Spices and herbs are known for their wide usage in the age-old principles of Ayurveda owing to their wondrous medicinal properties. The inherent essential oils in spices are potential sources of myriad health benefits.
The role they play in strengthening the immune system, is a case in point. With improper nutrition, the body’s immune system becomes less and less effective in fighting off infections. Having a balanced diet enhances the capacity of our bodies to identify and act against foreign microbes. In addition to strengthening our immunity, spices have anti-inflammatory properties that may help in reducing pain and other complications caused by inflammation.
Let’s see how regular use of these spices can be beneficial for our health:
The yellow coloured Turmeric has been imparting its health benefits for centuries now. The curcuminoids that give the colour to Turmeric is its major chemical component. Curcumin is believed to modulate growth and cellular response of various immune cells.
- Rich Anti-inﬂammatory properties
- Potent Antimicrobial, Antiviral & Antifungal properties
- Presence of Antioxidants
- Effective in Healing Wounds
How to use:
- Include as a spice in your daily cooking
- Add half a teaspoon of Haldi (turmeric) powder in 150 ml of hot milk; drink once or twice a day
- Eat raw turmeric root with 1 tbsp. of fresh lime juice, first thing in the morning
Cloves are used in different culinary systems throughout the world. They are also used often to cure several ailments; their benefits have actually become integral to several indigenous cultures.
- Anti-inflammatory and Antibacterial in nature
(Eugenol, a compound found in high amounts in cloves, has antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties; these can help our body fight germs and microbes)
- Helps in the Treatment of Common Cold
(As an expectorant, cloves are believed to reduce inflammation and help in getting rid of mucus; they may also relieve a coughing throat)
- Strengthens the Immune System due to High Antioxidant content
(Eugenol also has the ability to help ease infections and fight disease-causing bacteria in the body)
How to use:
- Include cloves as a spice in your cooking
- Lavang (clove) powder mixed with natural sugar/honey can be taken 2-3 times a day, by non-diabetics, in case of a cough or throat irritation
Ginger is one of the essential spices in every household. Characterised by a strong piquant aroma, it is used in the preparation of different curry dishes.
- Source of Anti-inflammatory Properties
(6-Gingerol is a chemical compound found in fresh ginger; this compound is said to have several health benefits including anti-inflammatory properties)
- Source of Anti-proliferative Properties
(Impedes the spread of malignant cells in the body)
- Rich in Antioxidants
How to use:
- Ginger can be used for its zesty taste to add flavour to your meals
- Add ginger in the preparation of your daily tea
- Add 1-inch ginger root and 2-3 black peppercorns in a cup of water. Boil the water, strain, and drink once lukewarm
Black pepper (Piper nigrum), another commonly used spice, is widely known for its health benefits.
- Source of Antioxidants
(Black Pepper is a rich source of the plant-based compound piperine which is said to be high in antioxidants that fights harmful free radicals in the body)
- Believed to have Anti-inflammatory Properties
(Again, owing to the Piperine compound)
- May be helpful in Controlling Blood Sugar and Blood Cholesterol levels
- Known to significantly Increase the Absorption of Curcumin found in Turmeric
How to use:
- Sprinkle black pepper powder to make your favourite meals even tastier
- You can drink hot infusions sprinkled with black pepper powder, in case you have a sore throat
- Add powdered black pepper to baked chicken wings or baked potato wedges for a mouth-watering evening snack
A large section of the medical community now believes that the key to a strong immune system is better found in your kitchen than in medical racks, and indeed they are right in that! These spices, discussed above, are available everywhere, and using them well in your daily meal would help you in achieving a stronger immune system.
-Ms Shampa Banerjee, Senior Dietitian,SastaSundar YANA Diet Clinic