Super Powers At Our Fingertips!!

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Flu season is upon us, and many of us suffer from many other common ailments. 

In this article, I will talk about the power of the Pineapple, Ginger, and Echinacea, along with their many benefits.

 If you’re like me, you don’t want to take medicine unless nothing else has worked.  While medicine has its benefits, and while I am not a doctor, I do think that food plays an important role.  Often times, the two go hand in hand.  However, when when we can, we should turn to food in order to do everything in OUR power to keep ourselves well.

Let’s talk about the Power of the PINEAPPLE!!!

One of my favorites, and something I devoured in its entirety with all three of my pregnancies.  (NOTE: do NOT eat a whole pineapple in one sitting.  I’ve done it.  Everything in moderation, “they say”.  And “they” are right.)

1. Pineapple Is a Fruit That’s Rich in Vitamin C 

The standout nutrient in pineapple is vitamin C, which supports the immune system and provides antioxidant benefits. One cup of pineapple contains 78.9 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C. Vitamin C is important because it encourages growth and healing around the body and plays a role in everything from wound repair to iron absorption.

2. Eating Pineapple May Aid Your Digestion

Pineapple contains bromelain, which is a mix of enzymes that studies show can reduce inflammation and nasal swelling. It’s also been linked to helping improve digestion and digestive disorders. One study found that the bromelain in pineapple may help reduce the effects of diarrhea, such as dehydration.

3. The Manganese in Pineapple Promotes Healthy Bones

Along with calcium, the trace mineral manganese is essential for maintaining strong bones.  Pineapple is one of the top food sources of the mineral.  Manganese may help stave off osteoporosis and helps improve overall bone and mineral density. 

4. Pineapple Is Packed with Disease-Fighting Antioxidants

Pineapple is a great source of antioxidants, specifically phenolics, flavonoids, and vitamin C.   Antioxidants are compounds in food that may help fight free radicals in the body.  Free radicals are molecules that can cause cellular damage and lead to health issues, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and eye problems. Filling up on antioxidant-rich foods like pineapple can play a role in countering those risks.

5. Thanks to Its Antioxidants, Pineapple Has Cancer-Fighting Properties

Cancer occurs when abnormal cells in the body multiply and take over the healthy tissue.  While there’s no guaranteed way to prevent cancer, experts suggest eating a healthy diet — ideally one that’s high in antioxidants, which you can source through pineapple, to help fight off free radicals to reduce your risk. 

6. Pineapple’s Nutrient Profile Means the Fruit Can Help Boost Immunity

You may want to reach for pineapple the next time you’re battling a cold.  One study found that children who consumed canned pineapple had fewer viral and bacterial infections compared to children who did not consume it over a nine-week study period. The researchers concluded that eating a cup of pineapple daily might reduce the likelihood of an infection, or at least shorten its duration.

NEXT ON THE LIST: Ginger.

Ok, I know many people don’t like fresh ginger as it has a strong flavor.  BUT, the benefits are abundant, and making your own ginger ale is fun and offers all of the same health benefits.  (LOTS of homemade ginger ale recipes online, if you have about $7 and a week)

1. Contains gingerol, a substance with powerful medicinal properties

Ginger is a flowering plant that originated in China.  It belongs to the Zingiberaceae family and is closely related to turmeric, cardamom, and galangal.  The rhizome (underground part of the stem) is the part commonly used as a spice. It is often called ginger root, or simply ginger.  Ginger has a very long history of use in various forms of traditional/alternative medicine. It has been used to help digestion, reduce nausea, and help fight the flu and common cold, to name a few.  Ginger can be used fresh, dried, powdered, or as an oil or juice, and is sometimes added to processed foods and cosmetics. It is a very common ingredient in recipes.  The unique fragrance and flavor of ginger come from its natural oils, the most important of which is gingerol.  Gingerol is the main bioactive compound in ginger, responsible for much of its medicinal properties. It has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. 

2. Ginger can treat many forms of nausea, especially morning sickness

Ginger appears to be highly effective against nausea; in fact, I relied on it every day for the first 3 months of all pregnancies.  It has a long history of use as a sea sickness remedy, and there is some evidence that it may be as effective as prescription medication (Hey Big Pharma —  ………)   Ginger can also relieve nausea and vomiting after surgery, and in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.  

3. Ginger may reduce muscle pain and soreness

Ginger has been shown to be effective against exercise-induced muscle pain.  In one study, consuming 2 grams of ginger per day, for 11 days, significantly reduced muscle pain in people performing elbow exercises.  Ginger does not have an immediate impact but may be effective at reducing the day-to-day progression of muscle pain.  These effects are believed to be mediated by anti-inflammatory properties.

4. The anti-inflammatory effects can help with osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a common health problem.  It involves degeneration of the joints in the body, leading to symptoms like joint pain and stiffness.  Another study found that a combination of ginger, mastic, cinnamon, and sesame oil, can reduce pain and stiffness in osteoarthritis patients when applied topically.

5. Ginger may drastically lower blood sugars and improve heart disease risk factors

This area of research is relatively new, but ginger may have powerful anti-diabetic properties.  In a recent 2015 study of 41 participants with type 2 diabetes, 2 grams of ginger powder per day lowered fasting blood sugar by 11%.  As a former diabetic, this is so fascinating and totally worth a shot!  It also dramatically improved HbA1c (a marker for long-term blood sugar levels), leading to a 10% reduction over a period of 12 weeks.  However, keep in mind that this was just one small study. The results are incredibly impressive, but they need to be confirmed in larger studies before any recommendations can be made.

6. Ginger can help treat chronic indigestion

Chronic indigestion (dyspepsia) is characterized by recurrent pain and discomfort in the upper part of the stomach. It is believed that delayed emptying of the stomach is a major driver of indigestion.  Interestingly, ginger has been shown to speed up emptying of the stomach in people with this condition.  After eating soup, ginger reduced the time it took for the stomach to empty from 16 to 12 minutes. This blows my mind.  BUT CHECK THIS OUT: In a study of 24 healthy individuals, 1.2 grams of ginger powder before a meal accelerated emptying of the stomach by 50%!!!!

7. Ginger powder may significantly reduce menstrual pain

One of the traditional uses of ginger is for pain relief, including menstrual pain. In one study, 150 women were instructed to take 1 gram of ginger powder per day, for the first 3 days of the menstrual period. I wish I knew this soooo long ago.  Ginger managed to reduce pain as effectively as the drugs mefenamic acid and ibuprofen.

8. Ginger may lower cholesterol levels

High levels of LDL (the bad cholesterol) are linked to an increased risk of heart disease.      The foods you eat can have a strong influence on LDL levels. 3 grams of ginger powder showed significant reductions in most cholesterol markers.

9. Like Pineapple, ginger may improve brain function and protect against Alzheimer’s disease

Oxidative stress and chronic inflammation can accelerate the aging process.  They are believed to be among the key drivers of Alzheimer’s disease and age-related cognitive decline.  There is also some evidence that ginger can enhance brain function directly. In a study of 60 middle-aged women, ginger extract was shown to improve reaction time and working memory.  (Hey moms, we kids need you to LOVE ginger!!)

10. The active ingredient in ginger can help fight infections

Ginger can help lower the risk of infections.  In fact, ginger extract can inhibit the growth of many different types of bacteria.  It is very effective against the oral bacteria linked to inflammatory diseases in the gums and has also shown to be effective against the RSV virus, a common cause of respiratory infections.

Lastly, ECHINACEA!!!!

I swear by this stuff, especially during the cold season. Echinacea, also called purple coneflower, is one of the most popular herbs worldwide.  Native Americans have used it for centuries to treat various ailments.  Today, it’s best known as an over-the-counter herbal remedy for the common cold or flu. However, it’s also used to treat pain, inflammation, migraines, and other health issues. 

Echinacea is best known for its beneficial effects on the immune system. Numerous studies have found that this plant may help your immune system combat infections and viruses, which could help you recover faster from illness. That’s one reason why echinacea is often used to prevent or treat the common cold. In fact, a review of 14 studies found that taking echinacea may lower the risk of developing colds by more than 50% and shorten the duration of colds by one and a half days!!! Good enough for me!

My hope for all of my readers is that I am able to show a different perspective, one that is informative and suggestive of a more holistic approach to health and wellness. Obviously, there are many ailments that foods cannot fix, and seeing a doctor can be necessary. But my hope for you is that you have faith and believe that your body and mind are strong enough to be healed with proper nutrition. So before relying on medications that are difficult to process and often have a long term detrimental affect on our bodies, make sure inadequate nutrition is not the culprit.

Photo by Eiliv-Sonas Aceron on Unsplash

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