When we feel illness, tiredness or general down in the dumps, quite often the first ball we drop is our attention and effort towards nourishment and healing foods.
Emotions tend to crowd out good judgement and we find ourselves choosing foods we think will make us feel better, such as treats and fast foods, rather than ones we know. This quick-fix sways towards nurturing instant emotional happiness, rather than longer-term healing benefits.
Diet plays a large role in overall energy level, recovery rate and mood so for this reason, food should be approached as medicine for recovery with wholefoods, immune-boosting emphasis. Frequent illness, anxiety, tiredness or simply feeling sad depletes energy levels so during these times it’s even more important to look to good nutrition to return to the right path.
It’s common to feel a loss of appetite during these times of feeling unwell, so view each opportunity that you do eat, to eat what is going to help the most. Here’s a selection of my ‘go-to’ staples.
10 Healing Foods To Help You Bring Health Back
Packed with more vitamin C than an equal amount of orange, a kiwifruit provides a terrific boost to the immune system with its high antioxidant levels. Chock full of fibre, a kiwi also aids digestion and can soothe a sore tummy. Kids love eating them cut in half and served in a cute egg cup with a spoon. Try and source golden kiwi fruits as they have a ‘softer’ texture and taste.
Modern science shows that garlic is a powerful natural antibiotic and is popularly used for coughs, colds, flu and infections. Try using some in your spaghetti bolognese, stir-fries and soups.
Antibiotics are a double-edged sword and wipe out good gut bacteria along with the bad. Probiotics are the little army corps we send in to up the numbers of helpful bacteria to override any illness-causing bacteria housed in our digestive tract. Researchers have found that probiotics help with prevention of common bugs and may lessen the duration of symptoms. Think about this for a minute: three-quarters of your immune system is in your digestive tract and when you also consider that our moods and behaviours are directly linked to the health of our gut you can understand the enormity of good gut health.
Look for yoghurt brands that contain “live, active cultures” or probiotic supplements at your chemist.
Super greens are extremely high in nutrients, are a good source of fibre and provide digestive enzymes to help heal body tissue. The most common types include young cereal grasses (wheat, barley and alfalfa), along with algae’s such as spirulina and chlorella.
Most are edible in their natural, unprocessed forms, but since most kids (and adults for that matter) turn up their noses at such a thing, they are commonly offered in powder, capsule or juice form.
Good ways to include super greens in your diet is by adding the powder to smoothies, mixing into energy bars or stirring into yoghurt. Another way you can dose up is to add chopped baby spinach or spirulina to your pasta sauces.
Bananas are an instant source of energy to power muscles but at the same time, they can calm anxiety due to the high levels of B6 that help the brain produce the relaxing hormone serotonin. Full of fibre, the energy they provide is released slowly plus nature’s energy snack comes in its own wrapping. Make banana smoothies mixed with oats, honey, cinnamon and milk, or simply banana with yoghurt dip.
Most Australian’s get too much of the wrong fats, but avocados contain the right type of fats. The monounsaturated fatty acid found in avocados helps maintains moisture in our epidermal layer of the skin, so even applying externally can help make it soft and moisturised. Perfect for regenerating sun-damaged skin cells, reducing facial redness and irritation, or dry winter skin. Also, spread on bread or crackers instead of butter, use as a dip or cut up in salads.
Raw nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds make convenient, healthy snack foods to take the edge off hunger without added carbohydrates and sugars. Great nut choices include almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios, macadamia and walnuts. Seeds include sunflower, sesame, flax and pumpkin (all unsalted). These delicious, natural foods are high in protein and healthy unsaturated fats. Mix them into anything and everything from bakes, smoothies and salads or enjoy them on their own.
The sweet, caramel-like taste of dates make them a hit, satisfying any sweet tooth while providing energy and vitamins. Dates also contain small amounts of almost every essential mineral: nutrients that play a role in red blood cell production, energy metabolism, growth and development and skin health, the nervous system and the digestive system. Dates also contain high levels of tryptophan which is an amino acid that is important for the production of serotonin “the feel-good’ hormone in the body.
Serve on their own or use in recipes to make energy balls and healthy slices. Of course, use with discretion as they do have high sugar content.
Just a sniff of a fresh orange gives you an uplifting feeling.
Generally, citrus fruits have the highest antioxidant activity of all fruits, helping boost the immune system. Serve as fresh or frozen portions and try to eat whole instead of juicing so you maintain the fibre content.
The best line of defence is to turn to nature by looking at what foods are in season. These offer us the best health benefits, particularly vitamin C, in preventing infections such as colds and flu.