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How to eat spices to lose weight, inflammation and oxidative damages, but gain muscle

There’s a lot more to losing weight than the amount of calories you consume. Here’s what you should know about inflammation and weight loss.

It’s clear that there’s a lot more to weight loss that just calories in and calories out, but what are those other dynamics at play? Research suggests many stem from inflammation, which means reducing inflammation is not only essential, but also a good first step to long-term weight loss.

But how exactly does inflammation prevent the body from losing weight? I’m breaking down the connection, plus five ways to prevent inflammation from stifling your weight-loss goals.

Inflammation and Body Weight

When inflammation is present, even those with the most disciplined eating and exercise habits may find they can make little progress losing weight. The reason stems largely from changes seen when the body gains weight or is carrying excess weight, many of which are cyclical and build on one another. Here’s a brief look at how inflammation and weight are connected.

Inflammation increases with weight gain.

Weight gain is associated with increased inflammation in the body. A 2019 study found that levels of a key inflammatory marker in the blood known as C-reactive protein (CRP) increased as weight increased. This inflammation appears to be triggered by hormonal and metabolic changes and remains until excess weight is lost.

Inflammation and weight gain leads to insulin resistance.

Inflammation in the body can lead to insulin resistance. This is due to inflammatory compounds that impair the way insulin works. This leads to higher glucose levels, as well as fat accumulation in the liver which further contributes to insulin resistance. They can then start to fuel one another, causing a viscious cycle: weight gain causes more insulin resistance, and insulin resistance leads to more weight gain.

Weight gain triggers leptin resistance.

Leptin is a key hormone that tells the brain when to eat, when to stop eating and when to speed up or slow down metabolism. However, research suggests that leptin functioning is altered with weight gain and inflammation. The effect is that the brain doesn’t get proper feedback, so leptin levels remain low which triggers appetite to increase and metabolism to slow (as if the body were starving) making weight loss pursuits even harder.

The inflammatory combination of weight gain, insulin resistance and leptin resistance build on each other, but may also be exacerbated by things like stress, lack of sleep, eating processed foods and a sedentary lifestyle. Looking at these inflammatory effects associated with weight gain, it’s easy to see why simply monitoring calories-in versus calories-out just doesn’t work.

How to Reduce Inflammation to Lose Weight

Whether you’re carrying an extra 10 pounds of body fat or an extra 60 pounds, you’re likely experiencing some level of inflammation, which makes the body irritated and stressed. In a situation like this, the body’s primary focus is survival and healing, not weight loss. So, to lose weight, it’s key to reduce inflammation and other potential irritants to help the body get back to more “normal” operating conditions.

So, how do you reduce inflammation to lose weight? Here are five things to do.

Skip processed foods and added sugars.

Chemicals, additives, coloring, added sugars, and other compounds in processed foods are all potential sources of irritation. Avoiding these ingredients by choosing more whole foods and minimally processed products foods is key to reducing inflammation to lose weight. When purchasing a packaged produce, take a look at the ingredients list. Are the ingredients listed what you might use if making the food from a recipe at home? If the answer is yes, then this is likely a minimally processed product and a good choice. If not, try to opt for something else.

Incorporate anti-inflammatory produce and fats.

While getting rid of irritants, it’s also just as important to refuel with foods that contain compounds that have anti-inflammatory effects like antioxidants, phytochemicals and omega-3 fatty acids. Good sources of these are vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, fish and healthy fats, such as plant-based oils, nuts and avocados.

So load up on leafy greens and cruciferous veggies like cauliflower and broccoli; snack on berries and nuts; incorporate fatty fish like salmon into your menu two times per week and use moderate amounts of healthy oils like extra-virgin olive oil.

Go to bed on time.

Did you know that many health professionals now consider sleep just as important to weight loss as diet and activity? Adult bodies need approximately 7 to 8 hours of continuous sleep most nights to rest, repair and recharge for the next day. Sure, caffeine may help energy levels temporarily, but the effects of inadequate sleep go a lot further. Routinely not getting enough sleep (6 hours or less) leaves the body without the resources it needs to function properly, creating new inflammation and aggravating existing inflammation.

Incorporate gut-friendly foods.

Strengthening the gut’s microbe barrier is essential to reducing inflammation because it can prevent future irritants from slipping through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream. To do this, try to incorporate foods every day that are fermented or contain active live bacteria cultures such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kombucha, miso or kimchi.

Chill out.

As much as we want to focus strictly on food and exercise for weight loss, mental and psychological health is just as important because low-grade inflammation won’t go away if stress levels run continuously high. Finding a way to escape that stress—such as doing yoga, meditating or a walking for 10 minutes a day—provides quick relief psychologically and anti-inflammatory effects physiologically. If stress is too much of daily problem, learning how to manage and cope when it does occur is key for not triggering new inflammation or aggravating existing inflammation.

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

Use Black Seed Oil

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

Use Cayenne Pepper to Lower Your Blood Pressure

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

Extract Ginger Juice

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

Use Clove Oil for Tooth Pain

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

Cure Stomach Ache with Ginger

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

Use Cinnamon to Help With Diabetes

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

Get the Health Benefits of Cinnamon

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

Make Ginger Water

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

Use Fenugreek for Diabetes

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

Use Fenugreek Seeds to Increase Milk Supply

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

Improve Your Health with Ginger

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

Use Cayenne for Back Pain

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

Help Weight Loss with Herbs and Spices

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

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How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

Environmental factors, such as weight gain, a poor diet lacking fruits and vegetables, or over-consumption of processed foods and sugar, lack of activity, ongoing severe stress, air pollution, excessive alcohol, smoking, or excessive prescription drug consumption can lead to chronic inflammation.

SO where does one even begin to reverse this process?

Here are 8 SIMPLE tips to reduce the inflammation and lose the weight (That actually work!)

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

1. Gentle Movement Daily: Now more than ever, we’re recognizing that strict calorie counting and over-exercising doesn’t work, at least not long term. Even 30 minute daily walks can help to speed up your metabolism, lower stress levels and help reduce inflammation. Building this gentle movement habit is far superior to burning yourself out. Of course, exercise is a wonderful thing for the body, but if you’ve been struggling to lose weight due to fatigue, an injury, or mobility issue – the gym simply isn’t an option. Get creative and find ways to move your body in ways that will work for you. Walks, gentle yoga, sitting yoga or swimming are all ways to get the blood pumping and help your body release excess weight.

2. Reduce Your Stress: The stress hormone cortisol can slow down metabolism and cause weight gain. If you’ve endured long periods of stress, you might find your body changes too. Even more minor stresses like moving or changing jobs can have a significant impact on stress levels, and when this happens losing weight can be difficult. Hypothyroidism is another issue that can block weight loss efforts, but all this means is you’ll have to be more calculated in your approach. Soothing your nervous system is essential to getting your metabolism back online. You can do this by eating frequent, Clean meals, drinking enough water, moving daily and getting proper sleep. This helps to regulate your system and signal safety to your brain. When your system is relaxed, you can lose weight!

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

3. Eat Regularly: Eat more and lose weight?! Yes, it’s possible! Smaller, more frequent Clean Eating friendly meals consisting of nutrient dense ingredients can help speed up your metabolism and give your body what it needs to let go. There are a few guidelines here, firstly, it’s important to eat nutrient dense foods and avoid inflammatory foods. Next, make sure you’re not eating late at night. It makes a difference what time of day you’re eating! Our bodies run on cyclical clocks, and during the later hours of the night, our organs are detoxing, resting and rejuvenating. Do your best not to eat past 8pm to get deeper sleep and lose more weight.

4. Low to No sugar: No sugar!? This is probably one of the most challenging, yet necessary steps in losing weight. Accountability is usually needed to make a change like this – it can be tough, but not impossible!If you have sore or sticky joints, wake up with puffy eyes and face, or often feel lethargic, reducing or eliminating refined sugars from your diet can make a world of difference. Karen’s story might inspire you, she lost 18 pounds and beat her sugar cravings in 30 days.

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

5. Create an Accountability System: Accountability is the glue that holds a weight loss action plan together. It’s far too easy to fall off the wagon and stay there without someone to hold you accountable and cheer you on. Whether it’s with a buddy, your partner, or with the 30 Day Clean Eating Challenge – make sure you’ve got support. In our private challenge groups, Billie and Daisy are there on a daily basis to help you stay on track and encourage you when times are tough.

6. Meal Prepping: Once you adapt to the time commitment involved with scheduling and prioritizing a prep day – meal prepping can actually save you time and money. We created the 30 Day Clean Eating Challenge as a complete guide on what to eat to lose weight and build a new, sustainable lifestyle. When you have your meals prepped, you avoid giving into cravings in a moment of weakness, or eating out because you’re too tired to cook in the moment. Plus, you can prep super healthy, yummy recipes that satisfy your cravings while supporting your weight loss goals!

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

7. Water Yourself: Even being a little bit dehydrated can cause your body to hold onto water and slow down weight loss. So drink up! Add a few slices of lemon to your water for an added boost, and get yourself a reliable water bottle so you can take it on the go with you. This simple habit also helps reduce sugar cravings and reduce inflammation in your body.

8. Eat Foods that Reduce Inflammation: Inflammation can slow down the weight loss process by causing low energy, less mobility, and less will power. Cut out inflammatory foods like fried foods, potato chips, baked goods containing wheat and white sugar, refined vegetable oils like sunflower, canola and soybean oil and replace them with fresh fruits and veggies, cooked leafy greens, abundant salads, grass-fed meats, fish & chicken and good fats! Clean Eating is naturally anti-inflammatory in nature. You’d be surprised at how much weight your body will release when you consistently fuel it with clean ingredients. Margie was successful in shedding 25 pounds and eliminating her inflammation with the 30 Day Clean Eating Challenge!

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

At first you might write inflammation off as the possible culprit of your weight struggles or other health issues if you’re not in physical pain. But did you know that chronic inflammation may be silently wreaking havoc in your body without showing you obvious signs? Weight gain, acne, eczema and fatigue are all associated to inflammation in the body, while stress, eating fried foods, poor nutrition and lack of sleep and proper exercise can all trigger inflammation further. Here are some ways for you to tackle inflammation for weight loss and more energy!

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

1. Consume Probiotic Rich Foods

Probiotics are the “good bacteria” that your gut needs to be in a state of balance and health. If you’ve ever taken antibiotics, Advil, or eaten a diet high in processed or fried foods; chances are, your gut could use some love! Eat foods like grass-fed greek yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir and kimchi on a frequent basis, and seek out a good probiotic to help support your gut health if you have digestive issues or are having trouble losing excess weight.

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle
2. Eat More Inulin fiber

There are 3 types of fiber: soluble, insoluble and resistant starch. Inulin is said to absorb more water than any other type of fiber and help support healthy digestion and proper bowel movements. Inulin fiber has also been found to play the role of a prebiotic, which means it nourishes good “pre-existing” bacteria, while probiotics introduce new good bacteria to the body. There are countless health experts now recognizing the benefits of fiber are far greater than we had originally thought for our health. Fiber does not just help us poop! It nourishes our gut health, supports healthy bacteria in the body and acts as an inflammation fighter. Foods like asparagus, yams, onions & leeks, chicory root and bananas are sources of inulin fiber.

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle3. Drink this Inflammation Soothing Water Recipe

Drinking water is one of the easiest yet most important things you can do for your overall health, and to lower inflammation levels and lose weight! Your body is made up in majority of water, and even starting your day without 2 cups of water can lead to becoming subtly dehydrated. Aim for 2 liters a day of fresh, clean water.

To amplify your efforts (and enhance the experience) try this inflammation soothing water recipe:

  • 1 liter of water
  • 4 slices of cucumber
  • 1/2 lemon, juice only
  • 1 thumb size ginger, finely sliced
  • 3-4 leaves of basil or mint (or both)

Instructions: Chill in a jar, jug or to-go water bottle and drink two throughout the day.

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle4. Cut out Inflammation Boosting Foods

Food matters big time when it comes to inflammation because it’s often the number one cause of inflammation to start with. It’s truly incredible how much we can positively shift our health in the right direction by making healthy shifts in our diet. Foods like turmeric, ginger, cherries, leafy greens and omega 3’s are all inflammation reducing foods. Here’s a list of 7 Foods that Trigger Inflammation and What to Choose Instead.

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle
5. Eat Clean!

Clean Eating is the surest pathway to success. I’ve watched thousands of women lose weight, lower their inflammation and improve their lives by simply changing what they eat. Through the 30 Day Clean Eating Challenge, I’ve made it super simple for you to make the shift by creating step-by-step meal plans and guides along with building an incredibly supportive private community for members who are going through the process together.

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle
6. Ditch the Sugar

Sugar, it’s an addictive drug that almost all of us struggle with! It’s easier said than done to just “ditch the sugar” if your gut is out of balance. Bad bacteria and yeast LOVE feeding on sugar and will cause horrible cravings that make it feel almost possible to resist. Karen successfully overcame her sugar cravings by taking the Clean Eating Challenge. If you’re really stuck, I hope you’ll join us and take the challenge, and here’s 7 Ways to Stop Sugar Cravings for Good!

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle
7. Aim for 30 Minutes of Daily Movement

Moving your body daily, even if it’s just for a walk helps your body fight inflammation, shed weight, and feel better. Movement boosts all those feel good hormones and chemicals in the body that can subtly raise your energy levels and give you the motivation you need to create more time for exercise in your life. You don’t have to take on cross-fit to benefit, in fact just a brisk walk in nature or around your city will be beneficial. You can also find yoga videos and at-home workouts on YouTube and get your daily movement done in the privacy of your own home – even if the kids are with you!

Spices and Herbs for Health

Spices for health? Are spices good for health? YES! You can keep your heart strong and get lean and healthy with spices! Here are a few spices to add to your diet to get and stay healthy. Use spices in and on everything: salads, chicken, fish, veggies, dips, omelets…and more!

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

Below Are 10 of the Best Spices for Good Health:

Cinnamon for Weight Loss

Cinnamon may be particularly healthy for people who carry lots of extra weight. Cinnamon reportedly helps minimize some of the negative health impacts that “obesity” has on the body. People who are obese (with body mass index of 30% fat or higher) tend to have higher levels of inflammation in their bodies, and their bodies tend to experience more oxidative stress than the slimmer person.

  • A recent study showed that certain cinnamon compounds including a cinnamon extract called cinnulin seem to help obese people in the fight against all three: (1) fat, (2) inflammation, and (3) oxidative stress.
  • In the study, obese people with prediabetes took cinnulin twice a day. At the end of the 12-week study, participants’ bodies indicate that cinnamon was effective in decreasing all three.

Cloves, Allspice, and Cinnamon for Diabetes

These spices may inhibit or work against the damage caused by elevated sugar and the formation of bad high-blood-sugar compounds. Very beneficial for people with Diabetes.

Sage, Marjoram, Tarragon, and Rosemary for the Heart and Kidneys

These spices seem to have a positive effect on fighting diabetes-linked problems of the blood, heart, nerve, eye, and kidneys. Spices for kidney and heart health never been so delicious.

Ginger for Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

When people with stiff, sore, osteoarthritic knees took a ginger extract for 6 weeks, they felt significantly better than their placebo-dosed pals who got fake ginger. Used in Eastern medicine to treat musculoskeletal problems, ginger contains a complex mix of compounds that researchers suspect helps thwart inflammation in several ways. Ginger can also be calming to the stomach, helping with nausea.

Turmeric vs Stroke and Cancer

Turmeric is the principal component is curcumin — which has been shown to help prevent arterial plaques from gaining a foothold in blood vessels.

  • Turmeric seems to help against artery-clogging in three ways: (1) It lowers blood cholesterol, and (2) it regulates blood-platelet production — for thinner, less clot-prone blood — and may (3) curb inflammation-induced damage to the lining of your arteries. Atherosclerosis disease ups the risk of stroke and heart attack.
  • Curb the development of those diseases with turmeric of: (1) Alzheimer’s disease, (2) certain types of cancer, and (3) arthritis — just to name a few more benefits according to research.

Garlic for Overall Good Health

Garlic has a variety of health benefits. Read “Health Benefits of Garlic” for more details.

Info, Tips and Warnings:

  • On top of avoiding microwaving of spices: Do not scorch, blacken, or crispen (overheat) them. Lightly baking, simmering, broiling and pan broiling is fine. Lightly cooking spices such as garlic and onion or peppers in oil is great. Do not over-fry your spices.
  • Spices are not right for everyone. Bland foods may be necessary for stomach and intestinal illnesses because of the need to soothe and calm.

Are you ready to try these herbs and spices for health?

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

If you’re more klutzy than graceful, you’re painfully aware of the inflammation associated with a sprained ankle or a bump on the head. This classic form of inflammation results when the immune system sends in a SWAT team of white blood cells to repair damaged tissue or overpower infection-causing intruders. The resulting redness and swelling are signs that the body is healing itself.

On the flip side, “silent” or chronic inflammation is a subtle form of inflammation that you can neither feel nor see, yet it can undermine your health every day. Basically, the science goes like this: various instigators cause your immune system to fail to shut off—instead it releases a continuous stream of inflammatory compounds that spread throughout the body, damaging cells and tissues.

“What makes low-grade inflammation deadly is that it can operate in stealth mode for years until it reveals itself as heart disease or stroke,” says Christopher Cannon, MD, a cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and coauthor of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Anti-Inflammation Diet. “Inflammation plays a key role in causing plaque deposits in the arteries to rupture, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke as debris barricades the artery.”

In fact, the more the medical community examines chronic inflammation, the more it’s been associated with maladies such as diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and autoimmune diseases such as lupus. In a report published in the Journal of Epidemiology last year, researchers found that of more than 80,000 people studied, those who developed cancer had significantly higher plasma levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a compound in the blood that signals the presence of inflammation, than their disease-free counterparts. Hay fever, skin allergies, acne, and asthma have also been linked to chronic inflammation.

Finger on the Triggers

What ignites the kind of inflammation that overstays its welcome? Multiple factors are at work, including aging, weight gain, and stress. “But a major player is a diet that is more proinflammatory than anti-inflammatory,” says Monica Reinagel, MS, LN, author of The Inflammation Free Diet Plan. When you overdo it on proinflammatory foods, your immune system may ramp up production of proinflammatory compounds. “Inflammation is one of the tools in the immune system’s toolbox, but while a hammer is a good thing to have when you need to drive a nail, simply walking through the house swinging one around is likely to do more damage than good,” Reinagel says.

While you can’t change factors such as age, you can cool the fire within by making smart decisions regarding what you put in your grocery cart. “Your daily diet is one of the most effective ways to control inflammation,” says Cannon.

Tracy Wilczek, MS, RD, a nutritionist at Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa in Miami, is bullish on a plant-based, whole-foods diet that is low in saturated fats, refined grains, and added sugars. “The anti-inflammatory effect of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and other whole foods likely results from a synergy of their nutrients and that they often replace pro-inflammatory, processed foods in the diet,” she says.

Veg Out

The lauded Mediterranean Diet, rich in plant foods and flavored with olive oil, is a healthful model that fits this description. In fact, a study in a 2010 issue of The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society determined that participants who followed a Mediterranean-style eating pattern had lower markers of inflammation, including CRP.

Part of the inflammation-thwarting effect may stem from the high antioxidant content in plant foods, particularly brightly hued vegetables and fruits. “Antioxidants may reduce the inflammation-inducing oxidative damage that is caused by free radicals that roam the body,” says Reinagel. A Greek study published in 2010 found that a diet high in antioxidants raised blood levels of the anti-inflammatory compound adiponectin.

The low-calorie, nutrient-dense nature of a plant-based whole-foods diet often results in weight loss, which can also help squelch inflammation. “Fat cells churn out inflammation-inducing compounds such as cytokines—a big factor in why inflammation is such a pervasive problem in an America that is generally too pudgy,” notes Cannon. For this reason, it’s not surprising that the risk for developing almost every chronic disease is elevated when you’re overweight. “Dropping just 5 to 10 percent of your excess weight through a combination of healthy eating and exercise can have a huge impact with respect to lowering inflammation,” Cannon says.

Balance Your Fats

A diet heavy in saturated or trans fats is thought to promote inflammation, and so is an out-of-whack ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats. The body uses fatty acids to make prostaglandins, hormones that control inflammation. “Fatty acids from the omega-6 family are converted into inflammatory prostaglandins, while those of the omega-3 family are used to make anti-inflammatory ones,” says Wilczek. “So when you consume too few omega-3 fats in relation to omega-6 fats, you risk encouraging inflammation in the body.”

Early humans probably consumed a nearly balanced ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats. People today, however, often ingest 10 to 20 times more omega-6s than omega-3s. Why? First off, a glut of cheap omega-6-rich vegetable oils, predominantly soy and corn oils, have infiltrated packaged processed foods and restaurant kitchens. “Ironically, well-intentioned advice to replace saturated fats, like butter, with unsaturated fats, such as vegetable oils, often increases the intake of omega-6,” notes Reinagel.

Mind Your Sensitivities

Ignoring an intolerance or sensitivity to gluten, lactose, or other substances may also exacerbate chronic inflammation. “When the body recognizes these items as hostile invaders, the immune system revs up and increases the circulation of inflammatory compounds,” says Reinagel. She adds that foods that are pro-inflammatory for one person may be benign or even anti-inflammatory for another: “For example, plants in the nightshade family, such as tomatoes and peppers, are considered anti-inflammatory due to their high antioxidant content. But for people with a sensitivity to solanine (an alkaloid in nightshades), they can cause inflammation and joint pain.”

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

If your idea of the perfect weight loss meal is plain chicken or fish with a salad and brown rice, then you’re missing out on some major ingredients shown by reams of research to help the body burn fat: herbs and spices.

Herbs and spices are the best way to add flavor to food for no extra calories, sugar, sodium, or other junk—which is critical to do when you’re trying to lose weight. Why? It’s pretty simple: Research shows that if you don’t like the taste of what you eat, you’re much less likely to stick to any diet, no matter how disciplined you are. Herbs and spices add a significant amount of flavor to food and can turn, for example, that piece of plain chicken into a restaurant-worthy meal, thanks to just a little rosemary, paprika, sea salt, and ground pepper. (Lose up to 15 pounds WITHOUT dieting with Eat Clean to Get Lean, our 21-day clean-eating meal plan.)

What’s more, many herbs and spices can actually boost your metabolism and help your body burn fat more quickly. Here, 13 herbs and spices with science-backed powers to help you lose all the weight you want in the New Year:

Turmeric

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

This brightly colored yellow spice may help your body burn fat, according to a 2009 study from Tufts University that found that mice fed curcumin—the active ingredient in turmeric—lost more fat than those on the same diet with no curcumin. A “warming spice,” turmeric increases body heat, which, in turn, can boost metabolism. The spice also has a host of other health benefits, from helping fight Alzheimer’s disease to keeping hormones in check during “that time of the month.” Try adding turmeric to soups or stews or sprinkle over roasted veggies or nuts.

Cinnamon

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

This classic holiday spice has been shown to balance blood sugar, helping to curb cravings and keep you feeling full for longer. While you might already sprinkle some cinnamon in oatmeal, you can increase your daily intake by mixing the spice in cottage cheese, plain yogurt, or your favorite brew to make a more fragrant tea (and many more things!). Cinnamon also makes a great addition to savory spice rubs and marinades for meat.

Cayenne
If you’ve ever accidently added too much of this to foods, then you know that cayenne is a warming spice in a big, bad, major way. This means that, similar to turmeric, cayenne raises body temp, helping to boost metabolism. In fact, adding the spice to food can help you burn up to 100 calories per meal, according to Lauren Minchen, RD. Try sprinkling ground cayenne on roasted nuts or in soups, scrambled eggs, or homemade dressings or dips for an extra kick.

Cumin

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

Cumin is the little spice that could: Just one teaspoon added to one of your meals per day can help you burn up to three times more body fat, according to a recent study conducted on overweight women. That’s great news, especially since cumin is so universal, great for adding flavor to almost any food. Try it in everything from soups, stews, dressings, and dips to stir-fries, rubs, marinades, and even flatbreads and other savory baked goods. (Check out these foods that burn belly fat faster.)

Ginger

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

Like cinnamon, ginger helps control blood sugar, meaning it can help prevent a spike in your glucose levels after a sugar- or carb-rich meal. The spice also has the same fat-burning, or thermogenic, properties as turmeric and cayenne, according to Barbara Mendez, RPH, MS, an integrative nutritionist in New York City. Grate fresh ginger into stir-fries, over baked fish, or into fruit salad or tea.

Garlic
It may cause stinky breath, but eating more of this herb can help your body burn fat, according to a study that found that mice on a diet with garlic lost more weight in 7 weeks than mice without it. While the results haven’t been proven in humans, there’s definitely no harm in adding more to your meals. If nothing else, the pungent herb makes food tastier, especially when you opt for raw garlic, which also has more good-for-you nutrients. (And don’t throw out your sprouted garlic either.)

Black Pepper

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

Like ginger, black pepper boasts plenty of fat-burning properties. The spice has also been shown to block the formation of new fat cells, Mendez says, which can help prevent weight gain in the first place. If you don’t already, try adding black pepper to just about everything you eat—it’s even great in traditionally sweetened foods like yogurt, cottage cheese, and oatmeal.

Cardamom
Cardamom is another one of those thermogenic spices, meaning it helps boost body temp and metabolism. A favorite in Indian cuisine, cardamom is fantastic mixed with nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger for a homemade curry blend or chai tea. You can also try adding some of this citrusy spice to baked goods, coffee, or gamey meats like lamb.

Dandelions
While many gardeners consider dandelion a pesky weed, the plant is becoming more popular among chefs and home cooks as a nutritious way to add flavor to meals and drinks. As it turns out, the “weed” has some weight loss benefits, too, helping to reduce bloat while increasing your intake of vitamins like A, C, and E, along with minerals like iron and potassium.

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) is a condition where your body makes more thyroid hormone than it needs. The condition affects about 1 percent of people in the United States and is more common in women.

Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck. The thyroid hormones it makes help control how your body uses energy. Therefore, when your body makes too much thyroid hormone, you’ll probably have symptoms such as:

  • nervousness
  • increased sweating
  • a racing heart
  • difficulty sleeping
  • thinning hair
  • lots of energy at first, followed by fatigue

Weight loss is also a common symptom. However, in some cases, hyperthyroidism can actually lead to weight gain. Read on for more about how hyperthyroidism can actually cause you to gain weight.

Thyroid hormone helps regulate your metabolism. Your metabolism is how much energy your body uses and at what rate. This means that thyroid hormone also affects your basal metabolic rate. This is how much energy your body uses to keep functioning while it’s at rest.

In most cases, excess thyroid hormone is associated with a high basal metabolic weight. This means that your body burns more energy while it’s at rest, so weight loss is a common symptom of hyperthyroidism.

This also means that not producing enough thyroid hormone is usually associated with a low basal metabolic rate. Therefore, hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) can cause weight gain. Your body isn’t burning as much energy, which can lead to a calorie surplus.

But your metabolism is affected by a lot more than just thyroid hormone. Other hormones, how much and what you eat, your physical activity, and many other factors play a role. This means that thyroid hormone levels aren’t the whole story when it comes to losing or gaining weight from thyroid conditions.

Some people with hyperthyroidism might experience weight gain instead of the more common weight loss. Some reasons why that might happen include:

Increased appetite

Hyperthyroidism usually increases your appetite. If you’re taking in a lot more calories, you can gain weight even if your body is burning more energy. Make sure you eat healthy foods, get regular exercise, and work with a doctor on a nutrition plan. These steps can all help combat weight gain from an increased appetite.

Hyperthyroidism treatment

Hyperthyroidism is an abnormal state for your body. Treatment brings your body back to its normal state. Because of this, when you lose weight from hyperthyroidism, you might gain some weight back after you start treatment. Your body starts making less thyroid hormone than it was before.

Some weight gain from treatment is usually fine, especially if you lost a lot of weight before treatment. If you’re concerned, talk to your doctor. You may need to readjust your calorie intake as your treatment takes effect. If the side effects of treatment, including weight gain, are intolerable to you, your doctor can help you find a new treatment.

Thyroiditis

Thyroiditis is an inflammation of the thyroid. This can cause either too high or too low levels of thyroid hormone. The most common type of thyroiditis is Hashimoto disease. It’s also the most common cause of hypothyroidism.

In some rare cases, the immune response to Graves disease — the most common type of hyperthyroidism — can continue long enough to attack the thyroid and lead to inflammation. Therefore, it can cause Hashimoto disease, which can in turn cause weight gain.

Other symptoms of Hashimoto disease are:

  • fatigue
  • dry skin
  • constipation
  • depression

If you start experiencing any of these symptoms, see your doctor. They can help make a correct diagnosis and find the right treatment for you. Treatment for Hashimoto disease is generally thyroid hormone replacement pills.

In most cases, weight gain with hyperthyroidism is probably nothing to worry about, especially if you previously lost a lot of weight due to your initially untreated condition. However, if you’re gaining a lot of weight or have other uncomfortable symptoms, it might indicate a new problem. Talk to your doctor about finding the right course of treatment for you.

Weight gain alone is generally not a sign of a thyroid problem. But weight gain alongside the following symptoms can indicate hypothyroidism:

See a doctor if you develop any of these symptoms. If you’re gaining weight and have symptoms of hyperthyroidism, such as nervousness, increased sweating, and trouble sleeping, it’s still a good idea to see your doctor. They can help you find the right diagnosis and treatment.

Weight gain with hyperthyroidism isn’t common, but it’s possible. It usually happens after you start treatment for hyperthyroidism and gain back weight you previously lost from the disease.

In rare cases, it can mean something more serious. If you have hyperthyroidism and are gaining a lot of weight, talk to your doctor to figure out the best treatment or diet changes.

Sprinkle these tasty ingredients on your food for huge health benefits.

By Natasha Turner, ND Updated July 8, 2014

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

Photo, Getty Images

We all know that when it comes to health, weight loss and even hormones, it’s the little things that count – like what you eat, how you eat it and how much you sleep. Adding herbs and spices to your meals on a regular basis can have a big impact too. Read on for some of my favourites:

1. Decrease cancer risk with oregano
Although it may leave you craving pizza, oregano has a variety of antibacterial and anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer health benefits. A 2012 study by researchers at Long Island University found that carvacrol, a component of this herb, could potentially be used to treat prostate cancer. According to the main researcher, its effects on cancer cells elevate it to “super-spice” category, much like turmeric (which we’ll get to later).

Bottom line: Sprinkle a little oregano on your meals whenever possible or add it to your morning smoothie for an energy boost!

2. Mix it up for weight loss
It turns out that your favourite spice mix not only helps your food taste better but can also trim your waistline. In 2007, the Journal of Medicinal Food, reported that adding a seasoning spice significantly reduced glucose and insulin levels and improved lipid profiles (cholesterol) in rats. Additional research, published in the Research Journal of Pharmaceutical, Biological and Chemical Sciences confirmed the anti-diabetic effect of various spices. Among the spices, fenugreek seeds, garlic, onion, and turmeric have been documented to possess anti-diabetic potential by either lowering blood sugar or reducing insulin.

According to Penn State researchers, adding a little spice can also reduce the body’s negative responses to eating high-fat meals. They found that adding spices to a high-fat meal reduced triglyceride response by almost 30 percent, compared to a similar meal with no spices added. In this case the flavour of choice was a mix of rosemary, oregano, cinnamon, turmeric, black pepper, cloves, garlic powder and paprika. If this doesn’t have you reaching for the spice rack, theses mixtures have also been shown to act as a “sugar safety net” by inhibiting tissue damage and inflammation caused by high blood sugar.

Bottom line: While we encourage you to reach for spices when cooking, beware of seasonings that are high in salt content. Look for seasonings with no salt added, or better yet make your own!

3. Beat muscle pain with ginger
Ginger is commonly known for its ability to soothe a sore stomach and ease nausea, but researchers at the University of Georgia have found that daily ginger consumption also reduces muscle pain caused by exercise up to 25 percent. A study from the University of Miami showed that ginger extract also had a significant effect on reducing the pain of osteoarthritis of the knee.

Bottom line: Slice up ginger root and add it to stir-frys or simply boil it and drink it as a tea a few times a day. This is also great for warming you up during cooler months. Try this healthy pink ginger lemonade recipe for a great way to get more ginger into your diet.

4. Sprinkle a little cinnamon
A little cinnamon in your smoothies can go a long way towards balancing insulin levels. A study published in Diabetes Care showed that cinnamon may cause muscle and liver cells to respond more readily to insulin, and therefore improve weight loss. Better response to insulin means better blood sugar balance and, therefore, less insulin in your body. Cinnamon also reduces several risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including high blood sugar, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol.

Bottom line: Half a teaspoon a day for 40 days is enough to improve your insulin response and lower your blood sugar by up to 29 percent.

5. Speed up fat loss with turmeric
If you want a new way to spice up your fat loss, look no further than turmeric (a main ingredient in curry). A study from Tufts University suggests that curcumin (a component in turmeric) may help with fat metabolism and weight loss. The researchers studied the effect of curcumin in mice fed a high-fat diet over a period of 12 weeks. They found that curcumin did not affect food intake but reduced weight gain, fat accumulation and density of fat tissue. Curcumin also increased expression of key enzymes involved in fat oxidation, so despite the diet, less fat was stored.

Need another reason to add this spice to your meals? An Oregon State study found it can increase the levels of a certain protein in the body that assists with immunity and helps prevent infection.

Written By Michael Greger M.D. FACLM on October 6th, 2016

Question: I am underweight and would like to gain weight in a healthy way. Do you have any recommendations?

Answer:

As explained in my video Eating More to Weigh Less , the key to healthy longterm weight loss is understanding calorie density and eating low calorie-dense foods. When applied in reverse, the concept of calorie density can be used to gain weight. In other words, you would want to eat more foods that are more calorie dense. The idea is to not just add a single one of these foods, but to add several foods into your diet until the amount of calories you take in exceed your energy needs. Examples of higher calorie dense foods appropriate for a whole food plant-based diet include: nuts, nut butters, dried fruits, tofu, avocados, and whole grain breads/crackers/dry goods. Eating more cooked food than raw also helps with calorie intake.

You can incorporate several of these relatively healthy foods into each meal and snack, and eat primarily cooked foods. For example, a person wanting to lose weight will want to use vegetable-based sauces, but you would use nut-based sauces. While a person wanting to lose or maintain weight would include a lot of raw food, say big salads with some lemon juice as the dressing, you might eat smaller amounts of raw food and far more cooked veggies, beans, and grains.

While that’s the answer to your actual question, I would step back and ask, “Why do you want to gain weight?” Are you hoping to gain more fat? Gaining fat isn’t generally healthy unless you are severely fat deficient, which is fairly rare. On the other hand, if you want to gain more weight without gaining fat, then what you are talking about is gaining muscle, and that involves more than just changing your diet … it includes incorporating weight-bearing exercises into your workout regimen.

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

Oxidative stress is an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in the body, which can lead to cell and tissue damage. Oxidative stress occurs naturally and plays a role in the aging process.

To discover more evidence-based information and resources for healthy aging, visit our dedicated hub.

A large body of scientific evidence suggests that long-term oxidative stress contributes to the development in a range of chronic conditions. Such conditions include cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

In this article, we explore what oxidative stress is, how it affects the body, and how to reduce it.

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

Share on Pinterest Many lifestyle factors can contribute to oxidative stress.

Oxidative stress can occur when there is an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in the body.

The body’s cells produce free radicals during normal metabolic processes. However, cells also produce antioxidants that neutralize these free radicals. In general, the body is able to maintain a balance between antioxidants and free radicals.

Several factors contribute to oxidative stress and excess free radical production. These factors can include:

  • diet
  • lifestyle
  • certain conditions
  • environmental factors such as pollution and radiation

The body’s natural immune response can also trigger oxidative stress temporarily. This type of oxidative stress causes mild inflammation that goes away after the immune system fights off an infection or repairs an injury.

Uncontrolled oxidative stress can accelerate the aging process and may contribute to the development of a number of conditions.

Free radicals, including reactive oxygen species, are molecules with one or more unpaired electron. Examples of free radicals include:

  • superoxide
  • hydroxyl radical
  • nitric oxide radical

Cells contain small structures called mitochondria, which work to generate energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

Mitochondria combine oxygen and glucose to produce carbon dioxide, water, and ATP. Free radicals arise as byproducts of this metabolic process.

External substances, such as cigarette smoke, pesticides, and ozone, can also cause the formation of free radicals in the body.

Antioxidants are substances that neutralize or remove free radicals by donating an electron. The neutralizing effect of antioxidants helps protect the body from oxidative stress. Examples of antioxidants include vitamins A, C, and E.

Like free radicals, antioxidants come from several different sources. Cells naturally produce antioxidants such as glutathione.

A person’s diet is also an important source of antioxidants. Foods such as fruits and vegetables provide many essential antioxidants in the form of vitamins and minerals that the body cannot create on its own.

The effects of oxidative stress vary and are not always harmful. For example, oxidative stress that results from physical activity may have beneficial, regulatory effects on the body.

Exercise increases free radical formation, which can cause temporary oxidative stress in the muscles. However, the free radicals formed during physical activity regulate tissue growth and stimulate the production of antioxidants.

Mild oxidative stress may also protect the body from infection and diseases. In a 2015 study, scientists found that oxidative stress limited the spread of melanoma cancer cells in mice.

However, long-term oxidative stress damages the body’s cells, proteins, and DNA. This can contribute to aging and may play an important role in the development of a range of conditions.

We discuss some of these conditions below:

Chronic inflammation

Oxidative stress can cause chronic inflammation.

Infections and injuries trigger the body’s immune response. Immune cells called macrophages produce free radicals while fighting off invading germs. These free radicals can damage healthy cells, leading to inflammation.

Under normal circumstances, inflammation goes away after the immune system eliminates the infection or repairs the damaged tissue.

However, oxidative stress can also trigger the inflammatory response, which, in turn, produces more free radicals that can lead to further oxidative stress, creating a cycle.

Chronic inflammation due to oxidative stress may lead to several conditions, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and arthritis.

Neurodegenerative diseases

The effects of oxidative stress may contribute to several neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

The brain is particularly vulnerable to oxidative stress because brain cells require a substantial amount of oxygen. According to a 2018 review, the brain consumes 20 percent of the total amount of oxygen the body needs to fuel itself.

Brain cells use oxygen to perform intense metabolic activities that generate free radicals. These free radicals help support brain cell growth, neuroplasticity, and cognitive functioning.

During oxidative stress, excess free radicals can damage structures inside brain cells and even cause cell death, which may increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease.

Oxidative stress also alters essential proteins, such as amyloid-beta peptides. According to one 2018 systematic review, oxidative stress may modify these peptides in way that contributes to the accumulation of amyloid plaques in the brain. This is a key marker of Alzheimer’s disease.

In this Article

In this Article

In this Article

  • What Are Natural Anti-Inflammatories?
  • Anti-Inflammatory Foods
  • Inflammatory Foods
  • Risks of Chronic Inflammation

What Are Natural Anti-Inflammatories?

Natural anti-inflammatories are foods that you can eat to lower your odds of having inflammation. If you have a condition that causes inflammation, it may help to change your eating habits.

While medication and other treatments are important, many experts say an anti-inflammatory diet may help, too. If you have a condition like rheumatoid arthritis, changing what’s on your plate won’t be a magic cure. But an anti-inflammatory diet might lessen the number of flare-ups you have, or it might help take your pain down a few notches.

An anti-inflammatory diet is widely regarded as healthy. Even if it doesn’t help with your condition, it can help lower your chances of having other problems.

Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Any mainstream nutrition expert would encourage you to eat anti-inflammatory foods. They include lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, plant-based proteins (like beans and nuts), fatty fish, and fresh herbs and spices.

Fruits and veggies: Go for variety and lots of color. Research shows that vitamin K-rich leafy greens like spinach and kale reduce inflammation, as do broccoli and cabbage. So does the substance that gives fruits like cherries, raspberries, and blackberries their color.

Whole grains: Oatmeal, brown rice, whole-wheat bread, and other unrefined grains tend to be high in fiber, and fiber also may help with inflammation.

Beans: They’re high in fiber, plus they’re loaded with antioxidants and other anti-inflammatory substances.

Nuts: They have a healthy kind of fat that helps stop inflammation. (Olive oil and avocados are also good sources.) Stick to just a handful of nuts a day, or otherwise the fat and calories will add up.

Fish: Put it on your plate at least twice a week. Salmon, tuna, and sardines all have plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation.

Herbs and spices: They add antioxidants (along with flavor) to your food. Turmeric, found in curry powder, does this with a strong substance called curcumin. And garlic curbs your body’s ability to make things that boost inflammation.

Inflammatory Foods

Anything highly processed, overly greasy, or super sweet isn’t a good choice for you if you have inflammation.

Continued

Sweets, cakes and cookies, and soda: They aren’t dense in nutrients, and they’re easy to overeat, which can lead to weight gain, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol (all related to inflammation). Sugar causes your body to release inflammatory messengers called cytokines. Soda and other sweet drinks are the main culprits. Anti-inflammatory diet experts often say you should cut out all added sugars, including agave and honey.

High-fat and processed red meat (like hot dogs): These have a lot of saturated fat, which can cause inflammation if you get more than a small amount each day.

Butter, whole milk, and cheese: Again, the problem is saturated fat. Instead, eat low-fat dairy products. They aren’t considered inflammatory.

French fries, fried chicken, and other fried foods: Cooking them in vegetable oil doesn’t make them healthy. Corn oil, safflower oil, and other vegetable oils all have omega-6 fatty acids. You need some omega-6s, but if you get too much you throw off the balance between omega-6s and omega-3s in your body and end up with more inflammation.

Coffee creamers, margarine, and anything else with trans fats: Trans fats (look on the label for “partially hydrogenated oils”) raise LDL cholesterol, which causes inflammation. There’s no safe amount to eat, so steer clear.

Wheat, rye, and barley: The focus here is gluten, and it’s controversial. People who have celiac disease need to avoid gluten. But for everyone else, the science is solid that whole grains are a good thing.

Risks of Chronic Inflammation

Inflammation happens naturally in your body. Inflammation protects against toxins, infection, and injury, but when it happens too often it can trigger diseases. Experts link long-term (chronic) inflammation to:

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

Inflammation is arguably the root cause of every chronic condition and disease. It’s your body’s response to stress, whether it be stress via injury, diet, lack of sleep, too much work, toxic emotions, stored trauma, or internal or external toxins. You can fight inflammation with your fork. OK, not literally, but rather by focusing on what’s on the end of your fork. An anti-inflammatory diet is one way to squash pain and inflammation, depression, and make you healthier to boot.

What is Inflammation?

Think about what happens when you cut or burn your finger: It swells and turns red and warm as your body sends white blood cells to the injury site to prevent foreign invaders from causing infection. The swelling caused by this reaction is inflammation, and it is good, in this instance. Or if you sprain your ankle, the resulting inflammation is all part of the healing process. This is acute inflammation. Chronic inflammation is another story.

Chronic, low grade inflammation is a constant assault on your body. Much of this inflammation originates in the gut, believe it or not, due to unfavorable bacteria overgrowth and foods that trigger initial inflammation. Many of these foods are obvious, like fast food, sugar, processed foods, damaged fats (think hydrogenated), refined white flour, dairy. But the confusing part is many foods considered “healthy,” like eggs, wheat, or tomatoes, can cause inflammation in certain people.

Inflammation & The Gut

Your gut is home to trillions of bacteria: They outnumber your cells 2 to 1 (roughly). We are now beginning to consider this gut microbiome ecosystem in your digestive tract an organ, much like your heart or liver, and it keeps us healthy, determining our weight set point and modulating inflammation and immune health. Your friendly gut bacteria digest your food for you and keep your immune system running strong.

Our diet, stress levels, exposure to toxins (pollutants, skincare products, alcohol, medications), and use of antibiotics and other meds can alter our microbiome, causing the bad bacteria to outnumber the good bacteria. This triggers the proliferation of inflammatory cytokines that travel throughout the body causing oxidative stress and free radical damage, setting the stage for inflammatory diseases such as IBS, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, autoimmune disease, diabetes, dementia, depression, Alzheimer’s, cancer, chronic skin conditions, premature aging.

You should have about 85% beneficial bacteria and 15% bad bacteria in your colon (large intestine), which are normal in every microbiome and keep us healthy by challenging your good bacteria to keep on their toes. But when the bad guys take over the good guys, problems arise. You may notice bloating, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, fatigue, weight gain, and even joint pain. Inflammation is another result of having too much bad bacteria in the gut. Fortunately you can squash the bad guys and build up the good guys with help from your diet and some lifestyle adjustments.

How do you know if you have inflammation?

Inflammation has been called “the silent killer,” but here are a few signs:

Mary Vance is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and author specializing in digestive health. In addition to her coaching practice, she offers courses to help you heal your gut and kick nagging digestive issues for good. Mary lives in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Read more about her coaching practice here and her background here.

Groundbreaking new research shows that inflammation can actually help you build muscle, boost immunity, and fight stress.

Inflammation is one of the hottest health topics of the year. But until now, the focus has been solely on the damage it causes. (Case in point: these inflammation-causing foods.) As it turns out, that’s not the whole story. Researchers have recently discovered that inflammation can actually make us healthier. It has powerful healing effects and is a critical component of the immune system, says Joanne Donoghue, Ph.D., an exercise physiologist at the New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine. You need it to generate muscle, heal from injuries, and even power through a tough day. The way it works is this: “Whenever you strength-train or do cardiovascular exercise, you’re creating mini-traumas in your muscles,” Donoghue explains. That triggers inflammation, which prompts the release of chemicals and hormones to repair the affected tissue and leads to stronger muscle fibers. Your bones also benefit, says Maria Urso, Ph.D., a human performance consultant with O2X, a wellness education company. The load placed on your bones during strength training creates tiny divots in their weak areas, and inflammation kicks off a process that fills in those spots with new, stronger bone.

Inflammation is also crucial to recovering from an injury. Say you roll your ankle while running. “Within minutes, white blood cells rush to the injury site,” says Wajahat Zafar Mehal, M.D., an associate professor of medicine at the Yale School of Medicine. They assess the damage and fire up clusters of molecules known as inflammasomes, which activate small proteins that make your ankle turn red and swell. These inflammatory symptoms draw immune cells to the area to begin the healing process, Mehal explains.

Preliminary animal studies show that workout-induced inflammation may even cause the immune system to operate more efficiently. That means inflammation created by exercise could potentially help to fight colds. But, like most health issues, the process is complicated. Inflammation is healthy only in moderation. “When inflammation is at a high level all the time, it creates chronic wear and tear on healthy tissues and organs,” says Charles Raison, M.D., a professor of psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Medicine and Public Health who studies the condition. Carrying excess weight, not getting enough rest, or exercising too much all can cause the good-for-you inflammatory response to veer into the danger zone. The key to reaping the benefits of post-exercise inflammation is to keep it at a balanced level. The following three techniques will help you use its power without allowing it to spiral out of control.

Stretch It Out

Rather than collapsing on the couch after a tough workout, take a walk, do some light yoga, or use a foam roller. After exercise, your muscles leak out a protein called creatine kinase, which your kidneys need to filter from the blood. If you sit still, the damaged proteins accumulate, and this may result in more inflammatory-control cells coming into the area and delaying recovery. “By moving your muscles, you increase blood flow to those areas,” Urso explains. “This helps flush out the waste products so your body can repair itself.” (And before bed, try these yoga stretches to prevent injury and help you fall asleep faster.)

Embrace the Ache

When the soreness from your boot-camp class is intense, you may be tempted to pop ibuprofen. Don’t. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as these prevent normal exercise-induced inflammation from occurring, which could keep your body from building and strengthening your muscles, Urso says. Translation: Your workout is a lot less effective. Taking ibuprofen might even increase your risk of injury, Chinese researchers report. In studies, they found that NSAIDs interfere with bone rebuilding, leaving you vulnerable to stress fractures and osteoporosis. Save the medications for more severe injuries like muscle tears. For regular soreness, try menthol gels like Biofreeze Cold Therapy Pain Relief ($9; amazon.com), which have proven analgesic properties but won’t interfere with inflammation. (Or try one of these personal trainer-approved products for relieving sore muscles.)

Take a Break

Follow every super-intense workout with an easy or rest day, suggests Chad Asplund, M.D., the medical director of athletics sports medicine at Georgia Southern University. Exercise creates free radicals, unstable molecules that damage cells. Normally, the body releases antioxidants to neutralize those molecules, but if you keep pushing yourself to the limit day after day, the free radicals overwhelm your body’s defenses, creating a condition known as oxidative stress. This causes harmful chronic inflammation, which tears down muscles rather than building them up, Donoghue says. Watch out for symptoms like plummeting endurance, strength, energy, and motivation, as well as irritability, frequent illness, and trouble sleeping. These are all signs that you should take at least two full days off, Donoghue says, then dial back your exercise schedule by 30 to 40 percent for the next two or three weeks in order to recover. (Rest days aren’t just for your body either-your mind needs to chill too.)

Put Stress to Work for You

Mental stress, like trying to meet a crazy deadline at work, triggers inflammation the same way workout stress does. “When the brain perceives anxiety or danger, it kicks on inflammation,” says Raison. In small doses, your stress response can be good for you, according to Firdaus S. Dhabhar, Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Miami Medical Center. It prompts the release of cortisol and other molecules, which deliver a jolt of energy and alertness and enhance the immune function to help you deal with the situation at hand. To keep stress short term and beneficial, and to prevent it from becoming chronic and harmful, try these expert-backed tactics.

Go green.

Getting outside can help you decompress. After taking a walk through nature, study participants were significantly less likely to dwell on negative thoughts than those who strolled through a cityscape, research at Stanford University found. (Better yet, take your yoga practice outside.)

Use the conveyor belt method.

“For a few seconds several times a day, imagine that your stressful thoughts are boxes on a conveyor belt, passing through your awareness,” suggests Bruce Hubbard, Ph.D., the director of the Cognitive Health Group in New York City. “This teaches you to let go of the things that worry you.”

Eat more yogurt.

Random, but true: Women who received a four-week course of probiotics, which are found in yogurt, ruminated less when they were sad than those who received a placebo, according to a study in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. That’s because probiotics increase your level of tryptophan, which helps produce serotonin, a hormone that boosts your mood. Eat at least one serving of yogurt a day for the best results. (You’re probably also wondering, should I take a probiotic supplement?)

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

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Fat in food is in the form of triglycerides. It’s also the form in which your body stores fat. If you eat too much fat, too many calories or too much sugar, your body turns those nutrients into triglycerides, which may elevate blood levels and increase risk of heart disease. Watching your calories, as well as your fat and sugar intake, is necessary in order to bring blood triglyceride levels down. Consult your doctor to discuss your diet for high triglycerides.

Determining Calorie Needs

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

Attaining and sustaining a healthy weight is one of the first steps you need to take to help lower your triglycerides, which means eating the right number of calories. Calorie needs are individual and based on age, gender, body size and activity. They also vary depending on your desire to lose, maintain or gain weight.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans estimates that women need 1,600 calories to 2,400 calories a day, and men need 2,000 calories to 3,000 calories a day. Talk to your doctor or dietitian to help you estimate the number of calories you need each day to reach your weight goals.

What to Eat

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

A healthy diet that is high in fiber with healthy sources of fat is recommended to help lower triglycerides. For fiber, fill your diet with fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Include lean sources of protein to help limit your intake of unhealthy saturated fat. Good choices include white meat poultry, fish and legumes. Healthy sources of fat include olive oil, flaxseed oil, walnut oil and canola oil. Healthy oils are a concentrated source of calories; use them in moderation to help stay within your calorie goals.

Specific Foods and Herbs That May Help

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

Omega-3 fatty acids in fish may help improve your triglyceride levels, according to NYU Langone Medical Center. Eat two servings of fatty fish such as mackerel, tuna, herring or salmon twice a week to get more omega-3s. If you don’t eat fish, check with your doctor to see if fish oil supplements are an option for you.

You might also want to eat more soy foods, such as edamame, tofu, soy milk or tempeh. NYU Langone Medical Center reports that when used in place of animal proteins, soy also helps to moderately lower triglycerides.

The herbal supplement fenugreek may also be helpful, but it’s only been tested in test tubes and animals. Always talk to your doctor before adding herbal supplements to your daily regimen.

Get Some Exercise

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

Regular exercise helps burn calories, which means burning triglycerides. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults get 150 minutes of moderately intense exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week. That means a 30-minute walk at a brisk pace five days a week or a 15-minute jog five days a week.

Eat quality protein. Eat lots of vegetables. Use spices rather than sugary sauces. Try this approach and see how it works for you!

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

People talk a lot about inflammation these days: What it is, where it begins, what consequences it produces, and of course, how you can fight it. Depending on who you’re listening to, it’s either an unavoidable part of modern life—and the modern diet—or something you can control or avoid.

After doing a lot of research and experimentation, I find myself in the middle. In other words, I believe you have some power over inflammation, but you have to be serious and methodical in how you approach it.

It’s All About The Gut

For me, fighting chronic inflammation begins in the gut. Gut health relates to effective digestion and absorption of the foods and nutrients we eat, as well as the overall health of the gastrointestinal tract. This isn’t limited to your stomach, but includes your large and small intestines and colon, too. These are some of the largest organs and systems in your body, so you can’t expect to make significant impacts with just tiny changes to your lifestyle.

However, the payoff can be significant. When you do not maintain positive gut health, inflammation is the body’s natural response.

What Are Some Signs of Inflammation In The Body?

  • Weak immune system
  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Symptoms of autoimmune diseases
  • Poor sleep
  • Low energy
  • Weight gain
  • Poor digestion and bloated belly
  • Constipation and overall irregularity

Yes, that’s a lot of symptoms, and most of us have experienced at least a few of them. That doesn’t mean you are experiencing chronic inflammation. But, if any—or several—of these conditions are your norm rather than the exception, you have nothing to lose by taking a good look at your diet.

How we treat our digestive system determines not only how well our body digests and absorbs nutrients, but also how well it resists inflammation. Simply put, our health starts with what we eat.

Different foods can trigger inflammation within our bodies, and getting down to the root cause of your inflammation is key to creating a meal plan specific to your body that brings about improved health.[1,2]

Food allergies play a prominent role in the inflammatory response, as do processed foods and foods high in sugar. Many of us consume inflammation-causing foods and don’t even realize it.

Which Foods Are Anti-inflammatory?

An anti-inflammatory diet is more about what you don’t eat than what you do. That said, the foods you eat can have a tremendous impact on your gut health and reducing inflammation, so choosing whole foods naturally low in sugar is a great place to start. For certain people—but not everybody—this may also involve eliminating dairy products.

Simply put, just eat real food! A solid beginning for an anti-inflammatory diet is composed primarily of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, plant- or animal-based protein, and hypoallergenic grains such as rice and quinoa. There’s more room to customize for taste than you might think!

The idea of eating whole foods for better health is not new. You may have heard of the paleo or Mediterranean diets, both of which promote the health-enhancing benefits of eating minimally-processed whole foods.

Regardless of the label you put on it, eating simple, largely unprocessed food is key for reducing inflammation and improving gut health. If you are already eating a diet based mostly on whole foods and still have symptoms, you may consider a visit to a food specialist or allergist to dive a bit deeper into what is initiating your symptoms.

References
  1. O’Keefe, J. H., Gheewala, N. M., & O’Keefe, J. O. (2008). Dietary strategies for improving post-prandial glucose, lipids, inflammation, and cardiovascular health. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 51(3), 249-255.
  2. Shahidi, F. (2009). Nutraceuticals and functional foods: whole versus processed foods. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 20(9), 376-387.

About the Author

Tiffany Lee Gaston

Tiffany Lee Gaston is an author and fitness personality. With recurring appearances on local television networks, she promotes her own unique brand of fitness, with an emphasis on the.

We Indians have long underestimated the traditional wisdom passed on to us by our ancestors. This underestimation happens to be applicable even when it comes to weight loss and healthy eating habits.

While our grandparents and parents managed to stay fit despite eating staple Indian food throughout their lives, we millennials are particularly attracted to the Western way of eating. The West glorifies a certain out-of-reach avocado and the Indian population goes out of its way to source it for the sake of the weight loss it promises.

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Another very common approach that many people adopt while losing weight is giving up on staple Indian foods such as chapati, rice, pulses, and other whole grains. This has become even more common ever since we were bitten by the keto diet/low-carb bug.

However, according to several experts, including nutritionist, wellness coach, and founder of Nutriactivania Avni Kaul—we must not give up on our staple diet for the sake of losing weight. Here are all the reasons why:

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain MuscleEat mindfully and eat clean for weight loss. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

1. Your perception of staple Indian foods is completely wrong
You know, if you check the calorie count of the so-called healthier breakfast option of muesli and milk on any health app, you’ll realise that it contains around 300-plus calories per serving with 11.4 grams of protein, 2.4 grams of fibre, 12.6 grams of fat, and 40.8 grams of carbs.

Enter the desi breakfast staple: Aloo parantha, which might just seem completely out of line for you if you’re trying to lose weight. However, upon checking its nutritional value, you’ll know that it has around 180-200 calories and when further broken down, amounts to 6.3 grams of fat (half of that of a cereal serving), 32 gms carbs (more than 10 gms lesser than a cereal serving), and 4.4 gms of fiber (twice that of cereal serving).

The case of other staples such as rice and pulses is also similar because we tend to dismiss these whole grains thinking that they’re nothing but a powerhouse of calories—completely ignoring the fact that they’re a powerhouse of fibre and amino acids along with several essential micro nutrients.

2. Indian food isn’t the problem, our version of it is
“Eating parantha is not harmful. But the way they’re made these is what makes them backfire. If, instead of stuffing the paranthas with potatoes, you stuff them with vegetables, such as spinach, carrot, cabbage, beetroot etc and instead of deep-frying them in refined oil, you apply minimal ghee on top of it once it is fully cooked, you’ll be just fine when eating them,” says Kaul.

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain MuscleRice is not the enemy. Trust us! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

“Similarly, rice can be eaten too but only in moderation. Also, one thing that works in favour of rice is that it contains less fat as compared to roti. But instead of white rice opt for brown rice (with a higher fibre content) for better results,” she adds.

3. Your body is simply used to Indian staples
You might have heard several celebrity dieticians talking about the fact that we should eat like our ancestors did and continue to eat what we’ve been eating since childhood.

According to Kaul, this theory holds true. “Changing your food habits is never easy especially when they are a part of your staple diet. Your taste buds develop over the years and it is difficult to overlook them even when you want to lose weight,” Kaul says.

Hence, eating what your taste buds and body is already accustomed to a sustainable way of losing weight, you see.

4. The Indian diet takes care of your health like no other
A typical home cooked Indian-thali consists of a chapati or rice, a vegetable, a bowl of dal, curd, and salad—makes for a perfect, clean, and balanced meal.

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain MuscleDal is an energy-dense food. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

With healthy carbs and fibre from rice/roti, protein and fiber from dal and vegetable, good fat and protein from curd, fibre and minerals from salad, and an immunity boost from all the spices used in the meal—there is no meal as nutritious as a traditional Indian meal for sure.

However, you’ve got to keep these pointers in mind:

  • Moderation is key. So, don’t go overboard and start eating 5-6 chapatis just because Indian food myth has been busted here.
  • Ensure that your cooking methods are weight-loss-friendly by using moderate amounts of oil, salt, and sugar.
  • Look for healthier alternatives of certain ingredients used for cooking traditional Indian dishes. For instance, replace sugar with honey/jaggery, regular salt with sendha namak, refined oil with ghee, maida with whole wheat etc.
  • Make sure to include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet.

by Jen Evansy · May 18, 2020

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

“Mother’s best friend,” “The Immortal Tree,” “The Miracle Tree,” …these are just some of the names for the curious plant called Moringa Oleifera! In non-Western cultures, it has been used as a herbal remedy for hundreds of years.

Despite that, it’s much lesser known in the West. However, recently, it has been gaining insane popularity due to its amazing benefits for overall well-being and effectiveness for weight loss.

For instance, Sciencedirect cites numerous studies confirming that Moringa is one of the most potent herbal supplements known to humanity. [1]

With staggering 92 nutrients and 46 natural antioxidants, Moringa contains more calcium than milk, more Vitamin A than carrots, more iron than spinach, more potassium than bananas, and more Vitamin C than oranges and that is not all.

Although Moringa is not your standard weight loss herb, its effectiveness for burning fat can be accredited precisely to its myriad of nutritional properties, making it a good supplement for people of all ages who are trying to lose weight, tone up, and stay in shape.

Keep reading to find out what are these effective yet not so obvious nutritional properties making this plant such a well-kept secret for natural weight loss.

Moringa leaves are almost 25% protein, which is very high for any plant. It contains 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein source, so it is a perfect herbal supplement for anyone trying to lose weight and build muscle.

What Is Moringa And Where Does It Come From?

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

You can easily recognize this small tree from India, Nepal, and Pakistan by its distinct thick, light-colored bark complete with slender, fragile branches and long, dainty oblong-shaped leaves. Known as a drumstick tree in addition to many poetic names, Moringa Oleifera is part of the diverse Moringaceae family.

Indigenous to India, Nepal, and Pakistan, it grows very quickly and can be easily cultivated in subtropical and also tropical areas such as Asia and South America, Africa. In different regions, the tree can go by different names (e.g., Horseradish-tree, Ben oil tree, Shigru, and more).

Scientific studies still have some catching up to when it comes to all the beneficial properties of this tree. Considering it’s been used successfully as long as ancient times: Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians relied on the tree for treatment of many conditions. In Ayurveda, countless therapeutic uses are listed due to its antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antidepressant properties.

These days, it also plays an important role in eliminating malnutrition in poverty-stricken regions, since it’s so easy to cultivate. The combination of restorative properties and high nutritional value truly makes Moringa “the miracle tree.” [2]

Superfood That Wellness Experts Are Buzzing About

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

Experts all around the world have a lot to say about the amazing properties of Moringa. For instance, Dr. Monica G. Marcu (Ph.D, PharmD, BNursing, BArts) concludes that it is the greatest nutrient-rich plant discovered so far.

Her definitive research of one of our most magnificent trees, the Moringa oleifera, is one of the most respected. She has also written the book “Miracle Tree” that explains the hundreds of substances such as fats, enzymes, vitamins, amino acids, minerals, and specific phytochemicals. Each has evident importance and many applications in healing and nutrition.

This modest plant has gained a lot of popularity and made good progress for thousands of years in many cultures, and now there has been significant nutritional research conducted since the 1970s.

It provides a prosperous and remarkable combination of antioxidants, amino acids, and nutrients, and strong anti-aging properties used for healing and nutrition.

Many international experts agree, suggesting that “Moringa could soon become one of the world’s most valuable plants.”

The Wonders Of The Miracle Tree

How to Eat Spices to Lose Weight, Inflammation and Oxidative Damages, but Gain Muscle

So, what makes Moringa such a valuable plant?

Well, firstly, the nutritional content of this Miracle Tree leaves is truly remarkable, making the plant a great aid for those requiring a dietary boost.

For instance, carrots are well-known for their high vitamin A content. However, you’ll be surprised to find out that they only have 10% of what Moringa has to offer! In addition, it has been demonstrated to contain:

  • 17 Times more calcium than cow’s milk.
  • 9 Times more protein than plain yogurt.
  • 15 Times more potassium than bananas.
  • 7 Times more vitamin C than oranges.
  • 25 Times more iron than spinach.

While we’re looking at the numbers, it’s also important to point out that Moringa contains:

  • 36 Anti-inflammatory compounds.
  • 46 Various antioxidants which help fight free radicals and protect the body from many external invaders (e.g., smoke, pollution, and radiation).
  • All essential amino acids (that the human body can’t produce and must get with food), and 17 amino acids in total.
  • And over 90 other beneficial nutrients – the next closest (in terms of nutritional content) plant only has 28!

Here are some more interesting facts about the nutritional properties of Moringa:

  • Protein in Moringa remains intact when heated.
  • Nutrients from it are easily absorbed and distributed to the cells.
  • And that’s just the very tip of the iceberg!

The Moringa Documentary – The Never Die Tree

Watch this fascinating discovery channel documentary below about The Miracle Tree. This documentary looks at the fantastic benefits of this superfood, how it is grown, used, and how it can benefit you. (Also features Dr. Monica G. Marcu).