Spices: The forgotten healers?

Spices were once revered by Emperors in much the same way as gold, but over many hundreds of years, have since dropped off the radar and nowadays the most use your spice jars get is probably in a weekly curry.

They are readily available and generally inexpensive to buy but seldom used by most people.

In other parts of the world, spices are often the fundamental element to a dish, with their health benefits being widely known and accepted.

There is good reason as to why we should be including them in our own diets including the various benefits for our health and the culinary enhancement they bring to the food we eat.

 

Ginger


Ginger is a root indigenous to southern, China known to generate a warming effect thus making it an excellent promoter of metabolism, increasing energy and improving circulation.

Ginger is probably most well-regarded for its anti-inflammatory properties making it a must for anyone with inflammatory disorders such as arthritis and eczema.

There is also evidence to suggest that it may be beneficial in the case of Alzheimer’s disease, which is associated with inflammatory markers.

Ginger can also be helpful for: people suffering from nausea in particular with morning sickness, soothing a sore throat or cough and for reducing flatulence and stomach cramping.

With a list this long, it is a wonder why more of us aren’t using ginger as a natural aid to common ailments.

The best ways to enjoy ginger are:

  • Slices of fresh ginger root steeped in hot water with a lemon or a little honey to taste. 
  • Grated fresh root into stir-fries, porridge or curries. 
  • Taken in supplemental form to be able to obtain the high dose around every 4 hours.
  • Consult with a health practitioner before taking.

 

Turmeric


Turmeric is similar to ginger in that it comes from a root and boasts anti-inflammatory properties.

It has long been hailed as a healing food in both Indian and Chinese medicine systems.

Curcumin is the chemical compound in turmeric which has been proven to aid with many digestive disorders including inflammatory bowel disease and ulcerative colitis.

As well as this, due to the potent antioxidant effect curcumin has, there is positive research to support its help in the rheumatoid arthritis at reducing swelling and pain.

Turmeric is currently being researched at great length with regards to many diseases and the potential health benefits are vast.

To up your intake of turmeric try these*: 

  • Add slices of fresh turmeric root, fresh ginger, and lemon to a teapot and allow allow to steep for 10 mins in boiled water. Serve in the morning for a cleansing, energising start to the day. 
  • Add 1 tbsp of turmeric to a mango, coconut and lime smoothie. 
  • Juice 1 inch of turmeric root, 1 inch ginger root and squeeze of 1/2 lemon with a pinch of cayenne pepper. Drink as a shot in the morning for a metabolism boosting tonic. 

*Take care when using fresh turmeric, the yellow pigment is a potent dye and will stain your hands, surfaces and clothes if you are not careful! 

 

Cinnamon


If you are looking for a natural way to balance your blood sugar levels then cinnamon may just be the answer.

Cinnamon as we know it is obtained from the bark of a tree and either bought in the quill form (dried roll of bark) or ground into a powder.

Egyptians used to use cinnamon to preserve mummies due to its strong anti-microbial and anti-fungal actions.

In Chinese medicine, cinnamon is used to relief nausea, painful menses symptoms and diarrhoea.

It contains the mineral chromium, known to help regulate and stabilise blood sugar levels; there is much research being undertaken with positive evidence coming out in support of the use of chromium for diabetics.

Start by introducing cinnamon into your diet in one of these ways:

  • Stir in up to 1 tbsp cinnamon to your porridge, yoghurt or smoothie in the morning to aid with blood sugar regulation at the beginning of the day. 
  • Add 1 tsp of cinnamon and 1 tsp of raw cacao to a cup of alternative milk and heat for a warming drink to be enjoyed any time of the day. 
  • Add 1 tsp of cinnamon to a tomato stew along with ground cumin and coriander to create a Moroccan inspired flavour. 

There are so many other spices with wonderful positive health benefits; black pepper, cardamon, saffron, just to name a few so do some research, experiment and enjoy the wonders of using spices everyday. 


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