Eating healing foods is an excellent way to treat specific conditions or to support overall good health. These nutrient-rich foods support the body's healing processes. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, knew the secret of health and longevity as is reflected in his recommendation, "Let food be your medicine."
Healing Foods Defined
All foods contain some combination of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. Even so-called 'junk' foods, like soft drinks or candy, contain carbohydrates, in the form of sugar, as well as other nutrients. Healing foods are special in that their unique properties support the body in the healing process, or provide essential vitamins, minerals and more that help the body ward off diseases. What sets healing foods apart from the vast majority of foods is the high concentration of beneficial substances within the food. While no one food is a cure-all, healing foods contain special properties that help mend, repair and maintain optimal body functions.
Eating for Health
When embarking on your diet strategy and eating for health and healing, avoid highly processed, refined foods. Highly processed foods are often loaded with salt, chemical preservatives, artificial colors and flavors. These additives tantalize the taste buds but contribute nothing to health. Eating natural, delicious foods support your body and heal from within, but if you overload your body with preservatives and chemicals, it may not be able to utilize the helpful properties of healing foods. The closer a food is to its natural state; the better it is for you.
As an example, consider the orange. An orange is an excellent food, filled with vitamins and fiber. Orange juice, while good for you, is missing the fiber of the orange. In its most highly refined state, orange flavoring added to a soft drink isn't worth the calories and contains virtually no nutrition!
Foods for Health and Healing
While there are many sources of foods for health and healing, the list below provides common, simple ingredients that are easy to incorporate into the average diet. A healthy food list should also be referenced for variety and additional suggestions.
Foods to Try
- Olive oil: Known for its delicious, light taste, olive oil is a key component in what researchers have dubbed the Mediterranean diet. The basics of the Mediterranean diet include healthy eating and moderation. Numerous studies demonstrate that diets rich in high-quality olive oil stave off various cancers. Recent research indicates that compounds found in high quality, extra virgin olive oil remain stable and active for up to eight hours in the stomach after ingestion, and have a strong anti-bacterial effect upon H. pylori. The bacteria, H. pylori, can cause stomach ulcers. Olive oil is rich in healthy monosaturated fats and oleic acids. Excellent antibacterial properties make this 'liquid gold' a top choice as a healing food.
- Garlic: Folklore images of heroes brandishing garlic to ward off vampires may not be far from the truth. In real life, the humble garlic wards off a variety of nasty creatures. Laboratory research demonstrates that garlic has both antibacterial and antifungal qualities. It is also reputed to reduce cholesterol and support heart health. If you fear garlic-breath from eating more raw or cooked garlic, many odorless garlic pills and tablets are available.
- Oranges: Most people know that oranges are high in vitamin C. Vitamin C is used throughout the body as part of its defense against free radicals, the outcome of natural energy production within the body. Oranges also contain beneficial fiber, which helps regulate digestion. Other citrus foods are excellent too, but be aware that grapefruit has been shown to interact with certain medications.
- Fish and fish oils: Fish and fish oils are a miracle of nature. Each serving of fresh or salt-water fish contains healthy omega-3 acids, lean protein, and other compounds that reverse the signs of aging, help build a strong and healthy heart, and more. A recent study from the U.S. National Institute of Health and Bristol University found babies whose mothers ate more fish during pregnancy had improved communication skills.
- Cranberry: The bog fruit known as cranberry contains healthy amounts of vitamin C, antioxidants, and much more. Drinking fresh, unsweetened cranberry juice staves off or cures urinary tract infections. If unsweetened cranberry juice is too tart for your taste, try mixing it with orange juice for an extra punch of antioxidants and vitamin C.
- Tea: Black, green or white tea contains potent antioxidants and phytochemicals that are reputed to have anti-cancer, anti-tumor properties. This healthy beverage has less caffeine naturally than coffee, and is easily and readily available. If you are a die-hard coffee drinker, try switching gradually to tea.
- Spinach, kale and dark green leafy vegetables: Spinach, kale and other dark green, leafy vegetables are nutritional powerhouses. Spinach contains lutein, a compound that prevents macular degeneration, one of the most common causes of blindness in Western society. Dark green leafy vegetables are also high in sources of vitamin A and vitamin K. Benefits of eating spinach include the prevention of arthritis, osteoporosis, colon cancer and heart disease.
Recipes to Try
- Check out the Recipes on Love to Know.
- The walnut timbales recipe incorporates one of the foods mentioned above.
- Cooking Light includes many recipes incorporating these foods and a searchable recipe database.