Fixing What Ails You ... With Food (cont.)

See Your Way Clear

If you want to lessen the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration -- a disease that causes irreversible blindness in people over the age of 65 -- eat your veggies, says ophthalmologist Robert Abel, MD. Lutein, a nutrient found predominantly in dark green, leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, and collard greens, promotes eye health by acting as a light filter, protecting the eyes from some of the damaging effects of the sun, and as an antioxidant, protecting the eyes from the damaging effects of aging, says Abel, a member of the Lutein Information Bureau Advisory Board. Because the body is unable to naturally manufacture lutein, you have to rely on your consumption of lutein-rich foods (or lutein supplements) to maintain optimal levels of lutein in the eye. There isn't an official Daily Reference Intake for lutein, but a 1994 Harvard University study showed that 6 milligrams -- equal to about one-third cup of cooked spinach -- is likely to have beneficial effects. If you're not going to get that amount daily, it won't hurt to add a multivitamin that includes lutein, says Abel.

You've Got a Terrible Headache

If you suffer from migraines, you may have trigger foods that you can't eat. Common migraine triggers are dairy products, chocolate, eggs, citrus fruits, meat, wheat, nuts and peanuts, tomatoes, onion, corn, apples, and bananas, says Neal Barnard, MD, author of Foods That Fight Pain. Ironically, if a migraine does hit, some of those triggering foods may just provide relief as well. Caffeine, for example, may cause migraines in some people, but ease them in others, says Barnard. If caffeine is not a problem for you, drink one to two cups of strong coffee at the first sign of a migraine. You may also find relief from starchy foods such as toast, crackers, and potatoes, which can reduce the headache or nausea and may even shorten the attack.

On the Deep Blue Sea

Or on a plane, a train, or in a car. If you suffer from motion sickness, you may be tempted to stay home. Not necessary, says Barnard. In studies, ginger was shown to reduce the nausea and vomiting associated with motion sickness, and was found to be more effective than dimenhydrinate (Dramamine), which is commonly used for motion sickness. To calm the stomach, says Barnard, take one-half to one teaspoon (one to two grams) of powdered ginger. Health food stores often carry gelatin capsules containing the powdered ginger so you don't have to grind it yourself. Take two capsules about 30 minutes before your trip.

Nuts to You

A handful -- just two ounces -- of almonds may help you avoid the onset of Alzheimer's disease. In a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, researchers found that the vitamin E in almonds is an antioxidant, which can reduce age-related deterioration in the brain.

Reviewed by Gary D. Vogin, MD, April 15, 2002

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