‘You are what you eat’ is an old adage made even more relevant in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. The focus on wellness has never been as greater. More and more of us are looking to adopt a healthy diet in an effort to boost our immunity, detox, and enjoy overall good health.
Fortunately for us we don’t need to look too far. Our indigenous culinary traditions include local ingredients which also come loaded with a host of health benefits.
While you will be familiar with the ingredients that we will talk about and probably consume them in some form or the other, we will introduce you to the more potent versions of these. They are natural, offer tremendous wellness benefits, and can be incorporated in your daily diet in a simple and enjoyable way!
First, the ingredients!
While the world now swears by Turmeric, in India its usage dates back centuries. It has been used as a culinary spice, in traditional medicine, and even as a dye. Turmeric derives its potency from the presence of curcumin. However, not all turmerics are created equal. Of the different variants, Lakadong Turmeric contains the highest concentration of curcumin – a whopping 7-12% as opposed to 2-3% found in others.- and it is only found in a place called Lakadong in Meghalaya.
Turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Various studies from around the world have found that curcumin can combat more than 70 maladies, including some of the biggest health threats such as cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.
Ginger is truly a superfood with its anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. It has a soothing impact on the stomach and combats nausea. The beneficial components in ginger are gingerols and shogaols. Dozens of studies show that ginger may be anti-carcinogenic too.
Karbi ginger from Karbi Anglong district in Assam is GI tagged on account of its superior quality and medicinal properties. That basically means, ginger grown in any other place will not possess the same qualities as Karbi ginger!
Ghost chilli or Bhut Jolokia, as it is locally known, was named as the hottest chilli in the world in 2007 by the Guinness Book of World Records. The hot flavour of chillies is due to the presence of a group of Capsaicinoids. Most chilli varieties have a Capsaicin level of just about 1%, however, Ghost Chilli has higher Capsaicinoid content ranging from 2.45% to 5.36%.
Capsaicin found in Bhut Jolokia has anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic and anti-diabetic properties. It is rich in Vitamin C which helps stimulate the immune system. It can help raise metabolism and burn fat, thus, aiding in weight loss. Studies show that it is effective in relieving headaches and good for heart health too.
Tea comes in many varieties - White, Oolong, Green, and Black tea – and they all have their distinct benefits ranging from anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to aiding in weight loss, and building immunity. The tea that we typically consume comes from cultivated plantations. But tea is also found growing wild on trees in the forests of North East India! These trees are the very same variety, Camellia Sinensis, that we see as shrubs in tea gardens, but these have been growing wild, without human intervention, in the jungle.
Wild Teas, on account of growing naturally in a forest eco-system and without any use of chemical fertilisers or pesticides, offer a host of health benefits that are unadulterated and 100% natural. Besides being richer and more complex in flavour, they are also richer in anti-oxidants and more potent than the garden variety.
Next, the usage.
Thankfully we don’t need to trek for miles in the mountainous terrain of North East to access this wonderfully wild tea or any of the other ingredients or figure out ways to use them. All we need to do is brew a cup of wild tea or prepare a herbal latte and take in the benefits they offer. Now, isn’t that a delightful way to build our immunity, detox, and get a good gut feel