We all know that natural foods like vegetables, fruits and healthy fats contain beneficial nutrients that build up the body’s systems and work to promote overall health, but did you know that some foods also have specific health benefits?
Research suggests that for many of life’s minor aches and pains, “food medicine” can be just as beneficial as over-the-counter medication. And with the FDA recently stating that many NSAID medications are more likely to cause heart attack and strokes than previously thought, now seems like the perfect time to examine possible food replacements for over-the-counter medications.
Take honey for a cough
Honey (best in raw, unfiltered form) has powerful antibacterial properties. It can be used in topical applications for speeding along the healing of wounds, but a 2007 study published in the Archives in Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine found another amazing use for honey. Parents were asked to give honey, a cough medicine, or nothing to their children when they had a cough. After the study period was up, the parents were asked to rate the effectiveness of the treatment. The parents reported the most symptom improvement in the honey group. Honey was able to control severity of cough and helped the children sleep better through the night.
Babies younger than twelve months old should not consume honey, but this can be an effective cough remedy for anyone over the age of one.
Try ginger to relieve menstrual cramps
The anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea effects of ginger are well documented. Now, a review of seven clinical trials published in Pain Medicine in 2015 has found yet another medicinal application for ginger. The review examined seven different studies on the effects of ginger for menstrual cramps. According to one study author, ginger “probably works as well as ibuprofen for menstrual cramps.” The review found that when women ate between 750 and 2000 milligrams of ginger powder daily for the first four days of their period, their cramps were significantly reduced.
Eat turmeric for arthritis
The yellow spice commonly used in curry dishes is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Numerous studies have found benefits of adding turmeric to your diet on a regular basis. The magic lies in the phytochemical curcumin, which acts as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant in the body. When using turmeric to fight inflammation and arthritis, the University of Maryland recommends adults consume 400 to 600 milligrams of curcumin extract daily to achieve the maximum health benefit.
Add cayenne to your diet to reduce pain
Hot peppers and spicy foods can help you live longer, according to a 2015 study published in the British Medicine Journal. According to some health experts, it is the active component capsaicin that results in pain reduction. Cayenne added to topical gels and creams and rubbed into painful areas can help manage and reduce pain. Consuming spicy foods regularly may also help increase your pain tolerance.
Regulate blood sugar with bitter melon
Bitter melon is an Asian vegetable that looks similar to a cucumber. Some studies suggest that eating bitter melon can help regulate blood sugar levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes. In a 2011 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, participants given the largest dose of bitter melon were able to reduce their blood glucose levels by a significant amount, slightly less than the group who were given medication.
Have you ever considered treating your minor ills with food? The next time you’re feeling a bit under the weather, try one of these food remedies before reaching for that pill bottle.
—The Alternative Daily