Food Medicine: Natural Cures Inside Your Kitchen!
Look No Further Than Your Kitchen Pantry!
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Using Food & Herbs to Heal is Natural & Cost Efficient!
I have always been a fan of preventative medicine as opposed to curative medicine and take responsibility for my health via lifestyle and diet. Like many other health conscious people out there, I don't embrace this new era of gratuitous pill-popping. It's shocking to see so many drug commercials claiming to have cures for just about everything! The only catch is that these pharmaceuticals focus on curing a symptom, not the cause, and they usually end up creating a negative side effect. Of course, I am not suggesting that you should not take medication prescribed by your physician if you have a serious illness or condition that may be potentially life-threatening. Several minor ailments, however, may be prevented and / or treated the natural way by foods and herbs.
MY FAVORITE TOP 10 HEALING FOODS:
1. Honey: In addition to satisfying your sweet tooth in a healthy way, honey is great at preventing fatigue during exercise thanks to its carbohydrates and natural fruit sugars. It is full of antibacterial properties and can boost the immune system. If you have a sore throat, nothing will soothe it better (and help reduce inflammation) than some honey mixed with lemon.
Personal Note:Honey is at the top of my list because it saved me from much suffering. My family moved from Massachusetts to Florida in the early 1990s. It was not long afterward that I developed a major upper respiratory infection caused by all the allergens in my new tropical surroundings. After trying just about every over the counter drug, I was forced to take prescription antibiotics, but I still was not "cured." An Indian medicine man advised me to buy a jar of local honey that was made during the season when I had felt my worst and to take a tablespoon each day. Since my allergies were at their worse during orange blossom season, I bought local orange blossom honey and faithfully took a spoon a day. When orange blossom season came around the following year, I had already built up an immune to the allergens, thanks to the honey! Brilliant!
2. Organic, Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar: This natural wonder-drug is bursting with vitamins and minerals. Just one teaspoon a day mixed into a glass of water can boost your immune system, lower cholesterol, regulate your blood pressure and ward off bacterial infections.
TIP: Add a cap-full of vinegar (any kind) to water when steaming vegetables and it will reduce the "gassy effects" of notorious veggies like broccoli and cauliflower.
3. Chamomile Tea: Most of you already know that this tea can relax you and help you sleep, but did you know that it also helps in treating migraines? Have a cup when you feel a headache coming on. Drinking chamomile tea regularly will also boost your immune system and help with digestive ailments like nausea, cramping, flatulence, and stomach pain. It may also be used as a compress to relieve external conditions like eczema and psoriasis. TIP: Place used tea bags in the fridge and use as an eye compress to soothe puffiness and minimize dark circles.
4. Fresh Rosemary: In addition to being a delicious herb to use in various recipes, rosemary contains two specific properties (caffeic acid and rosemarinic acid) that are potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. When consumed regularly, rosemary can help prevent cancer, boost liver function and even age-related sun damage! TIP: You can find rosemary essential oil and apply it to your skin as a beauty treatment. It helps strengthen the capillaries and has a rejuvenating effect on the skin.
5. Fresh Basil: The flavonoids and vitamin A in this aromatic herb have been found to protect cells from oxygen, free radical and radiation damage. Essential oil made from basil can inhibit the growth of various bacteria, even those that can resist certain antibiotics. Since it is also an anti inflammatory it has been used in the treatment of arthritis.
6. Peanuts: These protein-rich treats are not nuts, but actually legumes (like peas and lentils). They are rich in monounsaturated fats, which have been shown to lower cholesterol and keep arteries healthy. Peanuts also contain vitamin E, niacin, magnese and folate, all of which help keep your heart in good shape.
7. Carrots: Did you know that carrots are the richest source of pro-vitamin A carotenes? The antioxidant properties of carrots are so great that regular consumption may prevent heart disease and cancer. Also, carrots promote good night vision.
8. Hot Peppers: What do jalapeños, pepperoncini and chilies have in common? They are hot, hot, hot! Capsaicin, the hot pepper’s natural heat-causing component, has been proven to kill cancer cells and produce fat oxidation (so if you are on a diet, be sure to eat super spicy food). If you suffer from sinusitis (like I do), consuming hot pepper will not only clear your sinuses, it will also prevent sinus infections.
9. Rice: If you are feeling sluggish, eating a bowl of rice will give you an instant energy boost. It is a staple food in many countries (like Japan, China, and Brazil) and an excellent source of vitamin B-1. Eating rice regularly can stabilize blood sugar and promote healthy bowel movements. It is also a good food to eat if you are suffering from diarrhea.
10. Cinnamon: Adding this spice will not only make your recipes a bit more exotic, but consuming just 1/2 teaspoon per day has been found to lower LDL cholesterol. If you are diabetic, cinnamon helps regulate blood sugar. So, spice it up!
The list could go on and on, but this is enough for now. If you have a natural food medicine, please leave a comment. As always, thank you for reading!
C. De Melo
Author & Artist