Monday, September 21, 2015

Health Care and Spices

One essential element of most cooking is spice, and they are as varied as there are types. A spice is a dried seed, fruit, root, bark, or vegetable substance primarily used for flavoring, coloring or preserving food. Spices are distinguished from herbs, which are parts of leafy green plants used for flavoring or as a garnish. Many spices have antimicrobial properties.

Spices are more commonly used in warmer climates and why the use of spices is prominent in meat, which is particularly susceptible to spoiling. A spice may have other uses, including medicinal, religious ritual, cosmetics or perfume production.  

The spice trade developed throughout South Asia and Middle East in around 2000 BC with cinnamon and pepper, and in East Asia with herbs and pepper. The Egyptians used herbs for embalming and their demand for exotic herbs helped stimulate world trade. The word spice comes from the Old French word espice, derived from Latin. By 1000 BC, medical systems based upon herbs could be found in China, Korea, and India. Early uses were connected with magic, medicine, religion, tradition, and preservation. Over thousands of years, spices have been used for many reasons.

In healthcare, certain spices are used to help treat various maladies, especially in holistic or naturopathic medicine. For example, spices that help treat inflammation are tumeric, ginger, cinnamon, garlic, cayenne, black pepper, and clove. As with the other supplements, you should talk to your healthcare clinician before adding large amounts of cinnamon or oregano to your diet. Your discussion will help you avoid medication interactions or complications with a pre-existing condition. More details about these spices and other info can be found at this website: http://ministryhealth.org/HC/Home/2015/Winter2015/Spices.nws .

Another site has similar information with a bit more detail on these spices. Spices and herbs can do a lot more than add pizzazz to your cooking -- they can also promote heart health, fight cancer, reduce inflammation, and more. Visit this website: https://www.caring.com/articles/spices-with-healing-powers .
                                                                                                  
Heart patients need to know more about spices in particular. Herbs and spices contain trace amounts of sodium, according to Emory Healthcare. Their website shows herb and spice recommendations to infuse into your current recipes in place of salt: http://www.emoryhealthcare.org/heart-failure/self-care-strategies/salt-substitutes.html .

Spices not only just excite your taste buds but are composed of an impressive list of phyto-nutrients, essential oils, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins that are essential for overall wellness. Spices have been integral part part of our food since centuries, and today, even become more relevant for us. Thanks to the Arab and European explorers, whose contributions in spreading them from their place of origin to the rest of the planet has immensely broaden their use and popularity all over the world, according to this website: http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/healthy_spices.html . Here are some reasons why they say you should include spices in your diet:

·         Spices contain an impressive list of plant-derived chemical compounds that are known to have disease preventing and health promoting properties. They have been in use since ancient times for their anti-inflammatory, carminative, anti-flatulent properties.

·         The components in the spices have been found to have anti-clotting action (prevent clogging of platelets in the blood vessels) and thus help easing blood flow, preventing stroke and coronary artery disease.

·         The active principles in the spices may help in smooth digestion through augmenting intestinal tract motility as well as increasing the digestion power by stimulating excessive secretion of gastro-intestinal enzymes inside the gut.

·         Throat gargling with tepid thyme water can help relieve sore throat and bronchitis symptoms. Thyme is also being used as an anti-septic mouthwash in the treatment of caries and gingivitis.

·         Decoction of certain healthy spices is taken by mouth for the treatment of colds, influenza, mild fevers, indigestion, stomach upset, and painful menstruation.

·         Spices are also known to have natural anti-helminthes (control worm infestation) function in traditional medicines.

·         The essential volatile oils in certain spices (cloves, peppers, etc.) may work as a rubefacient (soothes skin around the site of application and improves the local blood circulation), increasing the flow of blood to make the skin feel warmer. They are being applied as a popular home remedy for arthritis and sore muscles, and used either as poultice or in hot baths.

·         Spice's essential oils are being used in the aromatherapy as well as de-odorants in the perfume industry.

·         Spices contain a good amount of minerals like potassium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps in controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.

According to the Washington Post, spices last a while, but they lose their flavor over time, so buy them in usable quantities. The ground versions lose flavor faster than their whole counterparts. Seal tightly in glass containers, and store in the dark, away from the heat of the oven, for optimal freshness. 

Many plastic spice containers contain the harmful chemical BPA, so glass is best. Never buy a spice rack with spices in it! Chances are they are not fresh, and there might be ones you won’t use. Choose the spices you desire and look for expiration dates. More details are located at this site: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/spices-and-their-health-benefits/2014/01/07/4f074f24-6f2d-11e3-aecc-85cb037b7236_story.html

Herbs and Spices have antibacterial and antiviral properties and many are high in B-vitamins and trace minerals, according to Wellness Mama. True sea salt, for instance, contains 93 trace minerals. Most herbs and spices also contain more disease-fighting antioxidants than fruits and vegetables. The problem in America is that the most potent and healthy herbs are rarely used, mainly from lack of knowledge about them, while the least potent (salt and pepper) are the most commonly used seasonings. More details are found at this website: http://wellnessmama.com/1092/health-benefits-of-herbs-spices/ .

Spices are good for you, and have certain benefits for your health. However, not everyone can use them. Check with your healthcare provider or personal physician before using spices for any reason, especially if you have certain food allergies, have a compromised immune system, or are taking any prescription medications. Better safe than sorry, even if you want to use spices to spice up your life.


Until next time.  

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