PHOTOGRAPH BY TIM ROBBERTS/GETTY IMAGES
A day like this will leave you bloated, sluggish, and probably full of regret, especially if you indulged in fructose—a cheap, readily available sweetener linked to a cascade of health problems from cardiovascular diseases and diabetes to ADHD and Alzheimer’s. Fortunately, science has your back. New research from UCLA found that foods rich in docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, an Omega-3 fatty acid, may reverse some of the damage fructose triggers. Here are 8 foods to turn to after a day of donuts has done you in.
When you need to load up on DHA, few foods match the potent punch provided by wild-caught salmon. Oily fish, like salmon, sardines, and mackerel, provide anywhere from 10 to 100 times the DHA of vegetarian sources like nuts, spinach, and whole grains. That’s nice to know, since DHA protects the brain from inflammatory damage, improves learning and memory, and heals brain tissue injured by fructose. Salmon’s also a great source of selenium and vitamin D. And salmon is simple—cook it with butter, lemon, and dill for an easy, delicious meal. But, you will have to pay a premium. Farmed salmon’s DHA content doesn’t measure up to wild-caught, say the researchers.
Vegetarians need not despair. When you’re feeling awful after a bad day of eating, chia and flax seeds are your friend. They pack a wallop of Omega-3s in just two tablespoons, and they’re loaded with fiber, which helps feed gut bacteria and aids in weight loss. Plus, that fiber also helps empty out all the toxins you consumed. While they don’t have nearly as much DHA as oily fish, they do provide calcium, protein, and lignans—a powerful antioxidant. Plus, they take no time to prepare—just throw them into your yogurt, smoothie recipe, or baked goods.
When you’re bloated, feeling gross, and your stomach is doing flips, go nuts. Literally. Just ¼ cup of walnuts offers 133% of your recommended Omega-3 content. And a 2015 study out of Yale suggests eating them may lead to smarter food choices. Researchers found that adding two ounces of walnuts to a daily diet for 6 months led to less snacking and healthier choices. Makes sense: walnuts are satisfying and reduce cravings, which helps you avoid junk.
Aloe vera juice is a palatable cleanser after a bad day of eating. “It’s the first thing I recommend for my clients to get them back on track after a binge,” says Nikki Ostrower, founder of NAO Nutrition in New York City. It’s a nutritional powerhouse, packed with vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. A review in The British Journal of General Practice noted that aloe vera may decrease intestinal inflammation and helps repair damage in the gut. It may also increase healthy bacteria in the intestines that aid in digestion. “It stimulates the bowels so it has this wonderful effect of emptying you out while also replenishing nutrients,” says Ostrower.
The wonder-drink of the Paleo community turns out to be one of the best ways to repair the damage done from a bad day of eating. It can be hearty bone broth, chicken broth, or broth made from fish heads, if you prefer. “Soups made with a hearty broth are very easy to digest, replenish lost minerals and nutrients, and stitch up the gut,” says Ostrower. “There’s a reason a South American proverb says, ‘a good broth will resurrect the dead.'” Broth allows the body to absorb calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, and trace minerals. It also providesglucosamine, which relives pain, and glycine, glutamine, and proline, which offer a host of benefits. It works to boost the immune system, inhibits inflammation, repairs the lining of the intestines, and regulates blood sugar.
The dandelion root that this tea is made from is chock full of vitamins A, C, and D. It also has zinc, iron, magnesium, and potassium. Plus, it has more beta-carotene per serving than carrots. And, unlike dandelion leaves, the tea isn’t unpalatably bitter. Dandelion tea relieves bloating by reducing water weight, according to one study. And dandelion tea significantly increases the power of a detoxifying digestive enzyme, says a study published in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. Like any tea, it’s easy to make and digest. And if all this isn’t enough, one study found that drinking dandelion tea aided weight loss as much as the obesity-drug Orilstat.
If you’ve overdone it with sugar, whether from sweets, sodas, or alcohol, try aprobiotic. “It’s so easy to put just one tablespoon of raw apple-cider vinegar in a glass of water or to open a bottle of raw kombucha,” says Ostrower. These drinks “will increase hydrochloric acid to help your digestion, and all those good gut bugs will help absorb and break down all that sugar you took in.” Fermented veggies like sauerkraut, kimchi, or pickles replenish nutrients by providing a full dose of vitamin C, all of the B-vitamins, and a rich serving of amino acids, especially lysine and methionine.
Seaweeds are some of the healthiest vegetables out there. When you’re feeling sluggish and bloated, a shot of B-12 gives you pep. Seaweed has several B vitamins, and it’s the only non-meat source of B-12. It’s full of iron, calcium, potassium, niacin, phosphorus, and magnesium. It also contains each of the 56 minerals the human body requires along with vitamins A, K, C, and E. When you’re looking for seaweed, the darker the better, says Ostrower, “The darker it gets, the stronger the mineral concentration.”