Our favourite immune-boosting festive spices
12th December 2019 / Health
Our favourite immune-boosting festive spices
We all know that spices add great flavours to meals, and they can certainly set your taste buds alight. But did you know these aromatic substances have been around since ancient civilisations?! Ancient recordings suggest that spices have been added to foods and ancient cosmetics since 3500 BC in Ancient Egypt and The Middle East! So maybe you’re wondering what all the fuss is about? Well, just as we love herbs, spices’ their humble kitchen counterpart, are also part of our daily ritual here at Link Nutrition HQ . We hope that after reading this, you’ll take a peek inside your unloved spice cupboard and discover the secret for feeling wonderful this winter.
There’s nothing that makes us feel more festive than the spices around Christmas time. Whether it be the christmassy cloves and mixed spices in the christmas pudding and mince pies or the cinnamon sticks in the mulled wine, it's always great to know that these traditional spices can help to support our immunity throughout the festivities.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF SPICES
Spices boast a wide range of nutritional benefits for health. It’s no surprise that they have been used for centuries, they really do hold the keys to unlock some serious ‘health hacks’. Evidence suggests they can support the body in so many ways, from reducing inflammation to maintaining blood glucose, here are just a few ways that spices can help keep us fighting fit:
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Antioxidant properties
- Support and aid digestion which can help promote digestive comfort and reduce bloating
- Help to lower and maintain blood glucose levels
- Can help boost cognition (both focus/attention and mood)
- Antimicrobial properties
- Helps support detoxification and liver function
- Antibacterial properties
- Can help to boost metabolism
- Help to improve circulation
WHY SPICES ARE GREAT FOR IMMUNITY
You’ve heard why spices are great for giving us an ‘all-round’ health boost, but since we’re deep into the sniffle season, let’s talk about why they are great for giving us that all-important immunity boost.
Firstly, it all starts with good-old antioxidants, it’s these antioxidants that help to protect both our cells and tissues from oxidative stress. It’s also understood that spices can help to boost our immunity by helping to reduce inflammation and help to activate the immune response. Alongside this, spices also have antimicrobial and antibacterial properties which help to protect the body from harmful material that threatens to cause disease. Including a variety of different spices can not only help to boost your immune system but help to nurture it all year round. You can find out more ways to give your immune system some daily TLC here on our immunity blog.
One thing that we think go hand in hand (after herbs and spices of course) are spices and mushrooms. Mushrooms are excellent immune-boosters in their own right, we can’t get enough of our Mushroom Plus throughout the winter, but our Mushroom Plus Complex gets even better because we add turmeric! Yes, some of our favourite immunity superheroes in one place. If you wanted to find out more about mushrooms, you can start reading our Mushroom Guide here.
HISTORY OF SPICES
The use of spices isn’t new. Spices were amongst the most valuable items of trade in ancient and medieval times. Spices have been used in food, cosmetics and for medicinal purposes in years gone by, so the notable health benefits that they possess are well acknowledged. The use of spices for various reasons is thought to have originally started in the Middle East, spreading to the Eastern Mediterranean and Europe slightly later. The first recording of spices used in cooking, coming from Ancient Egypt, was black pepper and cinnamon, two of the most common spices around today and here at Link Nutrition they are definitely amongst our top favourites!
OUR FAVOURITE 4
Cinnamon is up there as our top spice! It has been shown to help aid digestion, so adding cinnamon into your porridge or breakfast smoothie is not a bad idea! We also love having cinnamon tea after a meal, because it aids digestion it can really help to reduce post-meal bloat. Research has also shown that cinnamon helps to balance our blood sugar levels and improve circulation so it’s definitely a spice to include daily!
Black pepper has been deemed the ‘King of Spices’ and has long been part of ancient Ayurvedic medicine thanks to its powerful bioactive components that have been shown to have many therapeutic benefits to human health. Scientifically known as Piper nigrum L., black pepper is high in antioxidants thanks to a plant compound called piperine. Antioxidants help to protect our body from the damaging effects of free radicals. Black pepper also has anti-inflammatory properties and may help to boost cognition.
Cloves are one of the most antioxidant-rich spices. A compound present in cloves called eugenol has been shown to act as a potent antioxidant and has been shown to protect cells from oxidative damage. Alongside its antioxidant benefits, research has shown that cloves have antimicrobial properties, which means that they help to stop the growth of harmful microorganisms.
Perhaps the most famous spice, known for its anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric definitely makes it into our top favourites, so much so we add it into both our Joint Support and Mushroom Plus. Turmeric has its active polyphenolic compound curcumin to thank for its vibrant yellow/orange colour and also for its powerful health benefits. Curcumin aids in the management of a number of health conditions from arthritis to anxiety and we love it for its versatility. Alongside its anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric also has antioxidant, antimicrobial and antimutagenic properties.
Why not give yourself a helping hand this winter and ‘spice’ up your life with some of your favourite spices, because not only will you start to feel better than ever but your immune system will certainly thank you!
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