Integrative Medical Teachers Will Spice Up ‘Wellness at Turner Farm’
The concept of “food as medicine” is gaining popularity in medical circles and among everyday Americans. Medical schools around thecountry are adding nutrition and food-based preventative studies to their curriculum, while food writers and advocates are sounding the alarm of an increasing strain on our healthcare system due in large part to the dietary and lifestyle decisions of individuals.
For nearly a year, Turner Farm’s new state-of-the-art Teaching Kitchen has played host to UC’s medical sciences students (future doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals) for weekend seminars focusing on nutrition and holistic wellness. These classes, taught by medical professionals who are supporting members of the University of Cincinnati’s Center for Integrative Health and Wellness, were also offered to members of the local community as part of a three-part “Wellness at Turner Farm” series.
The classes were a hit. All three sold out, which inspired Dr. Sian Cotton, the director of the UC Center for Integrative Health and Wellness, to expand the series into the fall and winter.
The second leg of the series kicks off on November 15, with The Healing Benefits of Herbs and Spices, taught by registered dietician Tammy Ward. The class will focus on the ways in which herbs and spices can add a depth of flavor to our food while fighting disease and reducing inflammation.
Turner Farm recently sat down with Tammy Ward to learn more about the class.
Turner Farm: Your class focuses on what for many novice home cooks is an afterthought. What can people learn from a class about spices?
With continued advances in global transportation and trade, it’s relevant to re-visit the vast role spices have played in the age of discovery and exploration. Christopher Columbus departed England in 1492 seeking a sea route to the land of spices and, instead, discovered the New World. Other global explorers included Ferdinand Magellan and Vasco Da Gama. Learning how deeply spice history is entwined into current cultures deepens our appreciation of their influences in our daily lives.
How do spices and herbs fit into the integrative health picture?
As more individuals seek a more natural, integrative approach to their health and wellness plans, herbs and spices are becoming one way to do this. Consuming a more plant-based diet, which includes herbs and spices, is shown to reduce incidence of chronic disease and improve overall health.
Obviously spices are about more than taste. Is this new information or something that traditional cultures knew that we have forgotten?
Interestingly, the history of spices spans thousands of years and has played an integral role in the advancement of global trade, exploration, and medicine. Older cultures have known about and practiced the medicinal use of herbs and spices for thousands of years, but is has only been in the last few decades that Western medicine has advanced such that these compounds can now be studied intensively. We are beginning to discover the “mechanism of action” in disease treatment and prevention these plant compounds may provide.
What are some of the spices you will be discussing? How do they operate in our bodies?
A few of the spices and herbs we will discuss are turmeric, cinnamon, and rosemary. The active ingredients in these plant products work in a multitude of ways, on a cellular level, to reduce inflammation and disrupt disease promoting processes.
Inflammation seems to be an issue that is attracting quite a bit of attention from medical researchers. Can the foods we eat–including spices—really work as anti-inflammatory agents?
Yes, the plant foods we eat contain a wide variety of compounds which act not only to resolve chronic inflammation but to prevent this damaging process from occurring. We will discuss some of these compounds and learn how to best include the herb/spice in your meals to get the most health benefit.
What can participants expect from your class?
Participants can expect to leave with a deeper appreciation of the global history as well as the multitude of health benefits of a few popular herbs and spices. In addition, by spending time in our kitchen with Chef Stephanie, folks will leave with a better understanding of how to incorporate them into their meals for maximum enjoyment!
Join Tammy and Chef Stephanie Michalak for “The Healing Benefits of Herbs and Spices” in the Turner Farm Teaching Kitchen on DATE. Tickets are available at http://turnerfarm.org/university-of-cincinnati-farm-wellness-series/.