Health is the Spice of Life, but could Spice be the Life of Health?
What you add to the spice rack in your kitchen could actually provide you with a cornerstone for health and healing. Spices come from seeds, fruits, roots and the bark of plants and are used in dried form, which means they also have a high concentration of essential oils, adding to their powerful healing properties. The main uses of spices are for flavoring, coloring or preserving, but as we study their origins, historical uses and scientific properties, it is clear to see even more benefits.
Spices date back in history to the BC era, as medicinal, religious and mystical offerings. The Spice Trade of the Middle East began with cinnamon and pepper. Ancient Egyptians used spices for embalming, further increasing their prized value and association with wealthy status. In medieval medicine, spices were said to balance the “humor” of food and create a basis for good health. In the dark winter months, when fresh food wasn’t plentiful, spices added more variety and taste to mundane food.
Citing history and anecdotal evidence that self-care and health-care originated with natural treatments and cures, there is a lot we can learn from the ancient abundance of nature’s simple gifts. Back in the day, before pharmaceuticals, we had plants.
Optimal health begins in our gut and digestive tract and by reducing overall body inflammation. According to a recent survey as reported by Fox News, “a whopping 74% of Americans are living with digestive discomfort, with common symptoms due to minor imbalance, but possibly an indication of more serious health conditions.”
Spices for Digestion and Health
Turmeric: Dating back thousands of years with origins in Indian cooking, turmeric is a main ingredient in curry. Turmeric is part of the ginger family and contains an extract called curcumin which contains its greatest healing power. It can help reduce the body’s absorption of fat and also has potential for: reducing cholesterol, lowering blood sugar in diabetics, relieving symptoms of arthritis, helping support liver function and reducing inflammation.
Coriander Seed: Noted as a cooling spice, particularly focused on easing heartburn and relieving gas and bloating in the lower intestinal tract.
Cardamom: Helps make food easier to digest while also enhancing flavor. It is a key ingredient in Chai Tea and also helps to neutralize the stimulating effects of caffeine. The alkalizing effect can help counteract body acidity.
Cumin: A powerfully pungent spice, and noted as the most effective for assisting with maintaining good bacteria in the gut. Cumin aids in digestion and helps with detoxification in the intestinal system.
Fennel Seed: A spice to support healthy and clear skin from the inside and out by keeping the lymph system in balance. Also aids with symptoms of stomach cramping and nausea.
Ginger Root: Known as the “universal spice” – calms digestion and helps the body assimilate the nutrients in our food. Also noted as a weight loss aid.
Cayenne and Black Pepper: Metabolism boosters, increases circulation. Cinnamon: Digestive aid, helping to break down carbohydrates.
As you can see, there are many benefits to using spices: digestive aids, protection against bad bacteria, prevention of a range of illness and not to mention, spicy dishes are fun, flavorful and filling, perhaps helping you to not overeat and enjoy your food more.
It’s time to spice up your life and take control of your health, starting in the kitchen. Take it from history: spices are wealth and wealth is health!
About the Author: Beth Mincher, CHHC offers customized health coaching in Wilmington, NC to fit all wellness goals. She offers face-to-face and online health coaching sessions. Learn more about health coaching with Beth now!
Beth is not a licensed physician and does not provide medical advice. Information and statements in this article have not been evaluated by the FDA and it is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease