Believe it or not, the secret weapons to healthful aging are in your kitchen. Yes, you heard it right! Food can be used as a powerful tool to help fight disease and strengthen your immune system as you age, Harvard Health says. Many studies have shown that maintaining an overall healthy diet and lifestyle is the key to living a longer life. While there’s not one single food that can drastically change your inflammation levels, a whole group of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices, will help you feel better and healthier.
We spoke to Dr. Kristamarie Collman, MD, a family medicine physician about the herbs and spices filled with inflammation-fighting antioxidants and age-fighting compounds. Here are her recommendations on what to integrate in your cooking routine for delicious yet nutritious food!
This pungent spice is used in many cuisines and dishes from Indian curries to Thai stir-frys. “Ginger packs a powerful punch due to its bio-active compound, Gingerol. Gingerol has antioxidant properties and may help to decrease inflammation in organs such as the liver. This is highly beneficial as the liver is responsible for helping our body filter waste and remove toxins. Additionally, it is known that inflammation over long periods of time increases the risk for serious health issues and various chronic diseases,” Dr. Collman says.
This spice is normally found in Golden Milk, a concoction of turmeric, milk, and other spices like cinnamon. “It is also known to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.The focus is curcumin, the biologically active component of turmeric. Some studies have shown curcumin to be effective in decreasing inflammation in many chronic conditions and to be beneficial for cardiovascular and neurologic health,” Dr. Collman says.
Ginseng is a powerful medicinal herb that has been used for centuries. “Some research has shown ginseng properties to have positive effects against cancer, diabetes, and to help improve immune function and relieve stress. Chronic stress over long periods of time can increase inflammation within the body, negatively impacting our health and in turn decreasing longevity,” Dr. Collman says. Ginseng can be added to teas, smoothies, soups, and stews for a delicious twist.
Spirulina is a blue green alga that is considered a superfood for many great reasons. “It contains a high amount of a plant-based protein called phycocyanin, which is what is responsible for the blue green color. This protein may help to fight free radicals and reduce inflammation that could be damaging to our cells. It is known that some plants can play a huge role in anti-aging. Spirulina is also an excellent source of B Vitamins, Copper and Iron, important nutrients which may help to support our immune health,” Dr. Collman says. Spirulina is often found in acai bowls, smoothies, and juices.
Cinnamon is found in many popular breakfast items, from muffins to waffles to oatmeal. “There is some research which suggests that cinnamon is high in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which can help the body in removing damaging free radicals from the cells. Additionally, cinnamon may be beneficial in helping to treat neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease and endocrine disorders like Type 2 Diabetes, however further research is still needed,” Dr. Collman says.