Did you know that gut health is essential for not only digestion but mood, immunity, and even your skin? And if you're needing a little assistance in any of these areas, it's time to spice up your diet — literally. Holistic Nutritionist and skin-care expert, Paula Simpson, co-founder of Zea Skin Solutions, shared her favorite superfood spices that she always recommends for a healthy gut and radiant skin.
"The antioxidant compounds in cinnamon help cells metabolize glucose to sustain energy and reduce cravings throughout the day," said Paula, which means cinnamon can help you with your weight-loss goals. "Cinnamon is popular due to its antimicrobial properties," which can "calm and tighten skin," as well as boost your immune system and — you guessed it — reduce bloating. In a one-two punch, the "active cinnamaldehyde [the chemical compound in cinnamon] stimulates circulation, delivering oxygen and nutrients to the skin for natural radiance and glow, while relaxing the digestive system."
"Ginger is best known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties," said Paula, which means it can aid in digestion, ease stomach woes, and aid in glowing, youthful skin. "Its active constituents are found in the rhizome and root and are known to offer a soothing and calming effect on the skin, while internally, ginger is great for easing the discomfort associated with bloating and stomach cramps."
Paprika might be one of the more underrated spices. Paula suggests using it in lieu of salt when you flavor your food: "Try ditching salt to beat the bloat by subbing in paprika and other ground flavorful spices in its place." According to Paula, paprika also "incorporates key antioxidants through diet and supplementation to help keep skin youthful and radiant." This rich spice also is chock full of antioxidants, "including vitamin C, E, and carotenoids [a plant component that gives paprika its color, and also acts as an antioxidant] like zeaxanthin," she said. "Zeaxanthin fends off free radicals caused by environmental stressors, while vitamin C speeds up collagen production." And as you might know, collagen is good for more than just your skin – it promotes a healthy gut (so you can say bye bye to inflammation), and helps nourish your joints.
Golden milk lovers know well that turmeric contains a key antioxidant known as curcumin, which can "ease the digestive tract to keep bloating at bay," said Paula. Additionally, "within the body it helps to combat free radicals that can damage healthy skin, while promoting collagen synthesis." So not only can it help reduce the inflammation with your gut, but it'll give you a youthful glow, too. Try this golden milk recipe to combine two powerful spices for beautiful skin and a happy belly — it has the added fat and black pepper that makes turmeric bioavailable so your body can absorb all the good nutrition.
Sage has a "bitter component" that "stimulates intestinal mobility to reduce gastric distress and bloating that are often accompanied with heavy meals," Paula told POPSUGAR. It also "has been known to help improve skin circulation and renewal, making it a great seasoning for meats and side dishes."