Some physical niggles are very irritating, we don’t want to bother the doctor with them and the solution seems impossible to find. Simple additions or exclusions from our diet are often the answer, so if you or anyone you know is plagued by any of these common problems, try these easy remedies:
1. Restless legs: twitchy, prickly or uncomfortable sensations in your legs, especially at night, can drive you mad! The origin isn’t known, but it has been linked to levels of dopamine, a brain neurotransmitter.
– Eat: foods rich in B vitamins, or a vitamin B complex, to maintain efficient nerve transmission, such as wholegrains, pulses, meat and fish. B vitamins aren’t stored by the body, and are depleted by stress so must be replenished every day. Magnesium is useful too, so nuts and seed are a must.
– Avoid: overuse of stimulants like coffee, tea and alcohol.
2. Psoriasis: red scaly patches anywhere on the body caused by skin cells replacing themselves too quickly. A genetic predisposition to allergies and conditions such as asthma, eczema and hayfever can leave people susceptible, but stress has been indicated as a trigger. Treating the skin from the inside out can help hugely.
– Eat: omega fats (essential fatty acids) are key to keeping skin moisturised from the inside, but it’s important to ensure you get more omega 3 than 6, because too much omega 6 in comparison to omega 3 can cause inflammation – a ratio of 2:1 is ideal. Cook with rapeseed oil instead of olive oil, and eat at least 2 portions of oily fish weekly. A good supplement will help keep ratios correct. Vitamins and minerals essential for skin health (B vitamins, vitamins A, C and E, zinc) should be maintained by keeping your diet varied and fresh, though a good multi vitamin and mineral formula can be a useful insurance policy to optimise nutrient availability. Moisturising with nourishing oils can also help.
– Avoid: arachidonic acid (found in saturated fats) and sugars cause inflammation, as does too much histamine (also caused by a lack of B vitamins and minerals). Alcohol can be a trigger.
3. Anxiety: a normal reaction to many situations, but an excessive response or frequent experience of anxious feelings can be addressed by something like cognitive behaviour therapy – after you’ve tried a nutritional treatment, of course!
– Eat: keeping blood sugar levels stable is important to regulate stress hormone production and regulate mood; low GI foods like wholegrains, beans, pulses, fruit and veg release energy slowly. Amino acids and selenium are helpful for mood so eat good quality lean meat, nuts and seafood.
– Avoid: blood sugar spikes and crashes – eat regularly and avoid sugary or highly processed white flour products.
4. Insomnia: sleepless nights can be the result of stress, anxiety, disrupted body clock, coffee and alcohol. Get a relaxing, regular routine going a good couple of hours before bedtime, avoiding napping during the day and limiting exposure to computers and games consoles before bed. Keep electronic items in the bedroom to a minimum – even sleeping within 6 feet of a mobile phone or other electronic item has been shown to affect sleep quality. Certain nutrients can help induce sleep and regulate levels of melatonin, the sleep hormone.
– Eat: bedtime snacks rich in low GI carbs stimulate melatonin and serotonin production, relaxing the brain and body ready for sleep. Bananas and milk are sources of tryptophan which the body uses to make serotonin, and carbs like oats produce melatonin. Dark cherries are one of the only direct food sources of melatonin, so concentrates like Cherry Active as drinks during the evening can be beneficial. Magnesium is also a nerve relaxant.
– Avoid: alcohol, which disrupts natural sleep rhythms, and, of course, coffee, or other caffeinated food or drinks, from early afternoon onwards.
5. High blood pressure: exercise and diet can reduce high blood pressure, and in some cases there is no obvious cause, although genetic predisposition can be a factor, putting people at risk of heart attack, kidney disease and stroke.
– Eat: linked to vitamin D deficiency, intake of oily fish and getting out into the sunshine are important. Other foods shown to have beneficial effects are soya, dark chocolate, garlic and ginger.
– Avoid: salt, especially hidden in processed foods, tinned soups and fast food, is a major no-no. If you’re on drugs to reduce blood pressure, avoid grapefruit, which can interfere with the effectiveness of the medication.
Be happy and healthy!