CBSN

Can You Eat Your Way Back to Health?

Ever stressed about giving a big presentation? Feel the sniffles coming on? Instead of calling the doctor or surfing the net for a quick fix, a quick visit to the pantry or fridge may just be enough to help you feel better.

On "The Early Show" Tuesday, Matt Bean, editor at large of Men's Health magazine, said many everyday problems can be fixed by food. He explained the fixes are all spelled out in the new "Men's Health" and "Women's Health" diet books.

Read an excerpt from "The Men's Health Diet" and "The Women's Health Diet."

Bean said these books represent the culmination of decades of weight-loss and fitness knowledge from the editors of Men's Health and Women's Health. He said about 100 men and women followed the book's diets over six weeks. He said 95 percent of the men and 86 percent of the women found the diet successful, with many losing up to 15 pounds or more in just six weeks.

Bean shared these food fixes on "The Early Show":

Problem: You Feel the Sniffles Coming On
Smart Food Fix: Ginseng

In a Canadian study, people who took 400 milligrams of ginseng extract a day had 56 percent fewer recurring colds than those who popped placebos. Studies suggest ginseng can turbocharge the activity of key immune cells. Another benefit: Ginseng might boost your brainpower. British researchers found that people on a cognitive test scored significantly better when they swallowed 200 milligrams of the extract an hour before taking it.

Also: Kiwi, Oranges, Red Bell Peppers
All three are packed with Vitamin C. Studies suggest that taking at least 200 milligrams daily may help shorten the duration of your symptoms the next time you're under the weather. A medium-sized red bell pepper has 152 milligrams; a kiwi, orange, mango, or cup of steamed broccoli all add more than 50 milligrams each.

Problem: You Just Finished an Intense Workout and Your Muscles Are Feeling the Burn
Smart Food Fix: Coffee

University of Georgia scientists revealed that taking a caffeine supplement (equal to two cups of coffee) after exercise reduces muscle soreness more than pain relievers can. Caffeine blocks a chemical that activates pain receptors.

Problem: You Have the Winter Blues
Smart Food Fix: Flaxseed

Flax is the best-known source of alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA-a healthy fat that improves the workings of the cerebral cortex, the area of the brain that processes sensory information, including pleasure. To meet your quota, sprinkle it into smoothies or onto salads, or make it the secret ingredient in a PB&J.

Problem: You Had Such an Awesome Day That You Just Can't Fall Asleep
Smart Food Fix: Oatmeal with Bananas and Walnuts

Sleep is triggered by the hormone melatonin, but stress or excitement can disrupt melatonin's release. Bring your brain back down to earth by whipping up a bowl of oatmeal and topping it with sliced bananas and crushed walnuts, both rich in melatonin. What won't do the trick: warm milk. Contrary to popular belief, warm milk will keep you up, not knock you out. Blame the protein in milk, which can reduce serotonin levels and delay the onset of sleep.

Problem: You're Anxious About Your Big Presentation
Smart Food Fix: Brazil Nuts

If you're feeling anxious, eating just four brazil nuts will provide you with 100 percent of your recommended daily allowance of selenium, which is a natural anxiety fighter.

Problem: You Worship the Sun
Smart Food Fix: Watermelon

Eat melons to skip melanoma. One slice of watermelon contains up to 10 milligrams of cancer-fighting lycopene -- as much as four tomatoes. Bonus tip: the amino acid arginine, abundant in watermelon, might promote weight-loss, according to a new study in the Journal of Nutrition. Adding this amino acid to the diet has been shown to enhance the oxidation of fat and glucose and increased muscle, which burns more calories than fat does.

Problem: You Think You Have a Cavity
Smart Food Fix: Yogurt

You'll definitely want to get it checked out by a dentist. But to avoid cavities in the future, eat some yogurt. Eating yogurt four times a week reduces your risk of cavities by 25 percent. Bonus tip: The clear liquid on the top of yogurt is pure whey protein -- the stuff they charge you $5 a pop for at the gym. Don't drain it off, just stir it back in and enjoy.

Problem: You're Noticing New Wrinkles
Smart Food Fix: Red Cabbage and Red Bell Peppers

Root for the reds. Red cabbage has 15 times as much wrinkle-fighting beta-carotene as green cabbage. Red bell peppers have nine times as much as the green ones.

Problem: Your PMS Threatens Those Around You
Smart Food Fix: Saffron

A pinch of this exotic spice may help tame the monthly beast by increasing levels of the feel-good brain chemical serotonin, which can plummet before your period. In a recent study published in BJOG, a journal from the British Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, women who took 15 milligrams of saffron extract in the morning and evening saw a significant dip in irritability, fatigue, and depression.

Problem: You're in the Mood, He's in the Mood, and you want to make a baby
Smart Food Fix: Milk

Not the low-fat variety. If you add one serving of full-fat dairy to your diet per day, such as whole milk on your cereal instead of skim, you can actually increase your chances of getting pregnant, according to the landmark Nurse's Health Study at Harvard University. And because the calcium in dairy fights weight gain, you're receiving another boost for conceiving; maintaining a healthy weight ups your chances for getting pregnant.