When is the last time you refreshed your spice rack? If you’re anything like me, it’s probably been a while.
But that’s about to change at my house because it turns out one of the best things you can do for your health is to invest in a variety of tasty herbs. Yes, my friend, new research has revealed the power of a pinch.
Now we all know how a dash of our favorite spice such as garlic, black pepper, or basil can transform a meal from yawn to YUM. But, according to a new study, a healthy sprinkle of over at least a dozen spices could also help transform our health too.
Because it turns out what those spices do for your food pales in comparison to what they can do INSIDE your body. Researchers say these potent little powerhouses may help dial down a key driver of pain, infection, and chronic disease all at the same time.
And incredibly you don’t need buckets of the stuff, or even a supplement, to get those benefits. Just a PINCH is all it takes.
Could flavor-enhancing herbs help your health?
None of us is perfect. And neither are most of our diets. This is why the new study didn’t highlight those rare, super-fit unicorns whose diets are flawless to start with.
Instead, researchers did the exact opposite. The new study focused on the effects of flavor-enhancing herbs on a less-than-ideal dinner in people with less than ideal health.
The volunteers ranged from middle-aged to seniors. And everyone was somewhere between chubby and obese, with at least one major risk factor for heart disease.
Participants tried a variety of meals on different nights. Some had no spice. Others had a little bit of an herb and spice blend made for the study. And the final group had a bit more of that blend, but still maxed out at less than a tablespoon.
Multiple blood tests were given after each meal. And the blood itself was tested to see how it reacted to inflammatory stimulus.
MORE spices could mean LESS inflammation
Now, as I’ve explained before, inflammation is at the heart of just about everything that affects our health. Acute inflammation, like when you twist a knee, is the obvious kind that usually involves swelling and red skin.
On the other hand, chronic or systematic inflammation generally can’t be seen. But it’s a key player in everything from pain to infection to chronic diseases including dementia, cancer, and age-related macular degeneration.
When there’s trauma, infection, or disease present, your immune system responds by producing inflammation and pumping out inflammatory cytokines. They are kind of like traffic cops helping to direct cells towards the site of the problem.
But when they aren’t kept in check, this process can go into overdrive with far too many inflammatory cytokines circulating and inflammation skyrocketing. In other words, they can go “bad,” CAUSING inflammatory illnesses instead of helping you to heal.
But those blood tests the researchers took revealed something interesting. After the meal with maximum spice… we’re talking a tablespoon, tops… the volunteers had far lower levels of inflammatory cytokines.
Now I have to admit the spice blend they created for the study was pretty unique. So it may be hard to mimic at home precisely.
- bay leaf
- black pepper
- red pepper
But here’s the thing. You really don’t have to make a perfect match.
There’s no reason to believe this blend is a magic formula that needs to be perfectly copied. The key is in how each one of these ingredients can fight inflammation on its own. And you’d likely get some similar benefits crafting your own delicious variations using these and other common herbs and spices.
Along with dried blends and mixes, don’t forget fresh additions, including garlic, shallots, chili peppers, and more. Each can bring even more inflammation-fighting, disease-beating benefits to your plate.