Foods That Help Your Body Heal

Medically reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, PhD, MSN, RN, IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT on October 16, 2017Written by Amy Boulanger on October 16, 2017

Get a boost from power foods

Doctors often recommend healthy lifestyle changes whether you’re fighting fatigue, searching for ways to boost your immune system, or recovering from an illness. The foods you eat can often significantly help prevent and manage symptoms. It is always better to get nutrients directly from food, rather than take supplements.

Read on to learn how power foods help heal the body.

1. Kelp increases your iodine intake

foods to boost health

Iodine is essential to the thyroid, the butterfly-shaped gland in the neck. Low iodine levels can cause sluggishness, weight gain, and moodiness.

Kelp is rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, and — most important for low thyroid levels — iodine. But be aware that overconsumption of iodine can also create problems. The key is a moderate amount to raise energy levels and brain functioning.

Other power greens include:

  • kale
  • bok choy
  • spinach
  • parsley
  • green beans
  • alfalfa

2. Ginger reduces nausea

foods to boost health

You may recognize ginger as a cooking spice, but its centuries-old uses range from aiding digestion and calming upset stomach to treating arthritis. Ginger is now widely recognized for its ability to reduce nausea, particularly postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV).

Sources of ginger include ginger root (prepared as tea), foods and drinks that contain ginger, and in an herbal form in extracts, capsules, and oils.

3. Mushrooms promote health

Mushrooms are hailed for their health-promoting properties. Common types of mushrooms include:

  • white button
  • shiitake
  • portabella
  • cremini

Studies continue to examine how shiitake mushrooms may fight cancer by boosting the immune system through the compound lentinan, believed to slow tumor growth. According to the American Cancer Society, “at least one randomized clinical trial of lentinan has shown it to prolong life of patients with advanced and recurrent stomach and colorectal cancer.”

4. Good vs. bad fats

Calorie counting often leads to the drastic reduction of fat from the diet. However, fat is essential for your brain to function properly. Cutting fat entirely may lead to depression.

Healthy fats — monounsaturated and polyunsaturated — may reduce your risk of heart disease. Healthy sources for good fats include:

  • fatty fish, like cold water fish to increase your intake of omega three fatty acids
  • avocado
  • olive oil
  • certain nuts, such as walnuts, almonds, and pecans

5. Beets energize you

Carbohydrates give you energy. However, in today’s fast-paced world, many of us often turn to processed carbs that don’t provide other nutrients. Beets are a natural energy supply packed with the following:

  • carbs
  • calcium
  • iron
  • vitamins A and C

Beets can also satisfy a mid-afternoon sugar craving without the guilt. Plus, studies published in the journal Nahrung reveal that beets may help fight cancer and protect against heart disease.

6. Probiotics fight disease

Probiotics are live microorganisms (friendly bacteria) that your body needs to protect against disease. They can be found in foods including:

  • yogurt
  • kefir
  • soy beverages

Probiotics can also be obtained in supplement form. Ongoing studies continue to explore the potential of probiotics to treat diseases that include:

  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • skin infections
  • certain cancers

A report from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine supports the use of probiotics to treat diarrhea and prevent urinary tract infections.

7. Calcium heals broken bones

Eating calcium-rich foods (vs. calcium pills) is a recommended step toward healing broken bones. The next step is incorporating vitamin D, which helps your body absorb the calcium. Sources include:

  • dairy products (such as yogurt and milk)
  • green vegetables (such as kale)
  • nuts and beans
  • eggs, dairy, and fatty fish (e.g., sardines and salmon)

8. Swiss chard has many benefits

A relative of the beet, Swiss chard is an excellent source of vitamins C, E, and K, as well as fiber, zinc, and calcium. Swiss chard has wide green leaves with stalks that range in color from white to red to yellow. The taste is a combination of bitter and salty.

This nutrition-packed vegetable:

  • supports bone health
  • fights stress-related disease
  • holds anti-inflammatory properties

Sautee, toss it in a salad, or replace it for spinach in any dish.

Prevention and management

Healing and healthy living require balance. Avoid or limit empty calories and foods that rob you of energy and harm your health. Opting for nutritious foods to fuel your day will help prevent illness and improve recovery if you are injured.

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