Anything you can do to enhance your digestion will add years to your life and lower your propensity for hundreds of chronic diseases. These simple herbs listed below can seriously alter your outcome to a higher probability for optimal health. They are all readily available for most people and are cost-effective means to aide digestion while preventing chronic diseases including cancer. Don’t forget that optimal health is accumulative and so just adding a little of these throughout your day in food & teas makes a difference. See which ones resonate most with you.
- Black pepper
- Red chilli
This following abstract is impressive to say the least because it shows by simply adding onion or garlic you can increase the bioaccessibility of the minerals zinc and iron from cereal grains/foods. This is HUGE news as it now gives you more knowledge to increase food-based strategies for increasing mineral absorption. Increases like jumping from 9.4% bioaccessible to 65.9% for iron and more.
- Two representative cereals and pulses each were studied in both raw and cooked condition employing two levels of garlic (0.25 and 0.5 g/10 g of grain) and onion (1.5 and 3 g/10 g of grain). The enhancing effect of these two spices on iron bioaccessibility was generally evidenced in the case of both the cereals (9.4-65.9% increase) and pulses (9.9-73.3% increase) in both raw and cooked conditions. The two spices similarly enhanced the bioaccessibility of zinc from the food grains, the extent of increase in cereals ranging from 10.4% to 159.4% and in pulses from 9.8% to 49.8%. This novel information has the potential application in evolving a food-based strategy to improve the bioavailability of trace minerals and hence contributes to the human health benefit. (full abstract)
On the other hand in some cases or combinations spices may inhibit iron absorption. It may have more to do with combination and dose. As the old saying goes ‘its the dose that makes the poison’.
- The effects of six spices and herbs (chili pepper, garlic, ‘Pak kyheng’ (Thai leafy vegetable), shallot, tamarind, turmeric) and one mixture of spices (curry paste) on iron availability . . . All tested spices and herbs contained from 0.5 to 33 mg polyphenol per meal and were potent inhibitors of iron availability (20-90%) . . . Our findings demonstrate that culinary spices and herbs can play an important role in iron nutrition. (full abstract)
Here is one study on the effects of ginger, piperine, capsaicin and curcumin on digestion and absorption of fat. Keep in mind this study even showed that the energy expenditure is facilitated by these spices to prevent the accumulation of absorbed fat
- A few common spices are known to stimulate secretion of bile with higher amount of bile acids which play a major role in digestion and absorption of dietary lipids . . . These spices enhanced the activity of pancreatic lipase, amylase, trypsin and chymotrypsin by 22-57%, 32-51%, 63-81% and 12-38%, respectively. Dietary intake of spices along with high-fat enhanced fat absorption. These dietary spices increased bile secretion with higher bile acid content . . . Thus, dietary ginger and other spice compounds enhance fat digestion and absorption in high-fat fed situation through enhanced secretion of bile salts and a stimulation of the activity pancreatic lipase. (full abstract)
Variety may be the spice of life but spices are the life of digestion.
- The common ingredients of these mixes were coriander, turmeric, red chilli, black pepper and cumin, while the spice mix II additionally had ginger, and spice mix III contained onion . . . While activities of pancreatic lipase, amylase and chymotrypsin were elevated by 40, 16 and 77%, respectively, the bile volume as well as the bile acid secretion were almost doubled in spice mix III treatment. The higher secretion of bile especially with an elevated level of bile acids and a beneficial stimulation of pancreatic digestive enzymes, particularly of lipase could probably be the two mechanisms by which these combinations of spices aid in digestion. (full abstract)
Eastern cultures easily integrate these spices regularly so can you. Even this review finds strong benefits for the digestive system.
- Spices have long been recognized for their digestive stimulant action . . . Earlier reports on the digestive stimulant action of spices are largely empirical; only in recent years, this beneficial attribute of spices has been authenticated in exhaustive animal studies. Thus, the digestive stimulant action of spices seems to be mediated through two possible modes: (i) by stimulating the liver to secrete bile rich in bile acids, components that are vital for fat digestion and absorption, and (ii) by a stimulation of enzyme activities that are responsible for digestion. (full abstract)
Even meat shows benefit from being spiced with oregano and sage. It goes to show that spicing your diet up certainly has an effect on your physical health. Mostly in a positive way assessing the data reviewed here.
Keep in mind a simple product known as Swedish Bitters is a great asset to your digestive system. For Boise locals it can be found at the Boise Co-Op. Additionally make a visit to Thai Cuisine for some authentic spiced food.