Boost Your Metabolism, Curb Cancer, and Slash Blood Sugar with This
Easy Culinary Trick
by Joseph Mercola: Skip
the Doctor – Use 'Grandma's Home Remedies' for These 7 Ailments
Herbs are not
only great in meals for spice and added flavor but are key to the
nutritional density in the foods you eat. Herbs can protect you
against diseases, clear toxins from your body, and provide you with
vitamins and minerals.
Here are some
examples of such, from a list of nine assembled by Planet Green:
Vitamins A, C, and K, along with iron, manganese, magnesium, and
potassium. Loaded with flavonoids, basil helps prevent cell damage
from radiation and oxygen.
and an upset stomach with ginger; prevent and treat the common cold
with its antiviral components.
herb is good for menstrual cramps, menopause symptoms, cholesterol,
renowned for containing high levels of antioxidants and is full
of vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber that help balance cholesterol
and ward off constipation.
The Cork Cancer
Research Centre's test results show that turmeric can kill gullet
cancer cells in 24 hours!
Green February 24, 2011
or not, but common herbs and spices are actually some of the healthiest
foods on the planet topping the list of high ORAC value foods
so you can easily boost the nutritional value of your meal
simply by spicing it up a bit. ORAC is a standardized method of
measuring the antioxidant capacity of different foods and supplements.
The higher the ORAC score, the more effective a food is at neutralizing
harmful free radicals.
So, every time
you flavor your meals with herbs or spices you are literally "upgrading"
your food without adding a single calorie.
Powers of Herbs and Spices
high on the ORAC isn't the only reason why herbs and spices pack
such a powerful punch. They're also very dense in other nutrients
such as vitamins and minerals, and because of their nutrient density,
they're also thermogenic, meaning they naturally increase your metabolism.
herbs and spices have medicinal properties. This should come as
no surprise considering they've been used as medicine for thousands
of years prior to the advent of modern medicine that focuses on
synthetic drugs in lieu of these natural counterparts.
can "upgrade" your meal by reducing toxic compounds created during
the cooking process. A study
published last year discovered that adding an antioxidant-rich
spice blend to meat prior to cooking reduced the level of malondialdehyde
(a chemical marker for oxidation) in the meat by 71 percent and
levels in participants' urine by 49 percent.
used a blend of:
You can easily
recreate this simply by mixing the dry spices together and rubbing
them onto the meat before you quickly sear it, or add them to your
You can also
help prevent the formation of toxic heterocyclic amines (HCAs) by
blueberries or cherries to your burgers. HCAs form when food
is cooked at high temperatures, and they're linked to cancer. In
terms of HCA, the worst part of the meat is the blackened section,
which is why you should always avoid charring your meat, and never
eat blackened sections.
and Spices are the Most Potent Disease Preventers?
has a unique set of health benefits to offer, but one study, published
in the Journal
of Medicinal Foods, found a direct correlation between
the antioxidant phenol content of many extracts of spices and herbs,
and their ability to inhibit glycation and the formation of AGE
compounds, making them potent preventers of heart disease and premature
this study, the top 10 most potent herbs and spices are:
Jamaican allspice (ground)
Apple pie spice (mixture)
Pumpkin pie spice (mixture)
Gourmet Italian spice
Spices for Their Medicinal Benefits
As a general
rule, you really can't go wrong when using herbs and spices and
I recommend allowing your taste buds to dictate your choices when
cooking. However, you can also choose spices based on their medicinal
Here are some
examples of herbs and spices that you may want to consider incorporating
more of into your diet to achieve a certain aim:
To boost your
Buffers the inflammatory response by increasing steroid output
by your adrenal glands; a good buffer if your immune system
is over responding to the flu.
a general immune system booster due to its high antioxidant
capacity. Turmeric is 5 to 8 times stronger than vitamins C
and E, and even strong enough to scavenge the hydroxyl radical,
which is considered by some to be the most reactive of all oxidants.
Pepper: Increases the bioavailability of just about
all other foods herbs and other compounds.
The active agent is rosmarinic acid, a strong antioxidant.
inflammation, and treat inflammatory and infectious conditions:
anti-inflammatory properties come from curcumin the
pigment that gives turmeric its yellow-orange color, and which
is thought to be responsible for many of its medicinal effects.
There are an estimated three to five grams of curcumin in 100
grams of turmeric. Curcumin has been shown to influence more
than 700 genes, and it can inhibit both the activity and the
synthesis of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX2) and 5-lipooxygenase (5-LOX),
as well as other enzymes that have been implicated in inflammation.
One of the most potent anti-inflammatories with anti-bacterial
and antioxidant properties. Beneficial against muscle pains
from injuries, arthritis and rheumatism. It also contains eugenol
and its mild anesthetic benefits are useful for toothaches,
gum pain and sore throats. Also offers relief from respiratory
ailments such as asthma and bronchitis, and eliminates intestinal
parasites, fungi and bacteria.
in the Journal of Bioscience and Bioengineering
found that nutmeg extract has antibacterial activity that can
significantly reduce certain strains of E. coli. Nutmeg is also
beneficial for joint pain and gout, and nutmeg oil has been
traditionally used to treat toothaches. ** Please note that
nutmeg contains volatile oils comprised of alkyl benzene derivatives,
terpenes and myristic acid. The spice has a long history
of abuse; taking too much nutmeg (one to three nuts; in
some cases less) can cause side effects such as nausea, hallucinations,
swelling and shock.
Has anti-inflammatory properties and helps protect
against bacteria and fungi. Also eliminates intestinal gas and
relaxes and soothes your intestinal tract, while boosting your
immune system. Can also protect
against atherosclerosis by lowering cholesterol levels and
preventing the oxidation of low density lipoprotein (LDL).
Traditionally used to sooth the digestive tract; a
published in the journal BMJ in 2008 found peppermint
oil may even be beneficial in the treatment of irritable bowel
syndrome. Also known to inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungi,
and can help relieve symptoms of allergies and asthma.
A powerful antimicrobial agent that also enhances your
antioxidant defenses. It's been found to kill E. coli and many
other bacteria. Its anti-inflammatory compounds help relieve
pain and stiffness of muscles and joints due to arthritis. Also
helps prevent urinary tract infections, tooth decay and gum
To boost mental health and/or reduce anxiety:
According to a study
published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, an
extract of nutmeg seeds elicited a significant antidepressant-like
effect in mice; in some doses comparable in potency to the antidepressants
imipramine and fluoxetine. In fact, reducing anxiety and treating
insomnia are two ailments that nutmeg has been traditionally
salt: According to a 2008
study published in the journal Physiology & Behavior,
salt may be a natural mood-elevating substance. Sodium deficiency
can induce behavioral changes such as reduced motivation, fatigue,
and feelings of depression. However, it's important to understand
that common table salt and the salt used in processed foods
is the highly processed variety, and NOT at all the same as
natural salt your body needs to perform its vital functions,
including the maintenance of proper brain function. So when
adding salt to your meal, make sure you're using a natural unprocessed
salt, such as Himalayan salt.
A Potent Cancer-Fighter!
A couple of
spices deserve further review; one of which is turmeric. It was
already mentioned twice above, both as an immune booster and potent
anti-inflammatory. But perhaps its greatest value lies in its anti-cancer
In India where
turmeric is widely used, the prevalence of four common U.S. cancers
colon, breast, prostate and lung is 10 times lower.
In fact, prostate cancer, which is the most frequently diagnosed
cancer in U.S. men, is rare in India and this is attributed, in
part, to the curcumin in turmeric.
LaValley from Austin Texas is one of the top natural medicine cancer
physicians I know and he recently shared this important information
with me. Interestingly, curcumin the active ingredient in
turmeric actually has the most evidence based literature
backing up its anti-cancer claims of any other nutrient!
have looked into this potential cancer-fighting link, with promising
results. For instance, curcumin has been found to:
the transformation of cells from normal to tumor, as well as
inhibit the proliferation of tumor cells already existing
your body destroy mutated cancer cells so they cannot spread
throughout your body
the synthesis of a protein thought to be instrumental in tumor
the development of additional blood supply necessary for cancer
cell growth (known
over 100 different pathways once it gets into a cell. Interestingly,
this also applies to the metabolite of curcumin and its derivatives,
which also have anti-cancer properties. According to researchers
from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, curcumin
blocks a key biological pathway needed for development of melanoma
and other cancers.
The spice actually
stops laboratory strains of melanoma from proliferating and pushes
the cancer cells to commit suicide by shutting down nuclear factor-kappa
B (NF-kB), a powerful protein known to induce abnormal inflammatory
response that leads to an assortment of disorders such as arthritis
Best of all,
curcumin appears to be safe in the treatment of all cancers!
To get the
full benefits that curcumin has to offer, you will want to look
for a turmeric extract with at least 95 percent curcuminoids that
contains only 100 percent certified organic ingredients.
should be free of fillers, additives and excipients (a substance
added to the supplement as a processing or stability aid), and the
manufacturer should use safe production practices at all stages:
planting, cultivation, selective harvesting, and then producing
and packaging the final product.
details on how to use curcumin, please see
this previous article.
An Excellent Choice for Diabetics
The other spice
I want to review further is cinnamon, simply because of its potential
benefits against diabetes, which is a problem of epidemic proportions
in the US.
have investigated the "insulin-like" effects of cinnamon for a number
of years now, and it keeps proving it's a viable
contender in the fight against diabetes.
spice's most impressive health benefits is its impact on blood sugar
and ability to improve glucose control. For example, just half a
teaspoon of cinnamon a day has
been shown to significantly reduce blood sugar levels, triglycerides,
LDL (bad) cholesterol, and total cholesterol levels in people with
type 2 diabetes. In another earlier study, cinnamon
was found to increase glucose metabolism 20-fold!
cinnamon lowers your blood sugar by acting on several different
the emptying of your stomach to reduce sharp rises in blood sugar
the effectiveness, or sensitivity, of insulin
your antioxidant defenses. A study published in 2009 stated that
"polyphenols from cinnamon could be of special interest in people
that are overweight with impaired fasting glucose since they might
act both as insulin sensitizers and antioxidants." Yet another
bioflavanoid compound called proanthocyanidin may alter the activity
of insulin signaling in your fat cells.
have suggested people with diabetes may see improvements by adding
1/4-1 teaspoon of cinnamon to their food, and I see no reason not
to give this a try if you enjoy cinnamon (along with doing the other
to improve diabetes, including eliminating fructose and grains
from your diet and exercising daily).
ample amounts of cinnamon to your diet is an incredibly inexpensive
and great tasting tool for diabetics, and the likelihood of this
food causing any long-term complications is very small.
Spice Up Your Life!
All these benefits
give you ample reasons to be adventurous in adding spices to your
meals, and to be generous in the amounts you use. It will be worth
it for the flavor enhancement alone, and the boost it will give
your health is the icing on the cake!
helpful recipes, see PlanetGreen's article, which offers cooking
advice for many of the herbs and spices mentioned here.
2011 Dr. Joseph Mercola
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