9 Go-To Foods that Double as Medicine

food as medicine

Cold and flu season will be here before you know it. How can you help prevent the sneezes and sniffles – the natural way? Our dietitian weighs in on food that can help this time of season.

(via CNN) We’ve all heard “eat this” or “try that” when it comes to natural health remedies but how do you know which ones are for real? Caitlin Griffin, a registered and licensed dietitian with Renown Health, shares her list of the best, most effective treatments and when to use them.foods

Foods to Help Prevent a Cold or Flu

“Ahead of the cold and flu season, I recommend increasing your consumption of immune-enhancing foods such as deeply colored fruits and vegetables for their high antioxidant content,” Caitlin says.

She also recommends fish for vitamin D; probiotics in yogurt and fermented foods such as sauerkraut and tempeh; and zinc found in beans, nuts and seeds, lean meats and mushrooms.

Foods to Help Fight a Cold or Flu

If you do find yourself sick with the flu, there are some natural ways to help fight the symptoms.

“Consume foods high in vitamin C and zinc, and/or take a supplement that include high doses of these antioxidants, as well as Echinacea and ginseng,” Caitlin recommends.foods

Foods high in vitamin C include chili and bell peppers, kale, broccoli and citrus fruits. Blueberries, grapes, dark green veggies and sweet potatoes are high in antioxidants. 

9 Go-To Natural Remedies

Of course, cold and flu season isn’t the only time you may want to try food as your prescription. Caitlin shares several of her favorites and what remedies they offer:

  • Turmeric: helps relieve arthritis pain, aids digestion, regulates menstruation and can help decrease Alzheimer’s risks and prevent cancer cell growth.
  • Garlic: lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, may help prevent certain types of cancer and slow the hardening of arteries.
  • Ginger: helps reduce inflammation and nausea.
  • Salmon and other fatty fish: anti-inflammatory benefits and great source of vitamin D for bone and immune system health.foods
  • Soluble fiber: found in flax seed, chia seeds, oats and beans; helps lower LDL “bad” cholesterol levels.
  • Walnuts: prevents heart disease, lowers cancer risks and improves cognitive function.
  • Beets: supports healthy circulation, helps manage blood pressure and improves exercise endurance.
  • Peppermint oil: helps treat the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and also has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.
  • Fermented foods and other probiotic foods: helps immune function, can improve lactose intolerance and relieve gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea and IBS.

Caitlin says foods like these — as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle — can help stave off illnesses and improve symptoms.

“I have seen many patients who use foods for treating various symptoms with great success,” she says. “One patient of mine with arthritis adds fresh ground ginger, turmeric, cinnamon and ground flax seed into her green smoothie with berries and she feels strongly that it helps prevent flares.”

Of course, it’s important to remember that no single food is a cure all.

“I recommend including these whole foods regularly as part of a healthy, well-balanced diet to get the most health benefits.”

And remember to talk with your doctor about any over-the-counter supplements you may want to try. It’s also a good idea to meet with a specialist in Integrative Medicine — mind, body and spirit treatment care — if you want to ensure you are eating the right foods in the right dosage.