The enviornment we live in is so challenging and fast paced, that we are bound to experience some amount of inflammation due to external or internal stressors in our life. These stressors can negatively impact our wellbeing.
Some amount of inflammation is healthy, it helps the body fight infection and helps with tissue repair. However, when it is excessive and chronic our body manifests signs and symptoms indicating its time to change our lifestyle and nutrition. It’s time to slow down.
Whenever in doubt I always begin with implementing some changes in the way one eats and nourishes the body. It is is always easier to make small changes in a new regime to make it more sustainable. Most importantly, eliminate all processed foods without any exception, alcohol, dairy and gluten and focus on increasing green vegetables, fruits, clean and organic lean meats, high quality fats and lots of water.
Here are 5 anti-inflammatory spices one must include :
Ginger has been used as a digestive and medicinal herb for years as a part of asian cuisine. Ginger has a potent anti-inflammatory compound known as gingerols. It has been known to alleviate gastrointestinal distress and help effectively with pain related aliments such as arthritis. Several studies have confirmed its role in reducing inflammation in the body.
I use it most of vegetable stir fries, grate some in soups, curries and broth. A great addition to spike up a smoothie or green juice. I also grate some in water and make a tea to drink after a meal. Very warming and uplifting and of course aids in digestion when taken post a meal.
Turmeric has an age old history in India around 2500 years, known for its potent healing uses in Aryuveda. The plant belongs to the ginger family. Curcumin the spice in turmeric has been used for centuries for relieving pain and reducing inflammation in skin and muscles. This is a favorite spice besides the fact that it is a staple in every Indian kitchen- for me it’s important use is in consuming it for pain relief as I am allergic to all anti- inflammatory drugs.
Joseph Maroon, the noted University of Pittsburgh Medical Center neurosurgeon, says he uses curcumin supplements as part of his health regimen as an ultra-marathon runner. He was lead author of a 2006 study, “Natural anti-inflammatory agents for pain relief in athletes,” that concludes that “Curcumin’s therapeutic effects are considered comparable to pharmaceutical nonsteroidal medications … but with a major difference in that this compound is relatively nontoxic and free of side effects.” He also recommends the use of curcumin and fish oil to his patients with pain and inflammation from degenerative conditions of the spine, neck and lower back. Read more here.
Turmeric can be used as a spice in almost all your meals. I also enjoy making a recovery turmeric tea which is my go to drink post crossfit or any endurance workout.
Now, go add some turmeric to your food and get healing.
Cinnamon is a part of a wild tree and the extract comes from the bark. This delish and flavorful spice has been shown to have some properties that reduce inflammation. There are also several studies to show that cinnamon helps regulate blood sugar levels.
A little goes a long way. I easily add some to soups, teas, smoothies, pancakes and baked goodies.
Cloves are the unopened flower buds of the clove tree. Cloves are known to be the richest in antioxidants compared to other spices. Cloves have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. The spice contains a highly beneficial essential oil called eugenol which has anesthetic and analgesic properties and hence used in dental treatments as well. The spice also contains a good amount of minerals- potassium, magnesium, iron, selenium and manganese. Clove oil is also used for increasing blood flow and helping ease pain for arthritis. When using as a spice small amount goes a long way. It is a warming spice and I use it along with other spices to brew a comforting tea for the soul.
Another favorite and comforting spice, the aroma of which reminds me of homemade desserts made by my mom. It has a sweet and earthy aroma. Cardamom is again rich in several electrolytes minerals- potassium, magnesium and calcium. It is also high in iron and maganese- minerals which aid cellular metabolism . Iron helps oxygenate tissues and maganese helps with bone health. Like ginger its also beneficial in detoxification and aiding with digestion. Cardamom oil helps with muscle aches and inflamed nerves and joints.
How you can use it :
Cardamom comes in whole pods which can be grinded to powder form.
Sprinkle some cardamom in your breakfast oatmeal- it has a sweet earthy enhancing flavor.
Add some to your smoothies
In baked goods
In tea- chai