„Spice up your life!“
Why spices are an important part of your food and why it isn’t always just about spiciness is the topic of this week’s Tutorial Thursday.
When the Spice Girls sang about spicing up your life they probably didn’t actually mean to add more spices to your meals. But that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t have been right in doing so. Spices have been a valuable ressource ever since and can add that extra something to almost any meal. They have been a highly coveted article of commerce and sought after all over the world. Not only starred chefs swear by spices but every hobby chef as well. But is this always just about the taste? No!
Sure, we all know that nutrition plays an important role in our health and athletic performance. However, this isn’t simply restricted to the pure groceries but goes for the spices as well. It is common knowledge that certain spices can have huge positive effects on health. Pepper, for example, acts as a stimulant, ginger supports the body’s defenses during many viral infections, and cinnamon has anti-bacterial effects. In century-old records you can find notes about medicinal plants, herbs, and spices. Whether you apply them dermally (on the skin) or take them orally, the seeds, flowers, leaves, and roots of some ancient plants can really work wonders.
Not only those that want to become healthy but also those that want to stay healthy should consume spices regularly. Thus, we wanted to bring one spice closer to you:
Never heard of it? Curcuma (curcuma longa) is an about one meter long plant from India, belongs to the ginger family, and is characterized by its bitter-hot taste and its strong yellow colour. It is the main ingredient of the indian curry powder and is also used as a dye for foods.
Curcuma has been used for millenia in the Far Eastern cookery as well as traditional alternative medicine. The reason is its huge anti-inflammatory effect. Main agent are the curcuminoids curcumin, desmethoxycurcumin, and bis-desmethoxycurcumin. The root also contains about 6% essential oils, caffeic acid, caffeic acid derivatives, and ferulic acid. These substances are the reason that it works antimicrobial (against micro-organisms), antineoplastic (against tumors), antiarthritic, and anti-inflammatory.
The high amount of anti-oxidants ensures that inflammatory substances in the body are defused and inflammations are prevented, lessened or eliminated. Especially studies with arthritis patients have confirmed this. This also suggests the assumption that this repression of any inflammation is also the cause for the cancer-inhibiting effect of the root. There are still more studies to be done on this, though.
Additionally, some studies have shown that curcuma stimulates gastric juice production and thus works digestive.
Speaking of digestion: unfortunately, the bioavailability (absorption of curcumin into the body) is rather bad. Thus, you’ll either need high doses or a certain regularity. Slightly heating it in oil and/or ingesting it in combination with black pepper can also improve availability.
So the name of the game is this: visit the Indian restaurant around the corner more often or try to add curry powder to your meals more frequently. Curcuma is almost everywhere available as a powder and fits nicely with rice, potatoe or vegetable dishes. To ensure freshness and quality it is recommended to buy it in its original root form. For it can also be consumed in its pure form: add it to your tea or stir it in a yoghurt. Simply hackle it into small pieces, use a grater or pestle it in a mortar to add it to your meal.
In combination with other measures against inflammations in your body you will have a completely natural, side effect-free remedy for optimal physical performance. For every inflammation steals energy from your body and impairs the power output! And it also tastes great.
To end this Tutorial Thursday we also have a tip for a natural training booster for you!
Simply add the following ingredients to a glass of warm water and drink half an hour before your workout:
- one tip of a teaspoon of finely ground black pepper
- one level teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- 2g L-Arginin (pure amino acid)