Spice Up Your Health

Spices can do so much more than simply enhance the flavour of your food. These aromatic tropical plants are also bursting with health-boosting power: from protecting your wellbeing with their potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to relieving colds, stimulating the circulation, soothing your stomach and even saving your skin.

Don't forget to add a little spice - not only do spices enhance the flavour of your food, they can boost your health too.

The use of spices for their therapeutic properties is nothing new. They've been used for centuries by the Chinese and in the Indian practice of Ayurveda for healing and protecting the body from disease, long before they were used in cooking. Originating from the aromatic part of a tropical plant (the root, bark, flower or seed) spices are the perfect way to add a healthy punch to your diet without any extra fat, calories, or salt.

​Spices may be kitchen cupboard staples but these pungent and aromatic plants pack a health punch too. Here are my top three spice stars

Turmeric

This bright orange-yellow spice is not only a mainstay of Asian cooking but it can also do you good. Turmeric can help boost mood, relief pain and help lower blood sugar levels

    Ginger

    Ginger, with its distinctive warm fiery flavour, is known for its stimulating effect on the body. It also has a decongesting and calming effect, helping to boost digestive fluids and neutralise acids.

    Cinnamon

    With its delicate aromatic taste, cinnamon is a powerful tonic and stimulant. It is rich in antioxidants that help protect the body  and reduce inflammation.

    Spice up your health with - Turmeric

    Turmeric comes as a fresh root and also as a dried powder and contains an active ingredient, called curcumin, that acts as a powerful anti-inflammatory in the body.

    According to nutritionist Shona Wilkinson: 'In many studies, curcumin’s anti-inflammatory effects have been comparable to prescription drugs but with no side effects. Therefore turmeric could be incredibly important for health conditions such as IBS and rheumatoid arthritis which have inflammation as one of their main issues.’

    spice up your health with pukka tumeric gold

    'In many studies, curcumin’s anti-inflammatory effects have been comparable to prescription drugs but with no side effects.'

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    spice up your health with turmeric

    ​The golden wonder of the spice world is also rich in iron, can help boost mood, relieve pain and lower blood sugar levels. ‘Curcumin acts as a powerful antioxidant, helping the body to deal with free radicals that increase the risk of disease and also the signs of ageing,’ says Rob Hobson, Head of Nutrition at Healthspan.

    'To ease a specific health condition it would be worth investing in a supplement. As there is no toxicity associated with turmeric, you can also enjoy it in your daily diet.'

    Use:

    • Turmeric is perfect for adding flavour to curries and rice dishes.
    • Combine it with black pepper to help the body absorb the curcumin more efficiently.
    • Try a 'golden latte' by adding a teaspoon of powdered turmeric to a mug of warm milk or a nut milk such as almond or cashew.
    • Add to hot water with some lemon and ginger for a warming tea.

    Try:

    • Pukka Turmeric Gold Tea, £2.49 for 20 sachets 

    https://www.pukkaherbs.com


    ​Spice up your health with - Ginger

    ​This underrated superfood has powerful active compounds called gingerols that contain strong  anti-inflammatory properties.

    Studies have shown these compounds can help ease muscle aches and the pain caused by osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

    Ginger aids digestion, boosting digestive fluids and neutralising acids, helping to settle the stomach. 

    This versatile spice has a very calming effect on the body and can help a wide range of health problems from mild indigestion and flatulence, to nausea and vomiting. 

    It is also the go-to natural remedy for treating nausea caused by pregnancy, chemotherapy and motion sickness. 

    Ginger is the go-to natural remedy for treating nausea caused by pregnancy, chemotherapy and motion sickness.

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    spice up your health with lime-ginger

    This warming spice is also the perfect way to kickstart a sluggish circulation, ease a sore throat or effectively clear sinuses and congestion as part of a mild cold.

    Use:

    • The fresh root, grated or squeezed or powdered ginger.
    • To prevent muscle soreness after strenuous exercise, simply grate 4 tablespoons of ginger and wrap in muslin, tied in to a bag. Place the ginger bag under the hot tap as you run a warm bath. Then soak away any aches and strains.
    • Add finely chopped ginger to some boiling water for a stomach-settling tea. Combine with a teaspoon of Manuka honey to ease a sore throat.
    • Finely chop some fresh ginger and mix with sea salt for an invigorating, pre-shower body scrub.

    Try:

    • Elemis Lime & Ginger Salt Glow, £37, 490g.

    http://www.elemis.com


    ​Spice up your health with - Cinnamon

    ​This bark-come-spice, with its delicate but distinctive aroma, immediately conjures up Christmas - when it is used in everything from festive candles to mulled wine. However, this special spice isn’t just for Christmas - it’s for life.

    Cinnamon, which comes from the bark of a tropical evergreen tree, is a nutritional powerhouse. It is a source of iron, calcium and manganese as well as being rich in antioxidants that help protect the body from damage from free radicals and reduce inflammation.

    spice up your health with cinnamon

    The main active component of cinnamon, cinnamaldehyde has antifungal and antibacterial properties which can help prevent infection.

    Cinnamon can help keep arteries healthy, manage blood sugar levels, reduce insulin resistance and lower levels of total cholesterol

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    It is also acts as a tonic and a stimulant warming the whole system and helping to combat fatigue and listlessness as a result of an immune system lowered by a bout of flu or other viral infections.

    Use:

    • Rolled bark, sold as cinnamon sticks, cinnamon oil or powdered bark.
    • Sprinkle ground cinnamon on your morning toast, yogurt, cereal or porridge. Add a cinnamon stick to some warm milk for a soothing, sweet aromatic bedtime drink.
    • For main meals, use this pungent spice to liven up veggies such as roasted carrots or sweet potatoes.
    • Add a couple of drops of cinnamon oil to a carrier oil, such as almond oil, for an invigorating muscle rub or add a couple of drops to a steam inhalation to fight off colds and ease congestion.

    Try:

    • Neal’s Yard Organic Cinnamon Essential Oil, £7.20, 10ml

    http://www.nealsyardremedies.com


    DISCLAIMER: The material presented on this website is not intended to replace the advice and recommendations from a qualified doctor or other health practitioner. Always consult your doctor or health practitioner if you have any health concerns and before embarking on any health, fitness or wellbeing programme. See my full Disclaimer here

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