Article by Primrose Stuart
Nutrition plays a key role in ensuring a healthy immune system at any age. Herbs and spices are healthy, affordable and easily accessible. The following are some of the herbs and spices that contribute to building a stronger body defense system.
Turmeric is an antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant that boost your immune system. It is scientifically proven to prevent arthritis, cancer, reduce inflammation. In Asian communities it’s used to treat menstrual disorders such as period pains and lowering high cholesterol. It can be taken in tea form, capsules and added to soups and stews.
Tips: Add a bit of black pepper to increase nutrient absorption in the digestive system. Turmeric can additionally be used to treat acne. Mix it with cinnamon, make a paste and apply on affected areas. Wash it off after 30 minutes.
Garlic has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and lipid-lowering properties. Garlic has disease-preventing effects on diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular and metabolic disorders, blood pressure, and diabetes.
Additional benefits include:
- Treating colds and coughing
- Kills parasites
- Clears nasal congestion
Tip: To treat chest pain cut fresh garlic and boil in half a cup of milk. Drink it before bed for 7 days. People with lactose intolerance can use plant-based substitutes such as oat, almond, coconut or soy milk.
Ginger is a member of a plant family that includes turmeric. It is a spice that is loaded with antioxidants which help your body to fight off chronic diseases.
According to the International Journal of Preventative Medicine ginger treats Inflammatory disorders such as gastritis, esophagitis, and hepatitis, which are caused not only by infectious agents such as viruses, bacteria, and parasites but also by physical and chemical agents like heat and cigarette smoke. Additional benefits include:
- Decreases the risk of developing a stroke as it prevents fatty deposits from building up in the arteries.
- Treats colds and flues.
- Ginger contains anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties for controlling the process of aging.
Tips: Consume fresh ginger before cycling exercise to reduce muscle pain. To alleviate nausea, add fresh ginger to hot water and drink as a tea. Add a bit of honey or slice of lemon.
Did you know
- Garlic was given to the original Olympic athletes in Greece, as perhaps one of the earliest ‘performance enhancing’ agents.
- In ancient Greece, the Romans perceived garlic as an aid to strength and endurance; it was fed to both soldiers and sailors.
Cinnamon is one of the most widely used spice across the world. It is believed to have many medicinal properties, and is used frequently in Chinese herbal medicine. There are two types of cinnamon Ceylon grown in Sri Lanka and Cassia from China and Indonesia. Cassia has a stronger odor and is more affordable. Cinnamon is widely available in powder of sticks form and popularly used across the globe in curries, baking and teas.
In addition to being an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anticancer, lipid lowering and cardiovascular- disease lowering compound, cinnamon has also been reported to have properties that fight against Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. It also has probiotic properties that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria while suppressing the growth of bad bacteria. Adding it to your food will improve gut health.
- A study done by Amy Stockert, a Biochemist showed that the cassia species of cinnamon was more effective than diet alone in lowering blood glucose.
- In another study of people with type 2 diabetes found that small doses of cinnamon reduced blood sugar levels and improved bad cholesterol. People taking diabetes medications must be careful, consult and work with their doctors as cinnamon might drop blood sugars too low.
- In other research studies, Ceylon cinnamon has been associated with cancer- fighting properties, antiparasitic effects, lower blood pressure, wound healing and repairing liver damage.
Did you know
Cinnamon has been mentioned in the Bible several times as a way to perfume bedding, clothes and anointing oils.
Store in an airtight container for up to a year in a dark place.
Video: The Immune system explained
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Isbill J, Kandiah J, Kružliaková N. Opportunities for Health Promotion: Highlighting Herbs and Spices to Improve Immune Support and Well-being. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2020 Oct;19(5):30-42. PMID: 33488303; PMCID: PMC7815254.
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