Whether you like it sweet or savory, all things flavorful tend to start in the spice cabinet — but what you may not be aware of are the many health benefits and detriments that come with adding a pinch of this or a dash of that to your food. Salt shakers are fixtures on almost all tables, sodium content can be found on the packages of processed foods, and salt is even sold in capsule form to be swallowed by the daring, so why are some people sodium adverse while others shake it on mercilessly? The superficial answer is that sodium causes the body to retain water weight, triggering that unpleasant stomach bloat which is not prime for bikini season. The flipside of this is that sodium is necessary for maintaining hydration and electrolyte levels which can be depleted through exercise. So, if you happen to be a particularly sweaty individual, watching your sodium intake is not super important, but mind that the recommended cap on daily salt intake is 2,300 milligrams or 1 teaspoon which is surpassed by the average American by almost double. If you are hitting the beach soon in hopes of a new insta-worthy pic but still want something yummy to eat, you’ve got options.
Make it hot — your food that is. Instead of salt, I suggest adding pepper flakes or chili powder to your food. You are not only avoiding the retention of water weight but giving your metabolism a boost as well. This might make the difference between keeping your shirt on or looking ab-tastic. Another upside to keeping things hot is an increased feeling of satiety, meaning you feel fuller faster, preventing an excessive caloric intake.
Other condiments you can incorporate into your beauty regimen include turmeric and coconut oil. Turmeric is a plant from the ginger family that has been used throughout history for different ailments including the reduction of inflammation and even teeth whitening. If you experience muscle or joint pain, splashing this spice into your daily omelet, over your cooked veggies or even marinating your chicken with it can help reduce inflammation in your body, helping you feel better faster and get on the road to recovery. When you workout, tiny muscle tears form, which eventually grows into larger muscle. Until then, there is some slight swelling so, when crunching it out on an ab mat, that flat tummy look is not as instantaneous as one would like. However, routine turmeric intake may make the turnover from gym to crop top smoother. Be sure to cook with turmeric and black pepper together as the properties of black pepper enhance the benefits of the turmeric. Abandoning the plight for abs momentarily, another use for turmeric is as a teeth whitener. Mix a generous amount of the spice with 100% pure coconut oil, in its pasty, almost solid form to create an orange goo and brush normally. The concoction works despite its strange appearance and it is a great natural substitute for those chemically dense whitening strips!
Ending on a sweet note, I’d like to rebrand cinnamon from its YouTube challenge roots and go as far as to say that it is the new sugar! Cinnamon is a potent spice that is a source of antioxidants, acts as an anti-inflammatory, and can even lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes. One tablespoon of ground cinnamon is about 19 calories, but even a ½ teaspoon a day can start having positive effects on your health. So instead of putting sugar in your oatmeal or getting flavored yogurt, buy a plain version and dress it up with a shake of cinnamon, lowering your glycemic load for the day. Easy changes like spice substitutions are an awesome way to take care of your body without going through great lengths — a more sustainable way to live a healthy lifestyle.