The holidays are a magical time of year, but they can be pretty hectic too. What if you could get into the holiday spirit by doing something that cut stress and improved your health? You’re in luck! Improving health and well-being this holiday season may be as simple as adding some common holiday spices into your routine. Many spices have powerful mood and medicinal benefits that improve mental health, lift emotional well-being, and boost physical health. It’s no wonder spices used to be for royalty only! Let’s take a look at a few common holiday spices and learn how they can improve your well-being.
Cinnamon: One of cinnamon’s superpowers is that it has powerful antioxidant properties, more so than most other spices and superfoods. Cinnamon is also your secret weapon during the holidays because of its capacity to reduce blood sugar levels in a couple of different ways. It promotes insulin sensitivity making the body work more effectively with insulin and also reduces the speed at which carbohydrates are broken down in the digestive tract.
If you are diabetic or prediabetic, make cinnamon your friend. Even if you’re not diabetic, excessive sugar can be detrimental to mood and can weaken willpower—the one thing you do really need this time of year. Try adding some cinnamon to your coffee or latte, or even a breakfast smoothie. You’ll also find cinnamon in many holiday desserts and eggnog.
Nutmeg: Nutmeg is one of my favorite spices. Its mood-altering benefits are less well known but pretty powerful, so much so that I use nutmeg every day, year-round. Nutmeg, like cinnamon, is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent due to antioxidants including cyanidins and phenolic compounds. It’s also a potent pain reliever due to its anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to boost mood and alleviate depression naturally. It can also promote better sleep, improve digestion, and get rid of bad breath.
With the additional stress and drama that usually accompanies family gatherings, nutmeg can really take the edge off and help you relax and feel better. Nutmeg is commonly found in eggnog and other holiday desserts, but I recommend adding it to any milk or vegan milk alternatives as a way to get these powerful benefits daily.
Cloves: Cloves have many of the same health benefits that nutmeg and cinnamon do. A couple of things that make cloves unique is the eugenol in it, which has been shown to have anti-cancer properties. Eugenol is also a natural anesthetic and anti-bacterial agent which can be used to treat tooth pain naturally. Just bite into the stem of the cloves and you’ll quickly notice its numbing effects. You’ll find clove in gingerbread, fruitcake, and traditional mulling spices. If you want to add some to your dishes, use sparingly as they have a very potent flavor.
Ginger: I love ginger and eat it as often as I can. This spice is another powerful anti-inflammatory food with mood-boosting and pain-relieving benefits. It also settles the stomach, reduces nerves and nausea, and can reduce stress naturally. Ladies, ginger can even reduce menstrual cramps.
Reducing stress in and of itself can promote better immune response, but ginger has the added benefit of containing anti-bacterial agents that can boost immunity and keep you healthy. Ginger is commonly found in gingerbread cookies, but I love adding it to sauteed vegetables and homemade chai tea. You can also make a relaxing ginger green tea.
I’ve only listed a portion of the health benefits of each spice here. These powerful spices can boost immunity, fight infections, and elevate mood—all of which are needed during the holiday season and beyond. Spice-laden fruitcake, anyone?
Jaya Jaya Myra is a wellness lifestyle expert and go-to media expert on mind-body wellness, stress management, mindfulness, food for mood, and natural, healthy living. She’s a best-selling author, TEDx and motivational speaker, and creator of The WELL Method for purpose-filled healthy living. Visit www.JayaJayaMyra.com