Well-being

Spice of the season

Seasonal change & 6 healthy spices to include in our routine

Spice of the season

Pic for representational purpose only. iStock

Dr Manoj Kutteri

The transitioning season comes with many lifestyle changes and can cause health problems, the balance of our diet and the balance of bacteria in the gut can be affected by various factors including overindulgence of rich and fatty foods. Thus, while changing our diet we need to be extra careful to lead a healthy life.

Not everyone can cope up with the seasonal changes and have to go through pain and discomfort, though it can be fixed with a few simple changes in lifestyle and eating habits there is a need to understand the cause behind every health problem that we face. 

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food, this famous saying by the ancient-Greek physician Hippocrates emphasizes how healthy food can act as medicine if consumed with responsibility. While most of us like our food to be garnished with herbs and spices, not all spices act like medicine on the body. Nature bestows on us a plethora of ingredients to choose from and make healthy meals that take care of our body, mind, and soul. It's a responsibility to make a choice that best suits our health.

Tulsi (Ocimum Sanctum) 

Tulsi is also known as Holy basil due to its use in religious offerings. Tulsi is also regarded as "The Queen of Herbs" according to Ayurvedic medicine. Tulsi has innumerous medicinal properties and is used an adjuvant therapy for many disorders. There are many different varieties of Tulsi which makes their distinctive uses in religious offerings, healing, cooking etc. Daily consumption of Tulsi in the form of extracts, inhalations, herbal teas helps to restore the respiratory health and build the immunity. Tulsi is also used in wide variety of neurological conditions such as stress, anxiety etc. Concoctions made with Tulsi, Ginger and Honey are also used to treat monsoon fevers and allergies.  Since monsoon is the period where our respiratory system gets attacked by infections, it is a must to consume herb to prevent or treat range of lung disorders such as cough, cold, asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis etc. Application of herbal paste made with Tulsi is also good to treat parasitic infestations of the skin and also fungal infections.

Turmeric

Turmeric is one of the herbs that has the highest anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. It has a warm bitter taste and is used in the preparation Due to the medicinal value of Turmeric it's widely used in Ayurvedic medicines. Turmeric is an antidote for many of the monsoon illnesses, including asthma, cough, allergies, running nose, rheumatism, sinusitis etc. It is also used for tropical applications in case of infections or injuries. The anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric comes from the chemical curcumin. This natural anti-oxidants are also used in the form of extracts for treating multitude of diseases. Besides the above benefits, turmeric with a cup of milk is a great sedative and can be used for good sleep. Turmeric is best consumed with black pepper for treating any monsoon illnesses. Turmeric is also a natural remedy for arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis which are usually aggravated in monsoons. Turmeric can be taken internally taken internally in the form of herbal tea, fresh juice, tinctures, or powder, and topically as creams, lotions, pastes, and ointments and also for inhalation to treat sinusitis by burning the turmeric itself

Garlic

Garlic is an easily available ingredient in your kitchen which has medicinal properties. Garlic contains the anti-oxidant Allicin, which has Sulphur and that gives the strong odor and taste for garlic. Daily consumption of garlic can provide bunch of health benefits. Garlic helps to boost the immune system and one of the best herbs that is good to prevent and treat infections. Including garlic in your diet can help you fight with cold, flu and other disorders. It also has cardio protective, anti-arthritic and anti-diabetic properties. Garlic also has anti-oxidant properties, and thus, it can reduce the production of free radicals in the blood which also helps to prevent cancer and many other life-threatening diseases. 

Ginger

Ginger is a root spice that has been widely used in Asian and Western countries for its anti-inflammatory properties and delirious flavor. While in Asia pacific region it is used in savory dishes, in countries like the UK and America ginger is used to flavor the desserts. Gingerol, the bioactive compound of ginger is known to be rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that help decrease the level of triglycerides, and cholesterol in the body. Adding ginger to the body helps improve blood circulation, lower blood sugar levels, and cholesterol thereby reducing risk of heart diseases. Ginger also is good digestive and used is many digestive conditions as well. 

Cinnamon

Discovered in 2000 BC as a sweet-savory inner bark of trees to flavor the food of the kings, Cinnamon has been popular for its distinct aroma and flavour. And hence it is used widely in Indian desserts, rice, and even curries. Cinnamon can be great for heart health as it helps balance the blood pressure and also controls the probable cause of a cardiac arrest. Counted as one of the healthy herbs for fighting nausea, vomiting, etc, Cinnamon is a promise for a healthy heart. It is known to help lower the blood sugar levels, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and overall cholesterol. Being one of the few herbs that have a sweet pungent taste, this herb goes well with fruits, dairy products and vegetables.

Licorice

The scientific name of licorice root is Glycyrrhiza glabra. Licorice is a respiratory friendly herb and is best suited in monsoon. It has both anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties. It is beneficial in people with asthma, bronchitis, throat irritation or chest colds with coughs or problem in breathing. The age-old remedy for sore throat is chewing of Licorice sticks. Licorice is also used in treating digestive disorders such as bloating, acidity, indigestion. It has a mild laxative effect which also helps in clearing the bowels. Mulleti also has great expectorant properties.

—The writer is Wellness Director, Atmantan Wellness Centre

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