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Detox using food as thy medicine….
Around this time of year many of us are feeling the effects of too much Chrissie cheer, resulting in us feeling flat, de-energised and sluggish. Too much alcohol, caffeine and sugar over the festive season can play havoc on our liver and digestive system, resulting in excessive toxins building up in our system resulting in low energy levels and just generally feeling ‘blah’.
Not one to promote rapid detox diets, I prefer to clear out the clutter by hitting natural ingredients known for their detoxing properties. Using a combination of delicious herbs and spices in our cooking as well as a few choice wholefood ingredients, we can help reboot our systems using food, glorious food, as our medicine rather than starving ourselves or drinking copious amounts of synthetic tasting lemon concoctions.
This week I want to focus on the use of herbs and spices in your cooking to aid the detox process. Detox spices have been used for thousands of years to treat all sorts of ailments, however these days we seem to have lost touch with using herbs and spices as a form of medicine in themselves, turning instead to medicine we find in the local pharmacy whenever we feel tired, sluggish, bloated, constipated etc. But what if, with a little knowledge and experimentation you could achieve the same result in treating these symptoms using the healing properties of common herbs and spices allowing you to actually enjoy taking your ‘medicine’ in the form of delicious tasting meals and snacks instead. Sounds pretty good right?
So here you go. Here is the list of the top 5 herbs and spices you need to start using to really ramp up your body’s natural detoxification process.
Hands down, turmeric is my favourite herb to incorporate into my cooking in as many ways as possible. It packs a serious nutritious punch boosting so many health benefits, so if you’re not using it daily already then you simply must start. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory herb, assisting ease symptoms of an angry digestive system such as bloating, cramping, diarrhoea as well as being an anti-oxidant which can be used to assist with pain and emotional conditions such as headaches, menstrual symptoms and depression. In terms of it’s detoxifying effect, turmeric promotes good liver functioning, meaning your body’s filter is in top shape to process the toxins circulating your system. Better filter = less toxins = more energy and vitality.
There are so many ways you can incorporate this herb into your daily diet. Think turmeric lattes (see our feature recipe), savoury muffins, mixed with your eggs and vegies at breakfast, stir through your stock based dinners or make a mean curry loaded with tumeric.
Cumin is a delicious spice that assists us get our digestive system fired up, promoting the mobilisation and expelling of nasty toxins from our gut, which otherwise may have been reabsorbed into our system. Before we even put fork to mouth, cumin starts to assist our digestion as the very aroma of cumin has been found to activate our salivary glands, which facilitates the primary digestion of food. Once we ingest cumin it stimulates the glands that secrete acids, bile and enzymes responsible for complete digestion of the food in the stomach and the intestines. Thirdly, cumin can relieve you from gas troubles once it makes it’s way to the gut thereby improving our digestion, feelings of wellbeing and our appetite.
There are so many delicious recipes featuring cumin. Think homemade nachos, cumin coated chicken or fish, or spiced cauliflower soup. All super ways to get more of this spice into your diets, to allow you to reap the digestive benefits of this spice.
Ginger is a great body cleanser. In addition to easing an upset stomach, ginger contains anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols and shogaols that encourage healthy digestion and speed detoxification by moving food through the intestines. This reduces the build-up of impurities in the colon, liver and other bodily organs.Add to this the fact that it tastes delicious in just about anything you add it too, both savoury and sweet dishes and drinks and you have a real winner of a spice.
Ginger aids our body’s natural detoxification process in three main ways. Firstly, it serves to calm the digestive system when the body is producing negative symptoms of detoxification, namely bloating and flatulence (yes, it happens to all of us!). Secondly, it aides in toxin elimination from the digestive tract, to make sure these nasty toxins are not reabsorbed by our body to go another round, and thirdly, it helps us absorb more minerals and nutrients from the foods we are consuming, to aid for greater nourishment from our meals.
Ginger is such a versatile ingredient there are so many simple ways of boosting your ginger intake using either fresh or dried ground ginger. You can use it in sweet or savoury dishes and even on it’s own in tea. Think ginger and lemongrass tea in the morning before breakfast, thai beef salad with ginger and chilli dressing for lunch and a refreshing piece of ginger infused steamed fish for dinner.
What is not to love about this spice? It brings a pleasant sweetness to any dish you add it to as well as serving to balance your blood sugars whilst you are enjoying your meal and aiding digestion in the gut.
The best way to consume cinnamon for detox is to add it to a beverage, such as a shake, smoothie, or make a lovely detox tea such as Ginger and Cinnamon Tea. This gives you the most direct benefit and will yield the best results.
Parsley is so much more than a colourful last minute garnish for your meals. This healthy, immune-boosting herb is rich in chlorophyll, which offers powerful anti-inflammatory potential. Parsley also offers powerful diuretic and detoxifying properties, thought to help boost kidney and bladder health. Parsley is a great addition to any salad, soup or smoothie to assist you get more chlorophyll into your daily diet. If there is one herb you want to have in abundance in your vegie patch it’s this one. So go on, sprinkle some parsley on all of your dishes and enjoy the detox benefits it provides.
There are heaps of other herbs and spices that can also aid the detoxification process, however these are our top five pick to start you on your way. And don’t forget to drink plenty of H20 to also assist the purification process. The more water you drink the easier it is for you to expel the toxins from your system. So now you have the knowledge, now to start experimenting. Have fun.
Eat well, think well, live well!
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