Nutrition as Medicine: Spice it up to Fight Inflammation

  • Science is starting to recognize the nutritive properties of  many of the plants that we use to flavor our foods.  Today we will talk about spicing up your meals and how it can reduce inflammation.

    Two spices derived from the Zingiberaceae plant family, ginger and turmeric, have been shown to have beneficial effects in treating inflammatory conditions.  Ginger has shown the most promise for IBD.  In one 2011 study, ginger supplements were shown to reduce markers of colon inflammation (1).  Turmeric is currently under investigation for its use in treating inflammation as well.  If you have IBD adding these spices, as tolerated, may help decrease inflammation in your body.

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    Fennel seeds have also shown some benefit in reducing inflammation.  In a study of menstruating women, fennel seeds were as effective as NSAIDs in treating the inflammation and pain of the subjects (2).  These seeds can be easily added to your diet by mixing them with your peppercorns in a pepper mill and grinding them onto your food as you would with pepper.

    Garlic and onion are also huge inflammation fighters (3).  Garlic has been shown to work as well as NSAID medicines in test tube studies.  Onions contain quercetin and the compound allicin, which fight free radicals as well as inflammation.  These foods can be easily added to your diet as tolerated.  

    Other spices that you might consider adding to your diet to reduce inflammation are: black pepper, basil, cardamom, cayenne, chamomile, chives, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and rosemary.  These spices all contain antioxidants that can help the body fight free radicals which can lead to inflammation.

    Spice up your meals as tolerated and not only will you add tons of flavor but you may also reduce inflammation! But talk to your gastro before considering trying new spices.

Published On: March 03, 2014