I am a passionate proponent of the virtues of juicing. Used in the right way, daily juicing is a powerful fortification tool promoting detoxification, prevention, curation and longevity extension. Above all though, it is one of the most effective known ways to efficiently nourish the human body. For some important advice on juicing for vitality, see my previous blog post here.
Now, there are 3 spicy antioxidant-rich roots, so powerful, that I have got into the habit of juicing them nearly every day, when they are available or in season. Certainly, you don't have to juice them to reap their incredible benefits. Grating them and adding them raw into a myriad of dishes, also works wonders. If cooking them, in a stir-fry say, simply add them towards the end to maximise the preservation of their profound medicinal properties. In unison, these roots provide a unique and potent nutritional/phytochemical boost, not only to your diet and to your vitality in general, but to your entire immune system, helping keep your body strong in a polluted world. As an added bonus, they are also particularly noted for their ability to protect neurological health, memory and neuroplasticity. It is interesting to note, that the plant treasures that protect nerve bundles and brain integrity, so often powerfully promote natural immunity and resistance to invasive pathogens and poisons as well. So what are you waiting for? Track them down at a good supermarket, ethnic store or farmers market, and make them a daily part of your juice and meal times.
Turmeric – Leading Crusader Against Disease
One of the World’s greatest and under-utilised foods, turmeric is a potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimutagenic, antimicrobial, and anticancer agent. Dating back to at least 5000 years of human use, turmeric has long established itself as an essential centrepiece to the traditional Indian diet, as much for its strong protective qualities as for the flavour it imparts. Over 100 components have been isolated from turmeric. The main component of the root is a volatile oil, containing turmerone, alongside other more famed coloring agents known as curcuminoids. Ironically, the billion-dollar turmeric extract/supplement market, for all the money it has poured out and for all the research it has conducted, fails to achieve the same level of phytochemical bioavailability as the whole, full-spectrum root provides when eaten or juiced. In both Vedic medicine and TCM, turmeric is revered for a vast number of healing applications including the healing of wounds and sprains, liver tonification, broad-spectrum digestive, anti-parasite activity, respiratory conditions and sinusitis, rheumatoid arthritis, fungal issues, skin beautification and intestinal and blood disorders. One of the more recent areas that turmeric root has been shown to excel concerns the brain and cognition. Due to various beneficial effects of the curcuminoid group, regular turmeric consumption has been shown to delay or prevent the degradation of neurons, improve memory and prevent the decline of cognition in general. Furthermore, turmeric has shown a remarkable capacity to ward off the onset of dementia and Alzheimer's disease and improve the cognitive activity of the patient if they already have it. In this capacity, turmeric has metal-chelation, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant properties and decreases both microglia and beta-amyloid plague formation. The overall memory in patients with Alzheimer's and dementia consistently improves with prolonged ingestion. Consider juicing or grating 10-20g a day. Consider also just eating a root at lunch or dinner.
Ginger – Nausea & Pain Remedy Extraordinaire
The more famous relative of turmeric, ginger is another tonic root that packs a mighty punch. Though its origins are uncertain, as it is allegedly not found in the wild, ginger has been used as medicine and food for at least 5000 years in parts of India and China. The most common and well-established use of ginger throughout history is probably its capacity to alleviate symptoms of nausea and vomiting (and relatedly seasickness). Millions of pregnant women worldwide have felt great relief after a comforting ginger infusion or juice dispelled the gripe of morning sickness. Ginger is also known to have inhibitory effects against inflammation, cancer, asthma, dementia, diabetes, colitis, cardiovascular disease and blood clumping. The phenolic compounds in ginger are known to help relieve gastrointestinal irritation, stimulate saliva and bile production and aid movement of food and fluids through the GI tract. And if that wasn’t enough, a small daily dose of ginger has proven to be more effective at reducing pain than many over-the-counter painkillers. Recent studies demonstrated that ginger significantly enhances cognitive function in various cognitive disorders as well as in healthy brain. Relatedly, ginger increases blood flow to the brain. Adequate blood flow is vital because it delivers nutrients to the brain and removes metabolic waste, toxins, and other debris. Consider juicing or grating 20-40g a day.
Horseradish – Potent Infection Fighter & Decongestant
Horseradish root, a native to East Europe/West Asia is one of nature’s most powerful decongestants and disinfectants. Few foods (save for the closely related wasabi root) affect quite the same intensity of physical sensation as horseradish. Upon mastication, the potent volatile sulphur-bearing chemicals known as isothiocyanates are abruptly released and travel like a strong current of crisp cleansing air from our mouth, into our airways, up through our nasal cavity and then onwards towards the brain. At the same time, the tear ducts of our eyes are also cleansed, as it is normal to cry a few drops. Even the sensation of sweating is commonplace. It is perhaps no surprise then that horseradish is a widely accepted treatment/disinfectant for disorders of the sinuses, tonsils and respiratory tract. As a potent natural antibiotic, horseradish can be used to treat infections of the urinary tract as well. Horseradish also contains significant amounts of cancer-fighting compounds called glucosinolates, which increase the liver’s ability to detoxify carcinogens, thereby suppressing the growth of tumors. Although broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables also contain these compounds, horseradish has up to 10 times more glucosinolates than broccoli. Furthermore, isothiocyanate in horseradish may have neuroprotective effects. Studies in mice have demonstrated that they increase the activation of antioxidant systems in the brain that reduce inflammation. These findings suggest that this group of chemicals may help prevent or slow neurodegenerative disorders driven by inflammation, such as Parkinson’s disease. Horseradish root strength does vary naturally, but consider juicing or grating somewhere between 1-8g a day. For those that find horseradish a tad too intense, a slightly gentler, yet still potent medicinal method is to make a horseradish tea or infusion. Simply grate 8-10g of the root in 1-1.5 litres of water, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add a little honey or maple syrup if desired to help the medicine go down. Or alternatively, add a pinch of sea salt and use as the boiling stock for all manner of cooked dishes.