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Healthy Foods That Cure Pains, Inflammation, and Other Common Ailments

Before you head to the medicine cabinet or drive to your nearest pharmacy to pick up a pain medication, open your fridge or pantry -- hiding in there just might be the cure-all you've been looking for. Incorporating healthy eating into your life can alleviate some of the ailments you experience on a daily or monthly basis, and save you money on your medical bills!

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Migraines

Migraines come with their own set of symptoms and once they are front and center (no pun intended), you may start to experience a throbbing and pulsing sensation in your head, sensitivity to light and sound, or even neck stiffness. For some, medication may be the only solution. If you know you are susceptible to migraines and are aware of situations when they are more likely to happen (stress at home, work, school, lack of sleep, exhaustion) then use your lifestyle as a tool to help you manage them. Healthy eating is a good place to start.

 

Food Fix: Salmon: Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish like salmon, reduces inflammation in the body. Several studies have shown that these fats may help alleviate symptoms of migraines; aim for two 5-oz servings per week.I especially love this recipe for Grilled Salmon Steaks with Mustard Sauce and Asparagus.

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Photography by: Raymond Hom

PMS

Women who suffer from PMS can tell you that this time of the month is challenging emotionally and physically. Between the bloating, joint and muscle pain, tension, anxiety, appetite changes and cravings, not wanting to get out of bed is not out of the question. Interestingly enough, some women do not experience PMS in their younger years but find that they suffer from its symptoms post children.

 

Food Fix: Pumpkin seeds: Magnesium levels fluctuate throughout your cycle, dropping their lowest right before your period. Low magnesium levels can help contribute to symptoms associated with PMS like headaches, bloating, and sugar cravings; counter these symptoms with a handful of magnesium-rich pumpkin seeds. Check out this recipe for Spiced Pumpkin Seeds. So, simple and so full of flavor and nutrients!

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Inflammation

One of the most talked about ailments, inflammation can be downright debilitating. As a naturally occurring process in our body's immune response, inflammation can result in pain, muscle and joint stiffness, redness and swelling. Sometimes it comes and goes, and for other's it's a chronic condition.

 

Food Fix: Ginger and Turmeric. These two roots have a long history in medicinal use: both have been used for thousands of years in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine to treat problems like stomach pain and nausea. While you can easily add ginger to your recipes, enjoying it in a tea is also a great way to kick up your anti-oxidant intake. This is a simple recipe for Ginger Tea. This is also a great recipe that features turmeric as the superstar in your tea.

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Chronic Pain

Chronic pain can be defined as pain that lasts more than 6 months. It can be tough to nail down the cause of chronic pain, which makes treatment even more difficult. Somewhat related to the symptoms which result in inflammation, chronic pain may originate from injury, trauma, infection or nerve pain. Again, while medicine can be a source of relief, it is not the only solution to pain management.

 

Food Fix: Coffee, plain and simple! Not too much, but just enough! Low doses of caffeine -- the amount in a cup of coffee -- have been shown to reduce the perception of pain. If you can, take your coffee black or with a few splashes of milk and limit your consumptions of sugar as it may be a food that your body percieves as pro-inflammatory, and potentially pain-causing. As a reminder, you will want to eliminate all artificial sugars from your diet as well.

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Irregular Blood Pressure

Your blood pressure rises with each heartbeat and falls when your heart relaxes between beats. As a woman, you may have an increased risk of developing high blood pressure. Beyond genetics, your lifestyle plays a role. If you are 20 pounds or more overweight and if your diet is one that is higher in saturated fats, sugar, sodium, and alcohol you set yourself up for a greater risk. A healthy lifestyle in which you are active and paying attention to your food choices can help decrease your chances of having a stroke or other preventable chronic conditions like diabetes or heart disease.

 

Food Fix: Beans. Sodium gets most of the blame for hypertension, but it's actually the combination of high sodium intake and low intake of micronutrients calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Beans contain solid amounts of all three minerals; choose low-sodium or dried beans to help your heart out even more. Get your bean fix on with this recipe for a 7 Bean Salad. Garnished with parsley and topped with shaved Parmigiano, this is a simple dish to prepare alongside any protein, perfect for a picnic, or enjoyed as a complete meal.

 

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Urinary Tract Infections

Usually a UTI is self-diagnosable with a range of symptoms such as frequent urination accompanied by a pain or burning sensation as well as pain in the lower abdomen, and even a feeling fatigue or having a fever.

 

Food Fix: While unsweetened cranberry juice has been the preferred remedy for some, studies are now showing that foods high in vitamin C like bell peppers, leafy greens, kiwi, berries and other citrus fruits have a positive impact on the health of our urinary tract. According to Johns Hopkins medical health library, large amounts of vitamin C help to make our urine more acidic which in turn inhibits the growth of bacteria in your urinary tract. In addition, simply staying hydrated, and that's from water, not from alcohol, soda, juice, or coffee -- may be one of the best ways to prevent a UTI. The more water you drink, the more often UTI-causing bacteria will be flushed from your system.

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Nausea

The general feeling of being sick to one's stomach can be both psychological and physical. A diagnosis of prolonged nausea may be difficult to establish as there are multiple organs such as the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, or liver from which nausea may originate from.

 

Food Fix: Bananas. In addition to being relatively bland, bananas are a great source of potassium, an electrolyte you might be losing with an upset stomach. While you could get fancy and incorporate bananas into a smoothie or dessert, eating a whole banana just as nature made it is your best bet.

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About the Author

Rania Batayneh

Nutritionist Rania Batayneh, MPH is the author of the best-selling book "The One One One Diet: The Simple 1:1:1 Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss." She holds a master’s degree in public health nutrition from the University of Michigan School of Public Health and is also a Wellcoaches Certified Health and Wellness Coach endorsed by the American College of Sports Medicine ...

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