“It’s a luxury to be understood.” Ralph Waldo Emerson. A mission to understand. Know thyself.
There are many foods that are supposed to improve our health. From foods meant to help us lose weight, to ones that help our bodies to function properly, to ones that help our brains work better longer. Depending upon the region you grew up in you may be familiar with all kinds of food that supposedly have the power to heal, calm, revitalize or in some way advance the human body. Some cultures believe that exotic dishes like shark fins and rhino horns give them strength and vitality. Others advocate herbs like ginger and Echinacea. Even oils like fish oil have long been touted to offer benefits to our bodies. But which ones actually work?
Well, the truth is complex. You see, not everything works for everyone. For example, I know a person who cannot take Echinacea. When he does it makes his heart race and he gets dizzy. Another person I know has high blood pressure. She tried a special tea that was supposed to help. Well, it helped too much! Her blood pressure dropped like a stone and she nearly fainted. Even vitamins can have adverse reactions with some people, like rashes, itching and discomfort.
With that in mind, here are some foods that are supposed to be beneficial. You may have to try them out yourself to see if they affect you in the same way.
1. Cranberry Juice – Cranberry juice is supposed to be good for your urinary tract. Not only does it help to reduce harmful bacteria that can cause urinary tract infections, but it also works with your kidneys to help flush out toxins that build up. Drinking two eight ounce glasses every day can keep you infection free and your urine clear.
2. Asparagus – Another food that helps with urinary health is asparagus. Yes, it can make your urine smell, but that is a side effect of its cleansing power. It helps to keep you clean from the inside out and can reduce your chances of getting a kidney stone. It also reduces your chances of getting gout (a buildup of uric acid) and can even help with a hangover!
3. Ginger – Ginger is well known for its medicinal effects. Ginger tea can help with nausea and stress. Ginger relaxes the stomach muscles and can help with other muscle tension too. It is a great thing to drink the day after you exercise to prevent aches and pains. It is also supposed to help lower blood pressure and ease arthritis pain.
4. Echinacea – This flower has long been used as an herb to fight off infections and illness. Believed to stimulate the immune system, you are supposed to take it regularly to get over a virus faster or prevent illnesses like the cold or flu.
5. Chamomile Tea – Used both as a diet aide and a stress reliever, chamomile tea is made from the chamomile flower and has a light flavor. Historically, chamomile tea has been used as a sleep aide and has also been found to reduce inflammation. It can be applied topically to hemorrhoids to reduce their size and irritation and can even be applied to wounds to speed healing because of its antiseptic qualities. It is also great at soothing upset stomachs and menstrual cramping.
6. Avocadoes – Avocadoes are well known for their oil, which is thought to help with continuing brain heath. When applied to the face, avocado is supposed to reduce wrinkles and moisturize. It is also supposed to help lower cholesterol levels by increasing good cholesterol and decreasing bad.
7. Sweet Potatoes – A highly nutritious source of carbohydrates, the sweet potato provides tons of beta carotene that is good for your eye sight and potassium which promotes muscle health and recovery after exercise. They also have manganese which is essential for muscle performance.
8. Yogurt – Yogurt is a great source of protein and calcium for healthy bones and teeth. It is also known to help in weight loss, especially in the stomach area! Not only that, but it is full of beneficial bacteria that can help improve digestion and colon health. The bacteria can also help to prevent yeast infections, especially after a long antibiotic regimen.
9. Bananas – To prevent leg cramps during exercise, just eat a banana. Full of potassium that is great for balancing electrolytes, bananas are also thought to reduce the risk of cancers such as breast, renal, and colon cancer.
10. Lean Beef – Beef is usually frowned upon because of its high fat content, but lean beef has many valuable effects on the human body. High in iron, it can help to keep your red blood cell count high and prevent anemia. It is also a good source of carnitine, which helps to break down fat into energy, and creatine, which provides energy to the muscles.
11. Eggs – Eggs not only have lots of protein, but they also include the amino acids necessary to rebuild muscles that are broken down due to exercise. Eggs also provide several important vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin B2, folic acid (vitamin B9), vitamin B6, vitamin B12, choline, iron, calcium, phosphorus and potassium. Eggs are one of the few foods to naturally contain vitamin D, which combined with calcium is needed for bone health.
12. Almonds – Almonds are not only tasty, but are a rich source of vitamin E, dietary fiber, B vitamins, essential minerals, and monounsaturated fats. Almonds are thought to help reduce cholesterol, improve your complexion, and lower your risk of cancer. Despite the high fat content, they are also known to reduce heart disease when consumed regularly.
13. Salmon – Salmon is an oil fish, but is thought to be healthy due to the high levels of protein, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D content. Wild caught salmon is healthier than farmed, but both contain DHA and EPA, which are important for brain function and structure.
14. Quinoa – This unusual food is not a grain as some people think. However it does taste similar to grains like wheat and rice. It has a very high protein content and is a good source of dietary fiber, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and calcium. It also does not have gluten, making it great for people who are on gluten free diets and also for lactose intolerant people to get enough calcium in their diets. Easy to digest, it is a good food to help with upset stomachs and digestive issues.
15. Berries – Berries, from blueberries, to raspberries, to blackberries and strawberries all have high levels of antioxidants. These antioxidants are thought to help reduce your risk of cancer and also keep your body younger longer. They are also known to help reduce wrinkles and improve skin elasticity. Berries, when eaten regularly in whole fruit or juice form, are also known to reduce inflammation and blood pressure. Regular consumption can also lower cholesterol and with it your risk of heart disease. Wild varieties of berries tend to have greater effects, including helping memory and learning in older adults, reducing blood sugar levels, and helping with symptoms of depression. Whole berries are high in fiber which can help to regulate digestion and clean the body of toxins. Berries are also high in vitamin C, like citrus fruits, which help to increase your immune response. Strawberries have a special antioxidant that has been linked to reductions in Alzheimer’s disease and kidney failure as a result of diabetes. Raspberry leaves are supposedly helpful with menstrual symptoms.
There are many more foods that you can eat to improve your health. Herbs alone account for many healthful additions. Fruit and green, leafy vegetables are usually high in healthy vitamins and minerals. If you can cut out many of the processed foods and fats in your diet your body will thank you.
Sara is an active nanny as well as an active freelance writer. She is a frequent contributor of http://www.nannypro.com/.