If you’re like us, you’re more than skeptical about the “proven home remedies” that populate the Web. (For the record: No, there aren’t any magical first-aid properties in flour or burn-healing powers in your tube of Crest.) But, as we were surprised to learn, there are lots of everyday foodstuffs—Lentils! Olive oil!—medically proven to help you bounce back from pesky, minor ailments, from feelings of discomfort to post-workout back pain. Along with their uses and benefits, here are a few of them.
It’s been a few hours since your last meal, but you’re still feeling stuffed. Overeating can mess with your body’s insulin production and cause your kidneys to retain sodium and fluid. You need to take in more water and consume natural diuretics to flush your system out and restore balance. Try This: Leslie Bonci, M.P.H., R.D., director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Center for Sports Medicine, suggests eating vegetables like cucumber, asparagus, celery, fennel, or eggplant, which act as natural diuretics and flush excess water and toxins out of the body.
Nearly half of adults have acne in some form, and stress and inflammation are largely to blame. Look for ways to reduce stress, and zap those zits from the inside with inflammation-fighting foods. Try This: Complex carbs like brown rice, beans, lentils, fruits, and veggies were found to decrease the frequency and intensity of breakouts by keeping blood sugar and insulin levels stable, according to an Australian study. Also, a report published in the journal Lipids in Health and Disease found that foods rich in omega-3s, like salmon, sardines, and flaxseeds, can help control inflammatory acne.
New research suggests that certain natural remedies may be the best way to beat your cold or at least offer temporary relief. Try This: Elderberry syrup has been found to reduce mucus production and has anti-inflammatory and antiviral effects—all of which help alleviate cold and flulike symptoms. Mushrooms (shiitake, maitake, reishi, and coriolus varieties) contain compounds called polysaccharides, which help stimulate the immune system. And a healthy gut is essential if you want a strong, healthy immune system, which is why you should include probiotic-rich foods like kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi in your diet.
Certain foods can help boost blues-busting brain chemicals and reduce inflammation in the body (which itself is another common cause of mood disorders). Try This: A study published in Archives of General Psychiatry found that following an anti-inflammatory diet rich in foods like salmon, mackerel, sardines, dark leafy greens, beans, nuts, and olive oil can help lower depression risk by up to 30%.
Eating anti-inflammatory foods can help put the pain behind you. Try This: Turmeric and ginger are potent natural anti-inflammatories, and a study published in the Journal of Pain found ginger to be an extremely effective pain reliever, especially when following intense exercise.
Did you know that hard-to-digest foods like gluten, dairy, and red meat can actually increase body odor? Cut back on those and add more fiber-rich foods to your diet to promote healthy bowel movements and help stop unwanted odor at the source. Try This: Eating high-fiber foods like flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and whole grains—in conjunction with staying consistently hydrated—helps prevent body odor by promoting healthy bowel movements and ridding your body of nasty toxins.