Spices that have been around in the human diet for thousands of years may be the key to preventing or fighting some of our modern diseases and epidemics. Living plant compounds known as phytochemicals continue to amaze with their significant health benefits. It just so happens, spices are filled with these compounds. But there are a lot of spices and it is easy to become overwhelmed. Where do you begin? After all, cloves are anti-inflamatory, ginger relieves morning sickness, peppermint inhibits the growth of bacteria, nutmeg relieves nausea and so on. So how do you decide what to use without having a blender full of nothing but spices?
Normally my day begins with a green smoothie consisting mainly of kale, spinach and blueberries. In addition, there are three spices that I add for their health properties and to dilute the greenish taste of the vegetables. After all, kale may be really good for you, but I personally do not find it very tasty.
First, the basic ingredients I use for a smoothie are kale, spinach, blueberries, cherries, flax seed powder, chia seeds, cacao powder, goji berries and whey vanilla protein powder. Occasionally I mix it up with other ingredients, but those are the ones I use most often.
Then I add my spices. I’ve chosen these three because they contain the most health benefits in my opinion and really should be included in everything you eat, not just smoothies.
Cinnamon not only adds taste, but its beneficial properties are well known and well established. Cinnamon contains anthocyanin which improves capillary function and stimulates circulation and may lower blood sugar in people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
It has been shown that diets rich in cinnamon can help reduce cravings for high fat diets and negative reactions within the body eating high-fat meals. It is also great in smoothies to help dilute the taste of a lot of green such as kale and spinach.
Here are some other benefits of cinnamon:
- Can help with pain and muscle and joint stiffness
- Good for digestive functions and gas relief
- Can help fight against bacterial and fungal infections
- Have an anti-clotting effect on the blood
- May help prevent Alzheimer's disease because of an extract found in cinnamon bark, called CEppt, contains properties that can inhibit the development of the disease
- Multiple Sclerosis - cinnamon may help stop the destructive process of multiple sclerosis (MS)
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This one is my favorite. You may not have heard of tumeric before, but it is very popular in India and used in almost all of their curry dishes. In fact, I stumbled across it two years ago while reading a book I bought a present for my mother. From everything I have read, it is a wonder spice and should be included in everything. Tumeric contains a family of compounds called curcumunoids which are thought to give it the majority of its amazing health benefits.
In fact, it has been used for centuries to alleviate arthritis and joint pain.
One such benefit is the anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects. In many cases, it has been shown to work as well as many anti-inflammatory drugs, but without the negative side effects. Curcumin plays a crucial role in reducing chronic conditions such as cancer and neuro-degenerative diseases by regulating enzymes and cytokines which hinders the development of these diseases.
Curcumin also boost the immune systems and can help reduce degenerative diseases such as atherosclerosis, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, and cancer .
In fact, from everything I have been told and read on my own, turmeric is good for everything, and I had never even heard of it until a couple of years ago.
Here is a summary of some of the many benefits of tumeric:
- Turmeric is a natural liver detoxifier. For example, studies have shown that it prevents liver damage by acting as an antioixdant and by inhibiting the creation of inflammatory cytokines in the body. Other data suggest it may add in the treatment of hepatisis.
- Curcumin has been shown to inhibit the development of Type 2 Diabetes in people who have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes if taken . It is believed that turmeric reduces insulin resistance
- May prevent and slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease by removing amyloyd plaque buildup in the brain
- May prevent metastases from occurring in many different forms of cancer
- Has shown promise in slowing the progression of multiple sclerosis in mice
- An effective treatment for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as Crohn's and ulcerative colitis
- Is a natural painkiller and cox-2 inhibitor
- May aid in fat metabolism and help in weight management by suppressing the creation and activity of toxic cells in stored fat throughout the body, including the heart and other internal organs. It also reduces resistance to insulin.
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Cayenne is rich in capsaicin which is commonly used for the treatment of aches and pains of the muscles and joints. It has also been shown to boost your metabolism and circulation. In fact, I like to ingest some cayenne powder just before going to workout because it has been shown to literally increase circulation and blood flow throughout the body. Improved circulation means increased blood flow and more oxygen to the muscles leading to a better
The results of the research revealed that those who mixed cayenne pepper with their food burned an additional 10 calories four hours after eating their meal compared to those who did not add cayenne.
Here are some additional benefits of cayenne:
- Relieves arthritis and muscle pain
- Improved circulation circulatory problems and increase appetite 
- Treating psoriasis 
- Treating cluster headaches 
Cayenne, turmeric and cinnamon should be incorporated into your diet whenever possible. Their health benefits are well established and are an economical way to get the nutrients your body needs to prevent chronic diseases as you age.
Everyone should experiment to get more of these spices in their diet. Try including cinnamon on your ice cream or turmeric on your eggs. You will find many other uses as well.