction

Your overall health and wellness is dependent on many things. Genetics and what you are born with, your lifestyle, whether or not you engage in unhealthy habits like drinking or smoking, where you live, and yes – what you eat or don’t eat.

It is important to know that your diet is so much more than how much you eat, and whether or not you eat “junk food”. It goes beyond weight loss or weight management, and can actually affect what illnesses you get and whether or not you are at high risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

We will to explore how food can be used as medicine – not to replace it, but to help it work better. To give you the best shot at being the healthiest person you can be, and hopefully live a long, happy life while nourishing your body the right way.

The 5 sections in this article will help you answer the following questions:

1. Can food really be used as medicine?
2. What medicinal plants and herbs improve your health?
3. What about prebiotics and probiotics?
4. Can you treat physical conditions with your food?
5. How about your mood and mental health?

Keep reading to learn more about using food as medicine, and discover why what you eat makes such a drastic difference in your overall health

1 Can Food Really Be Used As Medicine?

Can food be used as medicine?

This is the big question, and we want to start by answering it first in this book. It is important to note a few things before we continue:

This is not meant to replace medical intervention or advice from your doctor. As with most areas of natural or alternative medicine, it is meant to provide an alternative, not necessarily a replacement.

You are still encouraged to talk to your doctor any time you have worries about a health condition, but changing your diet can potentially improve your health, both mentally and physically.

We are not promoting restrictive or strict diets. By using the word “Diet” it is meant only to portray a change in what you eat and the way you eat, NOT talking about fad diets or restrictive diets.

Eating for health and medicine is about adding in the good stuff, not necessarily taking away any foods or food groups.

Food is medicinal because of the nutrients they contain. The reason why food can be medicinal is not because of the foods themselves. You don’t need to put them in boxes or categories. It is more that the nutrients they contain can hurt or help your overall health.

Why What You Eat Matters

You have probably heard the phrase “You are what you eat” many times, but have you really thought about what this actually means?

It is frequently used as a way to discourage unhealthy eating for people who are trying to diet or lose weight, but it has many connotations.

This phrase is trying to inform you of the importance of what you put in your body. Not just how much for weight management, but the ingredients, chemicals, and nutrients that may or may not be in your food.

You and your health, including physical and mental health, can be greatly changed (or hurt) just by the foods you eat.

If you don’t eat enough vitamin C, you are at a higher risk for a weakened immune system and might get sick more often.

On the other hand, if you have a very balanced diet with lots of important nutrients, you can actually reduce your risk for many diseases and illnesses.

You Can Get All Necessary Nutrients Through Food

Most, if not all, of the nutrients your body needs not just to survive, but to thrive, can be achieved just through the foods you choose to eat.

Vitamins and minerals are found in whole, clean, fresh foods, but even processed foods can have a lot of the iron, calcium, protein, zinc, and other nutrients that a body needs to grow and thrive.

This is why food is often used as a natural remedy to help with physical ailments, not necessarily to replace medicine completely, but to help you use a little less of it.

Can Food Replace Medicine?

The short answer is no, but the honest answer is yes and no. In many cases, you are able to improve your health and longevity with a healthy diet.

Many people find that increasing nutrients through their diet helps them lower their blood pressure and cholesterol, reduce the risk of diabetes, help protect their brain and heart, and even get help with anxiety and depression.

Medicine is still needed, but by switching to a healthier diet, you have the opportunity to rely less on drugs, and instead just nourish your body the right way.

This is health from the inside, out.

Are You Inadvertently Making Your Symptoms Worse?

Another thing to keep in mind is that what you eat might not be helping you, but instead hurting you.

Therefore, the best thing you can do is to reduce some of the foods you eat, and instead look for alternatives with more vitamins and minerals that your body needs.

Here are some examples:

You can suffer from malnutrition without knowing it. Yes, you can absolutely be malnutritioned even if you don’t feel like you are starving. This is not just when you don’t eat enough, but when you don’t eat enough of the right nutrients.

If all you ate for a week straight was vegetables, sure you would get a lot of amazing vitamins and minerals, but you would likely be low on iron, protein, and zinc.

These are essential nutrients your body needs.

Your foods might be making you sick. It is also possible that you have an aversion or sensitivity to certain foods, which is making you sick.

It is not always as obvious as a food allergy, where you have an immediate reaction to it. Sometimes, it can take longer to realize your abdominal cramping is from IBS or that you have a sensitivity to high-histamine foods.

If it makes you feel bad, it is probably bad for you. While this is a broad generalization, it can be true in many cases. People often eat what they want or what they are used to, but don’t pay attention to how it makes them FEEL. If you are tired, have a headache, stomach problems, or cramping after eating a certain type of food, it is probably best to investigate why that is.

Quick Tips for Eating for Health

In order to eat for your health, here are a few quick tips to get you started:

Make Sure Your Foods Are Rich in Nutrients

Your body will benefit greatly from eating foods that are high in nutrients and avoiding those that low in nutrients. Foods that contain high levels of fats, salt, or added sugars are low in nutrients.

Meanwhile, foods such as whole grains, plants, low-fat dairy and lean protein are packed with nutrients.

Include a Variety of Proteins

Having enough protein in your diet is important because you can’t build muscle or repair muscle without it. The most important part of including protein in your diet is to remember to get a wide variety of protein in your diet, instead of just sticking to one type of protein source. Good protein sources include:

Low-fat cuts of beef and pork
Skinless poultry
Beans and peas
Seafood
Soy
Nuts and seeds

Include Fruits and Vegetables

The healthiest diet will always include a variety of fruits and vegetables. When you consume fruits and vegetables you can rest easy knowing that you are filling your diet with most of the important vitamins that you need in order to be healthy.

Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and anti-oxidants, and both are vital in the fight to keep your body free of cancer, heart disease and other potentially fatal diseases.

The best way to make sure that you are consuming enough vitamins and anti-oxidants is to include fruits and vegetables from all over the rainbow: orange carrots, red peppers, and green spinach all offer different benefits to your body.

Focus on Whole Foods

Staying away from processed foods is a great way to increase the healthiness of your diet.

The processed foods that are in the supermarket are often preferable because they are cheap, easy to prepare and may even offer health claims.

But the easy preparation comes with a price: they are often filled with salt, preservatives and sugar. Instead of processed foods, choose a variety of whole foods, including whole grains and cereals.

2 Medicinal Plants For Improved Health

Now that you have a brief understanding of how food can be used as medicine, let’s go in to some specifics, starting with healing herbs and spices.

These can be used right in your dishes and tea in order to increase the healing properties without having to take additional vitamins and minerals.

Herbs and spices together provide a wide array of nutrients that can help with everything from PMS to autoimmune diseases.

The following chapter will help you understand a little more about healing herbs and spices, how they can benefit your health, and some simple ways to use each one.

Healing Herbs

First up, we have your healing herbs. You have probably heard of most, if not all of these, and might even have used them in your foods or drinks before. This is not a complete list, but rather goes over some of the more popular options when it comes to healing herbs.

Herbs can be used in many ways, from making a cup of chamomile tea, to adding dried or fresh herbs to your dishes while cooking.

Chamomile

This is probably the most common herb on this list, and one of the easiest to find. Chamomile is a relaxing herb that also has many healing properties.

It can help to work as a very mild sedative if you suffer from anxiety and stress, can help to reduce inflammation in the body, and even lessen pain from headaches and migraines. You should be aware that it can cause some drowsiness, so it is best enjoyed with a cup of tea in the evening.

Ashwagandha

Another excellent herb to consider for healing your body with food instead of medicine is ashwagandha. Similar to chamomile, it is great for anxiety and stress, and helps to reduce inflammation in the body.

Ashwagandha is also an excellent way to give your immune system a healthy, natural boost. Ashwagandha is great to add to your tea or milk at night before bed.

Aloe

Most people know aloe vera as being a plant that is best for topical application, such as applying to a sunburn to cool it off and reduce swelling.

However, it can not only be used for other topical purposes, like a natural treatment for chronic skin conditions like eczema, but it can also be consumed.

This isn’t one of the more common purposes, but it has been known to help with digestive issues like constipation and IBS.

Lavender

It is hard to go wrong with lavender, another flowering herb. Lavender is very popular just as a strongly-scented plant in your garden, as well as using the essential oils, but you can also use the herb itself.

It is great for anxiety and depression, relaxation, relieving pain from headaches, and even has antibacterial properties.

Black Cohosh

Black cohosh is another type of healing herb, where the root of it is where the medicinal properties come from. It is great for women with PMS symptoms, especially menstrual cramps and headaches.

It comes in a tincture or extract in most cases, so this will not be an herb you add to the food you cook.

Echinacea

Another herb you can get for medicinal purposes is echinacea. You might see this mentioned quite a bit as a natural remedy for illnesses like the cold or flu.

It is also used as a natural way to speed up healing from a skin wound and to stave off infection. Like most herbs on this list, it is not meant to replace conventional medicine, but instead enhance it.

Garlic

Lastly, is an herb you probably use on a regular basis in your food, which is garlic. If you haven’t been using much garlic, now is a great time to start!

Garlic provides some amazing health benefits, including lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Garlic is also a natural antimicrobial herb.

The Healthiest Spices

Moving beyond the herbs, you also have quite a few spices to choose from in terms of health and medicinal benefits.

Nutmeg

The first spice that has a long tradition of healing properties is nutmeg. You probably use this often during the fall and winter season, but this is a great reason to use it year-round.

Nutmeg was traditionally used in Tibetan dishes to help with the nervous system. It has now shown to help with balancing your mood and improving mental health, helping with insomnia, and balancing out your circulatory system.

Ginger

The lovely, aromatic ginger is an excellent choice when it comes to medicinal spices. Ginger is filled with phytonutrients, can help with heartburn, nausea, and migraines, and is even great with chronic pain like arthritis. Some people have also found it lowered their asthma symptoms.

Rosemary

Why not add some rosemary to your pork chops, chicken, or vegetable dishes? Rosemary is very easy to grow at home, making it an excellent choice for a backyard garden.

It has found to improve the memory, protect the liver, and improve skin conditions like dermatitis.

Saffron

Next up is saffron, which is a highly underrated spice. The main medicinal benefits of using saffron is when it comes to protecting and cleaning both your liver and your blood.

It can also help to improve your digestive system when used in dishes on a regular basis.

Turmeric

Last is turmeric, which has been getting a lot of buzz in health news lately. Turmeric used to be considered an alternative to saffron, but is now a leading spice with healing powers.

Turmeric not only tastes great, but it works great as an anti-inflammatory and can provide your body with more natural antioxidants.

Should You Go Organic?

Envision a world without processed foods. Looks pretty good, doesn’t it? Although it may seem like a world away, your great grandparents lived, and lived pretty well, on a completely organic diet. GMOs, pesticides and synthetic fertilizers simply didn’t exist.

Over the last century, both our diet and the way food is cultivated has changed dramatically, however the our bodies process hasn’t.

Our bodies thrive on whole foods, rich in vitamins and minerals. You can’t expect your body to function at maximize performance if you’re fueling up with genetically modified food. So, why are you settling for just getting by when you can go organic?

Here are four reasons why you should go organic:

Better Tasting

Organic foods are known to be a lot more tasty than processed food. The reason for the enhanced flavor is because of the abundance of antioxidants.

An antioxidant is a type of substance that prevents stored food from going bad. Two antioxidants include vitamin C and E, which can be found in orange juice and nuts.

Wholesome Goodness

Research shows that people who eat diet that’s rich in organic foods is healthier compared to others who don’t. In fact, eating organic foods has proven to minimize the risk for being exposed to severe health problems and toxins in processed produce and meat.

Eco-Friendly

With many organic food processes forbidding the use of synthetic chemicals, there is no risk of the water becoming contaminated.

People who farm organically pose little to no threat to the environment and unlike many forms of agriculture, the wildlife are able to stay in their natural habitat. Speaking of wildlife, farmers actually benefit from the tiny creatures because of their way of keeping pests at bay.

No Chemicals

Any food that’s grown organically has no chemicals, hormones, preservatives or GMOs. That’s right, naturally, grown fruits and vegetables are free from all of those modifications.

In fact, the USDA Organic actually restrict any produce that’s genetically modified. However, even with stricter regulation or chemical usage, it is still a good idea to go organic whenever possible.

There is a list of foods called the Dirty Dozen, which tend to have the most chemicals and pesticides. These are the foods you should purchase organic first, if available to you.

The Dirty Dozen includes:

Peaches
Celery
Strawberries
Apples
Nectarines
Domestic blueberries
Spinach, kale and collard greens
Bell peppers
Potatoes
Cherries
Imported grapes

When to Say No to Organic

Is it possible to have too much of a good thing? We think so.

When it comes to going au natural, it’s important to know what’s really organic and what’s just hype. Are those oats you eat for breakfast really organic, or is that just something the company claims to inflate the price?

The key to going to organic isn’t just about buying products labeled as organic. It’s about knowing where your food comes from, how it’s processed and when you need to say no to products claiming to be 100 percent natural.

In general, foods with a thick skin or protective coating that you don’t eat are usually safe to not buy organic. Here is a list of foods you don’t need to worry about buying organic and save yourself some money:

Avocados
Bananas
Pineapple
Asparagus
Broccoli
Onions
Kiwi
Cabbage
Cantaloupe
Sweet Corn

Growing Your Own Plants at Home

Walking through the aisles of the grocery store, anyone can see the vast amount of products that proclaim to be “organic” and “all natural”.

Unfortunately, those labels usually come with a higher price tag and can sometimes be misleading. While grocery store organics can be a healthier alternative, they are not the healthiest way to bring wholesome, healthy, organic foods to your dinner table.

Gardening Styles

Gardening can be enjoyable, fulfilling, and may not be as difficult as you might think.

Almost anyone can build a garden, whether you live in an apartment or on a farm. Many different styles of gardening are available for anyone who is willing to try.

Vertical gardening, a process where you grow a “wall of plants”, is inexpensive to build and can be just as successful as a carefully staked out plot of land.

LED lighting has a low energy consumption and specially designed LED’s can easily be installed to provide the necessary light.

While a complete vertical gardening platform can be purchased, there are also many designs that can be made easily and inexpensively from recycled materials.

A garden plot may be more convenient, and preferable to some, depending on the space you have available. Some people choose to build “raised beds” that allow outdoor gardening to give easier access to your plants, provide more soil and weed control, and organization.

It’s worth it to do a little research to decide what type of garden is best for your environment.

What to Plant

After you have your garden all set up, it’s time to add your plants. A vertical garden is an ideal place to grow fresh herbs and spices or a salad garden.

Many herbs and leafy green vegetables need a lower level of light and protection from wilting that can occur in the hot sun.

Spinach, kale, and many varieties of loose leaf lettuce can thrive in a vertical garden along with smaller root vegetables like radishes.

Sweet Pea vines can be planted on the bottom and trained to climb your “wall” as well, to give you a sweet juicy addition to your salad.

An outdoor plot is ideal for crops like green beans or pinto beans, which continue to produce all summer long. Adding a few support frames allows you to plant pea vines and tomato plants that can be harvested several times.

3 Prebiotics And Probiotics

Now to move on to the magical word – probiotics. But we aren’t just talking about probiotics, but prebiotics as well.

Confused? Don’t worry. You are about to find out what the difference is, and how to get these through your food sources instead of having to take even more supplements each day.

Here is a quick rundown on the difference between prebiotics and probiotics, and how choosing the right foods can work as medicine in terms of your gut health.

Prebiotics

What They Are

Simply put, prebiotics are the foods that contain high fiber that can be partially broken down and eaten by the gut flora that lives in you.

That includes the parts of plants that you can’t eat like the fiber that can be found in the skins of certain fruits and vegetables like carrots, bananas and berries for just a few examples.

When they get to the large intestines, prebiotics can help feed and propagate a large portion of the gut bacteria that are in your intestines.

If you’re feeling a little unsettled at the idea of feeding an innumerable amount of tiny creatures, you’ll find that there are always reason what these types of systems exist, and how you can help them to have an easier time during reproduction.

Why They Are Important

Prebiotics have a pivotal role in your system because they provide the fiber that cleans your digestive system after feeding your microflora.

This microflora is essential because they are responsible for a variety of processes that take place in your body.

After the nutrients, vitamins and minerals have been stripped from your food, the fiber that is left will travel through your intestines and catch the difficult particles that can form a plaque around the inside of your intestines.

If this plaque isn’t removed, you could develop serious health issues that can make difficult, painful and embarrassing hospital intervention a necessary part of your future.

How to Get More Prebiotics in Your Diet

To begin, here is a list of foods that are known to be prebiotic. After you learn what these are, you can see a few ideas on how they can be used to increase the amount of prebiotics that appear in your own meals at home.

Prebiotics Include Raw Additions of:

Asparagus
Onions
Garlic
Apples
Jerusalem Artichokes

Asparagus While it might not be the most appealing, asparagus is a great prebiotic, especially because of its multifaceted skin and fibrous texture.

It’ll be sure to give you the gut cleansing material you need to get you through. In order to eat it, you can try slicing it lengthwise and cutting it into sections. You could also simply cut it into coins as thinly as possible and top with a salad.

Onions – If you slice an onion into very thin slices, they go great on sandwiches.

Dice them up and add them to tomatoes with a seasoning for a lovely salad topping or freshly chopped dip for chips and other snacks. They also boost immune functions.

Garlic – This amazing and tasty anti-inflammatory is great minced into all sorts of food. Add raw minced garlic to meat, sauces, salad dressings, and more. It fights infections.

Apples – Slice them up, or eat them whole, apples are still some of the most hand-held, nutritious foods you can carry with you. The skin of apples contains vitamins and prebiotics.

Jerusalem Artichokes – These vegetables are a lot more like potatoes, but you don’t have to cook them. You can easily cut them into thin slices so they can be eaten on some type of simple salad. They’re best with oil and vinegar types of dressings.

Probiotics

What They Are

Probiotics are the live, microscopic organisms that live naturally in fermented foods. While it’s possible to get them in a pill form, they’re more likely to do well when you get through food that you consume.

Two of the most common strain of bacteria found in healthy probiotic drinks and foods are bifidobacteria and lactobacilli. Probiotic foods that you buy from the store will usually mention on the label somewhere that they contain one or more of these types of live cultures.

When looking for probiotic sources, it’s also important to try and cultivate diversity in your gut. That makes sure that your insides stay happy and balanced.

Why They Are Important

Probiotics are essential for human life because they control and facilitate many of the processes that take place in your body.

Some of the process they handle can ever affect how well your brain works, so it’s extremely important to make sure that these tiny citizens of “planet you” are getting all that they need to survive.

Without them, it would be impossible for you to break down many types of foods as well, so unless you want to end up with digestion that’s limited to lab-created, liquid solutions, you’ll do your best to keep their populations as robust as possible.

In addition to how you get your sustenance, they’re also important because they play a large role in keeping a delicate balance between their populations and invading bacteria that serve other purposes, but could become harmful if they become too numerous.

In today’s modern world, food production methods, refrigeration and the use of certain chemicals have caused a lot of problems for gut flora in humans. Some foods even contain drugs that can kill the majority of your gut flora all at once.

How to Get More Probiotics in Your Diet

In order to see some real changes in your microbiome, it would be necessary to start looking for ways to increase the amount of probiotics that you consume, so here is a short list of the types of foods that you can add to your diet to get more of the probiotics you need.

Easily Accessible Probiotic Foods:

Kombucha
Yogurt
Kefir

Kombucha – This drink is really just fermented tea that contain the bacteria that you would want as a probiotic. Kombucha is made in a variety of flavors and you can make it yourself. It’s great as a beverage during all meals of the day, and you can use it to help your digestion.

Yogurt – This dairy product is definitely the most well known of the probiotics on this list. That’s mostly because it’s easy to eat for basically anyone and everyone, especially if they come from the western hemisphere.

Kefir – Is a drink that can be made from a variety of both animal and plant sources such as milk, cheese, coconut, soy, or rice. It has yeasts that can be good for our body, as well as many of the essential bacteria that you need to process cheese and other dairy products.

Good vs Bad Bacteria

According to the American Nutrition Association, your body needs to have about

85% good bacteria and 15% bad bacteria within your gut for things to operate properly.

When the normal balance of bacteria tips too far in one direction, some kind of issue is bound to appear eventually.

The bad bacteria will always be around unless you live in a clean room, so you can probably focus on eating things that feed your good bacteria.

What Can Harm the Good Bacteria

Antibiotic Overuse

One of the most dangerous issues that people face today is the rampant and unchecked use of antibiotics in the food that people eat.

These drugs complete indiscriminate in the strains that they kill, so they can completely destroy the living cultures that reside in your gut.

Artificial Sweeteners and Preservatives

Sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose can change the way that your gut flora behave.

The same can be said of preservatives, and studies have been finding evidence that they could be causing metabolic issues that in processes that aren’t fully understood by modern medical science.

How this Affects Health

There are at least four common ways in which your health can be affected by the balance of your gut flora.

Nutrition

One of the most important reason for keeping track of your eating habits and how it affects your gut bacteria is because you need them to be healthy in order for you to get the nutrients that you need to live.

These microorganisms are the ones responsible for making the nutrients biologically accessible to you.

When they aren’t healthy, it’s a lot harder for you to digest food so it can pass through your digestive tract properly and in a timely manner.

If this doesn’t take place, you can end up being vulnerable to physical signals that are triggered by exposure to center elements in your environment, or due to invasion from other bacteria that can become harmful.

Inflammation and Infectious Disease

When the proper component of nutrition aren’t present in your body, your gut flora will cause you to experience certain types of warning signs that let you know that things to be corrected.

When you don’t have enough antioxidants and anti inflammatory agents from food in your body, and your gut flora can’t control the populations of bad bacteria in your system, you are likely to experience a lot of inflammation.

For some it could start as joint soreness, or swelling around the face and neck, but inflammation is normally the first signal for these kinds of deficiencies. The good things to do, would be to get some of the probiotics that also have anti-inflammatory properties.

Your Mood and Sleep Patterns

With new information, science is beginning to detect that there is a greater relationship between food and mood than ever before.

When you don’t have a healthy gut, hormones that should normally be transmitted might not even be in production. This can cause a drop in important hormones like serotonin.

Those effect would undoubtedly manifest as a negative gloom that you experience through your day. Some studies have even been able to improve mood using live cultures in food.

Skin Health

Skin is the largest organ of your body, so it makes sense that it is likely to show outward appearances of health decline. Balanced gut flora is more likely to produce healthy, glowing skin, so it makes sense that people with poor digestive health often look older and have a tired appearance.

4 Eating For Physical Ailments

When talking about food as medicine, it is important to remember we are not trying to replace medical treatments or western medicine. Instead, you are looking to enhance other treatments and possibly even prevent more serious diseases from progressing by changing your diet.

When you change what you eat, you change the balance of nutrients you get (or don’t get). If you were not eating well balanced meals before, you might be deficient in certain vitamins and minerals without realizing it, and making your overall health and wellness much worse.

This chapter is going to talk about certain types of diets and food choices for specific physical ailments.

Heart Health

Let’s start with heart health, since this is one of the most common areas of health that can be improved just by changing your diet.

There are about 70 million people in the U.S. alone that have heart disease, and that doesn’t even mention how many people in other parts of the world suffer from it.

Heart health goes beyond heart disease, though. It is common for people to neglect their cardiovascular health until a major problem occurs. But by changing your diet now, you can provide yourself with excellent preventative measures against further complications.

Simple Heart Health Diet Changes

To begin with, here are some basic guidelines for improving your heart health through your diet.

Get your healthy fats. People often consider all fats to be equal, but this is not the case! There are healthy and unhealthy fats. You want to avoid saturated fat and vegetable oils, but definitely enjoy some of the healthier fats.

This includes nuts and seeds, fatty fish, olive oil, and avocado. These fats are great for your heart health.

Enjoy whole grains. Whole grains contain essential B vitamins that your body needs to maintain good cardiovascular health. When choosing bread, pasta, and similar foods, go for the whole wheat or whole grain varieties. Some healthy whole grains include quinoa, brown rice, and sprouted grain bread.

Eat a rainbow or fruits and veggies. In order to get a variety of produce in your diet, which is important for heart health and so many other areas of your health, try to aim for different colors. This is the easiest way to get a good balance of nutrients.

Don’t skimp on the dark chocolate. Chocolate is not your enemy! You just want to be careful to choose the healthiest type of chocolate when it comes to heart health, which means going for the dark chocolate. This contains important nutrients, including antioxidants, which are great for your cardiovascular health.

Foods to Avoid

While you should talk to your doctor about specific diet plans for your heart health, some common foods to avoid include:

Saturated fats – You get these from deep fried foods, vegetable oil, vegetable shortening, and foods labeled as partially-hydrogenated.

Refined sugar and fats – You don’t have to go sugar-free, but try to limit your refined and added sugars and refined fats.

Sodium – You also want to be careful about how much sodium is in your diet, especially if you are already have high blood pressure.

Brain Health

Believe it or not, you can also improve your brain health and even reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s and stroke just by switching to a healthier diet.

It is important to remind you that this doesn’t mean you stop going to the doctor, but instead in between visits, you make sure you are getting all the right nutrients that feed your brain and help it to function its best.

Here are some general food tips that can help with your brain health and memory function.

Fill up on omega-3 fatty acids. Another good reason to eat more healthy fats with omega-3 fatty acids is for proper brain function. You can get these from fatty fish like tuna and mackerel, salmon, nuts and seeds.

Look for foods high in choline. Choline is important to helping with your brain’s neurotransmitters. Foods with a lot of choline include peanuts, eggs, flax seeds, potatoes, tomatoes, bananas, and oats.

Get those antioxidants. Antioxidants have so many health benefits for your entire body, but for your brain, they are especially helpful in protecting you from free radicals. Get more antioxidants from foods like kale, spinach, blueberries, strawberries, and dark chocolate.

Look for these important vitamins from your food. There are some other vitamins and minerals that are also great for brain health. It is easy to add these foods to your diet to encourage proper balance in your meals. These include:

B vitamins – Your B vitamins are absolutely essential, and easy to get with whole grains like quinoa and brown rice, as well as oats.

Vitamin E – Vitamin E is a really important antioxidant that helps with the fatty tissue of your brain. Leafy greens, broccoli, nuts and seeds usually contain a good amount of vitamin E.

Zinc – You also want to make sure you are getting enough zinc. This is great for improving your cognitive balance. Get zinc from foods like sunflower seeds, soy beans, dairy, egg, and red meat.

Chronic Pain

It is not uncommon for doctors to recommend some minor dietary changes when they have a patient with chronic pain. This usually depends on the condition leading to their pain, so keep in mind if you have a disease like Crohn’s or Fibromyalgia, your doctor will have a specific diet for you to follow.

However, for more general forms of chronic pain, it often comes down to the inflammation in your body. This is what makes many sources of pain much worse, so it makes sense that choosing more anti-inflammatory foods can help.

Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Inflammation can be a bad and a good thing at the same time. While it can assist your body in defending itself from an injury or infection, chronic inflammation can result in weight gain or diseases like lupus, stroke, heart disease, and more.

The risk of inflammation is increased by low activity levels, inflammatory foods, and stress. However, research shows that some foods can combat inflammation. Here are six anti-inflammatory foods.

1. Green Tea

Green tea is one of the healthiest beverages that you can have in your diet. It minimizes the risk of cancer, obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and other conditions.

Numerous of its benefits result from its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, particularly a compound called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). EGCG prevents inflammation by minimizing the production of pro-inflammatory cytokine as well as damage to your cells’ fatty acids.

2. Avocados

Avocados are a superfood and one of the healthiest fats you can consume. They are rich in potassium, fiber, heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, and magnesium.

They also have tocopherols and carotenoids that are associated with reduced risk of cancer. Moreover, there is a compound that minimizes inflammation inside your skin cells. According to research, participants experienced reduced levels of inflammation markers IL-6 and NF-kB than the control group.

3. Broccoli

Broccoli is highly nutritious and a very popular vegetable, as it fits into most diets. Along with kale, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower, it is a cruciferous vegetable.

Studies have revealed that consuming a lot of these vegetables results in reduced risk of cancer and heart disease.

This is linked to their antioxidants’ anti-inflammatory impacts. Broccoli is filled with sulforaphane, which is an antioxidant that combats inflammation by decreasing the levels of NF-kB and cytokines, which promote inflammation.

4. Fatty Fish

Fatty fish are an excellent source of protein as well as DHA and EPA, which are long-chain omega-3 fats.

Even though all fish have these omega-3 fats, some fish are excellent sources. They include anchovies, mackerel, herring, sardines, and salmon.

DHA and EPA can decrease inflammation that can result in metabolic syndrome, kidney disease, diabetes, and heart disease.

Your body undertakes the metabolism of these compounds called protectins and resolvins, which contain anti-inflammatory impacts. According to studies, participants who consumed salmon or DHA and EPA supplements experienced a reduction in the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein (CRP).

5. Berries

Berries are small fruits that are filled with minerals, vitamins, and fiber. Even though there is a wide variety of berries, the most popular ones are strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries.

Berries have antioxidants referred to as anthocyanins. These compounds contain anti-inflammatory impacts that can decrease the risk of getting diseases.

Your body produces NK cells that assist in ensuring the optimal functioning of the immune system. According to research, men who ate more berries had more NK cells than the control group.

5 Improving Your Mood And Mental Health With Food

Not only can foods help with your physical health, but your mental health as well! This is really important to remember, as you change your diet in order to get more medicinal benefits from the foods you eat.

Here are some foods that are excellent choices when it comes to your mood and mental health.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is sometimes also referred to as ascorbic acids. Vitamin C is sought out to help with many different ailments, and it can even help to improve your mood.

How Vitamin C Helps

Dopamine, noradrenaline, and serotonin are the neurotransmitters in your body that are responsible for controlling your mood and preventing you from becoming depressed.

Vitamin C is an essential element that your body needs in order to make these neurotransmitters. So, when you consume more Vitamin C from the foods you eat, your body will make more of the mood stabilizing neurotransmitters, which will make you feel better and happier.

Foods with Vitamin C

Vitamin C can be found in a wide variety of foods. If you are looking to consume more Vitamin C, oranges, lemons, broccoli, bell peppers, and strawberries would be an excellent choice.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is in the B Vitamin family. Vitamin B6 is often recommended to promote overall health. Some think that Vitamin B6 may be able to help treat chronic diseases too. Foods rich in Vitamin B6 can also help boost your mood.

How Vitamin B6 Helps

Vitamin B6 can help your body increase its uptake of serotonin, which is what many anti-depressant drugs work to do.

When you eat plenty of foods with Vitamin B6, it helps your body make neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, which makes you feel better. Conversely, if you don’t consume enough Vitamin B6-rich foods, it can lead to depression.

Foods with Vitamin B6

Vegetables such as spinach, carrots, and sweat potatoes are all a great source of Vitamin B6. You can also get good amounts of Vitamin B6 when you eat bananas, green peas, and lentils.

Zinc

Zinc is a nutrient that our bodies need in order to perform many vital tasks. Our bodies do not produce our own zinc, so we need to consume food that have it in order to provide a supply to our body.

How Zinc Helps

Studies about depression have found that people who are depressed often have very low levels of zinc in their systems.

When your body doesn’t have enough zinc, it can also cause you to display symptoms related to ADHD, learning or memory issues, as well as violence or aggression. So, it is pretty clear that you will want to consume foods that have higher levels of zinc in order to avoid these negative issues and help yourself develop a positive mood.

Foods with Zinc

You can find high levels of zinc in foods such as whole grains, seeds, nuts, and legumes.

If you are looking to improve your mood or your outlook on life, there are numerous foods you can choose from. These mood-boosting foods contain essential vitamins and minerals that are linked with lower levels of depression, higher levels of mental functioning, and a general sense of well-being.

The Decision is Up to You

At the end of the day, what you choose to fuel your body with is entirely up to you. Nobody is perfect and going to get all the best nutrients to nourish their body 100% of the time. What you want to aim for is balance.

Balance in the vitamins and minerals you consume, and balance with the maybe not-so-healthy foods that make you happy and that you enjoy eating.

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