By: Rick Bellanti – April, 2018
Over the last year you have seen me write about what foods to stay away from, what foods make you unhealthy and also cause inflammation in our bodies causing us pain. We even talked a few months back about what foods are too acidic and what to eat to help your body become more healthy in an alkaline state. Now, let’s talk spices.
Spices are used to flavor our food, and research has shown that they are made up of healthy compounds and could help prevent many diseases and illnesses. Spices fight inflammation and reduce damage to your body’s cells because they are rich in healthy plant chemicals. (called phytochemicals). Spices are also very flavorful and adding them to your foods will make it easier to cut back on the unhealthy ingredients, like salt, fat and sugar.
Let’s start with one of my favorites, Cinnamon; studies show that it helps with inflammation, fights off bacteria and helps fend off free radicals that damage our cells. Some studies have shown that it may help regulate your blood sugar levels. It is very low in calories and sugar free, it’s inexpensive and can be added to shakes, smoothies, coffee, tea and sprinkle some on some sliced apples for a yummy snack.
Cumin, a member of the parsley family, cumin is derived from the plant known as Cuminum cyminum, and is native to India. It’s a great spice to add to cooking but it also aids digestion, boosts your immune system, and is packed with vital nutrients necessary for our bodies. Cumin has been used in traditional medicine for many years due to its medicinal properties and ability to cure infections because of their antibacterial and antiseptic properties. Also, high in Vitamin C, it contains essential nutrients that fight inflammation, lowers blood pressure, reduces the risk of a stroke and fights stress that can lead to cancer.
Next up, another favorite, Turmeric, again a great spice to help with inflammation in our bodies, chock full of antioxidants. It’s also another great source of curcumin which studies have shown may help ease pain and could lower your chances of heart attacks. It’s an Asian spice, found in dishes like curry. The major active principle is curcumin. The health benefits of turmeric include relief from joint pain, such as Gout, rheumatoid arthritis, reduced joint swelling, and greater range of motion when used regularly, it is also a member of the ginger family, our next spice.
Ginger, some research and studies also show that ginger has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and could possibly play a role in preventing diseases like cancer. Ginger is well known for its digestive virtues thanks to the active ingredient gingerol. This stimulates the production of bile and digestive enzymes. It seems to have a calming effect on your stomach lining, which aids in easing nausea and upset stomach. Ginger is commonly a root and you can shave it or grate it and add it to foods or even tea. Ginger can be taken in different forms, such as capsules, ground ginger powder, herbal teas, fresh ginger, crystallized ginger or syrup. More studies have recently shown that ginger supplements can help reduce inflammation in the colon, in turn potentially reducing the risk of colon cancer.
Sea Salt comes from the mountains across Asia and is mined by hand and is considered a natural salt. They are mineral packed crystals which formed naturally within the earth and have a pink, white and red color to it. Natural salts have plenty of iodine, so it doesn’t need to be artificially added in and is said to be the purest form of sea salt. The reason why Himalayan Sea Salt is better for you is it increases hydration, regulates the water inside and outside of cells, helps prevent muscle cramping, aids in metabolism functioning, helps strengthen bones, helps the intestines absorb nutrients, improves circulation and helps remove toxins.
Adding a little spice daily to your diet can benefit you more than you think. Not only will it add in flavoring our foods but as you can see they are packed with anti-inflammatory agents that will help ease pain, and also flood our bodies with powerful antioxidants. Don’t just walk by the spice aisle anymore, explore it and see what you can find. It just might lead you to better living.
Rick Bellanti is a wellness columnist and is on a journey himself to lose 240lbs, and has lost 160lbs since the start of 2015. If you have any questions or comments, please post them to his Getting Healthy with Rick Bellanti Facebook page and once a month he will address a few of the topics here.