Food experts in the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) have advised Nigerians to use local spices in their localities to garnish soups to boost their immune system against infections.

“We advise Nigerians to identify the natural spices available in their localities; make more use of them in their food preparation and consume less of the processed flavorings.

“This will strengthen and balance immune system and give them a better defense against infection,” he said.

According to him, soups should be prepared with ‘Ukazi, Oha, Uziza, ‘iru, Ogiri` and other natural spices to boost the immune system.

He noted that flavouring materials that were derived from plant origin contained bioactive compounds that were anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory and anti-hypertensive in nature.

The professor explained that when these were consumed in sufficient quantity under proper method of preparation; they could boost and balance the immune system to fight against infections especially; as in the case of coronavirus.

Other common spices, herbs and flavourings are: ginger; garlic; onions, alligator pepper, lemon grass; ‘utazi’ leaves and bushbuck.

“They also include calabash nutmeg, turmeric, pepper, mmimmi bark, sweet basil or scent leaf; curry leaf; cloves and condiments like ‘iru’, ‘ogiri’, “ogiri-okpei”, ‘achii’ and ‘dawadawa’.

“Oxidative stress has been implicated in development of chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension and cancers.

“However, since spices, herbs and seasoning and flavouring agents contain bioactive compounds that are antioxidative, anti-inflammatory and anti-hypertensive in nature they could help to fight off diseases by strengthening the immune system,” he said.

According to him, the experts most recent work on soup preparation using local spices such as: ‘Ukazi,’ ‘Oha’ and ‘Uziza’, the antioxidant capacity showed Uziza has the highest antioxidant, followed by “Ukazi”, while “Oha” has the least.

He said that the remarkable free radical scavenging effect of all the ingredients could be connected with the high phenolic content of the spices.

“Another work on ‘ehuru’ demonstrated that the potent antioxidant property of the spice suggests their potential in combating free radical-mediated diseases and other health complications.

“The prominent antioxidant effect of ‘ehuru’ in the study is due to its highest content of phenolic compounds.

“Consequently, phytoconstituents that are present in the spices may contribute to their overall health-promoting activities,” he stated.

“Even when an infection seems unavoidable by a sudden outbreak as witnessed in the case of COVID-19, the effect will be controlled and curtailed by the strengthened and balanced immunity.

“This can be attested to, based on patients that recovered from COVID-19 pandemic, where most of the death cases were said to have had underlying illnesses that probably have lowered the immunity of the deceased.

“Oxidative stress has been implicated in development of chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension and cancers.

“Unlike fruits and vegetables, spices are seldomly eaten alone but in company of other foods like soups, gravies, stew, drinking soup and pepper soup.

“On some occasions for medicinal purposes, they are blended with some vegetables in traditional medicine,” he said.

According to him, spices are rich in phytochemicals active in immune-balancing or immune-boosting natural properties.

He called on Nigerians to cultivate the habit of eating healthy through application of the identified spices in controlled and moderate quantities in soups.

Source: FUTA researchers identify local immune-boosting natural spices [ARTICLE] – Pulse Nigeria