9 Herbs and spices for your meals to build a healthier gut

Thinking of eating grilled chicken breasts for dinner later? Well, you may want to add herbs and spices to make it a little healthier for your gut!

Spicing up your plain meals won’t just give you that taste boost but a health boost as well, securing your healthy longevity. 

In fact, nutrition researchers suggest that there are numerous herbs and spices from more than 100 common ones being used in cooking all over the world. There are many options for good sources of antioxidants that can protect your cells from any damage.

Does spice affect gut health?

Trillions of individual microorganisms live in your gut, specifically in your stomach and intestines.

These microorganisms are a combination of hundreds to thousands of bacteria, viruses, and fungi, which are collectively known as the gut microbiome.

Your gut microbiome has a significant role in your digestive system, which is why many health scientists consider it a supporting organ [1]. 

Each of us has our own unique set of gut microbiome. Some factors that affect gut microbiome are diet, exercise, and medication; hence, you have your own distinct microbiota community based on your lifestyle.

When your gut microbiome is not fed and appropriately nurtured, you may acquire harmful microbes that may proliferate.

Consequently, the symbiotic ones may have trouble fulfilling their tasks concerning the immune system and breaking down food. 

So, what particular factors say that you have healthy gut communities, you may ask? Scientists are still trying to study the best indicators of having healthy gut communities.

As research progresses, experts conclude that people who have many different microbes have better health and diet compared to those who have less bacterial diversity.

Generally, we think about eating the fundamentals in our diets, such as vegetables and meats; however, a variation in cultural and personal levels can also affect our gut health, including the way we cook and add ingredients to our meals, like herbs and spices. 

In a study conducted at Penn State, the researchers worked on understanding the effects of consuming herbs and spices on the human gut.

The research was conducted by 54 adults who are at risk of cardiovascular diseases for a 4-week randomized controlled-feeding experiment. 

There was a division among the adult participants in regard to what they ate, with spices and without.

By the end of the study, it was found that those who ate meals with added spices acquired increased gut bacteria diversity.

Additionally, the group of participants who ate spiced-up meals showed decreased numbers of proinflammatory molecules in the gut [2].

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What herbs and spices are good for gut health?

Here’s a list of the best herbs and spices to add to your meals to diversify the microorganisms in your gut microbiome, which can boost your gut health. 

1. Coriander seeds

Aside from their magic in dealing with occasional heartburn, coriander seeds can soothe an upset stomach. It helps prevent and get rid of gases in your gut. When most spices disagree with your stomach, you can count on coriander to work just fine. 

Adding coriander seeds to your diet can definitely help you maintain good gut health and be protected from particular allergies.

If you want to use coriander seeds as a remedy for minor gut issues, add two teaspoons of coriander seeds to a glass of hot water. Drink the mixed hot water, and it will help with bloating, ulcers, gas pains, and diarrhea.

2. Fennel

Fennel provides anti-inflammatory properties and aids in preventing bowel diseases. Plus, it calms indigestion!

In fact, in India, they serve fennel after a meal to refresh their breath, decrease acid in the stomach, and balance out gut processes. 

Fennel seeds are also rich in iron, calcium, and magnesium, which can make them a good remedy for decreasing bloating, gas, and stomach cramps. Moreover, they can help soothe the muscles of the gastrointestinal (GI) system.

3. Ginger

This one is considered the super-star spice for a reason! Ginger can decrease the feeling of nausea, boost saliva and bile production, alleviate stomach pain, and aid in easing motion sickness. Plus, it is generally good for reducing stomach gas and bloating.

Ginger for gut health

Furthermore, ginger is an excellent immunity booster and can be used as a good treatment for cough and cold.

It can also naturally lower your high blood sugar levels when consumed. This spice also has heating and cooling effects on digestion–all due to its pungent taste and sweet soothing aftertaste.

Ginger is a versatile spice that you can use in almost all meals and even create tea out of it. You can drink ginger tea in the morning or toss minced ginger in your chicken curry dish. While it is recommended to use fresh ones, you can still use dried ginger. 

4. Turmeric

For many years in India, turmeric has been used as a medicinal herb because of its jam-packed health benefits.

Some of the gut-specific advantages of adding turmeric to your meals are indigestion prevention and inflammation, and it can serve as an antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral, which can help fight allergies, diabetes, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s diseases.

In a 2019 study, the researchers analyzed the prebiotic potential of four primary spices, such as turmeric, ginger, long pepper, and black pepper.

The study concluded that among the four mentioned spices, turmeric stood out significantly because of its ability to influence positive change in the body’s gut microbiome community [3].

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5. Cumin 

This super-powered herb can help when you experience gas and bloating. Taking cumin can also benefit you by dealing with indigestion and acidity and boosting your immune system.

In addition to its multiple digestion-boosting qualities, cumin is also rich in iron and can cleanse your intestine of toxins and parasites.

Ideally, you may consume one or two teaspoons of cumin seeds a day around 15 minutes before taking your meals within a 3-month period; this is to get added natural protection for your health.

Also, adding cumin to your diet can speed up the weight loss process. However, it can be really a challenge to consume cumin because of its strong taste; hence, you can actually mix it up with other herbs and spices.

Take note, though, that cumin must be taken in moderation as there are some severe side effects when consumed excessively. 

6. Cinnamon

Kudos to cinnamon for being delicious yet still health-beneficial! Not all delicious foods are healthy for the body.

With its warm and spicy sweetness, many of us have become addicted to cinnamon, especially adding it as a special ingredient to our bread and pastries.

Cinnamon has powerful healing properties and anti-inflammatory effects. It is also known to help lower gut inflammation, though more research is needed to prove this claim.

Thus, an animal study was conducted to identify the effects of cinnamon essential oil on gut microbiota, and the researchers found that it may have a protective purpose against inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) [4]. 

Moreover, cinnamon is the perfect choice of herb for people suffering from gut infections, as it can help promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut. 

Cinnamon for gut health

7. Bay leaves

This one comes from the plant Laurus nobilis which is commonly found in parts of Asia and America.

Bay leaves are found to have strong effects on the gastrointestinal system. They aid in lowering the toxicity of your body and even soothe irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). 

Generally, dried bay leaves are utilized in pickling and marinating to basically infuse flavor in stews, stuffings, and fish. Many people don’t eat this as it only serves as an added flavor in meals. 

8. Cardamom

This spice is great for boosting your digestive health. It provides antioxidant, diuretic, antispasmodic, and anti-inflammatory effects, which act as a remedy for a body’s poor digestion by easing gas, cramping, and nausea.

For gut-specific health advantages, cardamom is known to decrease excess stomach acid and restore bowel functions.

It can also reduce bloating and gases in your stomach and small intestine. Similar to fennel, chewing cardamom after your meal can refresh your breath. 

Cardamom can also enhance the flavor of your plain-tasting meals. If you mix cardamom with tea and coffee, it neutralises the stimulating effect of caffeine, so it can be used as a natural remedy when you feel stressed and experiencing anxiety. 

9. Cloves 

Lastly, we have cloves–a beautifully aromatic spic. Cloves have been a popular addition to stews, soups, roasts, and teas for many years. Aside from their flavor and smell, cloves can have therapeutic qualities in balancing gut bacteria because of their antimicrobial actions [5].

It is essentially beneficial for the digestive tract because it protects gut immunity. Plus, cloves can be a remedy to soothe the symptoms of diarrhea.

How can spices and herbs make your food healthier?

If you are wondering what forms of herbs and spices to use, whether fresh or dried, it is actually fine whatever you choose. You will still get the same beneficial compounds to support your gut health.

In terms of cooking, health experts suggest limiting frying or grilling as these cooking methods can lower the antioxidants in herbs and spices.

On the other hand, simmering or stewing foods with herbs and spices can increase antioxidant levels. Surprisingly, microwave cooking also heightens antioxidant levels. 

If you think about it, adding more herbs and spices is not really much of a compromise in your meals.

They can enhance the taste and flavor of your food, and at the same time, they offer a wide range of health benefits to secure your longevity. 

Final takeaways

Nurturing a healthier gut is essential for overall well-being, and incorporating these 9 herbs and spices into your meals can be a delicious and effective way to support digestive health.

From the soothing properties of ginger to the anti-inflammatory benefits of turmeric, these natural ingredients offer a diverse range of advantages.

Experiment with these herbs and spices in your cooking, explore new recipes and enjoy the flavors they bring to your dishes.

Remember, a balanced and diverse diet is key to a thriving gut microbiome, and with these culinary additions, you’re well on your way to building and maintaining a robust and resilient digestive system.

FAQs

What herbs and spices are good for gut health?

Herbs and spices like ginger, turmeric, fennel, cinnamon, and peppermint are good for gut health due to their digestive and anti-inflammatory properties.

Which spice keeps the stomach healthy?

Ginger is known for keeping the stomach healthy, as it helps alleviate digestive discomfort and nausea.

What are 5 foods good for gut health?

Foods that are good for gut health include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and high-fiber vegetables like broccoli, which support a balanced gut microbiome.

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[1] https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/microbiome/ 
[2] https://www.psu.edu/news/research/story/peanuts-and-herbs-and-spices-may-positively-impact-gut-microbiome/
[3] https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2019/8973704/ 
[4] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31595527/
[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3074903/ 

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