Hi guys, Happy Friday!
It’s been so long since I’ve written. I’ve had one of those need to “just dial back a bit phase”. My much-needed holiday has still not materialised but I took a few days off here and there. All I can say is TGIF 😀
In between gorging myself on rusks, (hallelujah, rusks that are vegan!!! For any South African vegans, the muesli Ouma rusks, and some varieties of the Bokomo rusks are accidentally vegan), and working, and being sick and nasty once, and Netflixing like crazy, I decided I want to write about anti-inflammatory herbs and spices.
Why is Inflammation Bad?
Inflammation over time causes all sorts of health problems. As if sore joints, muscles, and the accumulation of belly fat weren’t enough, it can also fuel diseases. A simple example of inflammation is when a cut gets infected and the area around it swells and it really hurts.
That’s the body trying to fight off the infection. It just goes into overdrive a bit. The same thing happens when we constantly eat food that isn’t good for us… like rusks… and alcohol, and when we stress and don’t get enough sleep. Stress is an especially bad culprit since we all tend to get stressed out often nowadays. But what you eat can help.
Herbs and spices are amazing at lowering inflammation, preventing diseases, and helping us to age gracefully. You can check the science of it all out here. Next time you have a headache or stub your toe or something, try these foods instead of a painkiller.
Turmeric is my number 1 favourite spice for lowering inflammation. In fact, it’s comparable to ibuprofen. I get these severe throbbing headaches from time to time where any big movements make it feel like my head is getting hit with a sledgehammer repeatedly. As soon as I feel one coming on I take the following:
- About a 1/4 teaspoon of ground turmeric
- A pinch of pepper
- About a teaspoon of honey
- Then I mix it well and eat it.
It doesn’t taste amazing, but it works well and is useful for when I don’t want to drink a whole cup of tea or water, for example, before bed.
Otherwise I drink it in my chai tea, sprinkle it on my avo on toast, potatoes, put it in soup, and it gets added to almost all our food that my husband makes for dinner since it has such a mild flavour that you can’t really taste it.
Note: You need to add pepper, otherwise the turmeric won’t absorbed and used properly by your body.
Ladies, you are going to love ginger! Over time, ginger not only lowers inflammation but lessens the severity of PMS. Most of us get those pesky, or for some, horrible, symptoms before that time of the month and cramps during, but ginger lessens all of that.
I recently ditched the pill and along with Agnus Castus or vitex, a herb that helps to balance your hormones naturally, ginger has been really helpful.
By itself, I don’t like ginger. I don’t like ginger biscuits or ginger beer either. I drink it often in my tea though, and it adds yumminess to curries and stir-fries.
They burn like hell. If you’re like my husband, you sweat like crazy, if you’re like me, your sinuses will thank you while you bemoan your burning lips and mouth. Yes, chillies. But Chilli has ironically been used in pain management. I kid you not. More so topically as an ointment rather than eating it.
But eating it does lower inflammation in the body and can help boost your immune system too. Don’t go too crazy, too much chilli is not good for you and the crazy hot varieties can actually cause some damage. But adding some to your food for a little bit of healthy heat is beneficial, and surprisingly, after a while, rather nice.
Try chillies in curries, pasta dishes, on avo on toast, potatoes, almost anything. Ever had dark chocolate with chilli? It’s actually quite nice. You can use fresh chillies, dry flakes, or cayenne pepper which is the powdered form.
Refreshing. That’s how I would describe mint. Unless I’ve let it steep too long, in which case I would say bitter. IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome), a condition that can really interfere with people’s lives, is often manageable simply by drinking a cup of mint tea before or after a meal.
Try peppermint tea if you have tummy trouble, especially gas and cramps, but rather leave it if you have heartburn as it can make it worse.
You can also flavour your water with mint or add it to salads and iced tea. Minty sauces often go with some meat dishes too if you are a meat eater.
I love cinnamon. Not only does it smell and taste wonderful, but it lowers inflammation and helps to keep your blood sugar levels in check. Whenever we have pancakes, we add cinnamon sugar to them. So admittedly, despite the flax seeds we use in our pancakes, they are not super healthy… but the cinnamon makes them less bad :p
Cinnamon is mostly used in sweet dishes, but you may find a few savoury dishes that you can use it in too.
More Anti-Inflammatory Foods
There are more herbs and spices that have these amazing health properties, most if not all of them have these benefits, so feel free to “spice up” your meals. But they are not the only foods that can help:
- Fruits: Berries and red grapes are anti-inflammatory powerhouses but other fruits also help to lower inflammation in addition to being a rich source of vitamin C and fibre.
- Veggies: Purple veggies like red onions, purple cabbage, and purple cauliflower all have the same type of anti-oxidants that berries and red grapes do. But all veggies, no matter the colour are great for you. If half of your plate is made up of veg, you know you are doing amazing things for your body.
- Tea: I know that each of the herbs and spices that I mentioned can be made into tea, but other types of tea like green, rooibos, hibiscus, fennel, oolong, etc, are full of antioxidants that help to combat inflammation too. Chai tea is great as it combines a bunch of spices like cinnamon, clove, cardamom, pepper, and ginger.
Often when I eat I think about how awesome food is. I love food. The more I learn about it, the more it excites me! I don’t know that there are many other people who get excited by food other than just the taste, but just know that when you eat healthy, flavourful food, you are eating your way to awesomeness 🙂
Do you like using herbs and spices in your cooking? Which are your favourite combinations?