Food as medicine

Almonds ©Janet Allen
Roasted, unsalted almonds

As strange as it would have sounded to us a few years ago, we're now finding that some foods can indeed be our medicine—or so it seems to us after experimenting a bit.

We would have scoffed at these things a few years ago, but some of the food "cures" we've tried truly seem to help and (unlike most pharmeceuticals) food can't hurt.

NOTE: We're referring to just eating real foods in reasonable amounts, not taking supplements!

The miracle of sauerkraut

Sauerkraut ©Janet Allen

A few years ago, after hearing about this on The People's Pharmacy podcast, I tried eating sauerkraut when I started getting a cold. It was the mildest I had ever had in my life (usually being a two-week affair).

The next winter, we starting eating some sauerkraut proactively every few days instead of waiting until we had a cold. We didn't catch one cold at all (or anything else) despite being exposed multiple times to grandchildren and other people with colds!

Kim chee ©Janet Allen
Our favorite kim chee

Caution: Sauerkraut contains a lot of sodium, so moderation is important if you're watching your salt intake.

Is it specifically sauerkraut or maybe fermented foods in general? I don't know yet, but it seems to work.

We're careful to choose sauerkraut that is 1) truly fermented, not just made with vinegar, and 2) "live" i.e. not heat-treated or canned. We're going to try making our own sauerkraut again (after a failed attempt in the past).

We also love kim chee, but only a certain brand, which is spicy but not the red stuff, which must have some ingredient that we don't like.

Other specific remedies

Gin-soaked raisins ©Janet Allen
Gin-soaked raisins

One remedy we've found helpful is gin-soaked raisins for arthritis. I don't think it's just the placebo effect, since when I once just drifted away from having gin-soaked raisins, I started noticing that my hands were feeling uncomfortable when I awoke in the morning. I then realized that I hadn't been having my raisins, I restarted them, and I improved.

Many medicines aren't statistically much better than the placebo effect anyway, and at least these remedies don't hurt— which is more than I can say for some prescriptions I have taken in the past, such as HRT.

Pickle juice ©Janet Allen
Pickle juice (along with its pickles)

In addition to the bar of soap he keeps under the sheets (see sidebar in Good Health), John is also experimenting with having a spoonful of pickle juice before bed to help his restless legs.

Some food that seem to be especially beneficial in general

Bits of chocolate ©Janet Allen
A little bit of 85% chocolate (the dime showing scale)

We also each have two SMALL bits of 85% dark chocolate each day.

And like chocolate, who can protest having a glass of wine every once in a while?