March 12, 2011

Your food is your medicine

Filed under: Fitness Links — Peter Laws @ 8:58 am

Ever considered the medicinal benefits of food? From acne to arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome to the common cold, what we eat may provide some relief. Read on to learn about the power of food and always consult your doctor about treatment options and your dietary needs.
Acne

A condition that commonly affects teenagers, acne occurs when there is an excess of oil and blocked pores in the skin. While there are many soaps and lotions on the market aimed at treating the condition, an Australian study recently found that a low GI diet high in protein – including lean red meat – reduced acne in teenage participants by 50 per cent after 12 weeks. To get your low GI dose of food, aim for three serves of low GI fruit and five serves of vegetables each day. Try apples, bananas, carrots, pumpkin and eggplant. Also keep up your intake of low GI carbohydrates with wholegrain cereals and breads, brown rice and wholemeal pasta. When it comes to protein, try to eat one serve with every meal, but make sure it’s lean. Try fish, chicken, lean meat, eggs, nuts and legumes.
Arthritis

Arthritis is characterised by inflammation of the joints and can be painful to live with. While there is currently no evidence that conclusively supports certain foods as effective treatments, a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids may help alleviate the pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Oily fish (such as tuna, mackerel, sardines or salmon), canola oil, flaxseed oil, walnuts, linseeds and fish oil supplements are rich sources of omega-3 so make an effort to consume these as part of a healthy diet.
Asthma

While there is unfortunately no cure for the lung condition known as asthma, some studies suggest that a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, fish and lean meat may help normalise breathing.
Cancer

Cancer is a cell disease that comes in many forms and can affect dietary needs and tastes. If you or someone you know has cancer, speak to your doctor about available treatment options, including meal recommendations. Smaller meals or light snacks might alleviate nausea associated with some treatments and supplements may make up for lost appetite and adjustments to fibre intake might treat constipation or diarrhoea.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is an illness that involves debilitating fatigue. While scientific information on the link between food and CFS is limited, dietary changes may help alleviate the symptoms for some sufferers. A high protein, low GI diet may offer some relief for those who experience unusual changes in insulin or blood sugar levels. Try lean meats and whole grains such as fish, lean chicken and eggs plus brown rice and wholemeal pasta.
Constipation

Food is a great medicine for constipation, the bowel condition that makes it difficult to pass stools. If you’re suffering from constipation, up your fibre intake and ensure you drink enough water. Both assist bowel movements and are essential for good health. Fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lentils and beans (such as cannellini beans and chickpeas) are rich sources of fibre. If you are looking for alternative treatment options, avoid laxatives unless otherwise directed by your doctor. They can encourage the muscles in the bowels to become sluggish, which, in the long term, can exacerbate constipation. Always consult your GP if your condition is proving to be a problem. He or she may identify other potential causes and solutions.
Colds and flu

Most of us get them and can’t wait to see the back of them – colds and the flu. But research in the UK has found that eating breakfast may help beat the dreaded cold. The researchers found that stress, plus skipping breakfast make you more vulnerable to a cold, so go for healthy breakfasts that will give you a dose of essential nutrients such as eggs on whole grain toast, muesli, porridge or low fat yoghurt with fruit salad.
The benefits of food seem endless. Not only does it quash our hunger, it can ease the symptoms of many ailments. Just remember to strive for a healthy, balanced diet that is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables and limited in processed foods. Also note that these suggestions are not designed to replace your current medication or treatment. Consult your doctor or a dietitian about what’s right for you.

Source: Dietitians Association of Australia

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