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Spices, Herbs, and Your Health

Spices, Herbs, and Your Health

 Everything we put into our body affects our health in some way. Food, water, sugar, drugs, alcohol, and even the air we breathe influence our body’s health and its regulation of homeostasis. Understanding that even the smallest additions, substitutions, or deletions in our diet can have an affect over our whole body creates healthier habits and more conscious lifestyle choices. We often forget that the seasonings we add to our food can impact our health in exponential ways. A simple practice you can incorporate the next time you prepare food is to add spices and herbs. The addition of certain spices and herbs to your diet can not only improve your health, but also the taste of your food. In recent years, salt intake has been emphasized, as excessive amounts can lead to high blood pressure. But have you considered the effects of other spices in your food?

 

Garlic: Garlic is filled with beneficial nutrients for our body. It contains amino acids (the building blocks of protein), vitamins, minerals, and flavonoids. It contains antibacterial properties and helps to balance blood sugar levels, lower LDL cholesterol, and lower blood pressure by vasodilating our blood vessels. It also plays a role in boosting our immune system by fighting cancer forming cells and helps detox our body from heavy metals.

 

Turmeric: Most of turmeric’s benefits stem from its yellow pigment, a phytochemical called curcumin. Curcumin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, making it beneficial in the prevention of cancer and the eradication of arthritic pain. It also plays a role in protecting our arteries from plaque buildup.

 

Ginger: Ginger is commonly known to promote digestion and enhance appetite. It also acts to stimulate circulation and cleanse the colon. It is often used as remedy for nausea and contains  anti-inflammatory properties that aid in the protection of both the the liver and stomach.

 

Cayenne: Cayenne holds a lot of spice but has got a lot of power to it too. It is an anti-inflammatory that improves blood circulation, digestion, and metabolism. It has also been shown to reduce the sensation of pain by altering a compound known as “substance P” that is responsible for the transfer of pain to the brain in the nervous system. Cayenne aids our immune system and can help fight colds, sinus infections, and sore throats.

 

Sage: Sage supports oral health and benefits brain health through improved memory and focus. It has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties.  

 

Cumin: Cumin promotes digestion and aids in the treatment of anemia due to its high iron content. It fights fatigue, symptoms of bronchitis, asthma, and insomnia.

 

Thyme: Thyme is a strong antiseptic and anti-fungal that boosts the immune system, improves vision, reduces fever, and aids in the relief of respiratory ailments such as asthma and bronchitis. It also enhances blood circulation and provides stress relief.

 

Rosemary: Rosemary is a strong anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and anti-cancer herb. It stimulates proper function of the immune system, fights free radicals, and enhances memory and brain health.

 

Cinnamon: Cinnamon has been shown to enhance the digestion of fats and lower blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. It can also play a role in improving peripheral circulation and relieving diarrhea and nausea.

 

Paprika: Paprika contains high amounts of iron to aid blood oxygen levels. It lowers blood pressure, stimulates digestion, and supports both eye and skin health.

 

Black pepper: Black pepper helps the absorption of nutrients in our food when consumed together.

 

 

Taylor Donald

B.S. Biochemistry, Exercise Physiology

University of Miami