We are all aware that incorporating healthy foods into our daily diet is essential. Unfortunately, even after following a healthy diet, a lot of us can fall ill or suffer from some other ailment for various reasons. When you are recovering from an illness, however, some foods and beverages can really help boost the healing process.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,” is what Greek physician Hippocrates is renowned for saying. He wasn’t wrong. Many kinds of foods can ease pain and even help in preventing and healing certain conditions. In fact, certain foods are known to fight inflammation, improve immune function, and facilitate healing. Then there are foods that provide our bodies with the necessary fuel to heal faster. Here, we will look at a few such healing foods that you should add to your diet right away.
1. Manuka Honey
Manuka honey is native to New Zealand. What sets this honey apart from common honey is its amazing natural antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory qualities. In recent years, manuka honey has become renowned for its wound healing properties. Health experts have found that when the honey is applied directly to a wound, it tends to improve the healing process, increase the regeneration of tissue, and alleviate pain. In fact, the US Food and Drug Administration approved manuka honey as an option for wound treatment in 2015.
Furthermore, research has also shown that manuka honey is effective at treating ulcers, acne, digestive problems, eyelid wounds, and even superficial burns.
Garlic has several health benefits and has long been considered a natural antibiotic. This power food has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-oxidant properties and has also been used historically to heal wounds by many cultures. Garlic also contains many sulfur compounds such as allicin, ajoene, and alliin. Allicin is known to help lower blood pressure, detoxify the body, and facilitate healing.
One study by the researchers from the University of East London found that the allicin present in garlic was beneficial against the most antibiotic-resistant strains of the MRSA "superbug" also known as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus that causes infections in different parts of the body.
Turmeric, that bright yellow spice, has been used for ages in Ayurvedic medicine to relieve pain and to promote healthy digestion. In fact, it’s popularly used as a digestive healing agent in many parts of the sub-continent.
Turmeric also contains curcumin, a substance that has proven to have anti-inflammatory properties and can help heal irritable bowel syndrome. Making turmeric a part of your daily diet may even help protect your body from tissue destruction and joint inflammation. This wonder spice can also help relieve heartburn and bloating while preserving good nerve cell function.
All berries, including blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries, are loaded with plenty of vital nutrients and plant compounds that can assist with your body’s recovery. One of the best features of berries is that they are high in Vitamin C which facilitates wound healing by stirring up the generation of collagen, the most plentiful protein in your body. Moreover, all dark berries contain anthocyanins – plant pigments that prevent cell damage and also have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and immune-supporting properties.
Salmon is brimming with protein, B vitamins, iron, selenium, zinc, and omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fats, apart from lowering cholesterol and preventing heart disease, can also be useful in regulating the heart rhythm and preventing blood clotting. Moreover, salmon is also considered great for back and joint pain.
Studies have shown that omega-3 fats may assist in wound healing, improve immune response, and reduce inflammation. Another point worth noting is that 3 ounces (85 grams) of wild-caught salmon provides more than half of your daily needs for selenium – a powerful mineral that controls inflammation and immune response.
Ginger is a famous cooking spice but also has plenty of health benefits – from soothing an upset stomach to treating arthritis. Over the years, ginger has also been acknowledged by health experts as an important food for easing seasickness and nausea. This isn’t all. Ginger is a natural aspirin imitator and has anti-inflammatory qualities. It is even known to provide relief from migraines, arthritis pain, and muscle aches.
You can add ginger to your diet in the form of ginger tea, ginger biscuits, or even add slices of it to smoothies, and juice.
7. Nuts and seeds
When you are recovering from an illness, nuts, and seeds such as almonds, pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and hemp seeds, will be highly beneficial to speed up the healing process. They provide the necessary fuel to your body during the period of recovery and have plant-based protein, healthy fats, and vitamins and minerals that aid healing.
Nuts and seeds are also great for obtaining manganese, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin E. Vitamin E is vital for our immune system’s health and works as an antioxidant that protects our cells from damage.
Yogurt is an extremely nutritious food and having it regularly will help your body in many ways. This flavorful yet healthy treat contains zinc and protein that can support wound healing. It is also is high in vitamins and nutrients that promote recovery. Yogurt helps in keeping the immune system working smoothly as well and even provides support in the division of cells, which is crucial for the formation of new cells.
In the book “Wound Care: A Collaborative Practice Manual,” author Dr. Carrie Sussman has suggested that patients should add yogurt to their daily diet to speed up the healing process. Yogurt also contains various bacterial strains like B. infantis and L. acidophilus that help reduce pain, inflammation, and bloating.
Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world that is rich in antioxidants and works wonderfully well as an energy-booster. However, it can also work as medicine. "Caffeine helps reduce pain by narrowing the dilated blood vessels that develop with headaches," says Andrew Weil, MD, founder, and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine.
Besides, coffee helps in reducing pain-promoting compounds and boosting the impact of other pain relievers. That being said, an overdose of coffee can have the opposite effect and we hence suggest having it in moderation.
Chewing on mint leaves can freshen your breath instantly. But there’s more to this amazing herb that you might not be aware of. For instance, peppermint contains menthol that is quite helpful in treating irritable bowel syndrome. Additionally, peppermint oil can come in real handy in relieving headaches. Just rub some on your temples and let the minty scent do its work. After all, it’s known as an herbal aspirin for good reason.
Another great way to use mint for healing purposes is to brew some mint tea. Botanist James A. Duke, Ph.D., author of 'The Green Pharmacy Guide to Healing Foods', says that mint tea can be useful for any type of pain. It can also ease muscle spasms along the digestive tract. Just pour boiling water over some peppermint leaves to make your mint tea and soak until it’s quite strong.
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