Nobody is perfect. No, not even you. We all suffer wear and tear, we are all slowly ground down by the inevitable friction that daily living exerts upon us. Constant aggravations, deadlines, stress, being yelled at by our boss as they pound the wall with their fist, pounding the wall with our own fist as we in turn yell at our interns. It’s brutal out there. And the toll is taken on our bodies, our minds, as evinced by such common and debilitating maladies as headaches, cold/flu symptoms, joint pan and general ennui and despondency. How to combat these minor ills? How to shore up the bulwarks against the depredations of the daily grind? You can actually make a real difference through what you eat. Avoid certain foods and focus on others, and you might find your day suddenly all that much better. Let’s take a look at a couple of the most common afflictions, shall we?
Let’s start with the worst, that nagging pain around your eyes or the dull heartbeat based throb in the back of your skull. HEADACHES. How can you ameliorate that pain? For one thing, try eating more OMEGA-3 fats, like flaxseed, walnuts, fish and soy. Also, try gobbling down some magnesium-rich foods like spinach, artichokes, broccoli, tomato juice, whole grains, green beans and cashews. Another good source of headache-relief are RIBOFLAVINS, a B vitamin that can reduce migraine frequency. You can get yours in the heart of spinach, broccoli (notice this one has already been mentioned twice now!), mushrooms, eggs, milk (sounds like an omelet recipe), clams and oysters. And for good measure, throw in a dose of black or green tea and apply peppermint oil to your temples. Voila!
Now, to avoid headaches, skip the following: red wine, aged cheese, smoked fish and figs (all of these contain TYRAMINE, an amino acid that causes the constriction of blood vessels to the brain). Avoid MSG (monosodium glutamate), or food that’s high in nitrates (hot dogs, salami, cured meats and fermented and pickled foods). Also! And finally! Avoid like the dickens anything sweetened with ASPARTAME. You see that on the label, just turn and run.
The other big pain in the patootie are FLU/COLD SYMPTOMS. Especially with all this swine flu going around, it pays to be careful and to eat right. What to do? The old tried and true still works: cook yourself a vegetable broth over a slow heat so as to leak all the nutrients out into the soup, and be sure to use garlic, leeks, onions, mushrooms and barley (good sources of allicin and beta-glucan). Then, kick it up a notch and increase your intake of zinc by chowing down on whole grains, chickens, beans, nuts, and shellfish. The old mainstay of VITAMIN C is always welcome, so eat red bell peppers, snow peas, tomato juice, kiwis, mangos, oranges, grapefruits, strawberries and butternut squash. ALL AT ONCE. Just kidding. Get some VITAMIN A while you’re at it (carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and beef liver). GLUTAMINE will also get your body humming happily, so find some milk, brown rice, beets, spinach, cabbage, eggs, soy, chicken or fish.