It’s estimated that up to 60 percent of cancers are diet related. Being obese or overweight increases the death rate from several conditions including heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, stroke, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea and several types of cancer.
That old adage, “You are what you eat,” isn’t far from the truth! Time and time again, studies show that choosing healthy foods can reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer or other diseases. But we can take that one steep further. While a good diet is great preventative care we are finding that many foods can also help certain conditions. Here are some great foods that will get you on the road to feeling better!
Tired of the aches pains of arthritis? Think berries, ginger, pumpkin and red bell pepper.
- The vitamin C in berries may help slow the wear and tear on your joints and its antioxidant activity may keep free radicals from wreaking havoc. Plus, vitamin C plays an essential role in the formation of collagen, a key component of cartilage and bone.
- Ginger contains compounds that work similarly to some anti-inflammatory medications. You’ll want to have ginger everyday—try a few slices in hot water to make a great tea.
- Pumpkin is high in antioxidants and can reduce inflammation. Pumkin puree can be added to almost anything like puddings, yogurt, sauces, and soups. Try to eat a can every week.
- Red Bell peppers are rich in inflammation-fighting carotenoids and they have more than 250% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C. Try to eat three peppers a week.
PMS and cramps have you down and out? Think dairy with cheese, pineapple, almonds and flaxseed.
- Studies show that women with PMS have lower levels of calcium around ovulation than women who are symptom free. Adding dairy products, like cheese, is worth a try. Try to eat three servings of calcium-rich food daily.
- Pineapple is a triple threat (in a good way)! It’s one of the best sources for manganese that can help prevent mood, swings, breast tenderness and cramping. It’s also water-rich which will help banish the bloat, and can satisfy your sugar craving in healthy way. Have a cup a day in the 10 days prior to your period.
- Almonds are a great source of magnesium that can help with headaches, mood swings and bloating. Enjoy an ounce of almonds every day.
- Flaxseed can inhibit the release of prostaglandins (what makes you crampy) by providing omega-3s. Try to have 1 or 2 teaspoons daily over cereal, a salad, or mixed in a smoothie.
Want to help control your Type 2 diabetes through diet? Think beans, egg whites and nuts.
- Beans are a super food with a great combination of carbs, protein and fiber that help stabilize blood sugar. Add beans to your diet as much as possible.
- Egg whites are low in calorie, high in protein and are cholesterol free. They will help you maintain your weight and keep your blood sugar levels in check. Eggs are the perfect addition to any meal. Try to have three or four egg-based meals a week.
- Nuts are a great source of healthy fats and protein. This combination helps keep your blood sugar stable by slowing down the rate that your body absorbs carbs. They can also improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Grab an ounce of your favorite nuts every day.
Want to ensure a good night’s sleep? Think tryptophan-rich foods and carbs.
- Tryptophan is nature’s sedative as it is one the ingredients necessary for the body to make serotonin. In turn, serotonin makes us feel calm and drowsy.
- Combine tryptophan rich foods with carbs that help move the tryptophan into the brain where it will make you feel sleepy. Try cheese toast, cereal and milk, a turkey sandwich or cottage cheese and berries.
Worried about osteoporosis? Think broccoli, skim milk and yogurt.
- For great bone building nutrition look to Broccoli, which is rich in vitamins C, and K, potassium and calcium. C and K help with bone density while potassium protects you against bone loss. Try for three servings a week.
- A cup of skim milk contains 300 mg of calcium, which is a third of the recommended daily amount. You can use milk in almost anything that calls for the addition of water. Or, be a purist and grab a cold glass of milk and dunk some cookies!
- Yogurt is great source of calcium and protein, a winning combination for bone strength. Check out Greek-style yogurt to get twice the protein.
Does heart disease run in your family? Think oatmeal, sweet potatoes and wild salmon.
- Oatmeal is rich in soluble fiber which attaches itself to cholesterol and carries it out of your body. Studies show that eating 2.5 servings a day of whole grains will lower your stroke and heart attack risk by 21%. Try to eat oatmeal at least three times a week.
- Sweet potatoes are fiber-rich and potassium-packed, which can reduce the negative effects of sodium on blood pressure. Eat them baked or mashed twice a week.
- Wild salmon is high in omega-3s, which can lower the risk of heart disease and arrhythmia. They also can help lower triglycerides, raise your good cholesterol (HDL) and reduce inflammation that has been linked to an increased risk in Diabetes and heart disease. Try to eat salmon twice a week.
Do migraines take time away from your life? Think quinoa, ground flaxseed and spinach.
- Quinoa provides 30% of your recommended daily amount of magnesium, a mineral that can be helpful in warding-off menstrual migraines. Try to eat quinoa at least three times a week.
- Flaxseed is high in omega-3s that can reduce headache-causing inflammation. Sprinkle a tablespoon a day on your food or add to a smoothie. You’ll reduce menstrual cramps as well!
- Vitamin B can reduce the frequency and severity of headaches. Spinach contains magnesium, as well as riboflavin which is a B vitamin. Enjoy three servings a week.
For more information on foods that treat, check out this great book “Joy Bauer’s Food Cures”.