You’re on the correct track if you want to improve your gut health and minimize inflammation. Gut health is critical to overall health, and inflammation can lead to a variety of health problems. “A healthy gut is essential for proper digestion, absorption of nutrients, immune function, and overall wellness,” says Sarah Robbins, M.D., a gastroenterologist and physician nutrition specialist in Kelowna, British Columbia. She goes on to say that a healthy gut plays a function in neurotransmitters that are vital for mental health as well as metabolic diseases like obesity and diabetes.
Certain spices, fortunately, can help reduce inflammation and support gut health. We chatted with gastroenterologists, who offered some of the greatest spices to use in your cooking to prevent intestinal inflammation.
6 Best Spices to Fight Gut Inflammation
Turmeric is a brilliant yellow spice that is often used in Indian cooking. “Turmeric contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.” Many are attributable to curcumin, a polyphenol that has been the focus of thousands of research and has been linked to a variety of advantages ranging from immune cell regulation to tissue healing,” says Alex Chavez, Ph.D., an associate professor at the University of California, San Diego. According to 2021 research in Drug Design, Development, and Therapy, curcumin may help reduce inflammation in the gut by reducing the generation of inflammatory cytokines.
Ginger is another spice that has anti-inflammatory and digestive qualities. “For centuries, ginger has been used to treat nausea, vomiting, and motion sickness.” The bioactive substances gingerols and shogaols have anti-inflammatory effects. Furthermore, ginger may relieve gas and bloating by increasing the synthesis of digestive enzymes,” explains Robbins.
Cinnamon is a warming and comforting spice that is commonly used in baked goods, porridge, and yogurt. “Cinnamon is a common spice that may support the production of digestive enzymes, thereby reducing bloating, gas, and indigestion,” Robbins explains. According to her, the spice contains cinnamaldehyde, which can help reduce inflammation, control blood sugar, and has antibacterial characteristics that may help strengthen your gut microbiome.
Peppermint is a pleasant plant that is commonly used to relieve digestive disorders such as bloating and gas. It contains the chemical menthol. Peppermint oil may lower signs of gastrointestinal inflammation in persons with irritable bowel syndrome, according to a 2019 study published in BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies. “The oil extracted from peppermint has been suggested to have many positive effects on gut health,” Chavez explains. He says, for example, that peppermint may relieve abdominal pain and spasms by influencing smooth muscle contractions in the gut.
5. Licorice Root
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, licorice root is a sweet and earthy herb that is commonly utilized in traditional medicine. It contains a component known as glycyrrhizin, which has been demonstrated to have anti-inflammatory properties, according to 2022 research published in the Journal of Functional Foods.
“Licorice root has traditionally been used to soothe the gut and relieve acid reflux and indigestion,” Robbins explains. “Glycyrrhizin, found in licorice root, is known to be anti-inflammatory.” It could potentially be antiviral and antimicrobial. Another advantage is that it has been shown to improve skin health,” she says.
Oregano is a fragrant plant that is popular in Mediterranean cooking. It contains two chemicals that may help reduce inflammation: carvacrol and thymol. According to Chavez, animals administered oregano essential oil have enhanced markers of intestinal barrier function in animal studies.
Other Strategies for Combating Gut Inflammation
In addition to the benefits of including the aforementioned spices in your diet, a variety of additional lifestyle practices can assist support gut health and reduce inflammation.
- Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables: According to 2022 research published in Frontiers in Nutrition, fruits and vegetables are high in fiber, antioxidants, and other nutrients that help sustain a healthy gut flora. “Fruits and vegetables will provide a source of prebiotics to support a healthy and diverse microbiome, promote regular bowel movements, and provide additional metabolic benefits such as cholesterol reduction and healthy blood sugars,” Robbins explains. To reap the most benefits, consume a range of colors and varieties of produce.
- Limit ultraprocessed foods and added sugar: Excessive added sugars can disturb your gut microbiota and contribute to inflammation, according to a study published in Nutrients in 2020. Instead, eat as many natural, nutrient-dense meals as possible.
- Manage stress: Chronic stress, according to a 2020 study published in Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, can contribute to inflammation and have a harmful impact on gut health. Incorporate stress-relieving activities into your everyday routine, such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing.
- Get enough sleep: According to a 2019 study published in PLOS One, sleep promotes a healthy, diversified assortment of bacteria in your gut. To support gut health and general wellness, aim for seven to eight hours of quality sleep per night.
The Bottom Line
Certain spices can aid in the reduction of inflammation and the promotion of intestinal health. Turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, peppermint, licorice root, and oregano are six anti-inflammatory spices that promote optimal gut health. Furthermore, eating a variety of nutritious meals, minimizing added sugars, controlling stress, and prioritizing sleep can all aid in the fight against intestinal inflammation.