The #1 thing a nurse needs (to avoid becoming a patient!)

Image: Thinkstock | Far Eastern Cookery

For nurses who are at high risk for chronic back pain and other injuries that result from tight, overstrained muscles, loading your diet full of anti-inflammatories on a daily basis is a MUST to keep yourself out of the hospital bed.

Anti-inflammatories keep your arteries young and less likely to clog, your skin from turning red or scaly and your nasal passages from becoming blocked.

As nurses, you know there are plenty of pharmaceutical anti-inflammatories like aspirin, acetaminophen and steroids (for example, hydrocortisone cream) that are designed to keep swelling down and reduce redness.

A high-impact profession like nursing can cause inflammation within the body such as bursitis and tendonitis. Over the course of your career, inflammation inside your body can be very damaging if it continues over many months or years. According to Dr. Oz, “Inflammation, a process meant to heal, can often become a danger; chronic inflammation causes heart attacks, stroke—and even cancer.”

From Dr. Nicholas Perricone’s book Forever Young, I learned that “the key to preventing accelerated aging and age-related diseases is controlling inflammation.” I look to food to help fight inflammation before I reach for the medicine cabinet—and of course I’m not the only one to do so. Noted Indian scientist Bharat B. Aggarwal, PhD, wrote in his book Healing Spices, “Oxidation and inflammation are the evil twins that cause many chronic diseases including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, cancer and arthritis,” and he discusses ways that his country’s native spices help heal the body, like turmeric, ginger and cardamom.

Incorporating anti-inflammatories into your diet doesn’t have to be a chore for your taste buds. Try dressing up a dessert like an apple-pear tart with liberal amounts of cinnamon, an anti-inflammatory spice, or kick back after a long shift with a nonalcoholic mojito drink (because mint is also a wonderful way to reduce swelling). Many other foods have anti-inflammatory properties. Fish, soybeans and whole grains are laden with omega-3 fatty acids, which naturally reduce swelling and irritation inside our arteries. See the “Resveratrol Suppresses Inflammation” report to read details about how resveratrol, a “foodtrient” found in red wine(!), cranberries and grapes, reduces inflammation in the body, too.

Anti-inflammatory (and anti-aging!) foods and spices to try:

  • turmeric
  • garlic
  • ginger
  • chili pepper
  • cilantro
  • parsley
  • mustard
  • cinnamon
  • mint

The best way to take care of your patients is to take care of yourself first. Start by nourishing your body with foods that can help you sustain you through your work and your life. The world will thank you for it! Be well, nurses!

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