One of the things I love doing in the new year is looking at my current habits and seeing what nutritional changes I can make to eat healthier and take better care of my body.
Eating food that is both healing and delicious actually has a huge effect on your mental health.
That’s why today I want to dive into the importance of how food can help heal both your mind and body – here are the top 9 healing foods to help you heal in 2023!
Once you pay attention to the work you put in for yourself, and your mental and physical healing journeys, you start to notice gaps that don’t fall under therapy, journaling, popularized acts of self-love, going to the gym, or whatever endeavors you take on.
That’s where food plays a vital role.
We can harness so much power from what we choose to fuel our bodies with. And as we turn over a new leaf, there’s so much opportunity for renewal – for resetting and starting out on the right path.
In the very wise words of Hippocrates, “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
Want to know just how you can unlock better overall health with simple steps? Here are my top 9 healing foods to include in your diet this year:
1. Fresh Lemon (and Lime) Juice
Lemons (and limes) are arguably one of the most underrated and most easily accessible healing foods.
Loaded with high amounts of vitamin C, plant compounds, and soluble fiber, these citruses are a staple simple addition to your day that can get you through harsh winters with no sore throats or sleepless nights.
In fact, this simple fruit is an overlooked heart-healthy food. One lemon contains about 51% of your reference daily intake (RDI) of vitamin C. This is as simple as making a delicious lemonade or homemade smoothie!
Here’s a quick and easy recipe to add to your and your family’s lunches for the added boost of vitamins – Vitamin-Packed Honey Lemonade!
And here’s what’s shocking: that’s not all lemon has to offer.
Studies have shown us that eating as little as 24 grams of citrus fiber extract daily for a month reduces total blood cholesterol levels.
With reduced cholesterol, you’re reducing the risks of heart disease, anemia, kidney stones, digestive issues, and cancer.
And apart from it being a simple lemonade, there are endless ways to include lemons in your daily foods! Check out some of these other ways to incorporate lemon juice into your meals: Lemony Red Lentil Soup, Healthy Taco Salad, and Rainbow Fruit Salad.
2. Fresh Ginger
Centuries ago, people started using ginger in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments so it doesn’t come as a surprise that this golden spice is a powerful healing source.
Commonly used to help with digestion, reduce inflammation, and alleviate nausea, ginger is recognized as an effective food for reducing muscle pain and soreness, making it a popular choice for moms, kids, athletes, and just about anybody in the family.
But it’s not only insanely delicious when added to warm winter soups – like this Butternut Squash & Carrot Curry Soup here – it’s also a great ingredient to add to your homemade broth for an instant addition of bright freshness. Just take a look at this Ginger Turmeric Bone Broth, you’ll thank me later!
Did you know? This golden spice has been proven to help mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. It’s believed to have a calming effect on the mind and can be helpful in reducing stress and helping you promote a sense of well-being. Need I say more?
I’ll leave you with this: fresh ginger is insanely high in antioxidants – which is just a way to say that fresh ginger will help you protect your body against damage caused by free radicals or even reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.
Check out these ginger shots to get your daily nutrients and natural protection in at no effort – Antiviral Honey Ginger Shots.
3. Minimally-Processed Honey
Speaking of honey ginger shots, up next is no other than natural and unprocessed/minimally-processed honey!
One of the most well-known benefits of honey is its ability to act as a natural cough suppressant. If your kids or loved ones ever start struggling with sore and achy throats during the harsh winters, a spoonful of honey might do the trick!
Here’s why: the thick, sticky consistency of honey coats the throat and almost instantly calms irritation, helping reduce the frequency and severity of coughs. Just add it to this beautifully aromatic Pumpkin Curry soup and you got yourself a go-to when your nose starts running.
Unprocessed/minimally-processed honey is also a natural antimicrobial, which means it can help to kill bacteria and other microorganisms that can cause infections. In fact, Manuka honey has been used in hospitals and military camps for its antimicrobial properties.
So what do I mean by “unprocessed/minimally-processed honey?” Conventional highly-processed honey that is mass-produced is heated to high temperatures and then filtered, making it clearer in color but also less nutritious because the heat damages some of the health benefits. Unprocessed honey is closer to “raw” honey—it will be thick and you’ll be able to see pieces of the honeycomb in it. Minimally-processed honey is gently heated and slowly goes through a natural filtration process to make it smoother, which still preserves its health benefits. Both options are great! There are hundreds if not thousands of honey brands on the market. Choose one that works for you.
You can even use it to help with wounds and even to treat skin conditions such as burns, cuts, and infections.
You might notice a trend here, but of course, turmeric had to make the list! This bright, golden spice is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.
This goes beyond bloating or facemasks (although still very important) – Turmeric is a great healing food for people suffering from conditions such as arthritis, asthma, and even depression.
Ginger’s orange sister, this spice right here was proven to improve brain function and to even help improve memory and cognitive performance.
You can find both turmeric and ginger in my Ginger Turmeric Bone Broth Recipe.
Next to its internal benefits, turmeric can also be used topically to help with a variety of skin conditions, such as acne, eczema, and scarring. It’s a natural antimicrobial, incredibly versatile and nutritious, and is a valuable addition to any recipe. If you’re looking to start out this year with a bang, just check this simple turmeric recipe out: Golden Milk.
5. Homemade Broths
Nothing beats homemade broth.
A broth is a great way to extract a wide range of nutrients and minerals, and to meal prep so you’re not spending hours in the kitchen every time you crave a hearty meal.
Homemade broth is filled with glucosamine which can help reduce inflammation and support joint health, and collagen! I’m saying healthy skin, hair, and nails!
All of that aside, one of the main benefits of homemade broths is their ability to support a healthy digestive system. The collagen and other nutrients found in a broth can help repair and heal the lining of the gut, which can improve digestion and reduce the risk of digestive issues such as bloating and constipation.
They’re also a rich source of minerals, including calcium, magnesium, and potassium, which are essential for maintaining strong bones and overall good health!
Check out these delicious homemade broth recipes:
These stocks are great on their own as a comforting (and nourishing) drink, or used as a base for soups, stews, and sauces!
6. Naturally-Fermented Foods
So, what exactly ARE naturally-fermented foods and why is everyone asking you to eat them?
As I discuss in The Health Habit (Hay House 2019), naturally-fermented foods are made by allowing natural bacteria and yeasts to ferment and preserve them, which helps to create a diverse little community of beneficial microorganisms. This process also increases the availability of certain nutrients and of course, the flavors are out of this world. Sauerkraut? Where do I sign up!
(Here’s a little secret: I put together this delicious Sauerkraut recipe and I haven’t been able to stop making it since.)
So you might have already guessed this: one of the main benefits of naturally-fermented foods is their ability to improve digestive health.
The beneficial bacteria found in these foods can help balance the microflora in your gut, which improves digestion and even actively reduces the risk of digestive issues such as bloating or constipation.
But that’s not all! Foods like sauerkraut or kimchi are also shown to boost your immune system AND are a rich source of antioxidants. Say goodbye to feeling slow and tired through the cold months!
Naturally-fermented foods have so much to offer, I wrote a separate blog on just how these miracle foods can help literally revolutionize your kitchen! Check it out here: Fermented Foods.
7. Blended Fruits
Generally, fruits are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. When you blend fruits together, you can create a wide range of flavors and textures, making them a versatile and enjoyable part of your diet!
Fruits are rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, which is essential for maintaining a healthy immune system. Many fruits are also high in fiber, which can help to promote regular bowel movements.
A delicious and convenient way to add more fruits to your diet! You can enjoy them as a smoothie, a topping for oatmeal or yogurt, or even as a base for homemade popsicles.
Looking for an easy & healthy snacks you and the kids?
8. Fresh Herbs
Fresh herbs are a delicious and nutritious way to add flavor and variety to virtually any meal. The main benefit of fresh herbs is their antioxidant content.
Fresh herbs are also a rich source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, iron, and calcium, which are absolutely essential for our bodies! They have also been shown to have medicinal properties.
For example, basil has been used to treat respiratory issues such as asthma, and rosemary has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.
Mint has been used to help with digestion – here are 15 ways to use fresh mint now -, and thyme has been shown to have antibacterial properties!
Now, who doesn’t love cinnamon!?
An absolute staple in any kitchen, cinnamon is more than its sweet warmness, it’s the secret to far more than delicious foods, desserts, and drinks (like this Healthy Hot Chocolate recipe)!
Of course, it’s packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, but what’s more shocking is the fact that cinnamon can regulate blood sugar levels.
Studies have shown that cinnamon can help to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. It’s also helpful in reducing the risk of developing diabetes in the first place!
I dove deeper into the world of cinnamon in this blog post, go check it out for some new ideas on how to make the most out of its miracle benefits!
Incorporating some of these simple yet healing ingredients and foods into your diet can be a very effective way to support your overall health and well-being without overcomplicated medication.
Whether you are looking to reduce inflammation, improve digestion, boost your immune system, or just enjoy the numerous other benefits that these foods have to offer, there is a wide range of options to choose from. From ginger and honey to turmeric and cinnamon, there are countless healing foods that can help you to feel your best and live a healthy, happy life. So why wait?!
And of course, you can always find more recipes here.