With changing lifestyles, we have become increasingly vulnerable to diseases like hypertension, high cholesterol and blood pressure that have long term effects. We choose to depend on antibiotics to battle these diseases. However, small changes in our diet can help reduce risks of common lifestyle diseases. In the west, we are unaccustomed to include a lot of spices in our food, but here’s why it is advisable that we start doing that.
Spices have been found to have the potential to reduce chronic inflammation that result in the long term lifestyle diseases. Here is a list of five such spices that have the anti-disease properties.
1. Turmeric: Turmeric is the most common spice used in Indian curries. It has the anti-inflammatory agent called curcumin that helps fight chronic inflammation. Turmeric helps reduce digestion problems like irritable bowel syndrome (IBD), arthritis, dental procedures and other injuries. It also helps cure colds and is a natural antiseptic. It helps against skin conditions as well. Recent research by Monash University has found that turmeric has the potential to boost memory among patients with diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Other studies are underway to understand turmeric’s ability to reduce risks of cancer.
2. Ginger: Ginger is a highly potent root that needs to be included in our everyday diet. The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Centre has found that ginger can destroy ovarian cancer cells. Destruction of cancer cells is called ‘apoptosis’. Simultaneously, ginger prevents body cells from destroying themselves, and this process of destruction is called ‘autophagy’. Another study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology shows that consuming ginger roots reduced chronic inflammation of the colon and intestines, thereby reducing risks of colon cancer. Ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties also help fight other inflammations like arthritis as well as digestive problems like heartburns. Other benefits of ginger include healing a cough and sore throat, congestion, headaches and migraines, muscle discomfort, menstrual cramps and other digestive problems.
3. Cinnamon: Cinnamon is believed to have been used by the Romans to increase appetite and relieve digestive problems. Limited use of cinnamon in food is beneficial in regulating blood sugar levels by controlling post-meal sugar level from spiking. Cinnamon also has antimicrobial properties as well as anti-inflammatory properties that help fight infections and inflammations.
4. Red Chilli Pepper: Red chilli pepper includes cayenne, crushed red pepper or paprika. These peppers contain a pungent compound called ‘capsaicin’ which is responsible for the health benefits. Not only does this particular spice add a load of flavour to your food, but it also enhances metabolism, increases satiety as well as stimulates fat loss. Capsaicin is also capable of reducing risks of intestinal ulcers by stimulating the stomach to fight ulcer-causing bacteria. Red chilli peppers also help lower the bad cholesterol in blood and prevent long-term heart disease risks.
5. Parsley: Parsley contains flavonoids that are anti-inflammatory in nature. It is a rich source of vitamins C and A, which help to reduce risks of atherosclerosis, diabetes, asthma as well as colon cancer. It also helps against arthritis and in maintaining a healthy heart. Parsley contains volatile oils, especially myristicin, which have been found to reduce tumour formation in lungs of animals.
With diseases on the rise, our increased dependence on antibiotics has also been increasing. Antibiotics, however, have harmful long-term effects by making the body’s immune system dependent on medication. A natural way of curing diseases is always advisable since it has no side-effects and is also cost effective. The need of the hour is to devise a way of life that is healthy and safe, and essential spices are the answer to such a life.
Vineetha Reddy is a regular practitioner and adviser of everything related to nutrition, fitness, health and wellness. She has also begun to write and contribute to this knowledge ecosystem. She strongly believes that the organic food you find in your pantry provides the best benefits for good health. Follow me for my best ideas and solutions Twitter.