My top 6 HERBS & SPICES (+extra) for a better living



1. Turmeric

The ultimate weapon

Turmeric benefits - Beyond Keto

Turmeric is a spice long raved about for its many health benefits and an addition to my all time favourite spice mixture, curry. A lot of people get turmeric and its main active ingredient curcumin confused. Most of the health benefits that turmeric is well known for is actually from curcumin. This is why curcumin is said to be a better source than turmeric, as it is a more concentrated and potent form. Although virtually, they are one of the same, turmeric just has less amounts of the active ingredient curcumin.


Some great benefits of curcumin are:
  • High in antioxidants, which keep free radicals under control and prevent them from causing any damage. Not only is curcumin an antioxidant itself but it also helps promote the body's own antioxidant enzyme production.
    *Free radicals can cause human diseases within the body such as, cancer, Parkinson's disease, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer's disease and many others. They may also be linked to aging.

  • Anti-inflammatory - Curcumin actually turns off the genes related to inflammation that are located within the cell.

  • Immunity promoting benefits - Curcumin is a polyphenol which is classified under a major category of phytochemicals. Not all phytochemicals are good for you but polyphenol's are said to help lower cholesterol and blood pressure, prevent platelet clumping and improve artery function and improve life span.

  • Improves brain function - When we learn, neurons form clusters of new connections within the brain. But in specific areas, they are able to multiply and increase at an advanced rate. This process is known as a main growth hormone called BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor). Curcumin has been found to increase this hormone helping neurodegenerative diseases such as depression, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, huntington's disease and multiple sclerosis.

  • Antibacterial – Known for its ability to combat germs, bacteria, viruses and halt the growth of H-pylori (a bacteria that can wreak havoc on your gut)

The list of health benefits provided by turmeric/curcumin is really extensive but it's important to note that neither curcumin nor turmeric is well absorbed when taken orally. This is because the liver unless its taken with black pepper or piperine and you may not notice its full benefits for up to eight weeks.

Don’t use turmeric if you have gallstones or bile duct dysfunction as it can boost their production by 50%.





2. Rosemary

Gives your food the extra taste

Rosemary benefits - Beyond Keto

Rosemary is one of my favourite herbs to use in cooking. Not only does it have a ton of health benefits but it also has a good source of iron, calcium and vitamin B-6. The smell in nature of rosemary, is so refreshing and delightful it reminds me of when I was a child bike riding down back roads and running through meadows. Now, as an adult, I love using it in my meals pairing it with lemon, black pepper, garlic and more, sometimes throwing in a hint of sweet like monk fruit or stevia. Although, my use of rosemary doesn't stop there. It's a great herb for hair, skin and aroma therapy. Use it in one of your daily regimens and watch it enhance your health.


A few benefits of the herb rosemary are:
  • Increases levels of FRSA (free radical scavenging activity) - free radicals cause damage to parts of cells such as their proteins, DNA and cell membranes, a process called oxidation. The accumulation of oxidation may cause cells to die, leading to neurological and other human diseases.

  • Anti-inflammatory - it increases the production of an enzyme that removes potent free radicals helping to inhibit the chronic inflammation response within the body. This could also be why it is so great for the relief of muscle pain.

  • Antioxidant compounds - research studies found high antioxidants in rosemary which may explain why it's such a major free radical neutralizer.

  • Antimicrobial - helps kill bacteria causing infections documented by traditional antiseptic treatments for wounds. In world war 2, nurses in France would burn rosemary in the hospitals to promote a germ-free environment.
  • Used to promote menstrual flow – as this can help some, for others such as pregnant or expecting mothers, extracts can cause cramping of the uterus which can lead to miscarriages. *Please use with caution, regular culinary consumption is said to be fine.

  • Stimulates hair growth – because of its ability to improve cellular generation and blood circulation in the scalp, rosemary is highly raved about for thick, shiny and long hair. Unclogging hair follicles, while removing dirt and grime yet adding moisture, it's a great miracle cure for the scalp.
  • Suppresses nitric oxide (free radical) production – by inhibiting a specific protein complex that controls the transcription of DNA.

  • Improves memory and concentration – containing phytochemicals known for their protection qualities against the depletion of a neurotransmitter vital for proper brain function. Even just smelling the herb boosts cognition and decreases cortisol, the bodies stress hormone.

  • Improves digestion – because of its muscle relaxing abilities, it is said that rosemary helps the discomforts of a distressed digestive tract which then allows food to be properly digested.

 Having many appealing benefits, we must also be aware of any unwanted side effects by over doing the recommended dosages.






3. Cinnamon

Sweet, tasty & so much more

Cinnamon benefits - Beyond Keto

A warm and tasty spice used to “sweeten” dishes adding a twist to comfort foods while heightening their health benefits. Cinnamon is a great spice to bring warmth and comfort into our homes for the cooler holiday seasons. It tends to be one of the most understated yet important ingredients in some of our favourite holiday treats such as eggnog, pumpkin pie, cinnamon buns, chai tea, gingerbread men and more. Being relatively cheap and tasty, most people don't think of cinnamon as having such powerful health advantages. Providing a good source of vitamins such as K, E and B6 as well as minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc, it deems itself useful in many ailments. These include but are not limited to the following.


Some great benefits of cinnamon are:
  • Anti-inflammatory – increases the production of anti-inflammatory proteins in the blood.

  • Antioxidant – holding powerful antioxidants known as polyphenols.

  • Improves insulin sensitivity and thus blood sugar levels – by lowering blood insulin levels the hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL) increases, as they are inversely proportional, meaning when HSL decreases insulin levels increase. HSL is a major enzyme needed in the breaking down process of triglycerides and thus using them for energy. A great way to jump start this hormone is by fasting, standing or high intensity training. The other enzyme needed in the breakdown of triglycerides is the adipose triglyceride lipase (ATGL). Together, these enzymes coequally catabolize stored triglycerides.

  • Fights bacterial and fungal infections – the bark extract of cinnamon, has been found to inhibit bacterial growth. One study reported that cinnamon bark oil is able to significantly decreased biofilm formation in E. Coli. (biofilm is a protective layer surrounding a colony of bad bacteria within the body)

  • Antibacterial – Known for its ability to combat germs, bacteria, viruses and halt the growth of H-pylori (a bacteria that can wreak havoc on your gut).

The list of health benefits provided by turmeric/curcumin is really extensive but it's important to note that neither curcumin nor turmeric is well absorbed when taken orally. This is because the liver unless its taken with black pepper or piperine and you may not notice its full benefits for up to eight weeks.

When looking for a quality form of cinnamon, ceylon is considered to be the “true cinnamon”. This is because studies show that other sources have a potentially harmful compound known as coumarin. Coumarin has been said to cause liver damage so always check your sources.





4. Black pepper

Underestimated & powerful

Black Pepper benefits - Beyond Keto

I think black pepper is extremely underestimated, although it truly holds a mighty punch on health benefits. Abundant in vitamins and minerals like thiamin, riboflavin, pyridoxine, folic acid, copper, choline, phosphorous, iron, calcium, manganese, and zinc, it's really another wonder spice in my books. Although, most people would consider every black pepper to be the same and with the thought of a pepper shaker from any restaurant in mind. Well let me tell you, not every pepper is the same and you're sure as heck not going to find the same health benefits in the pepper shaker at a restaurant as you would in a fresh ground peppercorn. I'll explain why but first let’s talk about some of its amazing attributes.


Some great benefits of black pepper are:
  • Reduces inflammation – piperine significantly inhibits the production of two major proinflammators.

  • Enhances nutrient absorption – researchers in India documented piperine as the world's first bioavailability enhancer in 1979. It encourages absorption by stimulating gut amino acid transporters.

  • High in antioxidants – the active ingredient in black pepper is piperine which is an antioxidant that remove free radicals causing harm to the body. It also helps increase the bodies natural enzymes that neutralize free radicals.

  • Improves digestion – increases hydrochloric acid secretion and discourages intestinal gas from forming as it is considered to be a carminative.

  • Weight loss – made with aroma containing terpenes, the outer layer of the peppercorn breaks down fat cells, increases internal body temperature and revs up the metabolism. This also promotes sweating and toxin release.

  • Antibacterial – studies have found pepper to break down the cell walls of bad bacteria and thus killing the cell. This could be the reason for the strong antibacterial properties in pepper. Also, the capsaicin found in pepper has been recorded to help eradicate H. Pylori.

  • Improves depression – piperine inhibits the enzyme known to break down serotonin and and reduce melatonin levels. Labs have shown increase levels of serotonin in the hippocampus as well as the frontal cortex.





5. Oregano


Oregano benefits - Beyond Keto

This herb has a wide array of health benefits but not only that it also tastes wonderful in many dishes. Native to the Mediterranean countries, you can find many traditional dishes made with oregano in Italy and Greece. The extract from oregano alone can be very potent and overwhelming. Once used among other seasonings though, it can change your whole dish, taking it to another level. Looking deeper into the why of it's many health benefits, we find two major compounds that are highly commendable, carvacrol and thymol. Read on to explore their many health properties and find out why they should be commended.


Some great benefits of oregano are:
  • Antibacterial – carvacrol is able to treat various parasitic, bacterial, viral, and fungal infections (including Candida). It has also been tested of food born illnesses such as hepatitis A and norovirus showing ability to inhibit each of them. Carvacrol has also been found to destroy cancerous cells located in the prostate, colon, and breast.

  • Cold sores – both compounds showed up to 90% inactivity of the herpes simplex type 1 virus.

  • Anti-inflammatory – muscle pain and skin sores have been treated by the Roman and Greek empires applying the oregano leaves as an antiseptic. Also, remedies used to relieve menstrual cramps with essential oregano oil are still being utilized today.

  • Repelling insects – both carvacrol and thymol compounds have been shown to control insects.

  • Toothache – group tests made with cavacrol application report subjects experiencing a numbing sensation.

  • Bloating – the high content of carvacrol and thymol relieve symptoms of bloating, indigestion, nausea and vomiting by stimulating bile flow.

  • Headaches – Oregano is flavonol which is a phytochemical compound that has blood dilatating effects which helps ease the pain from headaches.

Oregano can help with a vast number of human aliments due to its high antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and it tastes good too! Add the fresh herb to some chili or “pizza bread” in my recipes.

It's important to note that the extract can be very potent and can cause a burn if taken in highly concentrated amounts.





6. Basil

A taste of Italy

Basil benefits - Beyond Keto

The herb basil is so unique when I use the leaves off a fresh basil plant, for a moment, I feel like I've been transported back to Italy. Just the aroma makes my mouth water thinking of foods like caprese, bruschetta, margherita pizza and my all-time favourite pesto sauce. Yes, you may be thinking most of these foods consist of bread but that is easily fixed with keto friendly dough. I still eat my favourite Italian dishes on keto, they're just that much better. Of course, we all know that basil is delicious but how much do we know about its countless benefits?


Some great benefits of basil are:
  • Elevates enzymes and supports liver function – by increasing specific enzymes such as cytochrome P450, the body is able to detox a number of carcinogens and metabolize potentially toxic compounds such as drugs and other toxins excreted by the liver such as bilirubin. This helps rid the liver of excess toxins allowing it to function at its best.

  • Good for digestion & healthy gut flora – helping to restore natural pH levels within the body, basil also feeds healthy bacteria located in the gut. This than encourages healthy gut flora which increases immunity and promotes digestion.

  • Helps diabetes mellitus – studies show that a crucial flavonoid in basil known as orientin, may have significant benefits in the treatment of vascular inflammation caused by high glucose.

  • Benefits the skin – because basil is known to fight free radicals this helps keep the skin looking young and glowing. Also, with the elevated enzymes detoxing toxins within the body they don't get pushed through the skin causing problems such as eczema, acne, psoriasis, and rosacea.

When consuming basil-leaf or sweet basil, unless you have a rare allergy, there should be no harmful side effects. However, in high dosages there could be side effects it all depends on the person and the level of consumption.





7. Salt

Essential to the ketogenic diet

Salt benefits - Beyond Keto

I know that salt is not a spice but I thought it was the best place to acknowledge some of its fantastic traits. This mineral is so essential to the keto diet - a lot of people don't even realize its importance. They either try to avoid it at all costs for fear of high blood pressure or forget to up their intake as there isn't much in raw food. Unfortunately, most of us have been raised in a society to do one or the other. That doesn't mean it's right. Yes, when the body eats a normal SAD diet (Standard American Diet) your body takes in way to much salt added into all the processed food you've been eating. Granted you probably never noticed but that doesn't mean it wasn't there. The SAD diet is overloaded with salt and thus can lead to problems such as high blood pressure. Switching over to keto though, it's a whole other story. Now you have to up your intake majorly because all that salt is gone and if you don't, things like the keto “flu” will eventually happen. You might get nauseous, black out, feel dizzy or have headaches, experience muscle cramps, weakness and much more. Why, you ask? Well, in short form, because salt is loaded full of trace minerals. There are so many different kinds of salts out there all having different variations of trace minerals. This is why I believe it is important to switch it up and rotate salts. Allowing your body to achieve the highest benefits. Some salts like pink himalayan, fleur de sel, dead sea salt, celtic sea salt and iodized salt to name a few. Each one different from the other, holding numerous health benefits which I am going to state a few for you below.


Some great benefits of salt are:
  • Helps you stay hydrated – salt and water go hand in hand. Salt helps draw water into the places it needs to be within the body, such as the bloodstream and into cells. Without salt, water will leave the bloodstream and eventually end up excreted via urine. Leaving cells dehydrated and thus making you feel dehydrated.

  • Promotes vascular health & regulates blood pressure – as stated above, salt draws water into the bloodstream. Blood is made up of 90% water which then takes on the role of supplying oxygen and water to cells and tissues. It also transports essential nutrients, amino acids and fatty acids as well as removing waste and supplying the body with white blood cells upon infection.

  • Balances electrolytes and prevents muscle cramping – salt is made up of magnesium, calcium, chloride, potassium and more depending on the type of salt you consume.

  • Improves sleep – Salt effects stress hormones that lead to the disruption of sleep. When your body doesn't have enough salt available it sends a message to the adrenal glands signalling them to increase the production of aldosterone (a hormone that causes the kidney to conserve sodium, secrete potassium, increase water retention and blood pressure) also cortisol (stress hormone) and adrenaline all in which disrupt a healthy sleep rhythm.

  • Cures cystic fibrosis and chronic Rhinosinusitis – Hypertonic saline (a concentrated salt solution) has been used successfully for many years in cases of CF (cystic fibrosis). Halotherapy (a treatment where you breath in salty air) has been used similarly to clear the thick mucus secretions.

  • Treats sore throat – because of salts osmosis effects it draws the fluid from the mouth and throat tissues revealing infection and preventing it in future cases. It also breaks up thick mucus removing irritants such as allergies, bacteria and fungi, which then allows you to breath.

  • Prevents iodine deficiency balancing the thyroid – Iodine deficiency affects about 2 billion people worldwide. The lack of iodine results in the inability to make thyroid hormones which causes problems such as intellectual and developmental disabilities and extreme hormonal imbalances.

  • Helps to normalize cholesterol – a diet low in sodium has been linked to increased triglycerides (TG) and total cholesterol (TC). A study was made on mice that were put on a low sodium diet and later had the lipids on their inner arterial wall tested to show increased TG and TC.

  • Prevents Hyponatremia – too much water not enough salt dilutes the remaining salt within the body.

When insulin levels are kept low the kidneys start to excrete sodium at a higher rate. This is because insulin increases sodium uptake by activating major sodium transporting proteins within cells. Therefore, when you eat a high carbohydrate diet not only is your body consuming salt from the carbohydrates but also any additional salt you may have added to it. In addition, the carbohydrates spike an insulin response which then retains the salt pushing your body over in its daily salt allotment. On the other hand, when your body runs on a ketogenic diet, naturally, insulin levels will be low and salt intake (unless you're adding it) will be low. This then means, your body won't be retaining the salt as much and thus will excrete it quiet rapidly through the kidneys ending up in the urine. When this happens, your body will be depleted of important electrolytes making you feel dizzy, lightheaded, nauseous, tired, body cramps, headaches and more. This is why it is extremely important, when starting a ketogenic diet, to make sure you increase your salt and not to be afraid of it. Salt is our friend!

This does not mean that your body, while on a ketogenic diet, will not absorb salt, it just means it will deplete its salt reserves faster. The recommended dosage that has been said to be optimal is between 3g – 6g a day and increasing when you sweat as salt then leaves your body.




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