Chew on This

Want to stay healthy? Eat the right spices to ward off gut germs

Mohammed, a third-generation herbalist in Morocco, believes that illness can be prevented by eating the right herbs and spices.
Mohammed, a third-generation herbalist in Morocco, believes that illness can be prevented by eating the right herbs and spices.

Morocco stimulates all the senses. Vibrant colors, fragrant spices and exotic flavors dancing across my tongue are just a hint of what I have experienced after one week in Morocco. And then I met Mohammed.

Our guide Youssef brought us to a spice shop in the market of Rissini. Mohammed, a third-generation herbalist, captivated us with the depth of his knowledge. We asked for spices, thinking of cooking, and Mohammed would describe every body system that the particular spice would enhance.

“Here in Risinni we do not have a hospital. We use the spices to stay healthy. We believe in prevention,” Mohammed said. “The source of illness is the stomach. The spices in our foods protect the stomach. When people are sick they go to the herbalist.”

I find this amazing. Mohammed does not know that the gut and microbiome’s relationship to disease are the hottest areas of research in the United States. This was information that was passed down to him. And of course his advice on prevention is spot on.

There is a world of flavors and health available on the spice rack.

Final thoughts from Mohammed: If you want to lose weight, have some green tea without sugar every morning, and to start the day with health, eat soup with herbs and vegetables.

Sheah Rarback is a registered dietitian on the faculty of the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. Follow her on Twitter @sheahrarback.

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