Seven Spices that Can Improve Your Life

Seven Spices

I know that it may sound like a little bit of hyperbole but I think by the time you finish reading this, you will agree that these are probably some of the most under-rated substances in the entire world. They’re gorgeous, easy to use and the amount of health benefits that accrue to them is just so under-appreciated. In fact, I call spices stealth health foods because of all the benefits that have been found to accrue. I’ve selected the following seven.

Turmeric

Let’s start with Turmeric; the spice that makes Indian food yellow. The active ingredient in turmeric is a group of compounds known as curcuminoids or collectively as curcumin. It’s really what gives turmeric its superstar status in the spice world. Research on curcumin shows its effects on regulatory mechanisms and the preventer of cancer, neurological, inflammatory diseases.

We’re going to be talking a lot about inflammatory diseases because actually every disease is in a certain way an inflammatory disease. Andrew Wile, America’s integrative medical authority says three reasons to incorporate Turmeric to your diet are to prevent Alzheimer’s, arthritis and cancer. How do you get turmeric in your diet? You can sprinkle it on scrambled eggs or make a turmeric tea? I take turmeric as a supplement largely because as great as it is, it’s not well absorbed.

Ginger

Ginger has the deserved reputation as being a wonderful calming substance for the stomach. Research has been done on ginger as a cancer preventative. I’ve written a number of books in which I talk about four things that age the body and promote every disease and they are inflammation (top of the list), oxidation, stress and sugar in the diet. Inflammation is involved in diabetes, cancer, obesity, heart disease and every degenerative disease.

Anything we can do to lower inflammation is extremely important for our health. Oxidation: the damage done by free radicals that are found in oxygen. It’s kind of a rusting. Oxidative stress is a major part of aging and just about every degenerative disease you can imagine. Antioxidants help fight the damage done by these marauding free radicals.

Oregano

A study by the American Chemical Society found oregano to have the highest ranking antioxidants of any herb. It appears to contain some diabetes fighting compounds as well. I prefer the oil of oregano, not really the spice itself. Oregano oil is anti-microbial. WebMD says it should be taken by mouth for parasites, allergies, a cold, the flu and fatigue.

Hot Chili Peppers

The main beneficial compound in hot chili peppers is capsaicin. During the 2008 Democratic campaign, when she was running against Obama for the nomination Hillary Clinton was asked how she kept up through that grueling campaign and she attributed much of her endurance and energy to red hot peppers! Red peppers are easy to eat, easy to find, inexpensive, and have great health benefits.

Garlic

Garlic is probably the number one medicinal food in the world. It goes back thousands of years. It’s been found to be helpful for the heart, for the immune system, helps kill parasites, it’s a natural antibiotic and it’s great for blood pressure. Matthew Boudoff, a cardiologist at the UCLA David Geffin School of Medicine, has done a lot of research on garlic. He found that it actually reduced plaque. Aged garlic extract was shown to inhibit the progression of atherosclerosis to lower blood pressure, improve oxidative stress and enhance circulation. Garlic has to be chopped up and broken down in order for two compounds to mix together and create allicin. There are studies showing the anti-cancer mechanism of sulfur-containing compounds of which garlic and onions are two prime examples.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon. A 2004 study showed that cinnamon actually improves blood sugar, glucose and lipids of people with type two diabetes. In the eleven years since this study was done, not all studies have duplicated this. Some have shown great results with cinnamon, some have not. However, there’s just no downside to using it and there’s potentially lots of upsides. There’s a meta-analysis of all the studies of cinnamon use in type two diabetes, and on the whole, they’re very positive. Here again the effect of cinnamon tea on postprandial, just means after eating, postprandial glucose simply means your blood sugar after you eat and cinnamon has a nice muting effect on that. Here again, more experimental evidence, more reviews and here once again, big surprise, turns out that cinnamon may also have some anti-cancer properties which is a very nice little side benefit so if you’re taking it for blood sugar oh look at this, it may also have some effects on cancer cells, not a bad side effect.

Sage

Sage is an anti-oxidant and a powerful anti-inflammatory. It seems to have a great effect on memory in both younger people and in older. An interesting article shows that sage actually improved glycemic control and lipid profile in type 2 diabetics. In a study, they gave sage to a test group and they found that it lowered their fasting glucose; it brought down blood sugar. It lowered triglycerides which I consider to be a serious risk factor, far more important than cholesterol, and finally sage increased HDL cholesterol which is generally thought to be the good cholesterol; a list of great effects from a simple spice like sage.

Benefits of Spices

I hope I’ve begun to open your eyes to what’s available in the spice world and the health benefits of these spices. There are spices for weight loss and they include the cayenne pepper because of its effect on energy balance and metabolism in general. There are the cancer fighting spices: garlic and ginger and cayenne pepper and turmeric.

My new book, Smart Fat, has several principals: eating more fat, eating more fiber and the third one is about flavor and it’s in there for two reasons. One is when you use these spices it makes your food taste better and let’s face it, if health food tastes like straw and sawdust, nobody is going to eat it. The second stealth benefit of those flavors is all the anti-inflammatory and the antioxidant fire power that these spices have. So begin to use them, make friends with them, try them in every different kind of way.

Ask your kids to be part of the whole cooking process and get friendly with these spices. Most of us have a spice rack in our kitchen that hasn’t been used. Get nice new fresh spices and start using them on everything. See what they taste like, get to know them, see how they mix and match with other flavors and you really will be opening up a whole world of flavor and a world of health.

By Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS aka “The Nutrition Myth Buster”™

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Deb Hubers

Debra Hubers is a serial entrepreneur and has started seven businesses; ranging from an advanced genomics to an employer health care purchasing cooperative. Deb has over 35 years of experience in healthcare finance, education, technology, and pharmacogenomics.

Ms. Hubers has dedicated her career to measuring and improving healthcare outcomes. Her expertise is leveraging technology to deliver personalized, preventative medicine. Ms. Hubers co-founded La Vita Compounding Pharmacy in 2007. Collaborating with her business partner, physicians and strategic partners, Deb has grown La Vita to be one of the most respected and sought-after personalized medicine providers on the west coast. She is also Co-Founder of EpigeneticsRx, a leading provider of precise, personalized, prevention which positively impacts genetic expression.

Alex Keller, ND

Dr. Alex Keller, ND, AFMCP is a graduate of the University of Ottawa with an Honours Bachelor in Health Sciences and Psychology. Although originally intending to attend conventional medical school, following a three-month volunteer internship at a rural Kenyan hospital where he observed how doctors used local food to treat patients, he shifted his career goals and pursued a degree in naturopathic medicine at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto.

After one year of practicing with the esteemed Dr. Chris Pickrell, ND, RH in a community acupuncture setting, in 2015 he and his wife Dr. Jenn Keller, ND moved to rural Ottawa, Canada where they started an organic farm and retreat center. In the same year, Alex and his athletic therapist sister Jess Keller combined their practices to form Keller Active Health, an integrative physical therapy clinic.

Ever curious and passionate about the education of evidence-based natural medicine, in 2017, Dr. Keller joined a fledgling Ottawa-based health tech startup named Fullscript. He serves as its Medical Director and oversees the development of medical education content for practitioners across North America.

Prior to medicine, Alex worked in the renewable energy sector, where he developed a deep passion for sustainable agriculture and environmental stewardship. This connection between medicine and agriculture now drives Alex to focus much of his energy on bringing awareness to the quality and sourcing standards in the supplement and organic agriculture supply chains.

Today, he splits his professional time practicing as a clinician, working for Fullscript, and expanding the farming operation while chasing his kids with Jenn and occasionally running ultra-marathon trail races. He is also currently completing an Executive MBA through the Quantic School of Business & Technology with a focus on supply chain innovation.

Pamela Snider, ND

Pamela Snider, ND, is Executive and Senior Editor for the Foundations of Naturopathic Medicine Project, producing a first of its kind international textbook of Naturopathic medicine through a series of international retreats and symposia. A nationally recognized integrative health and policy leader, she is active in both national and regional integrative health initiatives. Dr. Snider serves on the Board of Directors, was founding Executive Director and co-founder of the Academic Consortium for Integrative Health (ACIH/ACCAHCa consortium of the councils of schools, accrediting agencies and certifying bodies of the licensed, traditional and emerging integrative health professions, and is currently Vice Chair and co-founder of the Integrative Health Policy Consortium (IHPC).  Dr. Snider served as a founding Board Member of the Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine from 2014-2016. Her public policy work includes completing a two year appointment to the DHHS Center For Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) Medicare Coverage Advisory Committee (MCAC); serving as a Steering Committee Member for  the HRSA funded American College of Preventive Medicine NCCIM Integrative Medicine in Preventive Medicine Residency program, co-directing in USPHS Region X the Building Bridges Between Provider Communities Group, an exploration of interdisciplinary collaboration and common ground between public health and CAM; serving for 22 years on Washington State’s Health Professional Loan Repayment and Scholarship Program Advisory Committee (HPLRSP); providing technical assistance to and developing key language for the enabling legislation for NIH Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCIH/NCCAM); and staffing Joseph Pizzorno ND during his appointment as Commissioner on the White House Commission on CAM Policy.

From 1994-2003, Dr. Snider served as Associate Dean for Public and Professional Affairs and Naturopathic Medicine at Bastyr University, dividing her work between academic and public affairs activities, including chairing the Naturopathic Medicine Program Curriculum Review Committee.  Dr. Snider has been teaching, publishing and lecturing widely on Naturopathic philosophy, theory integrative health, public policy, and other topics for over 30 years. Currently, an Associate Professor at National University of Natural Medicine (NUNM) in Portland, OR, Dr. Snider also continues at Bastyr University in her 22nd year as a faculty member teaching naturopathic medicine history, clinical theory, and global context. Among her Naturopathic medicine professional roles she serves on the Institute for Natural Medicine’s Leadership Council.  In 1989, she co-led the naturopathic profession with Dr. Jared Zeff, in developing a unifying definition of naturopathic medicine and its principles of practice adopted unanimously by the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) House of Delegates. She was a co-investigator in the 2004 NIH NCCAM research study, the North American Naturopathic Medical Research Agenda and CAM Advisor in NIHCCAM’s Financing Integrative Health Care (University of Washington).  Her areas of experience include healthcare education; naturopathic and interdisciplinary clinical theory, curriculum development; clinical practice; government and legislative affairs, public policy, interdisciplinary collaboration, and community organizing.  Dr. Snider has received the Ontario Naturopathic Physician of the Year Award, the Physician of the Year Award from the AANP, the President’s Outstanding Vision Award and Distinguished Alumnus Award at Bastyr University, AANP’s President’s Award, an honorary Doctorate of Naturopathic Philosophy from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM), the William A Mitchell Vis Award from the AANP and The Gathering – NMSA’s Beacon Award. She received her ND degree in 1982 from Bastyr University of Natural Health Sciences and is a licensed naturopathic physician in the State of Washington. She lives with her husband and children at their homestead in North Bend Washington, in the beautiful mountain to sea landscape and home of The Revival – Restore the Vis, an annual student-led community gathering.

Susan Haeger

Susan Haeger is Founder/Principal of Transformative Health Solutions Inc. She has applied her twenty plus years in executive leadership to help shape and drive adoption of progressive health policy for whole person healthcare. She was a section contributor to the 2021 INM/AANP published professional white paper, Naturopathic Physicians as Whole Health Specialists: The Future is Whole Person Health Care that provides supporting evidence for the profession’s significant and unique contributions to preventive, whole person care and models of integrative clinical practice.

Bruce Barlean

Bruce Barlean is an owner and founder of Barlean’s, a global dietary supplement manufacturer located in the Pacific Northwest in Ferndale, WA. Bruce has been actively involved in the Natural Products industry since 1989 and is passionate about making a difference in the world and positively impacting the lives of others.

Bruce believes that people can make a difference in the world through ordinary purchases. He is committed to improving the quality of life for every person on the planet by making the best products and by using the profits to support outreach programs. Bruce summarizes it simply, “We make good stuff to do good stuff”.

In the late 1980’s Bruce became passionate about how health could be dramatically improved with Flax Oil Supplementation. Bruce along with his entrepreneurial parents saw the potential to improve the lives of many people and in 1989 they began selling Flax Oil under the Barlean’s name. From 1989 – 2000 the business grew an average of 40% year over year. While most companies saw a decline in business in the 2001 recession, Barlean’s continued to grow and soon became America’s #1 selling flaxseed oil and continues to be to the present. The brand has since expanded to include additional oils, green food concentrates and other premium supplements. Bruce continues to drive innovation and over the years his products and company have won countless awards including: Eight consecutive Vity Awards for #1 EFA, Six consecutive Vity Awards for #1 Greens Food Supplement, Natural Choice Award for Best Specialty Supplement, Best Product of the Year, Best New Product, Gold Medal Taster’s Choice Award, Gold Medal American Masters of Taste Award, #1 Health Food Store Brand for Consumer Satisfaction by Consumer Lab, and Manufacturer of the Year.

In 2013 as the company was on the eve of celebrating the 25th year in business Bruce and his parents decided to take their desire to help people to a new level that they call Pathway to a Better Life – which is now seen in the Barlean’s logo. Bruce and his parents had always been generous in their giving and support of charities, but as part of the Pathway to a Better Life they decided to increased partnership with charitable organizations such as: Vitamin Angels, Compassion International, KidsTown International, Autism Hope Alliance, Engedi Refuge, Project 92, and others. And because so many people are unable to meet basic nutritional needs, Bruce created a comprehensive Omega-3 and multivitamin formula that he distributes free-of-charge to local food banks. In addition, Bruce decided the company would supply food banks with organic coconut oil to provide people with a health alternative to standard cooking oils.

Always generous with his time Bruce has served as a youth leader for his local church for several years and continues to mentor youth. He has been on several not for profit boards including; Whatcom County Pregnancy Center (2003-2006), Natural Products Association (dates?), and the Institute for Natural Medicine Leadership Council (presently).

The Barlean family have been avid supporters of Bastyr University since the 1990’s and in 2013 were given Bastyr’s most prestigious honor, the Mission Award, which recognizes their leadership over time in improving the health and well-being of the human community.

Bruce currently resides in Ferndale, WA with his wife Lisa and their two dogs: Heinz & Shadow. When he’s not helping others he can be found fishing (catch & release).

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Michelle Simon, PHD, ND

President & CEO

As president and CEO of INM, Dr. Simon brings her passion for working with organizations dedicated to improving the quality and delivery of healthcare. This desire stems from her years of practice as a licensed naturopathic physician. In addition to holding a Naturopathic Doctorate from Bastyr University she also holds a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

She has served on boards for the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP), the Naturopathic Physicians Research Institute (NPRI), and several advisory boards. Dr. Simon served nine years on the Washington State Health Technology Clinical Committee, as Ambassador to the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine (AIHM) and was recognized as 2018 AANP Physician of the Year. Dr. Simon shares with her husband a passion for adventure travel, preferably by boat or motorcycle. She also enjoys teaching a women’s off-road motorcycling class.