It’s no news flash that some grub can make you feel … ugh (hate you, post-brunch carb crash). But Mehmet Oz, MD, America’s beloved TV doc — and btw, heart surgeon —believes that the flip side is also true: The right eats can be secret weapons for curing all kinds of health issues. “Food should always be your first step,” he says. “It has the positive impact of medications, without the side effects.” Check out his healing snack prescription for common woes.
The Problem: Painful PMS
1. Flaxseed: Two ground tablespoons daily in your morning smoothie or cereal can reduce inflammation (thanks, omega-3 fatty acids), a common cause of cramping.
2. Salmon: This cold-water fish is another anti-inflammatory star. One serving three times a week can even relieve breast tenderness.
3. Eggs: Crack open a few for breakfast regularly, yolk and all. They’re a great source of vitamins D, B6 and E, which help ease symptoms of PMS.
The Problem: Belly Bloat
4. Parsley: Chop and toss this herb on a salad or in soup to help deflate your belly — it’s great for preventing water retention.
5. Papaya: It contains papain, an enzyme that breaks down gut-clogging foods. One cup, raw and cubed, should get your bowels back on track.
6. Whole grains: Slowly add this fibre to your diet to keep your GI system running (too much at once will worsen bloat). Add five grams per week (about one slice of sprouted-grain bread) until you hit 25 grams per day.
The Problem: Killer Headaches
7. Pickle juice: Prevent a hangover headache by sipping 1/4 cup of this Polish folk remedy before bed. Its super-high electrolyte count can help stop the skull pounding.
8. Watermelon: Dehydration is a huge trigger for head pain, and this H2O-rich snack can provide sweet relief.
9. Dark leafy greens: Yet another reason to chow down on Swiss chard and spinach. Studies show their magnesium content reduces migraine frequency.
The Problem: Chronic Low Energy
10. Quinoa: Iron is a must for revving your energy levels. One cup, cooked, packs 15% of the daily recommended 18mg.
11. Coconut oil: Blend a dollop into your coffee. The oil’s fatty acids slow your body’s absorption of caffeine, which helps extend your buzz.
12. Cherry juice: Sip a shot with dinner. The fruit’s natural melatonin (which regulates sleep) will kick in by bedtime for a better night’s rest.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com.