5 Daily Spices to Boost Your Immunity
Part 2/4: “Immune Boosting Practices”
There is a lot we as a modern society can learn from ancient regions that practiced holistic medicine, and thrived among capricious environments. Blue zones in particular are great examples of how to live healthier, longer, more vibrant, well balanced lives. Blue zones are categorized as areas of the world that produce some of the most abundantly healthy, long living (centenarians) and fulfilled communities and individuals in the world.
These regions have plenty of lifestyle habits in common, from a great sense of purpose, eating organic foods, plenty of movement, strong sense of community, to a rich variety of spices and nutrient properties in their diet.
The more research I do on spices and powders, the more fascinated I become with their health properties. Regions, like those of the Blue Zones are living examples. These spices and powders are not only natural remedies our ancestors used to treat wounds and illnesses, but continue today to be utilized as natural mind and body healers and viewed as assistant remedies to fight diseases. They do this by reducing inflammation, alleviating hypertension, minimizing cancerous symptoms, reducing tumourgenic risk factors, improving metabolic syndromes, to being incredibly antioxidant rich, thus protecting our cells from potential harm.
Below are a list of 5 common powders and spices we can use everyday to help reduce all the negative symptoms mentioned above, thus boosting our bodies immunity to fight against harmful free radicals and potential diseases and viruses.
Cocoa is an incredibly antioxidant rich powder, containing a particularly high degree of flavonoids – a class of phytonutrients – that helps fight against inflammation, as well as improve cognitive functioning and blood sugar and blood pressure regulation.
This means it’s good to eat chocolate?! Well, not so fast. Cocoa is found in darker chocolates, that are high in authentic cocoa beans, not the types of chocolates found in the convenience store filled with sugars, oils and with minimal true cocoa effect. The recommended minimum amount of cocoa to constitute chocolate being healthy (i.e. antioxidant rich) is 70%. Move over milk chocolate, dark chocolate is the new sheriff in town.
Besides the palatable taste of cocoa, potentially the greatest benefit of ingesting cocoa is the polyphenols this powder contains, which possess anticancer effects related to this powerful antioxidant.
How to use: Cocoa is great in smoothies, oat meal bowls, and can even be found in particular coffees and teas.
2. Turmeric / Curcumin
Tumeric is a very popular spice in both the scientific and medical community, largely due it being a major source of curcumin, one of the most anti-inflammatory powders we can consume, which is great for anyone who exercises (hopefully all of us) and those dealing with chronic, lingering issues in our muscles, ligaments and joints – basically that means it’s good for everyone.
Aside from curcumins rich anti-inflammatory benefits, is also heavily antioxidant dense, thus being a great resource for metabolic syndrome and pain, helping to level out insulin sensitivity while also being used as a resource to combat arthritis, and help reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
Unfortunately curcumin has been shown to have poor bioavailability. Fortunately, piperine, a major player in black pepper, has been shown to increase curcumin’s bioavailbility by a staggering 2000% when paired together. Curcumin is also fat-soluable, meaning its effects are connected to being ingested with a fat source. Mixing with eggs and olive oil, or fatty rich foods would be most recommened.
How to use it: Use it in smoothies (blended with a fat – almond butter, coconut oil) stir frys, as a spice for soups, lightly topped on eggs, and by of course eating curry based foods, which are heavily spiced with tumeric. **500-1000 mg RDI
Garlic, the perfect first date spice…okay, maybe a second date. Apart from it’s strong smell, garlic is a phenomenal addition to one’s diet for a handful of reasons. Yes, garlic is technically a a vegetable, but in this particular case we are looking at it as a spice, as it is generally used as such.
Garlic has a host of benefits, most notably it’s immune boosting effect. The bioactive compounds found in garlic have shown to have positive effects on obesity, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disorders, gastric ulcer, and even cancer. All diseases effected by a compromised or weak immune system.
How to use it: as a whole grain pasta dressing, as a seasoning for chicken and lean ground beef; roast it in a frying pan with your stir frys or with your eggs in the morning
Who doesn’t love gingerbread cookies, or a gingerbread house? I know this doesn’t quite constitute what we mean by adding more ginger into your diet, but the overall point remains the same, ginger is awesome!
Ginger has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries, from treating cold like symptoms to weak muscles and bones.
I personally love ginger as an ingredient in my tea, with a teaspoon of honey mixed in for added sweetness and benefits. Apart from ginger being an awesome ingredient in a warm relaxing cup of tea, it too has a great deal of protective compounds.
“Gingerol is the main bioactive compound in ginger, responsible for much of its medicinal properties. It has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects”Wang, S., Zhang, C., Yang, G., & Yang, Y. (2014). Biological properties of 6-gingerol: a brief review. Natural product communications, 9(7), 1027–1030.
Recently ginger has been shown to contain properties that can be extended to anticancer, chemotherapy induce vomiting, as well as improvements in fatigue and used as a digestive enhancer. Arthritis patients have also been suggested to consume ginger, largley based around its anti-inflammatory effect.
Pain, metabolic syndromes and nausea are also positively impacted from the use of ginger. (what can’t this spice do!)
Next time your told to put that gingerbread cookie down, you can recite all the benefits this simple diverse spice has to offer... (the sugar in the cookie doesn’t help your case, but you get the idea). Consume more ginger.
How to use it: In teas, as a morning or afternoon shot – mixed with real lemon juice (my girlfriend created this for us), and as a spice for Ginger chicken
Cinnamon is arguably right up there in terms of favourite tasting spices. Jerry Seinfeld would even argue, “that cinnamon takes a back seat to no babka. People love cinnamon. It should be on tables and restaurants along with salt and pepper”. All Seinfeld references aside, cinnamon is one of the most flavorsome spices of them all and comes with a variety of immune boosting effects.
The health benefits are just an added bonus to the savory spice, and should be no chore adding to ones’ diet. Cinnamon is shown to contain anti-inflammatory properties as well as the abiity to increase nitric oxide producton, which helps increase healthy blood flow (related to improved exercise performance, labido, and lower blood pressure).
This delectable spice is also an antioxidant and can improve insulin resistance, lowering blood sugar spikes and hypertension. Improving insulin resistance also correlates to alzheimer induced changes in the brain and a potential preventative measure to acquiring this disease altogether.
“Cinnamon and in particular, cinnamaldehyde seem to be effective and safe approaches for treatment and prevention of AD onset and/or progression.”Momtaz, S., Hassani, S., Khan, F., Ziaee, M., & Abdollahi, M. (2018). Cinnamon, a promising prospect towards Alzheimer’s disease. Pharmacological research, 130, 241–258. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phrs.2017.12.011
How to use it: Add cinnamon on oatmeal, yogurt, cottage cheese, smoothies and teas. It also goes great with fruit like apples
I hope you enjoyed this article. These spices are an easy way to boost ones immunity and “spice up” ones life 😉