Whether you want to lose weight around your middle or get rid of a bloated stomach, a well-balanced diet can help you do both. We asked experts about gut health to recommend the 2 Best spices that are high in antioxidants, help digestion and speed up the metabolism. Read on to learn more about the many benefits of turmeric and ginger for gut health, as well as some helpful studies, from Dr M. Kara, digestive health, functional medicine, natural remedies and supplements expert and founder of KaraMD, Joanna Wen, a health coach and founder of Spices & Greens, Lisa Richards, a registered nutritionist and creator of The Candida Diet and Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD, a registered dietitian at Balance One Supplements.
Kara says that this spice can be used in many ways and is great at fighting inflammation. Turmeric is an old spice that has been used for hundreds of years in medicine, food and other places because its main ingredient, curcumin, is good for your health. Kara says that inflammation is one of the “biggest causes of long-term health problems as we get older and near middle age.” If you get bloated often, it could be a sign that you have chronic inflammation. “One of the best things about turmeric is that it has a natural compound that reduces inflammation,” he says.
In a 2017 study, researchers found that curcumin specifically helps gut health because it is “a polyphenol” and “has been shown to target multiple signalling molecules while also showing activity at the cellular level, which has helped to support its multiple health benefits.”
Chronic inflammation can cause aches and pains, a weakened immune system, poor cognitive function, an increased risk of heart disease, digestive problems and more if it is not treated “Kara continues. “That’s why it’s very important to reduce inflammation in any way you can. Turmeric is one of the best natural ways to do this.” Kara says that adding turmeric to your daily diet lets you “take a holistic approach to your health as you age by focusing on your health from different angles.”
Richards agrees and adds that turmeric is a natural and effective anti-inflammatory compound. “This makes it good for reducing chronic pain, fighting bloating, easing joint pain and helping to improve the quality of life for people with different types of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions,” he says.
She says that turmeric makes a tasty tea that has these extra benefits and is also known for its antioxidant power. She says again that this makes it able to fight free radicals and get rid of toxins from the body. She warns that free radicals can hurt the cells in our bodies, which can lead to chronic diseases like cancer. Richards points out that turmeric can help prevent or treat many of these diseases in this way.
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Wen says that ginger is a well-known root that is good for your health in many ways. She says that it has been used for hundreds of years to help with digestion and treat stomach problems. “Ginger works by making the body make more digestive juices and reducing inflammation in the gut,” she says. This can help the body break down food better and reduce bloating. “What’s more, ginger has been shown to speed up your metabolism and help you lose weight,” she says. She goes on to say that this spice is also a “natural appetite suppressant” that can make you feel full and, in the end, cut the number of calories you eat every day.
Wen talks about a 2012 study in which researchers found that people who drank a “hot ginger beverage with 2 grammes (about 12 teaspoons) of ginger powder after meals” felt less hungry for up to six hours. Wen says that there are many ways to add ginger to your diet to improve your gut health. One is to “add ginger to” sweet or savoury dishes, stir-fries and curries.”
Best agrees and says that ginger is unique because it has compounds called gingerols and shogaols that help with inflammation. She says that these compounds act as antioxidants in the body, which reduces the damage done by free radicals. She says, “This damage leads to an increase in oxidative stress, which can cause obesity and make it worse.” This happens at the cellular level. Once damaged cells copy the natural processes that keep homeostasis in the body, they can mess up those processes, which can lead to “decreased metabolism, energy and more,” she says.
Best says that a great way to get antioxidants and improve your overall health is to choose ginger tea over coffee or other flavoured teas that “offer no benefits.” “It’s an easy way to add to your current health plan and daily routine without giving up the taste and warmth of hot drinks you’d be drinking anyway,” she says.
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Jessa Martin is the author of Nogmagazine, A professional in writing by day, and novelist by night, she received her bachelor of arts in film from Howard University and her master of arts in media studies from the New School. A Brooklyn native, she is a lover of naps, cookie dough, and beaches, currently residing in the borough she loves, most likely multitasking.