Take advantage of Mother Nature’s Greatest Medicine with this list of natural herbs and spices to boost immunity and overall winter wellness.
The cooler winter months can often bring about an increase in the occurrence of the common cold, general ailments, overall health concerns, and cravings for warm comforting foods, some of which might not be the healthy kind!
Luckily, the wonderful natural world around us offers an incredible array of herbs and spices which offer a wide variety of health benefits such as fighting inflammation, stabilising blood sugar and helping to naturally protect against illness and disease.
The below list of herbs, spices and in Garlic’s case, vegetables, are our favourite staples in the Gaia kitchen during winter, helping to boost immunity and naturally improve our overall health and well being. Try to increase your use of these wonders during the winter months.
A popular spice used in Indian cooking, and the main ingredient in ‘curry’, turmeric has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that all come together to help stabilise blood sugar levels. Turmeric helps to boost immunity and prevent infections and many studies have proven that curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, in the right dose, may be more effective than traditional pharmaceutical anti-inflammatory medications. Why not try our Signature Turmeric Tonic.
Cloves are best known as a sweet and aromatic spice and have been proven to protect the heart, support liver health and assist with stabilizing blood sugar levels. Cloves are rich in antioxidants such as phenol, eugenol and quercetin and as we know, antioxidants are wonderful compounds that help our bodies to reduce oxidative stress. Cloves have also been found to have antiseptic and germicidal properties, which offer anti-inflammatory, analgesic and digestive health benefits.
This delicious aromatic herb from the mint family, commonly used to add flavour and aroma to meats and soups, helps to normalize blood sugar levels and promote weight loss. Rosemary not only tastes good but is a great source of iron, calcium, vitamin B-6 and is another rich source of antioxidants.
Popular in Italian, Spanish and Mediterranean cooking, oregano is considered one of the best herbs to lower blood sugar levels and is a great antibacterial agent when used fresh. Research has revealed that oregano assists to alleviate oxidative stress under diabetic conditions through the inhibition of lipid peroxidation and is loaded with antioxidants. Oregano is also an excellent source of fibre, vitamin K, manganese, iron and calcium.
According to a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, sage has been linked to having similar effects to the popular diabetes drug, Metformin. Sage has been used in traditional medicine for centuries, as one of the important herbs that reduce blood sugar. Once again, this wonder herb is packed with antioxidants and compounds that also help to reduce inflammation.
One of our oldest and most well regarded vegetables (yes that’s right, it is not a herb or spice), Garlic offers a wide variety of health benefits and is one of our favourite kitchen staples at Gaia. Garlic has been linked to assisting with reducing high cholesterol levels and in ancient medicine has been used to treat high blood pressure, diabetes, fevers, liver disfunction and heart disease.
A spice that is popular for soothing your stomach and aiding digestion, ginger also has the ability to normalize blood sugar levels. Multiple studies have shown that ginger can have a significant anti-hyperglycemic effect. It lowers serum total cholesterol, triglycerides and increases the HDL-cholesterol levels. Ginger is also known to sooth the entire digestive tract, reduce acid reflux and assist with relieving nausea and inflammation.
When we ingest carbohydrates, they are broken down into glucose in the small intestine, which is then absorbed into the bloodstream. Spices like cayenne pepper and chilli stimulate glucose absorption from the small intestine and help to stabilize your blood sugar levels. The entire pepper family – including bell peppers, chilli peppers, and cayenne are well known to help fight inflammation. So why not try a chilli condiment on the side with your next dish… our delicious Chilli Lemongrass Sambal is a favourite side amongst our staff.
Once traded as currency, this popular Indian spice, from the inner bark of a small evergreen tree can improve insulin sensitivity and blood glucose control. As well as supporting blood sugar management in patients with diabetes, our favourite household spice is linked to positive effects on blood pressure. This wonder spice also contains large amounts of antioxidants with anti-inflammatory effects, as well as carrying prebiotic properties which may help to improve our gut health. The delicious Gaia Signature Hot Chocolate Blends infuse Cinnamon with Cacao and can be purchased in our online store.
One of the lesser known herbs, Marjoram, is high in polyphenols, which aid in stabilizing blood glucose levels. Several other benefits linked to Marjoram include reducing inflammation, relieving digestive issues and regulating the menstrual cycle.
Ginseng has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries as one of the most potent herbs for blood sugar control. Ginseng has beneficial antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and has also been linked to improvements in mental health, mood and memory. Ginseng can be eaten raw, made into tea and added to a variety of dishes.
A great recipe that you can try at home, which is packed with the nourishing goodness of natural herbs is our delicious Green Minestrone Soup, created with love by our Head Chef, Dan.