Modern science is starting to discover the health benefits of spices for improving digestion, to achieve weight loss and for preventing diseases.
Although human beings have been using spices medicinally for thousands of years, most of us in the modern world use spices mainly for flavoring food.
Turmeric’s anti carcinogenic and anti inflammatory effects are now being attributed to Indians having a lower incidence of certain cancers and Alzheimer’s disease. However when the same Indians have moved away from their traditional eating habits and adopt Western eating habits, their rates of certain diseases have risen.
For weight loss Ayurveda focuses on reducing Kapha dosha (the bio-energetic principle of growth). The principle qualities of Kapha are heavy, dull, soft, wet, sticky, slow, cool and stable. Dietary and lifestyle changes which increase the opposite qualities like heat, dryness, circulation, lightness, etc. should be the primary focus when trying to lose weight.
So spices which increase heat, circulation, lightness in the body, etc. will result in improved digestion and metabolism while burning fat and promoting weight loss.
5 spices used around the world to improve digestion and lose weight
1. Cinnamon or Cinnamomum zeylanicum has been used for thousands of years as a disinfectant, anti inflammatory, antibacterial, to lower cholesterol and soothe the stomach.
When it comes to Cinnamon for weight loss, it reduces cholesterol especially LDL or Low Density Lipoprotein (the “bad cholesterol”) and helps increase HDL or High Density Lipoprotein (the “good cholesterol”). This effect alone can be helpful for weight loss and prevention of coronary artery disease.
It also helps lower blood sugar levels and improves insulin sensitivity. Studies have shown that polyphenols in cinnamon reduce insulin resistance produced by a high fructose diet.
This can be extremely beneficial for most of us who consume a modern diet packed with artificial sweeteners. Improved insulin sensitivity results in better uptake of glucose by the cells, which helps lower blood glucose levels and prevents fat accumulation.
½ teaspoon each of cinnamon and honey weight loss concoction is a powerful home remedy. The Cinnamon and honey are to be added in warm water and this can be taken 1-2 times a day for improving metabolism and burning fat.
2. Turmeric or Curcuma Longa has been used in India for thousands of year and is a major part of the Indian diet. It is used for its therapeutic effects and as a culinary spice in virtually all meals.
Known as one of the top natural anti inflammatory agents, it is used topically and internally after injuries and for skin problems. In Ayurveda it is prescribed as an important herb to treat Arthritis because it reduces inflammation and helps relieve pain. It is also very effective for respiratory problems and digestive issues.
Possesses potent anti carcinogenic qualities and preliminary studies have shown that curcumin one of the active ingredients in Turmeric can suppress enzymes responsible for activating carcinogens and inhibiting tumor cell growth.
Recent research has shown its effectiveness in reducing plaque formations responsible for Alzheimer’s disease.
Plays an important role in weight loss by controlling blood sugar levels, promoting thermogenesis or fat burning and by enhancing detoxification of the liver. Liver is a major organ responsible for fat metabolism, so health of the liver is very important for regulating sugar and fat metabolism.
3. Ginger or Zingiber officinale has been used by moms all over the world to help with upper respiratory problems and digestive issues.
It is a common herb used in many Ayurvedic formulas to improve digestion, cleanse toxins from the body, help reduce fever, as a potent pain reliever. It is also recommended in Ayurveda as a regular part of the diet to reduce inflammation.
Very effective for improving digestion and assimilation of nutrients, it also facilitates transport of nutrients to tissues and helps clear blockages from the micro channels of the body. Proper functioning of the micro-channels of the body is essential for removing toxins, providing optimal nutrition and information to our cells.
An improved digestion and detoxification of the body can play a vital role in boosting metabolism and weight loss. A small slice of fresh ginger with a pinch of salt and few drops of lemon taken 30 mins before a meal helps stimulate appetite and aids in digestion.
Fresh or dry ginger can be added to meals to help digest the food. However, keep in mind that dry ginger is more heating and not suitable for someone with hyperacidity or heart burn. Ginger can also be taken as a tea after a meal.
4. Black Pepper or Piper Nigrum is one the most common spices used to garnish food. In Ayurveda, black pepper is part of a herbal formula called Trikatu or “the three pungents” (in this context pungent means spicy).
This formula is used for weight loss, decreasing congestion and blockages, improving circulation, stimulating appetite and for the upper respiratory system.
Black pepper by itself also improves digestion, promotes circulation, stimulates appetite and its heating effect boosts metabolism for weight loss.
Piperine is an alkaloid in black pepper responsible for its pungency and shown in studies to suppress accumulation of body fat. It also helps the body detox unwanted waste and enhances bioavailability of nutrients when consumed with other herbs and foods.
So sprinkling some black pepper on you food can not only help you shed some pounds but improve the absorption of nutrients in your food. For a tasty refreshing and digestion boosting drink try “lassi”– blend 1 part yogurt with 4 parts water, pinch of black pepper, salt and cumin.
5. Cumin or Cuminum cyminum is one of the main ingredients in Garam Masala or Indian Allspice (a combination of spices used to flavor Indian meals). It is a powerful digestive, removes toxins, while improving the absorption and assimilation of nutrients in the body.
Reputed for its ability to detox the body and remove waste products, it’s boiled in water and given to moms in India immediately after childbirth. During this post-partum phase it helps flush out toxins, cleanses the genito-urinary tract, improves appetite and digestion.
The thermogenic or fat burning effect of cumin is also helpful for weight loss. So next time, try some on your eggs or chicken to improve the flavor and to help digest these heavy foods more easily.
Regular intake of these spices can dramatically improve your overall health. However you must use your best judgment to make sure these agree with your constitution.
You can find the herbs / spices discussed in this post here:
* These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Persons unknown medical conditions should consult with their physician before taking this or any other dietary supplement. Information on this web site is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of us and others; we encourage you to make your health care decisions in partnership with a qualified health care professional.
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