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Using Herbs and Spices for Optimal Digestive Health

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There was once a time when laboratory made over the counter remedies did not exist. Such manmade drug remedies for various digestive ailments were not readily available at a time, and in many areas around the world today, prescribed drugs are still not within reach. Before over the counter drugs, people everywhere turned to the local plant life growing up all around them to heal common digestive system complaints. History shows that plants and herbs have long been used for medicinal purposes as far back to ancient times to heal, so why not use them still today?

While herbal remedies can be found packed into caplet form on store shelves either 100% or combined with other drugs, there are other ways to ingest herbs and spices in their pure and natural state; your digestive system deserves to be healthy naturally. Some great ways are adding herbs to home cooking as seasonings and brewing aromatic herbal teas. Fresh herbs taste fantastic included in cooking, and are sense tantalizing in hot teas. Before going on, there is a question that should be answered:

Do dried herbs and spices have the same nutritional value as fresh? Although both fresh and dried do have varying degrees of nutritional value, the short answer is no. However, many do help you to maintain a healthy digestive system.

Pros and Cons of FRESH

Pros – packed with nutrients, loaded with disease and germ fighting antioxidants, contains essential oils, excellent taste in foods, intense aroma, has texture, beautiful bright colors, easy to harvest only needed amount when home grown.

Cons – has a rather short shelf life once picked from the plant, bunches sold in stores are usually too large and a lot goes to waste, easily molds if not stored properly.

Pros and Cons of DRIED

Pros – much flavor is retained when dried (yay!), usually inexpensive, very easy to store, convenient year-round.

Cons – nutritional value is not as great as fresh herbs, dull color, flaky texture, flavor and aroma not as intense.

Although nutrition and characteristics such as flavor, color, and texture are lost to a degree when herbs are dried, they are a fantastic option when fresh herbs are not available or are not in season.

Here are some easy-peasy ways to use herbs and spices for optimal digestive health.

1.  Cook herbs into food or better yet, sprinkle it on dried or for the most nutritional value, raw.

2.  Add extra flavor to liven up all types of vegan salads!

  • A raw parsley, chervil, tarragon, and chives combination OR a basil, parsley, and tarragon combination in salads.
  • Have you made a basil, tomato, and tofu Caprese? (This is hands down one of my personal favorite vegan salads.) If you don’t know what this is, it’s a traditional Caprese salad but tofu takes the place of the mozzarella.

If your digestive issues are making you too nauseous to eat herb seasoned food, try a broth, light soup, or a hot tea made with various herbs to nurse you back to health.

3.  Soups and broths are so good, especially when you need something to settle an upset stomach.

4.  Did you know that herbal tea is not actually made from tea? Herbal tea is the extracted end product of leaves, seeds, roots, or bark that have been infused in hot water for an easily digestible form of herbal medicine. Make sure to steep an herbal tea well to get the maximum health benefits.

  • Drink peppermint tea to relieve the symptoms of abdominal pain from gas and bloating. You can make this tea using fresh herbs from your garden, and add a squeeze of refreshing lemon.
  • Ginger tea is a great digestive aid. Ginger can be used to help cancel out nausea, vomiting, or an upset stomach due to motion sickness. You can make your own fresh ginger tea at home by simmering a piece of ginger root on the stove for 10 to 15 minutes.

Image Source: peddhapati/Flickr

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