It’s easy enough to swallow Panadol when you’re feeling crook, but it’s tastier to eat your pains away. Everyday mood and body bummers can be rectified with certain types of food and drink, says whole food medicine expert Don Tolman, author of Farmacist Desk Reference: Encyclopedia of Wholefood Medicine. So, before heading to the chemist, open up and say ahhh to these multi-tasking edibles
When THE NIGHT BEFORE IS A BIT OF A BLUR
Drink PEPPERMINT TEA
“Chew on fresh ginger,” says Tolman. A range of studies, including one in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, have proved ginger can combat vomiting in pregnant women, nauseous travellers and even chemo patients. If it’s powerful enough to fight morning sickness, it’s likely to offset the post-shiraz kind too. But beware: ginger can irritate your stomach lining, so try a few bites of dry toast before nibbling. Peppermint tea can also help fend off nausea, says Tolman.
When YOU KEEP CHECKING FACEBOOK ALTHOUGH YOU’VE GOT A REPORT DUE
Drink WATER + UNPROCESSED SALT
Even mild dehydration can make you lose concentration. A review by the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine confirmed cognitive decline occurs when your hydration levels are down just two per cent. “If you drink pure water, and if it’s really cold, you can feel it in the frontal lobes of the brain – brain freeze,” says Tolman. He says that’s because the brain – about 80 per cent water – is the organ that gets first dibs on water. Tolman says you should add a pinch of salt to supercharge your brain. (We know, you’re meant to cut your salt intake – but keep in mind that about 75 per cent of the average person’s salt intake comes from processed foods.) “Salt is an electrolyte, so sparks in the brain literally fire when you have water and salt as an infusion.”
When YOU’RE CURSING YOUR PERSONAL TRAINER
“The number one food to reduce pain perception is cherries,” says Tolman. “When people have arthritis, aches or pains, cherries are the best thing to eat because they contain components similar to willow bark extract, the stuff aspirin was originally made from.” And there’s studies to back him up: last year the Oregon Health & Science University in the US found that people who drank 300ml cherry juice twice a day for a week prior to a race reported muscle pain two points lower on a 0 to 10 scale than those who drank other types of juice. And an earlier study on rats, published in the journal Behavioural Brain Research, showed that a compound in cherries called anthocyanins can relieve inflammation. Cherry good, eh?
When YOU’VE GOT PRE-INTERVIEW JITTERS
Eat DARK CHOCOLATE
Drink ROOIBOS TEA
You know that the polyphenols in dark chockie boost your levels of the feel-fantastic hormone serotonin, but a new American Chemical Society study has confirmed that eating dark chocolate decreases nervous peoples’ production of stress hormones too. The scientists who tested this theory on happy subjects say consuming 40g (about four squares) of at least 74 per cent cocoa chocolate daily effectively reduces anxiety. Scientists’ orders – best not to disobey. Or try rooibos tea (say roy-bos). A study by Aga Khan University in Pakistan confirmed it can help calm the nervous system. Try Vital Organic Rooibos Tea (available from sup
When YOUR MOOD HAS TURNED THE COLOUR OF A SMURF
“If you notice that, for no good reason, you feel down… try carbohydrates,” says Dr Judith Wurtman, author of The Good Mood Diet ($31.95, Pan Macmillan). Carbs prompt the brain to produce more serotonin. Opt for the slow-release complex variety, like oats and wholegrain breads and pasta, says Dr Wurtman, because the more steadily your system absorbs the carbs, the more steadily the serotonin will flow. Don’t feel like a bowl of muesli? Have a glass of oat milk instead. And be patient – Dr Wurtman says you should allow about 90 minutes for the good vibes to kick in, but you can expect the mood boost to last about three hours. Yay!
WhenYOU’VE COUNTED ENOUGH SHEEP TO POPULATE NEW ZEALAND
To sleep like a baby, drink like one. An American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study found that a protein in milk, alpha-lactalbumin, is rich in tryptophan, which aids sleep. And consuming it in the eve helps you dodge next-morning doziness. Plus, calcium can ease restlessness, since it reduces muscle spasms and soothes tension, says Dr Mary Dallman, professor of physiology at the University of California, San Francisco.
When YOUR BRAIN IS HAVING A MELTDOWN
“When people go nuts, if they eat nuts, their brain power comes back,” says Tolman. When University of Illinois at Chicago researchers fed mice with an Alzheimer’s-like disease the human equivalent of a handful of almonds a day, they performed better on memory tests. Almonds are also rich in boron, which affects mental alertness, says the US’s Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center. Another brainy nut: “Walnuts look just like a brain – the left and right hemisphere, the wrinkles on top – and now we know walnuts are pure brain food,” says Tolman. Another rodent study, in the British Journal of Nutrition, found a walnut-rich diet reverses the effects of brain ageing.
What not to eat… WHEN YOU NEED TO BE DECISIVE
AVOID DIET SOFT DRINKS
University of South Dakota researchers asked subjects who’d just drunk either diet or regular soft drink whether they’d prefer a smaller amount of money now or larger amount later. The diet drinkers were more likely to choose the immediate, less valuable reward.