Spice up your life and lengthen your days – here’s what to add to your diet to add years to your life!
Longevity isn’t all about DNA, genetics, environment, and the hand you were given at birth. There are ways in which we can contribute to the length and happiness of our existence.
Life isn’t meant solely for watching every calorie, sticking to strict regimes and going by the book. We are here to enjoy it, not treat it like a chore – happiness also equals healthiness and our diet and lifestyle can strongly influence this. I may be steering slightly off topic here for some of you, but for me cooking and eating are huge factors in the enjoyment of life. Even if you don’t love the creation part of food, most people find some enjoyment in eating. So what better way to contribute to your longevity than via the sanctity, and let’s face it, necessity, of food?
There are always new-fangled ways of altering our diets in order to slim down, reduce cholesterol, keep the blood pressure at a healthy level, etc. but another focus that is just as relevant and covers all bases is to look towards diet and longevity. How to promote a longer life through what we eat. This is nothing new when it comes to the Ayurvedic traditions, and many of us Westerners already do add them to our meals these days – so what is this secret ingredient that we need in our foods to spice up our lives? Clue’s in the question – spices!
It is that simple. Well, there is, of course, more to it to explain the why and how. Adding the following spices to your daily diet can help boost your immune system, reduce stress, relieve aches and pains and give you energy and the power to live life to the fullest (and hopefully longer).
The wonder spice of the moment is called as such for good reason; its main active ingredient is called Curcumin which has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Inflammation is a strong contender against longevity and so adding a good dose of curcumin to the diet can help to have a positive impact on diseases which are affected by metabolism such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and some cancers – all of which are affected by a common denominator – inflammation. The long and short of it is that turmeric can increase the longevity of our cells.
Not just limited to an addition to a curry, turmeric is also a wonderful winter warmer in a cup of ‘golden milk’, you can add it with a good grind of black pepper to any dish (black pepper increases the absorption), fish dishes, soups, stews, roasted veggies, and goes very well with eggs.
Definitely the spice that we most associate with winter holidays, cinnamon is extremely rich in antioxidants, it modulates oxidative stress, reduces inflammatory and allergic reactions and reduces circulating lipids, thus protecting our cardiovascular system. It also seems to have a role as an adjuvant to anti-diabetic treatments and can aid in the breaking down of collagen and also help in its production – one of the things that the ageing process begins to slow down on. Collagen is a protein which keeps our skin looking plump and youthful and decreases in production over time. Cinnamon can also help to regulate blood sugar levels, relieve joint pain and aid digestion due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Add it to your morning oats or pancakes, cereals, sprinkle onto your latte or hot chocolate, add a touch to your smoothies, any dessert (especially with apple) muesli bars, curries, stews, and soups.
Paprika is a highly beneficial spice with many excellent properties for increasing longevity; it boosts our immune system and is rich in vitamins. Its anti-inflammatory properties also help to relieve the effects of arthritis and aid in cardiovascular health.
You can treat paprika like any other pepper really, there are two types; sweet or spicy. Often used in Spanish, Creole and Mexican dishes paprika provides a beautiful rich red colour and depth of peppery spice or subtlety depending on which you use. Add it to any juice or smoothie, soup, gazpacho, rice dish, pasta dish, gumbo, stews, sauces for meats and fish.
Very similar properties to Paprika yet has a higher level of antioxidants.
Add to any rice dish, heart healthy salads or soups, especially good with fresh orange and fennel.
Cardamom is an age old spice used frequently in ayurvedic medicine due to its positive health benefits and pungent flavour. Cardamom aids in the regeneration of neurons and so helps to prevent cognitive decline. Also can help with digestion and reducing reflux.
Add to your juices and smoothies for an interesting flavour punch, also good for soups, curries and spiced tea.
The power spice known for its numbing capabilities used on chronic toothache for centuries. It is also the spice richest in antioxidants and aids in the reduction of oxidative stress.
Add to your mulled wine at Christmas, or any spiced tea, coffee or warm drinks, use in baking, and good for flavouring meat, sauces and rice dishes. Popular in Moroccan cuisine.
Often used topically in its essential oil form to treat muscle and joint pain, to ease arthritic pain, and internally for help with digestion and circulation. Aids in overall good health and reduction of age-related issues. The pepper is rich in capsaicin which also helps with neuropathic pains.
Add just a pinch to curries, stews, chili, eggs, or Mexican food for a sweet-spicy heat. Or add to a pot of beans or sprinkle over roast chicken. You can also make a tea using up to 1 teaspoon of powdered cayenne pepper per cup of water.
Of course, just eating foods loaded with the spices listed above isn’t going to magically provide a healthy, long life. But in addition to including other ways of increasing longevity i.e.; not smoking, limiting alcohol intake, sleeping well (eight hours per day), keeping hydrated, doing regular exercise, keeping stress to a minimum, and good diet that avoids inflammatory, fatty, fried foods, refined grains and processed foods, and we are on the right road to extending and prolonging a happy, healthy life.
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