10 Food Cures to Fight Common Ailments

“Food is medicine” – Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine first coined this term and we couldn’t agree more! Food is delicious, nourishing, something to be enjoyed – and with some clever know-how food can be used as a remedy for everyday health niggles. Let’s take a look at 10 easy ways you can turn your fridge or pantry into your new medicine cabinet!

1. Sore Throat

Natural Remedy: Honey

Feel a sore throat coming on? Make yourself a cup of hot tea and stir through a teaspoon of honey for a throat-soothing drink.

Or try Manuka honey. Used to treat everything from wounds to digestive issues, the healing properties of Manuka honey have been known to the Indigenous people of New Zealand for thousands of years. 
The powerful anti-bacterial properties of this healing honey will help kill bacteria and strengthen immune function.

2. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Natural Remedy: Peppermint Tea

Clinically proven to activate the anti-pain channels in the gut, peppermint tea can help calm your digestive system and provide relief from the discomfort of IBS. IBS is a complex issue, which may see food, stress, lifestyle or certain medications as a root cause. If food is your concern, an Accredited Practicing Dietitian can help navigate the confusing world of food intolerances.

3. Nausea

Natural Remedy: Ginger

Mother Nature seems to have a solution for everything! Fresh, pickled or used as a tea, ginger can bring welcome relief from nausea, whether it is motion sickness or pregnancy-induced.

Also read: 10 Meal Prep Tips For Busy Parents

4. Insomnia

Natural Remedy: Warm Milk

Along with other protein-rich foods, milk contains tryptophan – an amino acid used to make serotonin in the brain. This sleepy-time neurotransmitter works by making us feel calm so we can peacefully nod off. What makes milk extra special is that it also contains carbohydrate. The insulin that is released in response to carbohydrate also aids the uptake of other amino acids by the body, meaning more tryptophan remains in the bloodstream to reach the brain.

5. Bloating

Natural Remedy: Probiotics

While bloating may stem from a poor diet, food intolerance or inactivity, bacterial imbalances in the gut can also bring on the dreaded bloat. Probiotics can help restore the balance between good and bad bacteria and are effective in many sufferers. Natural yoghurt and fermented foods such as kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi also contain probiotic bacteria to help beat belly bloat.

6. Acne

Natural Remedy: Low GI Carbs

Are you well beyond your teens and still plagued by acne? Gah! In the pursuit of beautiful skin (and overall health) low GI carbs can help reduce skin breakouts through better blood glucose control – and, can even reduce premature ageing! So, ditch the processed ‘white and fluffy’ carbs for skin loving ‘smart’ carbs like sweet potato, brown rice, chickpeas and quinoa.

7. Low Energy

Natural Remedy: Lean Red Meat

If you constantly feel like you’re dragging the chain, it may be time to get your iron levels checked. Low iron is a guaranteed energy zapper and is a common deficiency worldwide – particularly among women of childbearing age.

Lean red meat offers a superb source of iron, so if you’re firmly placed in camp vego (and it’s perfectly fine to be so), increase your iron by eating more legumes, tofu, quinoa and dark green leafy vegetables. Boost the absorption of iron by pairing these with vitamin C rich foods such as tomato, capsicum, broccoli, kiwi fruit and citrus.

8. High Blood Sugars

Natural Remedy: Cinnamon

Exciting research from Pakistan has found that cinnamon can help improve blood sugar control in men and women with type 2 diabetes! 1 While a healthy diet and lifestyle will always be the cornerstone of treatment, it’s great to know that this aromatic spice can really help. Try sprinkling cinnamon over yoghurt, muesli or stewed fruit and adding to muffin and pancake batters for an exotic twist.

Also read: Top Ten Foods To Boost Your Immune System

9. Bad Breath

Natural Remedy: Parsley

Bacteria within the throat and mouth are the usual culprits behind bad breath. Meals made pretty with a garnish, particularly parsley, can also serve as a natural deodorizer due to the high concentration of natural antibacterial oils. While fresh breath will win you friends, just be sure they’re the kind who’ll point out any parsley that’s gone astray!

10. Reflux or Heartburn

Natural Remedy: Limit Alcohol Coffee

I know…not what you want to hear, but both caffeine and booze can trigger reflux by relaxing the opening between the stomach and oesophagus (food pipe), allowing acidic stomach contents to move back up. While it’s certainly okay to enjoy a morning latte or an occasional glass of wine with dinner, just don’t go all gangbusters or you may discover your inner dragon!


1 Khan, A. et al. (2003). Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care.

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Lisa Donaldson, APD, M.Nutr&Diet, B.Edu
Lisa is the Lead Dietitian for 12WBT. With a Masters in Nutrition & Dietietics as well as a Bachelor of Education, Lisa is keen to help all 12 Weekers understand how to achieve health for life. Lisa studied Sports Dietetics at the Australian Institute of Sport and has a keen interest in gastrointestinal health. A highly regarded communicator, Lisa is a spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia, the ‘Dietitian in Residence’ at the University of Canberra and a lecturer at the Australian Defence Force Academy. She has also been an expert on ABC Television’s Ask the Dr Series.

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    1 Comment

    1. Hello
      I love this! ’10 Food Cures to Fight Common Ailments’.
      Getting my mind set around the 12 wbt! 🙂

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