This article was originally posted on TheDailyTelegraphUSA.com.
If you have Type 2 diabetes or have been diagnosed as pre-diabetic, cooking with garden herbs and flavorful spices can help you lower your blood sugar and improve your overall health. The benefits to you go beyond making your food simply taste better. Here’s why.
Recipes that use herbs and spices make your taste buds and smell receptors come alive.
This is especially true if you fill up on grains and grain flour products at mealtimes—like bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, and corn—you are eating rather bland foods that have little taste without adding butter, mayonnaise, or other condiments. Using a variety of herbs and spices, your food can become more attractive and enticing. Savory flavors and a variety of spices from around the world will encourage you to chew every bite more thoroughly. Recall a dinner party or a meal at a restaurant where the unique tastes of the cuisine surprised you so much that the food literally made everyone smile. When you experience such enjoyment, you and those eating with you are less prone to just gulp down the food in a few short minutes.
Use herbs and spices to create tasty and healthy recipes to become more conscious of your food consumption.
Does it really matter how fast you eat? Yes, a great deal. Chewing and eating slowly helps break down the nutrients in each bite of food. Your taste buds and smell receptors literally send signals to your brain about the incoming nutrients. Not only does this data help your brain track what nutrients your cells are about to receive, but it also helps the brain determine when you have eaten enough. This point in time is called the “satiation signal,” when your brain tells you to stop eating. You know this because each bite of food no longer tastes as good as the first few bites. I am sure you have noticed that when you start to feel full, the food just no longer tastes great.
Eating less is important for diabetics and pre-diabetics because weight gain and obesity can lead to high blood sugar or prevent you from controlling and even reversing Type 2 diabetes. Many people, diabetic or not, tend to eat until their stomach feels full, if not uncomfortable. That feeling of fullness often comes from overeating grain and grain flour products, such as those cited above. In my past articles and blogs, I explain the causal link between grains and diabetes leading to the “fatty acid burn switch” in which your muscle cells burn fatty acids rather than glucose, leaving glucose in your bloodstream and thus high blood sugar.
Cooking with a variety of herbs and spices is a great way to capture more health benefits.
Herbs and spices supply humans with a wide assortment of micronutrients needed by the body. For example, antioxidants in spices such as saffron, turmeric, and oregano can counter some of the negative health effects of additives and preservatives that you may not be able to avoid completely. Another benefit of using spices is they help you reduce the quantity of salt used, which today is being consumed in much higher quantities than recommended for human beings.
Spices are mostly fat soluble, which means they dissolve better in fat or oil.
When food is agitated and warmed in the mouth during chewing, those volatile fat molecules move into the nasal cavity to stimulate your smell receptors. This allows you to appreciate the full flavor of the meal, similar to appreciating the fragrance of a perfume sprayed in the air. Some spices also contain compounds that can have a beneficial effect on mood, cognition, digestion, and more.
Here are some spices you can start adding to your meals today:
• Cinnamon may be able to help lower blood sugar and support healthy cholesterol levels. There are two kinds: cassia and Ceylon cinnamon. Cassia contains more coumarin which has been shown to damage the liver in high doses, so check your labels and choose Ceylon cinnamon for regular use. Saigon or Vietnamese cinnamon has a stronger flavor and aroma than other varieties so I do like to use it for special treats, but it is a species of cassia cinnamon, so usage should not exceed 1 teaspoon per day. Cinnamon can influence brain function by boosting concentration and attention.
• Spicy pepper aids digestion, stimulates blood circulation, and has antibacterial properties.
• Ginger can help with gastrointestinal distress, contains anti-inflammatory and analgesic agents, and adds amazing olfactory and taste benefits.
• Turmeric contains curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. These benefits can be particularly helpful in delaying aging and fighting some chronic diseases as well as being good for your brain. It also stimulates the release of serotonin, a natural mood enhancer.
Feel free to use herbs like these with any dish. Instead of adding extra salt and butter, use spices to bring out the best in your foods!
Have a wonderful and healthy Thanksgiving!
See my new Diabetes-Free Cookbook & Exercise Guide for more than 80 delicious recipes that can help you start experimenting with a greater variety of herbs and spices to create tasty and filling dishes that can help you lower your blood sugar.
As a best-selling author and Nationally Syndicated Columnist, Dr. John Poothullil, advocates for patients struggling with the effects of adverse lifestyle conditions.
Dr. John’s books, available on Amazon, have educated and inspired readers to take charge of their own health. There are many steps you can take to make changes in your own health, but Dr. John also empowers us that we must demand certain changes in our healthcare system as well.
Don’t let Type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes control your life – start a delicious new journey to a healthier, happier you today!
Discover how you can live a diabetes-free life with Dr. John’s groundbreaking cookbook and exercise guide. With over 80 appetizing low-carb recipes created by Chef Colleen Cackowski, you’ll never miss the high-carb, high-sugar foods of your past. Every recipe nourishes your body and keeps your blood sugar levels in check so you can enjoy tasty, satisfying meals. Dr. John also offers 12 easy-to-do exercises to boost your flexibility and balance and keep you healthy as you age.
What people are saying…
Filled with tons of easy-to-make meals and encourages enjoyable meal planning for moms like me. I highly recommend this book to diabetics and families trying to live and eat healthily. —Maria Chalissery, M.Sc., Diet Technician
If you are looking for ways to improve your health and add more zing to your meals, these recipes are exactly what you need. —Jyoti Veeramoney, Chef, Certified Yoga Instructor
These exercises are great because they focus on dynamic movement that improves joint range of motion and flexibility. They require no equipment, build core strength and stabilization, and incorporate movements that can correct posture, which can decrease the risk of falling. —Sophia LaValle, NASM Certified Personal Trainer