We mostly focus on fruits and vegetables to gain proper nutrition, but how about placing our focus on herbs and spices? Instead of looking for food options which are less in calories or for “organic food”, it could be a useful game changer if there is an addition of spice onto your dish. Not only does it contribute for additional flavoring, but it can also boost your health at the same time!
Here are some delicious herbs and spices that have powerful health benefits, supported by research:
Turmeric, also known as Curcuma longa, is a yellow-colored spice that is founded in most Asian foods such as curry. It contains a chemical called curcumin that has anti-inflammatory responses and can ease pain. This spice is a member of the ginger family and is a major ingredient for curry.
Positive health benefits for turmeric include:
- Reduces aggravation in arthritis patients
- Eases headaches and itching
- Reduces colds and fevers
- Relieves pain on skin and bruising
- Anti- Inflammatory properties
- Digestive healing agent
- Reduces high cholesterol
Other positive skin benefits include:
- Clears acne scars
- Reduces oil secretion
- Heals cuts and skin irritation
- Whitens teeth
- Fights aging and wrinkles
Turmeric currently has no known harmful side effects and is safe to consume by mouth or skin. One tablespoon is about 29 calories and is one of the most nutritionally rich herbs that contain protein, vitamin C, calcium, iron, sodium, and other nutrients. It is rich in antioxidants and accelerates metabolic rate.
It is highly versatile and there are several ways to eat and drink turmeric, such as tea, smoothies, or eggs. You can just add it for a touch of flavor and also for good health! There are special precautions for taking turmeric during pregnancy; in those specific cases, it is best to consult a doctor beforehand.
Cardamom, also known as Elettaria cardamomum, is both a herb and a spice used in foods and medicine. It is originally from India and is ranked third from being one of the most expensive spices. This is found as a small pod with black seeds inside and can be used in desserts, beverages, and spicy dishes.
Positive health benefits for cardamom include:
- Relief of cardiovascular tissue
- Protects gastrointestinal tract
- Controls cholesterol levels
- Improves blood circulation
- Alleviates throat problems
- Helps with teeth and gum infections
- Reduces high blood pressure
- Helps with congestion
Cardamom is rich in vitamins, thiamine, copper, iron, zinc, and other micronutrients. It protects heart health and is believed to possess anti-depressant properties. It could help to get rid of hiccups and is used also as a breath freshener!
Cinnamon has existed for thousands of years and is a highly delicious spice with lots of medicinal properties. It is made by cutting the stems off cinnamon trees and is then grounded into a powdery form. It is loaded with antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties too.
Positive health benefits for cardamom include:
- Lowers risk of heart disease
- Lowers blood sugar levels
- Improves sensitivity to the hormone insulin
- Has an anti-diabetic effect
- Inhibits the loss of neuronal cells
- Fights against bacterial and fungal infections
- Fights against HIV virus
An effective dose is usually 0.5-2 teaspoons per day. It is a very popular spice found in all sorts of recipes and baked goods. Cinnamon has a proven effect to help in lowering the blood sugar levels by 10-29% in diabetic patients, but make sure it is not taken in excess! Although it is healthy, there are possible side effects from consuming too much cinnamon and could be toxic.
Ginger is a flowering plant from China and is one of the healthiest spices loaded withnutrients and other bioactive compounds. It has an extensive history of aiding with digestion and reducing nausea, along with other medicinal properties.
Positive health benefits for ginger include:
- Prevents nausea and moving sickness
- Reduces muscle pain and soreness
- Lowers blood sugar levels
- Treats chronic indigestion
- Reduces menstrual pain
- Lowers cholesterol level
- Contains anti-cancer properties
- Protects against Alzheimer’s disease
- Fights against infections and growth of bacteria
It could be consumed in a dried, powdered, oil, processed foods and cosmetic form. In 100 grams of ginger, there are 79 calories and contains lots of iron, sodium potassium, and vitamin C. There are no known side effects from consuming too much ginger, but is recommended not to take more than 4 grams a day. It is possible to obtain acid reflux or diarrhea due to high intake, and people who are pregnant should refrain from excessive consumption as well.
Cumin, also known as Cuminum cyminum, is a flowering plant where the seeds are used as a condiment or spice in Indian and Asian countries. It has a highly strong aroma, so only a small amount of its essential oils are needed to keep you healthy.
Positive health benefits for cumin include:
- Regulates digestion
- Improves blood flow for a healthy menstrual cycle
- Boosts immunity
- Treats asthma and bronchitis
- Protects skin against fungal infection
- Treats insomnia
- Lowers cholesterol
It provides an excellent source of iron, manganese, vitamin B1, calcium, and phosphorous. One teaspoon would suffice for your daily nutrient requirements and has shown to be useful for weight maintenance. It’s mostly used in curries, stews, and soups, and even used as a scent!
Excess intake of cumin could have severe side effects such as blood clotting and heartburns. Nausea, stomach pain, and dizziness are also other possible side effects. Though cumin has powerful health improvements, just a teaspoon a day will suffice!
Rosemary is an herb from the Mediterranean that is used for culinary and cosmetic purposes. This is a perennial plant that can live for 2 years and is mostly used to aid in digestion and prevents brain aging. It is packed with iron, calcium, and vitamin B-6 and is typically used as a powder or dried leaves.
Positive health benefits for rosemary include:
- Rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds
- Improves digestion
- Protects against brain damage
- Prevents brain aging
- Protects macular degeneration
Rosemary should be taken in low doses because higher intake may have some serious side effects. It is generally not advised for pregnant women and can affect the activity if taken with other medications.
The bottom line is that whichever herbs or spices you decide to use, they all come with excellent health benefits. Most of them are found to have anti-inflammatory responses while packed with antioxidants and nutrients but should be taken at a reasonable amount. They are completely versatile and could be used in most forms such as beverages, flavoring, and cosmetics!
Studies Show That Healthy Food Can Help Combat Depression
The most common medical solutions to treat depression include antidepressants and SSRIs. However, rather than turning to medication, changing the way you eat can help you combat depression. Research has shown that a nutritious diet not only prevents depression but also treats it once it has started.
Epidemiologist Felice Jacka led research that examined whether or not diet plays a role in improving mood. In a group of 67 people with depression, one group was being treated for antidepressants, another group received psychotherapy, and some individuals were treated with both. Half of the individuals were advised by a dietician regarding how to incorporate a healthy diet, while the other half was given social support. After 12 weeks, the researchers found that those that received nutritional counseling showed significantly happier moods compared to those who received social support.
With other studies showing similar results, we have seen the genesis of nutritional psychiatry. This discipline, pioneered by Jacka, aims to demonstrate the role of diet in mental health and to develop nutrition-based strategies to combat brain disorders. Traditional medical education generally does not consist of a well-rounded insight into nutrition; therefore, fields such as nutritional psychiatry are working on adding another layer to medical curriculum because food can apply to other parts of the body. For example, this research study notes that a bad diet affects our microbiome, which consists of gut bacteria that are housed inside of our intestines. Gut bacteria essentially create molecules that affect the production of serotonin in the brain.
You might be asking: what foods can I eat? The research points out to a Mediterranean diet composed of “olive oil, yogurt and cheese, legumes, nuts, and seafood.” Ultimately, this diet would increase good gut-bacteria and enhance our inflammatory responses. Here are some nutrients to consider:
- DHA: Also known as Docosahexaenoic acid, DHA helps in producing BDNF, which is brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which promotes the formation of new neurons in the brain. It is also the primary omega-3 fats in the brain.
- Sources of DHA: Wild salmon, oysters, mussels
- Vitamin B6: This vitamin is crucial in serotonin production, which influences sleep and mood. Decreased serotonin is linked to depression, and a daily intake of vitamin B6 is recommended.
- Sources of Vitamin B6: Sweet potatoes, pistachios, chicken
- Probiotics: These are crucial to cultivating good gut-bacteria within the microbiome.
- Sources of Probiotics: Yogurt, kefir, kimchi
- Prebiotics: It is essential for the gut bacteria to have prebiotics to stay alive.
- Sources of Prebiotics: Onions, Garlic, Oats
A proper diet may not completely eliminate medications or therapy. However, “it can act as a supplemental treatment” with no detrimental side effects unlike antidepressants, and in the long run, it acts as a source of prevention for chronic diseases.
How to Exercise for Your Age
Keeping fit at any age can certainly be a challenge. The idea of running a marathon at 50 may seem impossible, especially after you experience a few performance injuries and recovery time starts to increase. Regular exercise has a positive impact on your health, and it is important to focus on enjoying the right type of exercise for your age group. This means choosing an activity that delivers impacts without the risk of injury. Here is a simple guide on how to do the right exercise for your age:
Adolescence and Childhood:
Exercise can help you to control body weight, maximize coordination, improve self-confidence and deliver a healthy sleep pattern in childhood and adolescence. Making sure that kids regularly get outside and develop varied skills by playing different sports is a great way to help them develop exercise habits. If you fall in this age group, you can do this by joining an intramural sports team to increase physical fitness.
Through Your 20s:
In your mid-20s, you will experience some of the fastest reaction times in the sense that your body can pump oxygen to the muscles at a quick rate. The “maximum rate at which the body can pump oxygen to the muscles” is called VO2 max. Your VO2 max continues to drop after your mid-20s by 1% each year and your reaction time also slows by 1% each year. During this time of your life, it is a good idea to introduce a regular exercise routine. You can try varying your physical activity by trying hiking, swimming, or whatever form of exercise fits with your busy schedule.
Throughout Your 30s:
Exercise can be more difficult the slot in here, often times because many people have a family or career to take care of. What is important is working in the time you need to stay healthy with a busy work schedule. Even taking the time to climb stairs and get away from your desk is important. Diversifying your exercise program was short and intense training like high intensity interval training, spin class or boot camp can be a great way to get a lot of exercise in efficiently.
Through Your 40s:
In your 40s, your metabolisms changes and most people start to put weight on in their 40s. Exercising with resistance training or weight training can be an excellent way to counteract some of the accumulation of fat. In addition, trying out a kettle bell weight training program can be a great way to change your metabolism.
Through Your 50s and 60s:
Chronic conditions start to pop up in your 50s, and this is when you may face a greater risk for type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Completing strength training once a week to maintain muscle mass and doing weight-bearing walking can help you get exercise without straining your body.
Through Your 70s and Beyond:
Exercise in your 70s is important for maintaining strength and preventing a fall. Going for regular walks, working on your flexibility, and doing very minor strength training with the help of a personal trainer physiotherapist can help you maintain your independence. Fitness and strength decline rapidly in the event of sickness or a time when you are bed bound. Therefore, keeping sustainable exercise is a part of your lifestyle is one of the greatest ways that you can experience ongoing health benefits.
What You Need to Know About Activated Charcoal
Activated charcoal has taken the modern-day food industry abuzz not just for its mystery and intrigue but also for its health benefits. Did you know it is found in the most ubiquitous foods such as ice cream, donuts, and coffee? Although activated charcoal is starting to become popular, it was widely utilized as a popular product in natural healing around the world. It was used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for generations, and there are recorded uses of activated charcoal that date back to 1550 BC.
What Does Activated Charcoal Look Like and How is it Made?
In terms of its looks, activated charcoal usually comes in the form of black powder. It is usually produced by burning a substance without oxygen that builds a deep char. The substances can include anything from bamboo to coconut shell charcoal. When synthesized in the lab, the char is heated to a high temperature and exposed to various gases to activate the charcoal. This leads to a porous end product that is safe for consumption. Once the activated charcoal has been activated, it can bind to a substance and eventually gets absorbed. Activated charcoal is tasteless, odorless and completely non-toxic.
What are Some of Its Health Benefits?
- Removing Poison and Toxins: Activated charcoal is considered one of the most effective G.I. tract decontaminants on the market. It can quickly absorb 50-60% of unwanted elements that are found in the intestines and the stomach; in fact, these absorption effects can last for up to 2 hours. The positive effects of activated charcoal can continue to last up to two hours after it’s ingested. Many emergency rooms regularly use activated charcoal for handling certain types of poison. Charcoal can bind to and remove substances even after they enter the bloodstream.
- Oral health: Activated charcoal can be particularly powerful at removing materials from the digestive system and your teeth. It doesn’t directly neutralize toxins, but it can bind to them and quickly remove harmful substances from your mouth. Activated charcoal can quickly remove stains from the teeth and whiten teeth in just a few uses.
- Skincare: Activated charcoal also has many uses in beauty products. It’s commonly found in many facial scrubs and it’s widely effective at removing chemicals, dirt, and bacteria that can often build up along your skin. Regularly treating your skin with activated charcoal can be an excellent anti-aging solution. It will regularly remove toxins that can make you age faster.
- Regulating Cholesterol Levels: Activated charcoal can work to remove bad cholesterol and increase the incidence of good cholesterol just as you would receive from any prescription medication.
- Reduces Bloating: It can be extremely beneficial in removing gas caused by byproducts in food items. Taking 500 mg of activated charcoal can help to reduce bloating and gas regularly after a meal that contains these items.
Is Activated Charcoal Safe?
Activated charcoal is non-toxic; however, if you have any health risks, you should consult your primary care physician before internal use.
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