People have been trying to use food as medicine since the beginning of time. Some of these attempts are a bit misguided — for instance, pounding pints of Ben & Jerry’s is going to do some serious damage to your mood, not lighten it. But some others really work, providing a method of healing more trustworthy and natural than over-the-counter pharmaceuticals.
Colds, acne, indigestion, and more plague us day by day; often unwilling to take the trip to the drugstore to alleviate symptoms, we choose to just grin and bear it, waiting patiently for the discomfort to subside. And it sucks. But nature provides many natural solutions to these temporary problems in the form of delicious foods.
You know how coffee has a ton of health benefits? So does red wine. All types of food and drink possess nutrients that the body can use for good — to heal itself and relieve discomfort. Here are some foods and drinks that can alleviate annoying symptoms of common ailments.
If you’re about to go on a date, grab a protein-rich snack first. Not only will it make you less irritable before your food comes, it’ll also prevent an unpleasant odor from drifting to the other side of the table! It’s been scientifically proven — yogurt cures your bad breath before it even happens. It does this by decreasing the concentration of odor-causing compounds in your mouth.
There’s nothing more comforting than curling up with a steaming cup of soup when you’re feeling under the weather. This cozy ritual is actually backed by science. According to research on the dish, chicken soup contains carnosine — an immune-boosting compound that can help your body to fight off a nasty cold. It’s not an old wives’ tale, after all!
If you’re stopped up, you’re really just in need of some fiber to break up the blockage. Dried fruit is a simple, snack-able option to have on hand for whenever your digestion is feeling particularly upset. It’s loaded with fiber and other healthy compounds (such as antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals) so you can get back to feeling your best.
It is possible to heal your skin from the inside out — certain foods help supply your body with nutrients necessary to keep skin glowing naturally, without applying any potentially harmful chemicals on your face. One of these foods is the controversial coconut oil. It’s anti-inflammatory and helps maintain healthy eating habits, which are crucial to the health of your skin. Additionally, applying coconut oil topically could help moisturize naturally.
Fatigue can come from any number of sources, but a good bet is an unstable blood sugar. Load up on oatmeal to help balance your blood glucose and give you lasting energy until your next meal. The complex carbohydrates in oatmeal paired with its punch of fiber will keep you full and energized for hours.
Ice pops are the best thing for you if you’ve come down with a fever. And no, it’s not because they’re cold. When you have a fever, it’s crucial to stay hydrated with fluid-rich foods; that’s why soup is such a popular go-to. However, ice pops made of 100 percent fruit will provide you with hydration and immune-supporting vitamin C. Plus, I mean… They’re cold.
When you’re gassy, you’re likely experiencing some digestive distress. A good way to help your stomach out in its duress is to aid gut bacteria with probiotic foods. Kimchi is an excellent example — the fermented cabbage is as flavorful as it is good for you!
Asparagus might make your pee smell weird, but if you’re desperate for a hangover cure, it’s worth the stench. The vegetable contains enzymes that can help process alcohol in your body after drinking, effectively preventing a hangover. While asparagus might not sound like an appealing drunk munchie, try to swallow a few sprigs before you pass out!
A throbbing headache or migraine can derail your mood, productivity, and entire day. You don’t have to let the pain drag you down — instead, combat it with healthy foods. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in surplus in chia seeds, have been shown to relieve chronic headaches and migraines. The body needs these substances to produce natural pain-relievers. Chia seeds come with a plethora of other health benefits, too. Consider adding them to your smoothies, baking with them, or whipping up a satisfying chia pudding.
Heartburn, also known as acid reflux, occurs when food and stomach acid travels back up your esophagus and towards your throat. It can be extremely painful and, since it often happens after dinner at night, can keep people awake for hours while the ache continues. Tums and other antacids can work to ease the pain, but a much more natural solution is apple cider vinegar. The acidity of the substance can help balance the pH in your gut, stopping the upset.
We don’t recommend you drink it right from the bottle. Instead, mix a teaspoon of the sharp-tasting liquid into a glass of cold water and sip it slowly.
The whole glass of warm milk before bed thing might not be so crazy after all. Milk, along with other forms of dairy, has loads of tryptophan. The amino acid is known for its calming qualities — and for putting people to sleep. If you’re ever awake and alert at 3 a.m., try heating up a glass.
Arthritis sufferers and achy elders alike have found solace in the healing powers of turmeric. It seems the superfood has endless benefits (for humans and for dogs), including reduction of painful inflammation. Since inflammation is at the root of arthritis symptoms, adding a dusting of turmeric to your meals can significantly reduce your pain.
These painful deposits are becoming more and more common in the United States, to the dismay of many sufferers. As of 2012, one in 11 adults experiences a kidney stone at some point in their lifetime. Luckily, they are somewhat preventable. Citrate, a citrus compound found most heavily concentrated in lemonade, dissolves calcium deposits that might get worse.
Cherries are brimming with antioxidants and other anti-inflammatory compounds, making them an ideal post-workout pain-reliever. By reducing the inflammation in the tiny muscle tears causing your pain, cherries can nix your muscle soreness before it gets bad. It’s even held up in scientific studies — after a really tough workout, cherry juice does the trick.
PMS can be the absolute worst — the irritability, pain, and overall feeling of bleh can affect your work life, relationships, and even overall well-being. When it gets really bad, we’ll bet you’re willing to try anything to mitigate those miserable symptoms. Some studies show that foods rich in vitamin B can significantly decrease uncomfortable episodes of PMS. Seafood and spinach are rich in both thiamin and riboflavin — two B vitamins shown to be beneficial. Conveniently, they pair well for a satisfying meal!
If you’ve got a runny nose, it’s likely you’re experiencing some sinus blockage — and it’s leaking out slowly, nagging you and making you feel like a running faucet all day. Anything spicy is bound to do the trick to clear out your system. Eat some harsh horseradish and get it all out so you can move on with your day, phlegm-free.
Do you remember when you were younger and your parents would warm you up a hot cup of tea? The best part was when you got to pour in the honey — and if you’re anything like we were as children, you always poured for a few seconds longer than you knew you should. There was some logic to that tea and honey, after all. The honey is a tried and true way to ease a sore throat.
Ellagic acid is a natural substance that can help skin protect itself from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. We wish pomegranate was in season during the summer — because it’s absolutely loaded with the compound. The juicy seeds have enough of the substance to significantly reduce your chance of sunburn.