Eating to Alleviate Ailments

"Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food." - Hippocrates (460-377 B.C.) For thousands of years we've used food to treat illness and ailments. We now know the impact that diet can have on serious illness such as heart disease and cancer. But somewhere you'll find an ingredient recommended for just about everything from acne to varicose veins. So next time why not try your kitchen cupboards before the medicine cabinet? Obviously food can't always take the place of medical help, yet it can be a part of your healthy lifestyle. Here's some of my favourites:
  • Acne

    The bane of any teenager’s life, acne is caused by an overproduction of sebum – a substance produced by tiny oil glands under the surface of the skin. When sebum clogs up skin pores the result is a blackhead or pustule (or ‘zit’ as they are still affectionately termed by some people!)
  • Anemia

    If you suffer from fatigue, susceptibility to infection, and an inability to concentrate, it’s possible that you have anemia – a condition characterised by a lack of iron in the body. And what causes this?
  • Arthritis

    Around 8 million people in the UK suffer from arthritis. There are different kinds of the disease, but they are all characterised by painful joints, typically of the hands, feet, wrists, ankles and knees. The most common form of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammatory condition that can affect the entire body, but especially the joints.
  • Candida

    Candida is a yeast-like fungus which normally lives in each and every one of us without causing any problems at all. However, certain conditions may cause the Candida to multiply, causing an infection known as candidiasis or thrush. The are a variety of symptoms including bloating, intestinal cramping, thrush and rectal itching.
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

    The newly defined condition – sometimes referred to as ‘Yuppie flu’ – is characterised by a variety of symptoms including persistent fatigue, sore throat, headaches, mild fever, and muscle and joint pain. Its cause is still a bit of a mystery although it is commonly thought to be triggered by a viral infection such as glandular fever or meningitis.
  • Constipation

    As many as 14 million of us struggle and strain with constipation every year, but most of us don't know what causes it or what we can do to improve the situation.
  • Crohn’s Disease

    Crohn's disease is a long-term inflammation of any part of the digestive system, although it usually occurs around the join of the small and large intestine. Symptoms of Crohn's disease include diarrhoea, indigestion and intestinal cramps. The cause is unknown, but is believed to be the result of an infection.
  • Depression

    While there is no magic cure for depression, there is no doubt that changes in diet can significantly alleviate many of its symptoms. To start with, there are things you should avoid: food high in sugar, saturated fats, salt and food additives. On the drinks front, it is very important to try to limit the amount of coffee and alcohol you consume as both of these can make depression worse.
  • Diabetes

    Diabetes has been recognised for a very long time - 2000 years ago it was described as ‘a melting down of the flesh and limbs into urine.’ We now know it's not as drastic as that, but it is serious and it is on the increase.
  • Gallstones

    Usually the size of a pea, but sometimes as big as a pebble, gallstones can be extremely painful when they get lodged in the bile duct - the narrow tube connecting the liver with the gall bladder. They occur in 1 in 10 people and are particularly common in women over the age of 40 who have a less than ideal diet.
  • Gout

    The stereotypical image of a gout sufferer as a chubby old man swilling port while his big toe throbs is very misleading! This very painful condition affecting the joints can occur anytime after puberty, although in women it more commonly occurs after the menopause.
  • Hangovers

    A thumping headache and parched mouth are caused by the dehydrating effects of alcohol, a 'diuretic' - meaning it speeds up the loss of water from the body. Nausea, vomiting and indigestion are caused by the direct effect of alcohol irritating the stomach lining, while tiredness is caused by a lack of good 'dream sleep' and loss of energy as the body organs work hard to restore the internal status quo.
  • Heart Disease

    Do you want the good news or the bad news? I'll start with the bad! Heart disease - which includes heart attack, angina and stroke - is now the leading cause of death in the UK, accounting for hundreds of thousands of untimely departures each year.
  • Heartburn

    One in four of us suffers from heartburn - a condition that has nothing to do with your heart, but is still a serious cause for concern. Heartburn is very uncomfortable, causing a burning pain behind the breastbone and a taste of acid in the back of the throat or mouth. Also called acid reflux, it occurs when acid is forced out of the stomach via the valve that connects the stomach to the gullet.
  • High Blood Pressure

    A staggering 10 million people in the UK - that's one in five of us -has high blood pressure. However, unless you regularly suffer from headaches or dizziness, you might not even realise you've got it. This can be a real problem because high blood pressure can lead to a heart attack, a stroke or kidney damage.
  • IBS

    IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) discomforts and frustrates around a third of us, and is the most common digestive disorder seen by doctors in the UK. There are a wide range of symptoms associated with IBS including, from top to bottom, belching, heartburn, nausea, abdominal cramping, irregular bowel movements, constipation and flatulence (wind).
  • Menopause Problems

    Hot flushes, palpitations, mood swings, insomnia, depression - just some of the treats in store for women approaching menopause! But this inevitable time in the lives of half the population of the planet needn't be as bad as all that - there are many things we can do to delay and alleviate symptoms of menopause...
  • Osteoporosis

    While inevitable that a person's bones will begin to weaken once they reach their mid-30's, there are two important things we can do to avoid osteoporosis: exercise (e.g. go for a brisk 30-minute stroll 3 or 4 times a week) and watch your diet!
  • Psoriasis

    Psoriasis is a very common condition that affects about 1 in 30 people. It's caused by a pile-up of skin cells that have replicated too rapidly (around a thousand times faster than normal), resulting in the characteristic silvery scale of the condition. Although there's a strong genetic link, sufferers can make a number of changes to their diet that will help to alleviate the problem.
  • Swelling

    Swelling of the feet, ankles and hands (technically known as 'odema') is a very common problem in the western world. It particularly occurs in people who have to stand for a long time in their jobs - for example hair stylists, dentists, bar tenders and chefs.
  • Common Cold

    There are a variety of different viruses that can cause a cold. Surprisingly, most of us are exposed to them on a daily basis, yet we only suffer a cold a couple of times a year - when our immune system is not as strong as it should be. So, how do you keep your immune system strong?
  • Ulcers

    While we were living in Japan, David (my husband) started getting very uncomfortable pains in his lower stomach. He mentioned this the next time he visited one of his students, Dr Koike, whom he taught English. Quite matter-of-factly the doctor said, “You either have gastroenteritis, an ulcer, or cancer. Let's go next door to my operating theatre and I'll tell you in 10 minutes.”
  • Varicose Veins

    The key aspect of an improved diet is to eat high-fibre foods such as fruit, vegetables, legumes and grains. The problem with eating a diet low in fibre is that the person needs to strain more when going to the toilet. Straining increases the pressure in the abdomen, obstructing the flow of blood up the legs.