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12 Major Food Cures For Physical Pain

12 Major Food Cures For Physical Pain

For millennia, human beings have treated physical ailments with herbs and food cures, long before there were grocery stores stocked with ibuprofen and antacids. While modern medicine certainly has its benefits, sometimes the best solution is a natural one. The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates once said, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.”

Here’s a look at tried-and-true remedies for common aches and pains. This list provides food cures that target the cause of pain, and heal the body from within.

1.  Aching Joints

Fruit Salad

    Pineapple – When joint pain flares up, reach for a fresh pineapple. This fruit contains an enzyme called bromelain, which helps the body process nutrients, reduce inflammation, and support joint function. Dice up a pineapple to make a fruit salad and add a healthy punch to relieve joint pain.

    RECIPE:

    1. Rinse apple, strawberries, grapes, and blackberries.
    2. Mix 2 cups of diced fresh pineapple, 2 diced bananas, 1 diced cored Fuji apple, 1 cup of diced cantaloupe, 1 cup of diced strawberries, 1 cup of seedless grapes, and 1 cup of blueberries. Serve in 1-cup portions.

    2.  Stomach Aches

    Ginger Mint Tea

      Homemade Ginger Mint Tea – Stomachaches caused by motion sickness, nausea, indigestion, and gas can be relieved with ginger. Containing a substance that relaxes and soothes the intestinal tract, ginger allays the symptoms of stomach pain. Mint also relieves stomach cramps and bloating, and the combination of both ginger and mint will settle your stomach quickly.

      RECIPE:

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      1. Slice 1 inch of peeled ginger into thin medallions
      2. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add slices and 2 mint leaves, and simmer for 20 minutes.
      3. Pour in a cup and add honey and lemon to taste. Serve.

      3.  Leg Cramps

      Spinach White Bean Salad

        Spinach White Bean Salad – For any muscle cramps, this salad is packed with essential nutrients to ward off the pain and reinvigorate your muscles with the vitamins they’re lacking: potassium, magnesium, and protein.

        RECIPE:

        1. For each serving, slice 1 Roma tomato, 1 hardboiled egg, and 1/8 red onion. Add to 2 cups of washed baby spinach.
        2. Add 1/2 cup of washed and drained white beans.
        3. Add desired dressing and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. Toss. Serve.

        4.  Heartburn

        Banana Oatmeal

          Banana Almond Oatmeal – Heartburn is caused by acid reflux rising and irritating the esophagus, but there are foods to neutralize the acid and relieve the pain. Banana oatmeal cooked with almond milk combines three key ingredients for combatting heartburn: high-fiber oatmeal to absorb the acid, alkaline acidic neutralizer almond milk, and low-acidic bananas that will coat your throat and provide relief.

          RECIPE:

          1. Whisk in saucepan 1 cup of almond milk, 1 tablespoon of honey, 1 teaspoon of almond extract, 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, a pinch of salt, and half of a mashed banana. Bring to a boil.
          2. Add 1/2 cup of rolled oats and simmer until oats are tender, 5-7 minutes.
          3. Pour oatmeal in a bowl, and slice up remaining half of banana. Serve.

          5.  Urinary Tract Infection

          Blueberries

            Unsweetened Probiotic Yogurt with Blueberries – The compounds in the probiotic yogurt help fight infection and reestablish the healthy bacterial balance. Unsweetened is best, as simple sugars can negate yogurt’s benefits. Mix in blueberries, which are loaded with antioxidants and have been shown to prevent E. Coli bacteria, a frequent cause of UTIs, from adhering to the bladder wall.

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            RECIPE:

            1. Prepare 1 cup of probiotic yogurt and stir in 1/2 cup blueberries. Serve.
            2. Eat 2 to 3 times daily until symptoms improve.

            6.  Muscle Inflammation 

            Trail Mix

              Trail Mix – When you’re on the go but need a snack, pack up a trail mix of nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and dark chocolate to relieve aches caused by muscle inflammation. Walnuts lower the body’s C-reactive protein which causes inflammation. Almonds and cashews contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are also anti-inflammatory, while dried fruits and dark chocolate carry anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants. Pumpkin and sunflower seeds are packed with vitamins and healthy fats, and add a subtle variety to the mix. This is the perfect post-workout snack when you’re feeling the burn.

              RECIPE:

              1. In a large bowl, mix 2 cups of walnuts, 2 cups of cashews, 1 cup of slivered toasted almonds, 1 cup of dried apricots, 1 cup of dried papaya, 1 cup dried pineapple, 1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds, 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds, and 1 cup of dark chocolate chips.
              2. Divide into 1/2- to 1-cup servings and store in small Ziploc bags. Serve.

              7.  Headaches

              Cherries

                Tart Cherry Smoothie – Headaches can be caused by a number of sources, including but not limited to: vitamin and electrolyte deficiencies, hormonal fluctuations, muscle tension, stress, low blood sugar, and dehydration. One food that can cure your headache pain regardless of cause is the cherry. Packed with melatonin and polyphenol, cherries convert to nitric oxide in the blood and serve to relax muscles and blood vessels, allowing for better blood flow. Blend them into a smoothie with other nutrient-packed ingredients, and you’ll feel healthier, hydrated, and better in no time.

                RECIPE:

                1. Blend 2 cups of seedless tart cherries, 1 cup of washed chopped kale, 1 banana, 2 cups of coconut milk, 1 tablespoon of ground flax seed, 1 tablespoon of honey, and 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract.
                2. Add ice and water to obtain desired consistency. Serve.

                8.  Arthritis

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                Salmon

                  Cooked Salmon – The benefits of salmon and other freshwater fish have been repeatedly reconfirmed by scientists and nutritionists alike. Salmon in particular is rich with omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation and enable better joint movement for arthritis patients. Garlic, olive oil, basil, and lemon also have anti-inflammatory properties, and cooking the recipe below on a regular basis can alleviate some of the joint stiffness and allow for more mobility to ease arthritic pain.

                  RECIPE:

                  1. Create a marinade of 2 minced garlic cloves, 6 tablespoons of light olive oil, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh parsley, 1 teaspoon of dried basil, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper. Marinate 2 6 oz. salmon fillets for at least 1 hour.
                  2. With the oven at 375° F, place marinated fillets in aluminum foil and seal. Set in a glass dish and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until salmon easily flakes. Plate and serve.

                  9.  Sore Throats

                  Chamomile Tea

                    Chamomile tea with honey and lemon – For over 5,000 years, the properties of chamomile have been recognized and used to cure the body’s ailments. To heal a sore throat, chamomile helps kill bacteria and serves as an anti-inflammatory to soothe aches or rawness resulting from a cold or cough. Add honey for its healing properties and lemon to inhibit viruses and bacteria.

                    RECIPE:

                    1. Boil 1 cup of water.
                    2. Add 1 slice of lemon and 1 tablespoon of honey.
                    3. For an extra boost, use 2 teabags in your cup for added potency. Serve.

                    10. Skin Irritation

                    Basil

                      Basil – For sunburn, insect bites, or pimples, the naturally occurring oils and compounds found in basil can soothe and speed up healing. Basil is naturally antibacterial and disinfecting, and the camphene cools the skin, suppressing any itchiness from bites or irritation. Its cleansing properties clear out pores to cure and prevent pimples, and it boasts an anti-aging property that helps reverse damage caused by free radicals as well.

                      RECIPE:

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                      1. Crush 1 cup of fresh basil leaves and add 1 tablespoon of water for sunburns, or lemon juice for bites and pimples
                      2. Apply paste to skin for 30 minutes. Rinse off.

                      11. Tissue Inflammation

                      Guacamole

                        Chips and Guacamole – Avocados, garlic, and cayenne pepper hold properties that fight inflammation and ease pain. Avocados especially carry a concentrated amount of carotenoids, which help to protect and strengthen skin, tissue, and cells for better health and function. Mix them all together with a few other ingredients, and you have a delicious and popular snack.

                        RECIPE:

                        1. In a medium bowl, mash together 3 peeled and pitted mashed avocados, juice of 1 lime, and 1 teaspoon of salt.
                        2. Mix in 1/2 cup of diced onion, 2 diced Roma plum tomatoes, 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro, 1 teaspoon of minced garlic, and 1 pinch of ground cayenne pepper.
                        3. Let meld for an hour. Serve with high-fiber corn chips.

                        12. General Aches and Pains

                        Water

                          Water – Overall lethargy and malaise can often be relieved by simply drinking water. Staying properly hydrated has been shown to diminish the pain associated with migraines, muscle aches, joint stress, constipation, and other ailments. If the human body is a well-oiled machine, then water is its oil.

                          Featured photo credit: Take Back Your Health Conference 2015 Los Angeles/TakeBackYourHealthConference via flickr.com

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                          Published on November 14, 2018

                          Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

                          Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

                          With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

                          For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

                          In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

                          Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

                          Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

                          It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

                          For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

                          Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

                          Symptoms of Fatigue

                          Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

                          • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
                          • mental blocks
                          • lack of motivation
                          • headache
                          • dizziness
                          • muscle weakness
                          • slowed reflexes and responses
                          • impaired decision-making and judgement
                          • moodiness, such as irritability
                          • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
                          • reduced immune system function
                          • blurry vision
                          • short-term memory problems
                          • poor concentration
                          • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

                          Causes of Fatigue

                          The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

                          • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
                          • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
                          • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
                          • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

                          Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

                          Medical Causes of Fatigue

                          If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

                          Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

                          Anemia

                          Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

                          Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

                          There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

                          Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

                          Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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                          This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

                          Diabetes

                          Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

                          Sleep Apnea

                          Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

                          Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

                          Thyroid disease

                          An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

                          Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

                          • Lack of sleep
                          • Too much sleep 
                          • Alcohol and drugs 
                          • Sleep disturbances 
                          • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
                          • Poor diet 

                          Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

                          • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
                          • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
                          • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
                          • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

                          Psychological Causes of Fatigue

                          Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

                          • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
                          • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
                          • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

                          How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

                          Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

                          1. Tell The Truth

                          Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

                          To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

                          Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

                          The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

                          One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

                          • How you feel
                          • What time of day it is
                          • What may have contributed to your fatigue
                          • How your mind and body reacts

                          This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

                          2. Reduce Your Commitments

                          When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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                          If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

                          When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

                          Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

                          3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

                          If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

                          Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

                          If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

                          Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

                          Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

                          4. Express More Gratitude

                          Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

                          It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

                          Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

                          5. Focus On Yourself

                          Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

                          There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

                          But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

                          We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

                          6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

                          Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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                          Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

                          The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

                          Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

                          7. Take a Power Nap

                          When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

                          Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

                          This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

                          8. Take More Exercise

                          The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

                          Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

                          The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

                          You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

                          9. Get More Quality Sleep

                          To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

                          Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

                          My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

                          10. Improve Your Diet

                          Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

                          Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

                          On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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                          To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

                          Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

                          Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

                          11. Manage Your Stress Levels

                          Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

                          When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

                          Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

                          My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

                          12. Get Hydrated

                          Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

                          Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

                          If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

                          The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

                          The Bottom Line

                          These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

                          If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

                          Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

                          Reference

                          [1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
                          [2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
                          [3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
                          [4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
                          [5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
                          [6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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