People all over the world collectively spend tens of trillions of dollars every year on health care. On a personal level, the average person pays out $3000 – $8000 for medical costs.
If we accept the adage that “Health is wealth” though, then the most priceless resources and our ultimate wealth are the bounties that surround us and are literally right in front of our noses and at the tip of our tongues every single day.
Staying healthy is not a question of spending money on getting a prescription filled, taking medications in the proper doses or having surgery done. Drugs and medications can never compare to the efficacy and worth of natural health that comes in more flavorful and more colorful forms of the miraculous blessing called FOOD.
In fact, there are many foods around us that have medicinal properties. And the Indian and Chinese cultures have been using these foods into their daily meals and diet. In fact, the average Indian or Chinese may know more about the medicinal properties of food compared to the doctors and dietitians even after years of research.
Here are examples of how 7 medicinal foods are integrated into the every day diet or meals.
One of these wonder foods is turmeric. At times called “Indian saffron,” turmeric sports a bright yellow and orange color which can be attributed to its pigment called curcumin. Curcumin does not only make this particular spice aesthetically appealing but, more importantly, imbues turmeric with unparalleled healing power.
Due to its potent anti-inflammatory capability, turmeric has been used by the ancient Chinese and Indians to treat various minor conditions such as flatulence, colic, menstrual pain, toothaches and bruises and more serious and possible life-threatening illnesses such as high cholesterol levels, cystic fibrosis and childhood leukemia.
Contemporary studies support traditional wisdom and have, in fact, proven that the anti-inflammatory effects of turmeric are quite comparable to widely-used over-the-counter medications such as hydrocortisone and phenylbutazone, but without these drugs’ unwanted side effects – formation of ulcers, intestinal bleeding and reduction in number of white blood cells, to name a few.
Turmeric is also a very potent antioxidant, making it useful in the treatment and management of age-related illnesses such as arthritis, atherosclerosis, diabetic heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
Regular consumption of turmeric has been associated with reduced incidence of different types of cancer, particularly of the breast, lung, colon and prostate. Extensive research has confirmed that curcumin assists in the elimination of mutated cancer cells by enhancing liver function and deterring the production of tumor-forming proteins and shutting down genes responsible for the development of cancer cells.
Turmeric, even in very small amounts, has been verified to be quite effective. You can reap its benefits by simply adding a dash of turmeric to cauliflower, celery, lentils and your favourite curried dishes and salad dressings. Since it is exceedingly safe, there is virtually no danger of an overdose at all.
Mint is an aromatic herb that is quite familiar to us since we encounter it most days in ordinary products such as toothpaste, mouthwash, candy, gum, and breath fresheners.
However, mint has more important health benefits, some of which include relief for stomach pain, burns, headaches and nausea, treatment for nose and throat congestion and as an aid to digestion.
When regularly consumed, mint helps rid the body of toxins and purifies the blood, thus lessening the incidence of irritable bowel syndrome.
Mint can even be used to promote healthy weight loss by stimulating digestive enzymes to turn stored fat into functional energy. The anti-inflammatory properties of mint also help relieve muscle pain and treat rheumatism. Astoundingly, mint consumption has also been reported to yield benefits in the fight against serious illnesses such as cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure and even cancer.
Recent studies assert that even mental health is enhanced as cognitive abilities, level of alertness and memory in particular, improve with frequent chewing of mint-based gum or mint leaves. Emotional health may also be enhanced by this wonder herb, with studies showing encouraging results in favor of the benefits of mint in the alleviation of fatigue and depression.
The versatility of mint usage is definitely cause for envy. It can be applied topically, inhaled in vapor form, or for greater enjoyment, be eaten in a variety of savory ways. Orally, mint can be enjoyed as a refreshingly flavorful condiment, essential oil, may be fresh or dried, and taken hot in teas or frozen in ice cream. As mentioned, mint leaves can be chewed simply, or may be chopped and blended with sauces, soups, salads, curries and juices.
Reishi mushroom, a fungus, has many useful medicinal applications. It boosts the immune system and fortifies the body against insomnia, chronic fatigue, stress and stomach ulcers. It may even serve as an antidote to poisoning and as a pain reliever.
Reishi has also been documented to help the body combat viral infections, respiratory ailments such as asthma, cough and bronchitis, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and liver and kidney ailments. Diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, hepatitis, and even cancer and HIV /AIDS all submit to the powers of this fungal wonder, alternatively called shiitake, ling zhi, Ganoderma lucidum, holy mushroom, mushroom of immortality or, most aptly, the “king of herbs.”
The first recorded use of reishi dates more than 4000 years ago, to the time of ancient Chinese royalty who imbibed this mushroom hoping to attain immortality and spiritual potency. Its regular use was believed to enhance longevity and physical and mental vitality, a belief that is now supported by studies revealing reishi’s potent anticoagulant, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Two of the active ingredients in reishi are polysaccharides and triterpenes which enhance the immune system and improve oxygen utilization of the body, respectively.
Reishi comes in many forms to suit different needs. They can be bought in tablets or capsules, dried, or as an extract. As a beverage, reishi tea and coffee are increasingly becoming popular as well. Prolonged use and consumption in large quantities are considered quite safe.
Another wonder cure that you can have more fun with eating is aloe vera. As unlikely as it may seem, aloe vera is cousin to garlic and onions, belonging to the same lily family. Having been used therapeutically for more than 5000 years, aloe vera boasts of a robust supply of polysaccharides, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and enzymes that make it very effective in treating many minor and serious conditions.
In particular, aloe vera aids in improving digestive functions by cleansing and detoxifying the digestive tract, thus preventing critical illnesses caused by poor digestion, such as ulcers and colitis. Its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties help address issues related to joint pain and flexibility, aging, and weight gain, to name a few.
This miracle plant is also a vermifuge, that is, an agent that is effective in flushing out intestinal worms from the body.
However, one of the biggest perks of aloe vera is that it is an effective adaptogen, meaning that it enhances a person’s ability to adapt to changes and resist illness. Aloe vera stimulates the body’s defense mechanisms to ward off unwanted and negative conditions that are experienced when the body is under stress or attack from infections, viruses, or bacteria.
Add this to the fact that aloe vera has significant alkaline properties which make the body an environment that is extremely unfavorable to illnesses. Diseases such as diabetes, asthma, hypertension, and in some clinical studies, even AIDS are therefore rendered less likely to be suffered from by people who regularly consume aloe vera.
The gel found in the inner plant can be juiced and incorporated into healthy fruit and vegetable smoothies. Since it is very potent, even just a little aloe vera a day is more than sufficient to ensure the experience of its multitude of health benefits.
Ginger is known the world over as a pungent spice used to add flavor to dishes and beverages. More than that, however, the use of ginger as a medical remedy was already established in Eastern Asia five thousand years ago and has more recently become a common practice in the Western hemisphere as well. With its powerhouse of health rewards, ginger can undoubtedly be considered as the genuine spice of life.
Ginger is revered for its ability to improve how the body absorbs and assimilates essential nutrients. It is quite effective in easing gastrointestinal distress, nausea, motion sickness, menstrual pain and respiratory ailments.
Current research further supports claims of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Gingerols, the active anti-inflammatory compound in ginger, has been scientifically confirmed to reduce pain levels and increase mobility in arthritic patients and even protect the body against colorectal and ovarian cancer.
The risk of heart disease and diabetes is also considerably diminished as ginger has been proven to reduce cholesterol and sugar levels in the body.
Medicine has never tasted as good as when finely chopped ginger is mixed with garlic and cilantro then stirred into newly-cooked rice or when ginger is grated and juiced with apples, carrots and a bit of lemon juice. Candied and pickled ginger offer a delightful variation, as does combining it with soy sauce and olive oil to create a mouthwatering salad dressing.
The potency of ginger is so concentrated that a mere half-inch slice cooked in food or steeped in hot water is enough to yield notable health gains.
There are over ten different species of ginseng and each type has its own particular benefits for the body. The two most common species, however, are the Asian or Korean ginseng, also known as red ginseng, and the American variety, with the former traditionally considered more potent than the latter.
Ginseng is actually a perennial plant with fleshy roots whose healing powers have been well-known and utilized thousands of years ago in Asia. Like aloe vera, it is an adaptogen which fortifies the immune system and helps the body fight off colds, fatigue and stress. Individuals who regularly consume ginseng report improvements in mood, energy levels and general well-being.
Ginsenosides, which are the active ingredient in ginseng, combined with a reliable cache of antioxidants, facilitate its effective anti-inflammatory functions that improve skin tone, rehydrate skin and promote regeneration of skin cells and blood circulation. Research spearheaded by Japanese scientists has even presented exciting new findings in hair growth and in the prevention of baldness.
As metabolism is regulated, the body is detoxified, blood sugar levels and blood pressure are lowered, while endurance is boosted. Ginseng is also frequently used to suppress appetite and initiate weight loss. There is even support for the belief that ginseng can also improve short-term memory and concentration, thus optimizing learning.
Other applications of ginseng involve the management of male sexual dysfunction, menopausal symptoms, hepatitis, type II diabetes and cancer, as proven by increased survival rates and better quality of life of patients.
Ginseng may be quite expensive but still remains one of the most widely purchased herbal supplements in the world. Its berries or roots are usually chewed and may be taken orally by combining it with food and energy drinks, such as milk, soda, or brewed as tea.
Ginkgo biloba could well be the oldest tree on the planet, having been around for two hundred million years. Each and every part of this tree, from its fruits to its bark, can be used to treat a myriad of illnesses.
Scientific literature supports the plant’s enhancement of alertness and cognitive performance and its positive effects on patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Ginkgo has even been associated with improvements in cognitive performance of people with dyslexia.
Positive mood, improved sleep and hormonal equilibrium have also been credited to the regular consumption of ginkgo. As such, its use has yielded promising results in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder, schizophrenia, depression, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and even autism.
Proper blood flow is generated through the reduction of clogging of the arteries, protecting people from heart disease as well as from Raynaud’s disease, an illness brought about by poor blood circulation in the extremities.
Other health benefits attributed to ginkgo include detoxification, decrease in bad cholesterol, reduction of blood coagulation, relief from asthma, cramps and headaches, especially in women and children, in addition to increased libido.
Reduction of inflammation has been linked to documented improvements in tinnitus and other hearing disorders, multiple sclerosis and strokes. The progression of Parkinson’s disease is notably deferred due to the positive action of neurotransmitters in the brain, made possible by ginkgo’s healing abilities.
Ginkgo biloba is most popularly taken as an herbal tea infusion.
Healing Through Food
This perspective of eating your medicine and healing through food may be new to the Western world and may even be a bit difficult to swallow. Instead of being reactive and merely seeking remedies to symptoms that we are already experiencing, we should be proactive and prevent illness from even staking its claim on our body.
Now that we know that prevention is as simple as adding a dash of spice to our favourite beverage, we should think twice about rushing off to the pharmacy to buy a synthetic cure. A trip to the grocery store would not only be less costly, but would also be more fun and definitely more rewarding.
To find out more about how to use foods as medicines, you can go to the next page and watch my video on ‘3 Alkaline Secrets to revitalize your health and body’.
About the Author:
Emma Deangela is the best selling author of The Alkaline Diet Program and 80/20 Fat Loss. She has helped over tens of thousands of men and women to lose weight and transform their health with sound nutrition advice.
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