How to Combat 5 Common Health Symptoms Through Nutrition

OnPoint Nutrition dietitian Zoe Fienman shares how to tweak your eating habits to address minor health problems.

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Eating more of certain foods might help you address certain health issues. / Photograph courtesy of Getty Images

If you aren’t feeling well, you might take a pain relief pill and call it a day or make a quick appointment to see a doctor. But the problem could actually be rooted in your diet. We chatted with Zoe Fienman, a registered dietitian at the virtual nutrition counseling practice OnPoint Nutrition, to learn how to make small changes that could make you feel a lot better.

Symptom: Muscle cramps
Potential missing nutrient: Potassium
Why you need it: Potassium is an electrolyte that makes sure your fluid levels inside and outside your cell are balanced, which is why your legs may start to hurt if you don’t have enough of it. Muscle cramps normally linger for a few seconds to a few minutes.
What to eat to get more of it: Bananas, tomatoes, yogurt, potatoes, and avocados

Symptom: Fatigue
Potential missing nutrient: Carbohydrates
Why you need them: Not eating enough carbs throughout the day can result in your blood sugar crashing because your body and brain aren’t receiving enough energy to function properly.
What to eat to get more of them: Grains, dairy, fruit

Symptom: Lightheadedness
Potential missing nutrient: Iron
Why you need it: Iron is essential for blood production, and around 70 percent of the body’s iron come from red blood cells called hemoglobin and muscle cells called myoglobin. Hemoglobin transports oxygen in the blood from the lungs to the tissues and myoglobin receives, stores, and transfers oxygen. Since lightheadedness occurs when there isn’t enough oxygen in your brain, that could mean you might be low on iron. Note: Women are more prone to this issue if they have heavy periods.
What to eat to get more of it: Animal proteins or dark, leafy plants

Symptom: Sudden mood change
Potential missing nutrient: Vitamin B-12
Why you need it: This vitamin has many responsibilities, including making and processing serotonin, which can affect whether you’re happy or sad.
What to eat to get more of it: Shellfish, organ meats, eggs, and milk products

Symptom: Thinning and less shiny hair
Potential missing nutrient: Protein
Why you need it: Protein builds and maintains tissue in your body, including body parts like hair, skin, and nails.
What to eat to get more of it: Animal protein and plant-based protein such as beans, nuts, or seeds.