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By Leisa Wheeler N.D.
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My Favourite Foods as Medicine

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I’m a naturopath that really loves food as medicine. If I can avoid giving my patients a supplement and use a food instead, I will! There are definitely times when foods alone are not enough to keep us in optimum health, and in these cases herbs and vitamins in the form of supplements may be necessary. But as soon as the supplements have assisted you in reaching your health goals, food as medicine can keep you there!

I believe all natural foods are medicines. They nourish our body, provide us with the building blocks of all our cells, give energy, vitamin and minerals, all natural foods give our bodies something special and unique. But there are a few foods out there that are really potent in their medicinal effect. For general good health, I recommend to have these foods regularly in your diet. Let’s look at them in more detail.

This is seriously a longevity food. Organic fresh turmeric or organic powdered turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory, a powerful antioxidant, a liver detoxifier, a warming circulatory stimulant, and used for healing, repairing and for its anticancer properties. You really can’t go wrong including regular turmeric in your diet.

Many like to add a small knuckle of fresh turmeric to their juices or smoothies in the morning, while others add a pinch to warm water, lemon and raw honey to assist in detoxification and appetite building before breakfast. Powdered turmeric is used in many Indian and Ayurvedic recipes. Add turmeric to curries, soups and slow cooked meals. This really is a must have in everyone’s diet.

Green Tea
This is another anti cancer food item that has potent antioxidant properties. Green tea also helps modulate the metabolism, burn fat, detoxify the liver and act in keeping you looking younger! 2 cups per day of organic green tea gives you all you need to maintain great general health. For those sensitive to caffeine, there are some organic decaffeinated varieties starting to emerge that you can still benefit from.

Just a note, green tea flavoured items, or bottled green tea don’t have the same benefits as freshly brewed organic green tea. Always choose the closest option to nature- leaves in a bag is perfect!

It’s interesting with coriander, people usually either love it or hate it. Luckily I love it, because it has some awesome medicinal qualities. Coriander is a powerful liver detoxer, and in fact, it has been shown to bind and remove heavy metals from the body.

Coriander is best eaten fresh. The dried variety is not nearly as potent. Add fresh leaves to Thai or Indian dishes, give salads a kick with some chopped coriander leaves, or juice it with celery, carrot and beetroot for an awesome healthy tonic. Fresh coriander is something to try growing at home. It is quite happy in a pot of well drained soil out of direct, harsh sunlight.

I’m taking about red papaya, that delicious tropical sweet hit! Papaya is full of papain, enzymes that help with the breaking down of other foods. Often people take papain to improve their digestion, why not just a regular bowl of papaya when summer comes around?

This is another many Australian may be able to grow at home. From mid to north NSW, all the way up to the top of Australia, papaya trees will happily grow in the backyard. To enjoy it’s medicinal benefits, papaya is best eaten alone, about 1-2 hours away from other food. Try having it as a morning or afternoon tea snack.

The juice of this amazing fruit is acidic to the stomach, helping to increase hydrochloric acid levels when taken in a little water before meals, and then alkalysing in the body once absorbed. Lemon juice in warm water first thing of a morning can help stimulate liver detoxification and encourage a bowel movement.

Many people add lemon to their fresh juices, to give them an alkalysing hit (try a mix of watermelon juice and lemon juice- amazing!). Lemon can be used mixed with olive oil as a simple, healthy dressing on salads, and can be added to your drinking water to help encourage the body pH to become more alkaline. Just a word of warning though, lemon juice in water sipped throughout the day can reduce the enamel on teeth when taken long term.

I love this herb! Cinnamon can help balance blood glucose levels, reduce blood fats, slow down gastric emptying for longer energy from foods and stop sweet cravings! It is fantastic for people with high cholesterol, diabetes, hypoglycaemia, sugar cravings and cardiovascular disease.

This morning, I had heaps of cinnamon in my buckwheat pancakes, which have kept me going for 4 hours so far. You may wish to add it to smoothies, sprinkle it over chia pudding or porridge or even fruit salad. Organic is definitely the best.

There we go, some of my favourite foods that act more like medicines to keep in your diet regularly. The easiest way to enjoy delicious whole foods, while looking after you health at the same time!



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