5 Spices To Boost Your Immunity + Improve Your Digestion

Integrative Medicine Doctor By Taz Bhatia, M.D.
Integrative Medicine Doctor
Dr. Taz Bhatia is a board-certified physician, specializing in integrative and emergency medicine, pediatrics and prevention, with expertise in women’s health, weight-loss, hormone balance and nutrition. She attended Emory University, the University of Georgia and the Medical College of Georgia.

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As the weather changes, it can make us more susceptible to cough, colds, flu, and other bugs that get the better of us.

Many of the spices used during the winter months can actually help boost our immunity and improve our digestion. Here are the top five spices you should be incorporating into your favorite dishes so you can feel your best all winter long:

1. Nutmeg

Originating in Indonesia, nutmeg is derived from a tree now found in the Caribbean and South India. Nutmeg is a high mineral spice, containing magnesium, potassium, and zinc, which help protect against the dreaded cold and flu season. The rich magnesium content of nutmeg has also been found to help with relaxation and sleep.

There are many other home remedies associated with nutmeg, including using the spice as a pain reliever or for indigestion. Mixing nutmeg with some honey has been used to heal acne, while mixing with chickpea flour is thought to remove blackheads.

2. Ginger

One of the best known digestive aids, ginger contains the active compound gingerol, which has been shown to help indigestion, nausea, and vomiting. This same compound also has anti-inflammatory properties, assisting in relief of joint pain and inflammation.

Fresh ginger contains more active gingerol than dried ginger and can be kept in the fridge for up to three weeks or in the freezer for as long as six months. Add grated or sliced fresh ginger to your teas, sweets, and stews to lower your inflammatory load this winter season.

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3. Turmeric

One of my favorite go-to spices for combating illness is turmeric! Due to its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral properties, it has been used since ancient times in Ayurvedic medicine. The active ingredient, curcumin, has excellent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Try turmeric in teas, smoothies, and juices.

4. Star Anise

An original Chinese spice, star anise comes from the fruit of a tree in China. Chinese star anise is thought to have health benefits, while Japanese star anise is poisonous.

The health benefits of star anise are traced back to the compound shikimic acid, which resembles the drug ostelmavir, used to fight the flu. Star anise has antifungal and anti-candida properties as well.

Star anise is often used to flavor teas and desserts, while the essential oil is used in many perfumes. Consider adding this aromatic spice to your favorite dishes to balance your sugar load and risk for candida, a yeast that naturally occurs in our microbiome but can get out of balance with overindulgence.

5. Cardamom

Both a digestive aid and an antiseptic, the essential oil of cardamom is one of the few spices that has high amounts of iron and manganese.

The oil of cardamom can be used topically to heal infections and as an anesthetic. In many countries, the entire pod of cardamom was boiled with ginger and other spices to relieve digestive discomfort after dinner.

Today, cardamom is used in many desserts, drinks, and rice dishes throughout the Middle East. Add this spice to your kitchen cabinet and add the essential oil to your first aid kit.

Want more spices? Check out:

Taz Bhatia, M.D.
Taz Bhatia, M.D.
Dr. Taz Bhatia is a board-certified physician, specializing in integrative and emergency medicine,...
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Taz Bhatia, M.D.
Taz Bhatia, M.D.
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