As university students, we have a lot of problems. We have those headaches that come from lack of sleep (we had to finish that term paper), and then we’re not able to sleep (counting sheep sucks), and we end up breaking out and feeling blah. So we rely on Advil. And coffee. Usually a combination of the two.
But what if I told you that you can solve a lot of these problems through what you eat?
No more stocking up on pills like you’re running a pharmacy out of your dorm room. This list of thirteen foods has you covered.
1. If you have a headache…
…look for foods with MAGNESIUM.
Magnesium is known to decrease blood pressure and relax blood vessels, both of which help to manage headaches. This element can be found in foods such as nuts (e.g. almonds), avocados, and natural yogurt. Still achy? Remember to drink plenty of water and fluids as well.
2. If you can’t sleep…
…try eating foods that boost MELATONIN.
For those people that struggle with insomnia (or just regular teenage sleep-deprivation), try eating foods that boost melatonin before bed. This is the hormone that your body releases to cause drowsiness prior to sleep. Foods that help boost melatonin include everything from pineapples, bananas, and oranges to oats and rice. Sleepless nights no longer.
3. If your throat is sore…
…try foods with ANTI-INFLAMMATORY properties.
When I was younger, my mom swore by lemon and honey tea to cure a sore throat. As per usual, Mom knew best. I still reach for tea before painkillers. Foods such as lemon and honey reduce swelling in the throat, making it easier for you to breathe. This is why chicken noodle soup is also a good option. Yes. It really works. Learn how to make it here.
4. If you have cold hands and feet…
…you could be low on IRON.
Iron is like a good pair of Gap jeans: a necessary staple in your life, but often overlooked for more glamorous options. We’re looking at you, Protein. That being said, a lack of iron can lead to complications, such as poor circulation and anemia. Sound scary? That’s because it is.
As a vegetarian, I am constantly monitoring my iron levels. Most iron is found in things like chicken liver and beef, both of which sound as appetizing to a vegetarian as bourbon with pickle juice (although apparently that’s a real thing). If you can eat meat, make sure to include these things as part of your day. If you can’t eat meat, check out pumpkin seeds, nuts, and dark greens (e.g. spinach) to get your daily iron intake.
5. If you feel sad…
…eat foods that stimulate DOPAMINE production.
If you need an excuse to eat chocolate, here it is. This treat is capable of increasing dopamine, a compound that lifts your mood and creates a sense of happiness. Trying to eat healthy? Foods such as eggs, turkey, kale, and apples contain tyrosine, an amino acid that is broken down to create dopamine. That’s right. An apple a day really will keep the doctor away.
6. If your stomach aches…
…then GINGER should be your new BFF.
Ginger has been known to cure everything from regular stomach aches to motion sickness. Whether you choose to gnaw on raw ginger or put it in your tea, this food promises to reduce stomach pain. Say goodbye to digestion problems and aches.
7. If you’re breaking out…
…switch to VEGETABLES.
There’s no specific food that fights breakouts, but you can help prevent them by switching to a healthy diet of vegetables, fish, and whole grains. Foods to avoid include too much dairy and fatty foods. Ditch the weekly McDonald’s run and opt for this Grapefruit Shrimp Salad instead. Yum.
8. If you feel weak and scattered…
…you could be low in PROTEIN.
With all of the fad diets promoting protein consumption (hi, Paleo diet), most people consume an adequate amount of protein. Foods such as fish, eggs, and chicken are all good sources of this macro-nutrient. However, vegetarians are at risk for not consuming enough protein. If you’re feeling tired and foggy, try and introduce more quinoa, beans, and chia seeds into your diet.
9. If you feel blocked up…
…get flushed out with FIBER.
Yeah. We’re going to talk about bodily functions now. If you’ve been putting things in and not much is coming out (aka. poop isn’t happening, or looks like small pebbles), chances are that you’re deficient in fiber. Before you run to the pharmacy for laxatives, try foods such as black beans, bran flakes, and raspberries. With a bit of luck, that should get things moving.
10. If you feel hormonal…
…then DAIRY is not your friend.
According to medical experts, dairy could be contributing to your monthly weight fluctuations, mood swings, and premenstrual syndrome. Dairy products (we’re looking at you, milk) can trigger these imbalances due to both the natural and synthetic hormones found in them. Want to avoid the PMS? Try to stick to a more plant-based diet with organic veggies, flaxseed, and tofu.
11. If your skin is dull or wrinkling…
…then WATER and OMEGA-3 should be your jam.
If anyone’s an expert on glowing skin, it’s nutritionist and health coach Madeleine Shaw. In her video on how to get glowing skin, Madeleine recommends foods such as chia seeds and salmon to get Omega-3, which will make your skin plumper and healthier. Remember to drink coconut water to keep your skin hydrated as well.
12. If you’ve got a sunburn…
…invest in some YOGURT.
Not only does yogurt make a variety of delicious parfaits, but its abundance of probiotics and enzymes help to heal your skin faster. Rub it directly onto the skin like lotion for maximum effect (note: use plain yoghurt unless you want to smell like a third-grader’s lunchbox). Still itchy and red? Try soaking in a bath with a cup of oatmeal or apple cider vinegar to relieve the pain.
13. If you’re hungover…
…ELECTROLYTES really do work.
Okay. We’ve all been there. You meant to call it quits at three drinks because you have that English test tomorrow, and then suddenly it’s 3am and you’ve forgotten how to get home (not that this has ever happened to me, obviously). You wake up and kick yourself for not drinking water the night before. So what’s a hungover college kid to do?
It’s no surprise that bananas, sport drinks, and anything with electrolytes are your saviors. Still looking for ideas? Check out this article on which hangover cures actually work.