The Spices of Life
JED WIGHTMAN PERFORMANCE/SPORTS NUTRITIONIST ADVANTAGE FITNESS LTD
This article has been written for Canadian Physique Alliance – March/April 2021 Edition
We live in a world today with so many of us riddled with different health problems, many of which (if not most) are linked to unhealthy, refined, chemically altered and processed foods.
We are all looking for the highest performance benefit, healthier bodies, and healthier lives to be stronger and live longer. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had access to some powerful weapons in our daily arsenal to give us those benefits and fight against all of the damage that these foods have and caused?
Well wouldn’t you know it we absolutely do and they are a lot closer to home and a lot more common than many of us may know.
Himalayan Pink Salt
Salt is essential for life — you cannot live without it. However, most people simply don’t realize that there are enormous differences between the standard, refined table and cooking salt most of you are accustomed to using and natural health-promoting salt. These differences can have a major impact on you staying healthy.
If you want your body to function properly, you need holistic salt complete with all-natural elements. Today’s common table salt has nothing in common with natural salt. Your table salt is actually 97.5% sodium chloride and 2.5% chemicals such as moisture absorbents, and iodine. Dried at over 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, the excessive heat alters the natural chemical structure of the salt. In comparison, Himalayan pink salt is over 250 million years old. This is by far the purest salt available on earth and is absolutely uncontaminated with any toxins or pollutants.
Besides containing all of the 84 elements found in your body, the benefits of natural Himalayan Crystal Salt include; regulating the water content throughout your body more water in the muscles less between the skin and the muscles, (less water retention), promoting healthy pH balance in your cells particularly your brain cells, decreasing and regulating blood sugar and promoting blood sugar health and helping to reduce the signs of aging, assisting in the generation of hydroelectric energy in cells in your body, absorption of food particles through your intestinal tract, prevention of muscle cramps, promoting bone strength, regulating your sleep (it naturally promotes sleep), increases your libido and improves vascular health.
Lastly, In conjunction with water, it is actually essential for the regulation of your blood pressure. So drop the table salt, get the pink salt and start maximizing all the benefits this amazing seasoning has to offer.
These are a type of chilli pepper. They belong to the nightshade family of plants and are closely related to bell and jalapeños peppers. They have a compound in them called capsaicin that is packed with powerful benefits.
Not only does it make us feel fuller, (satiety) very welcome when we are dieting, but it greatly improves digestion. While it burns fat by an increase in metabolism through the increase in thermogenesis (the expression of calorie burning through the increase of heat production).
Also studies show the increase in production of a powerful “fat burning fat” called brown fat (iron rich hence the color). We are born with a large amount of brown fat, about 5% of our total body mass as babies. As we age we lose a huge amount of it, but we still have a small percentages left around our neck and shoulder area. So we need to stimulate what we have and build more!
Brown fat has a much higher concentration of fat burning mitochondria wherein fatty acids are oxidized to be used as energy.
For fat loss (lipolysis) to occur triglycerides must be broken from the glycerol backbone and mobilized as free form fatty acids and are then transported into the mitochondria in a process called beta-oxidation, converting to ATP a useable form of energy. Simply put more brown fat, more fat burning mitochondria, more fat burned. But wait now, it’s not exactly just that simple. We want our mitochondria to feed on our stored body fat. Our mitochondria will feed more readily on sugars than anything else, so yes that means you must eat clean, a diet rich in protein, low in refined and simple sugars and rich in good fats. Cayenne pepper (absolutely incredible stuff) satiety digestion and fat burning, absolutely wonderful to cook with.
Like many spices, turmeric has a long history of use in traditional medicine. This flavour filled spice is primarily cultivated from Southeast Asia. In fact, it’s been used as a culinary spice and in religious ceremonies in Southeast Asia for 4,000 years. Cur cumin is the actual phytochemical in turmeric that gives all the potent benefits. So aside from giving curry its vibrant yellow color, it is also known for having potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, according to research studies.
Turmeric (cur cumin) has a long history in Ayurvedic medicine to treat health problems like pain, swelling and fatigue. In the common era, it is now being used to combat and treat many of our western diet catalyzed diseases and symptoms of disease.
A few on the list are heart health (increased and improved circulation) allowing your heart to have an easier job pumping blood throughout your body into all of its muscles. It has huge liver health benefits, by lowering liver enzymes alanine transaminase and aspartate transaminase. It has shown improved liver function in people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. This is huge! It heals the liver, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease leads to irreparable liver damage.
Turmeric helps in the fight against diabetes as it regulates and lowers blood sugar levels therefore increasing insulin sensitivity and lessening the demand on the pancreas to produce greater levels of insulin. Turmeric also decreases the risk of type 2 diabetes by lowering blood sugar and increasing insulin sensitivity and also decreases the demand for greater amounts of exogenous insulin use in type 1 diabetes. High blood sugars are linked to high cholesterol, so it not only lowers bad cholesterol but also very much helps burn fat.
There is a catch however, for turmeric (cur cumin) to do its job your body has to absorb this to a high bioavailability. How do we do this? By adding black pepper anytime you use turmeric or taking a turmeric supplement that incorporates black pepper. There is a compound in black pepper called Piperine that actually helps to make turmeric more bioavailable. Just 20mg of black pepper increases cur cumin bioavailability by almost 2000%. Again one more spice we have available to us that has another incredible benefit.
So whether you’re wanting to increase overall holistic health, if you’re healing from an injury, wanting to increase insulin sensitivity, burn fat, ease arthritic joints or lower inflammatory response, turmeric is not to be missed.
Ceylon cinnamon is a milder form of the spice sold in gourmet stores. The common form found in most stores is called Cassia cinnamon, Ceylon is much healthier than ordinary supermarket cinnamon (Cassia cinnamon), and it also has a much higher list of health benefits and healthier properties.
Ceylon cinnamon contains anti-inflammatory properties that increase circulation and help put less strain on your heart. It’s a powerful antioxidant coupled with antimicrobial effects and properties means Ceylon cinnamon supports your immune health. Ceylon cinnamon was part of a study that showed it enhanced antioxidant enzyme activity. This means it may prevent or treat certain types of cancer.
Studies have also shown Ceylon Cinnamon can lower blood sugar in diabetics, increase insulin sensitivity and improve digestion. Also, its anti-inflammatory benefits may ease arthritis symptoms.
With all of these powerful properties that can improve our daily athletic lives, it’s a must! But you have to use Ceylon cinnamon not the cheap commonly found Cassia cinnamon. Cassia has a huge amount of coumarin, a naturally occurring organic compound that can cause liver damage if consumed in excess, and Cassia cinnamon is loaded with it. Ceylon only has trace amounts. Now you’ll find that Ceylon cinnamon is quite a bit more expensive than the very commonly found and very inexpensive Cassia cinnamon, but well worth the extra cost.
On a personal basis I find that Ceylon cinnamon tastes much better also, and it can be added to pretty much any dish or food that you’re preparing.
Isn’t it incredible that in our cupboards, our spice rack, and on the shelves of our local health food stores we have such powerful items? These commonly found spices and seasonings that have such incredible benefit for our performance, for our health and longevity, should be used daily.
We often look so far and wide for cutting-edge benefits, when there’s so much we can gain from simple, easily available things very close to us. Thing is, we just have to know what they are and how to use them properly.
Happy cooking everyone! Enjoy, I know I sure do!