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Food Fixes for Everyday Aches and Pains
January 24, 2014
|J.R. and I hope you're well and adding natures super foods to your family's diet!
It's when information meets inspiration that a newsletter can help you lead a healthy and active life.
Knowledge is important when you have what it takes to become a healthier you!
Today we'd like to share with you food fixes for everyday aches and pains.
Eat: Hot peppers.
Whether it’s triggered by a cold, a sinus infection, allergies or your coworker’s perfume, being stuffed up and congested can make life miserable.
Hot peppers to the rescue!
Capsaicin, the plant compound that gives hot peppers their eye-watering zing, dilates blood vessels in the nose, helping to flush out inflammation and open clogged sinuses even faster than decongestant nasal sprays can.
Two teaspoons daily is the research-proven dose, and you can mix them with a bit of food, if you find them tough to swallow on their own.
Other great congestion-relievers: 1/4 cup of hot salsa or chili-flavored chutney, or one tablespoon of hot sauce, horseradish or wasabi.
Eat: Brazil nuts.
Thanks to their hectic lives, at least 65 percent of women are hit with daily bouts of stress and even anxiety, say researchers at Logan’s Utah State University.
Yet munching on a few Brazil nuts daily can make even the busiest life feel a lot more serene.
The nuts are nature’s top source of selenium, a mineral that helps soothe the central nervous system.
According to researchers at Britain’s University of Wales in Swansea, boosting your selenium intake to 220 micrograms daily, the amount in just three Brazil nuts, can trigger a dramatic improvement in moods, helping you feel calmer, less anxious and more energetic within three months.
Got a Toothache
If you can’t get to the dentist, or you suspect the ache is only going to be temporary, gently chewing on one or two cloves can ease your tooth pain and gum inflammation for two hours straight, say UCLA researchers.
The credit goes to a natural compound in clove oil called eugenol, it’s a powerful anesthetic and bacteria-killer, and cloves are packed with almost five times more of it than any other plant studied, say researchers at the University of Georgia in Athens.
One tip: Store cloves (and any other spices that you don’t use weekly) in a cool, dark cupboard.
Eugenol, and the medicinal ingredients in many other spices, can be damaged by prolonged exposure to light and heat.
Starving an Hour Before Lunch
Eat: An apple.
The five grams of fiber in a medium apple will take the edge off your hunger, and according to research from Pennsylvania State University, it may actually help you eat less at your meal.
When people noshed on an apple before lunch, they took in 187 calories less than those who didn’t (even after accounting for the calories in the apple).
But researchers say having the whole fruit is key: People who ate applesauce or drank fiber-fortified apple juice first didn’t slash their intake nearly as much.
Our friend Dr. Maguire, says that eating an apple requires more chewing, which can trigger a greater feeling of fullness.
Hungry Before the Gym
Eat: A smoothie with fruit and a scoop of protein powder.
When exercising on an empty tank, you’ll fizzle more quickly and won’t be able to burn as many calories, warns Dr. Maguire.
Instead, have a 100-200 calorie snack before your workout.
A small smoothie fits the bill because liquids digest quickly and won’t weigh you down.
Fruit and milk are also high in carbohydrates, the main source of energy for your muscles, and the protein powder will help repair your muscles afterwards.
You'll want to choose whey protein, which is rich in branched-chain amino acids.
Unlike other amino acids, they bypass your liver and go directly to your muscles to do their job,
Eat: A bowl of bean chili, a whole wheat roll, and a glass of low-fat milk.
Eating high-fiber, protein-rich meals all month, especially the week before your period, will help stabilize your blood sugar.
That’s crucial because blood sugar can have crazier swings around your period (spikes and dips can lead to fatigue and food cravings).
Research has also found that women with a history of PMS who eat a meal rich in high-fiber complex carbohydrates (like beans and whole grains) have fewer symptoms such as anger, tension, and sadness.
Carbs cause a cascade of events in the brain that increases serotonin, a chemical that produces feelings of stability and tranquility.
In a recent stud women who drank more skim or low-fat milk had a lower risk of suffering from PMS too, possibly because PMS may be triggered by low blood levels of calcium and vitamin-D.
Women who had four servings a day of calcium-fortified foods and beverages a day saw the biggest benefit.
Have a Migraine
Eat: A bowl of oatmeal topped with almonds and a cup of green tea.
To stave off killer headaches, eat this naturally-soothing breakfast.
Oatmeal and almonds are both rich in magnesium.
Researchers have observed low levels of this mineral in people who suffer from migraines and tension headaches, says Dr. Maguire.
Green tea is rich in antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory powers (blood vessels become inflamed during migraines, which triggers head pain).
You can also sip a cup in the midst of a migraine, since the caffeine acts as a natural headache-buster.
Can’t Afford to Get Sick
Eat: A slice of watermelon.
Watermelon’s sky-high fluid content (it’s as much as 90 percent water) can help hydrate you, a boon for keeping bugs at bay.
Plus, watermelon contains an antioxidant called glutathione, which enables the immune system to spring into action at the first sign of attack.
It also contains vitamins A, C, and B6, which are known immune-boosting nutrients.
So, the next time you feel a bug coming on, spoon up a daily cup of melon.
Bloated and Gassy
Ginger is a time-honored remedy for motion sickness.
A single 1,000 milligram dose (in supplement form) quells nausea for 72 percent of women, making it as effective as Dramamine (but without this anti-nausea med’s sleepy side effects), say researchers at the University Hospitals in Cleveland, OH.
What’s less well-known is that ginger is one of the most effective digestion-boosters ever discovered, say researchers at India’s Central Food Technological Research Institute.
Their studies suggest enjoying two slices of candied ginger, one teaspoon of the fresh root or a cup of the herbal tea can soothe bloating, gassiness and other intestinal upsets in as little as 20 minutes, and adding the same dose to your daily diet can cut your risk of abdominal cramping and constipation by as much as 40 percent.
Credit ginger’s active ingredients, gingerols and curcumin, which speed the breakdown of proteins and fats and help dissolve gas bubbles, preventing painful muscle spasms in the intestinal wall.
Eat: A square of dark chocolate.
In a recent study, people who ate 1.4 ounces of dark chocolate every day for two weeks had lower levels of the stress hormones cortisol and catecholamines, the “fight or flight” hormones released by the adrenal glands when you’re wigged out.
How or why chocolate affects stress levels is not fully understood, but researchers say cocoa is rich in many biochemically active compounds, like theobromine, which affects the nervous system.
Be sure you’re getting the authentic dark stuff by choosing a bar with at least 70 percent cacao.
A 1.4-ounce portion of chocolate (roughly the size of a regular Hershey’s bar) contains about 230 calories, so watch your waistline by limiting sweets for the rest of the day.
Down In the Dumps
In every fillet, you’ll get a powerful type of omega-3 fatty acids called DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which has been shown to ease the blues, especially for women.
In fact, research has found that people who lack these fatty acids have higher levels of stress and depression.
These good fats also have anti-inflammatory properties.
That’s important because pro-inflammatory bodies in the brain suppress feel-good chemicals.
Aim for two 6-ounce servings a week, and scout out wild-caught salmon, which contains less mercury and contaminants than farm-raised fish.
Have a Sore Throat
A spoonful of sugar may help the medicine go down, but opt for unpasteurized honey, and you could trounce invading germs without needing any meds at all!
Unpasteurized honey is packed with safe, natural antiviral and antibacterial compounds, and University of Amsterdam research suggests enjoying one tablespoon twice daily can destroy up to 100 percent of the germs that cause sore throats in as little as 48 hours.
Mix unpasteurized honey into your coffee, tea or other beverages, or enjoy it straight off the spoon.
More good news: If you’re struggling with a painful cold sore or canker sore, dabbing it with unpasteurized honey four times daily will help it heal 43 percent faster than if you used prescription meds, say researchers at the Dubai Specialized Medical Center in the United Arab Emirates.
Raw honey is rich in plant enzymes, which dampen tissue inflammation and speed healing.
Eat: Two cups of air-popped popcorn.
Straight-up carbohydrates (hold the fat and protein) allow the body to make serotonin, a brain chemical that relaxes your system and helps you fall sleep.
But there’s no need to carbo-load like a marathoner when you’re faced with insomnia.
You only need about 30 grams of carbohydrates to get this effect.
What about the bedtime classic, warm milk?
Even though it contains a snooze-inducing amino acid called tryptophan, the protein in milk can actually block serotonin from being built.
To better lull those peepers to sleep, try noshing on some popcorn instead.
Falling Asleep in the Boardroom?
Eat: 1 oz. pistachios and 1/4 cup of dried cranberries
You need a two-pronged approach to fight a mid-afternoon work slump.
You need a quick rush of energy to help you immediately plus a slow-release food so you’re not in this same situation in an hour.
Dried cranberries, which contain both added sugar and natural fruit sugar, offer an immediate energy burst by raising blood sugar.
But the protein and fiber in pistachios slow digestion keeping your belly fuller longer and preventing your blood sugar from soaring too high (and then crashing).
Eat: A banana.
At least 60 million North Americans struggle with heartburn on a weekly, and even daily basis, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
And if you’re one of them, creamy, sweet bananas could offer powerful protection.
Noshing a banana when heartburn strikes can soothe the pain within 30 minutes and enjoying one every day reduces flare-ups within two weeks for up to 75 percent of people surveyed, say researchers at Australia’s University of New England.
Bananas coat and soothe the stomach lining, prevent acid overproduction, plus reduce the amount of stomach acid that splashes up into the esophagus.
Eat: Rye bread.
At least 15 percent of North Americans, and twice as many women as men, struggle with constipation.
The good news: Munching whole-grain rye bread relieves constipation more effectively than laxatives and it prevents future flare-ups, too, according to studies at Finland’s University of Helsinki.
The credit goes to rye’s arabinoxylan, a polysaccharide that improves your belly’s ability to keep food moving at a reasonable clip.
The study subjects enjoyed seven slices daily, but just trading your usual dose of bread for whole-grain rye will often do the trick.
If your grocery store doesn’t carry this healthy option, stock up at the nearest bakery, instead.
Studies at Finland’s University of Tampere suggest that up to 75 percent of diarrhea-prone people are suffering because they don’t have enough probiotic bacteria living in their intestines.
You need these healthy bugs to digest food and absorb liquids properly.
Enjoy one heaping cup of yogurt daily (the kind containing live bacterial cultures) and you’ll restock your dwindling probiotic stores, cutting your risk of the runs four-fold, and helping you bounce back twice as quickly if you’re struggling with diarrhea right now.
For best results, opt for plain yogurt and flavor it yourself with fruit and a pinch of your favorite sweetener.
The high doses of sugar found in commercially-sweetened yogurts can worsen intestinal problems by fueling the growth of intestinal yeast.
Eggs are packed with N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC), an amino acid that helps relieve, and even prevent, the headache, queasiness and fatigue that come from having one-too-many cocktails, according to researchers at Chicago's Northwestern University.
Their research shows that NAC slows the absorption of alcohol through the lining of the stomach and small intestine, plus it helps speed the breakdown of alcohol in the liver.
To do: Enjoy two eggs (any style) before heading to bed to minimize the next day’s ills, then serve them up the next morning for breakfast to speed your recovery.
Unfortunately, that's all the time we have for today.
We wish you and your family the very best of the new year!
We truly hope this information helps and you found some value in this edition!
Until next time, we want you to,
live longer, live younger!
You can do it with
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