It’s not always easy, but skipping the over-the-counter meds for life’s bumps and bruises (and headaches and colds and sleepless nights) when you can, might be the best choice. Often medicines just mask symptoms—but don’t offer a lasting cure. For these common maladies, try some healing foods first; it might be just what the doctor ordered.
Onset: If you feel one coming on, go for a spinach salad topped with avocado and some nuts or seeds. The high level of magnesium found in these foods might help relieve the painful ailment—this is what is often given (in supplement form) in the emergency room.
Long-term: Bring some fatty fish into your diet regularly; their omega-3 fatty acids could help decrease the production of prostaglandins in your body—which can cause inflammation and pain. Go for fish low in mercury like Freshwater Coho salmon, wild-caught Alaskan salmon, mackerel and herring.
Onset: If you need a boost ASAP, down some coconut water. Often fatigue is a result of dehydration. Not only does coconut rehydrate you, it offers electrolytes—magnesium, calcium and potassium.
Long-term: Keep foods like quinoa and eggs in your diet to help with fatigue. Both contain high levels of energy-providing protein, and quinoa also offers B vitamins, iron and complex carbohydrates.
Onset: After a particularly tough workout, curb tomorrow’s soreness with some tart cherry juice concentrate (grab one that’s organic without any added sugars). The cherries contain anti-inflammatory antioxidants, anthocyanins, which can help relieve muscle soreness.
Long-term: To help keep soreness at bay, add chia seeds to your diet to decrease inflammation. Blueberries can also prevent aches due to their antioxidants which might serve to decrease the free radicals released by your muscles during a workout.
Onset: You know that turkey makes you sleepy, right? And you’ve probably heard it’s an amino acid called “tryptophan” that causes you to want to doze—but you might not realize chickpeas are also a great source of tryptophan. Enjoy a bit of hummus a couple of hours before bed to help you snooze.
Long-term: If you’re often struggling to sleep soundly, add some magnesium to your diet. Almonds, cashews, bananas, black beans, lentils and quinoa are excellent sources.
Onset: Feeling a little blue? Have some sweet potatoes! The carbohydrates will give you an on-the-spot flood of serotonin, the “happy” hormone.
Long-term: Both folate (vitamin b-9) and vitamin D have been shown to boost your mood—so be sure you’re regularly getting both of them in your diet. Grab folate from leafy greens, citrus fruits, mushrooms, peas, sunflower seeds and dried beans. Eggs, shiitake mushrooms, beef and fatty fish are great sources for vitamin D.
Go organic wherever possible!