If you have been reading my blogs you by now know of the vital importance of healthy food for the body.
But don’t forget to add some spices. Their health benefits are profound and numerous. In this blog I will focus on turmeric and ginger. Many people are familiar with both of these spices. However, some of their applications for nutritional support may not be well known.
Ginger can be useful for supporting digestive function, reduction of gas and bloating, etc. Many people are familiar with its role it can sometimes play when supporting nausea. But there are many other uses as well. Ginger can help support a healthy blood sugar response (it can help decrease insulin resistance and diabetes). It also may be useful at relieving headaches. A study showed that just a teaspoon of ginger at the onset of a migraine was as effective as a common headache medication (Imitrex) at relief!
Turmeric is a powerful spice with a lot of scientific literature behind it. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, acts as a natural anti-inflammatory for the body and can help support conditions ranging from arthritis to depression. Yes, you heard right. Depression often has an inflammatory component to it. The term "inflammation", in the context of human physiology, means an immune system that is overactive. This overactivity can be a good thing, when there is a bad virus or bacteria present. However, inflammation that is unchecked, due to an imbalance in the body, can have negative consequences and cause chronic disease.
The brain also has its own immune system, and it can be turned on by inflammatory signals sent from the rest of our body, such as our digestive tract. Thus, the brain can become "inflamed", which can slow the function of brain cells (neurons), and contribute to symptoms of depression.
Another thing about curcumin: did you know that a daily dose can improve vascular endothelial function, as much as exercise! The endothelium is the lining of our blood vessels, and plays a key role in proper circulation throughout our body. Poor lifestyle choices, like smoking, eating lots of processed food, etc. can damage the endothelium, impeding proper blood supply to our tissues. Often our extremities are the first to be affected (think fungal nails). Our brain is also an extremity, with a high demand for oxygen that is carried in our blood. Poor blood flow to the brain can have negative effects on cognition, memory, etc.
Taking some turmeric is not an excuse to never exercise. But for those of us that are periodically very busy, try taking some turmeric to give your endothelial function a boost. For some great videos about these spices and much more, I encourage you to check out Dr. Greger's website: nutritionfacts.org.