Contributed by Christine Binney
We all know the healing power of food when it comes to supporting our emotional well-being. Classic comfort foods like chicken noodle soup or macaroni and cheese often provide a nostalgic feeling that takes you back to the simplicity of your youth, while chocolates and ice cream might be just the fix to help you get over a breakup. But did you know that the hidden healing power of food is even more important to your well-being? By eating a diet rich in a variety of healthy foods that are packed with antioxidants and nutrients, you can improve cardiovascular health, reduce your risk of cancer, and prevent degenerative disease. In terms of living a long and healthy life, what is in your kitchen is just as important as what is in your medicine cabinet.
Fiber is essential for a healthy diet. Eating a diet rich in fiber prevents constipation, lowers your risk of diabetes and heart disease, and can be an effective tool in losing weight. If you aren’t used to eating much fiber, be sure to introduce it into your diet gradually to give your body time to adjust.
Great sources of fiber include beans, peas, cabbage, green beans, cauliflower, carrots, cucumbers, apples, citrus, whole-wheat, whole-grains, bran, oats, seeds and nuts. Even though there are so many delicious sources of fiber available, most Americans still do not consume nearly the recommended daily allowance. Aim for 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day to experience the maximum healing power. At lunch time, try a simple salad loaded with your favorite fresh veggies. It’s an easy and delicious way to boost your fiber intake.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids, primarily found in fish, nuts and seeds, have an amazing array of health benefits. They have been shown to reduce the risk for heart disease, ease the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, reduce the symptoms of ADHD, protect against dementia, and even reduce depression.
While omega-3 fatty acids are available in supplement form, the most significant healing power can be found naturally in food. Walnuts, chia seeds, edamame, flaxseed oil and canola oil are also great sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Try adding walnuts and chia seeds to a smoothie or sprinkling them on a bowl of yogurt to enjoy the tastes and textures. Fish like salmon, tuna and trout have plenty of omega-3s and should be eaten two to three times per week. Start by replacing one red meat entree with fish during the week then try to work towards more. You’ll find that cooking a meal with fish is as easy as placing veggies, rice and a filet in tin foil and baking it for 12-15 minutes. That’s all it takes!
Vitamin C is another crucial element to a healthy diet. Studies show vitamin C supplies powerful antioxidants, reduces the severity of duration of cold symptoms, alleviates allergies, and even promotes healing in cuts, burns and broken bones. Good sources of vitamin C include oranges, strawberries, berries, papaya, pineapple, cantaloupe, broccoli, cauliflower and peppers. For an impressive dish that’s loaded with Vitamin C, fill a serving bowl with orange segments, grapefruit slices, kiwi and pineapple chunks. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds on top and you have a beautiful and healthy fruit salad.
Spices have been touted for their healing power since ancient times. There are a variety of flavorful spices which promote healing and protect against disease. Spices have been linked to the prevention and treatment of many chronic conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, heart disease and Type II diabetes. Spices can reduce inflammation, depression, pain and anxiety. Some of the most powerful spices include vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, black pepper, sage, and rosemary. Add some turmeric and ginger to your evening tea to aid in digestion and even promote weight loss. Entertain your taste buds by using these spices liberally and your whole body will thank you.
Start healing with food
You can also share the hidden healing power of food by bringing a meal to a friend in need. If you or a loved one are dealing with sickness or disease, do some research into the ways that food can complement your current treatment plan to ensure the best outcome. For example, the website Living Beyond Breast Cancer has a great post about diet and nutrition for long-term survivors. Consider food one more tool in your arsenal of ways to live a happy and healthy life.
Not only is it a good idea to incorporate these healing foods into your daily diet, it’s also incredibly easy. With a little planning, you can make sure that every meal you eat has a benefit to your body. Try a quick and easy breakfast treat that incorporates all of the healing foods mentioned above. Simply make a bowl of piping-hot, fiber-rich oatmeal, stir in some berries packed with vitamin C, and sprinkle on some walnuts that are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. Finally, top the whole dish off with a hearty dash of cinnamon. This nourishing breakfast is an easy way to benefit from the hidden healing power of food. It’s a great way to start your day, and has the added bonus of keeping you full and satisfied until lunchtime. Get to healing your body with food by planning this recipe for tomorrow!