Of all the systems in the human body, one of the most delicate – and most essential – is the gut. The diverse community of microorganisms and precise balance needed to maintain a healthy function can contribute significantly to overall well-being. A good diet can be the first step towards a clean and healthy gut and herbs and spices which are often regarded for their culinary appeal, have garnered attention for their potential to promote a balanced and flourishing gut environment.

Through their rich array of bioactive compounds, herbs and spices possess properties that may support digestive health. These natural ingredients have been associated with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial effects, which can contribute to the maintenance of a harmonious gut ecosystem.

Read on to learn about 7 herbs and spices that can promote better gut health.

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7 Herbs And Spices For Better Gut Health

1. Turmeric

Haldi has long been a staple in the Ayurvedic medicine bag and is recommended by 9 out of 10 Indian mothers and grandmothers across the world. But there is a scientific backing for this belief and it all comes down to the active compound in Turmeric called Curcumin. According to a 2021 study, Curcumin possesses anti-inflammatory properties which can help soothe an irritated gut.

2. Ginger:

Besides being an Indian kitchen staple renowned for its distinctive flavour and amazing ability to make chai a magical experience, Ginger also possesses potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine encourages effective digestion by soothing the gastrointestinal tract, reducing nausea, and promoting the expulsion of gas from the digestive system. Its bioactive compounds, such as gingerol, contribute to its digestive benefits and are easily harnessed through a warm mug of ginger tea.

3. Rosemary:

This fragrant herb is often used to enhance the flavour of various dishes but also has antimicrobial properties thanks to the presence of rosmarinic acid, which exhibits anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties as per a 2021 study by the International Journal of Nutrition. These properties can contribute to a healthy gut by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. 

4. Oregano:

Microbial diversity is one of the primary factors that determines good gut health. Oregano – outside of being a must-have pizza seasoning – is rich in compounds that help maintain this delicate balance. According to a 2022 study by Clinical Applications of Scientific Innovation, Oregano may have antibacterial, antifungal, and antiparasitic properties and has been traditionally used to alleviate indigestion and bloating, making it a valuable addition to digestive health.

5. Fennel:

For decades, saunf has been the traditional after-dinner treat commonly seen at many Indian tables in the form of mukhvas. With its licorice flavour, it freshens your breath but also helps aid digestion. According to a study in the PLOS One Journal, it was found that fennel oil helped strengthen the gastrointestinal barrier and had an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect which greatly benefitted digestive functions.

6. Cumin:

A study from the Middle East Journal of Digestive Diseases found that the compounds in cumin helped improve symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Cumin, a staple in many cuisines, contains compounds like trepinoids which act as a digestive, facilitating the breakdown of food and improving overall gastrointestinal health. 

7. Peppermint:

A refreshing herb that we find commonly in everyday life from gum to toothpaste, the pure forms of this plant have incredible digestive health properties to explore. The key compounds in peppermint, menthol and methyl salicylate have antispasmodic effects on the gastrointestinal tract and help improve the flow of bile as per a report by Mount Sinai.