Getty Images

How Your Spice Cabinet Can Get You Your Best Dance Bod

Turmeric, cayenne pepper, ginger, and garlic: They're spice cabinet staples that double as performance-boosters. Dance Spirit turned to Emily Cook Harrison, a registered dietitian at Nutrition for Great Performances in Atlanta, GA, for a breakdown of their benefits, and the most effective ways to incorporate them into your diet.


Turmeric

Thinkstock

"Turmeric is most commonly known for helping inflammation," says Harrison. "If you eat it regularly, it'll decrease joint pain and reduce general inflammation over time." However, don't use it as a substitute for over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, like ibuprofen—its benefits are more long-term than immediate.

How to Eat It

Harrison emphasizes that consistency is key: "In order to feel its benefits, make sure turmeric is a part of your daily diet." Sprinkling a pinch of turmeric over your salad won't cause a measurable decrease of inflammation (though it can't hurt!), but mixing it into beverages will. Try beginning your day with a cup of turmeric tea, and ending it with a glass of "golden milk"—a blend of 2 cups of warm coconut milk, 1 tablespoon of turmeric spice, and a 1/2 tablespoon of cinnamon.


Cayenne Pepper

Thinkstock

Cayenne pepper is a powerful spice with an abundance of benefits. It promotes a healthy digestive tract and is anti-inflammatory. But its secret ingredient? "A substance called capsaicin, which can alleviate joint pain," Harrison explains.

How to Eat It

Cayenne pepper extracts can be found in juices, while a teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper can be mixed with salad dressing. If you enjoy spicy food, you can also incorporate chopped raw cayenne peppers into your omelets and salads.


Ginger

Thinkstock

If cayenne pepper isn't doing it for your GI tract, you might want to try ginger. "Ginger is anti-inflammatory and extremely effective for upset stomachs," Harrison says. It combats everything from nausea to digestive issues. Keep in mind that, like turmeric, you'll need to eat a substantial amount of ginger in order for it to work (but a small amount of ginger, like a cup of ginger tea, can aid digestion).

How to Eat It

A cup of ginger root tea or a bowl of carrot-ginger soup are great options. A 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger can be combined with cayenne pepper and turmeric for a super-blend of spices, perfect for cooking. Two tablespoons of sliced raw ginger also make a great addition to a stir-fry.


Garlic

Thinkstock

When it comes to boosting your immune system, nothing beats garlic. "Garlic isn't just anti-inflammatory," Harrison says. It's also shown to reduce cold symptoms.

How to Eat It

Chances are, there's a bulb of garlic already in your kitchen cabinet. Chop up two or three cloves to add to whatever you're cooking for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.


A version of this story appeared in the May/June 2018 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "Spice Up You Life."

Latest Posts


Performers in HBO Max's "Legendary" (Barbara Nitke, courtesy HBO Max)

How to Express Yourself Through Vogue Fem—While Honoring the Community That Created It

"Who are you when you're voguing fem?" asks the choreographer and dancer Omari Wiles, father of the House of Oricci and founder of the dance company Les Ballet Afrik. "What energy is shaping your story?" In voguing, personal expression is the goal, and vogue fem one way to achieve it.

This flamboyant dance form has experienced a recent wave of mainstream visibility, thanks to the critically acclaimed TV drama "Pose," the hit HBO Max's competition show "Legendary" and, now, the proliferation of TikTok videos centered on voguing.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Jacob Norman, courtesy Amber Pickens

Black History Just Got a Lot More Colorful with Amber Pickens’ New Dance-Filled Coloring Book

Time to let your artistic skills blossom—but this time, we don't mean on the dance floor. Dancer, choreographer, and artist Amber Pickens has used her quarantine time to illustrate a coloring book that celebrates Black dance history.

The Juilliard graduate, who recently made her choreographic debut, created Blooming in Motion as a fun, educational way to highlight 20 dance legends that have brought vibrance to the dance world. Perfect for Black History Month and beyond!

We got a chance to chat with Pickens (and her dog, Broadway!) about how the idea came to be from seed to soil to full-on sprout.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Southern Methodist University's Meadows Dance Ensemble performing Danny Buraczeski's Swing Concert (Paul Phillips, courtesy Southern Methodist University

Admission Denied: What if You Aren't Accepted to a College Dance Program?

Caroline Waters didn't get into Southern Methodist University's acclaimed dance program after her first audition—or her second. She was accepted to the university, however, so she went ahead and enrolled, making a deal with her parents that if she didn't earn a spot in the dance program within a year, she'd return home to Florida to attend an in-state school. "Growing up, I loved competing and I loved proving people wrong," Waters says. "I really felt like SMU was where I was supposed to be." She auditioned twice more as a freshman, and the fourth time was the charm. Waters is now a senior, double-majoring in dance performance and journalism while minoring in English.

If you've got your heart set on a college dance program, and you aren't accepted, it can feel like your dreams have hit a brick wall. But in reality, you still have a lot of options—and reauditioning is only one of them. Here's how to move forward after an audition setback.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

contest
Enter the Cover Model Search