Did you know that turmeric, the golden spice, has a whole list of potential health benefits?! The curcuminoids (including curcumin which provides the unmistakeable yellow pigment) in turmeric are natural anti-inflammatory compounds and associated with many positive effects on various health conditions and diseases. It may help with things such as inflammation, respiratory conditions, sinus infections, environmental allergies, boosting liver function, digestive disorders, and many more.
Turmeric is a plant in the ginger family originating from Southeast Asia. The root of the plant is what is used in cooking and medicine from Ayurveda to traditional Indian medical systems to traditional Chinese medicine. It also contains minerals including manganese (supports carbohydrate metabolism), phosphorus (bone health) and potassium (fluid balance). Medicinally, the anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin help to balance the reaction of the immune system when it’s experiencing chronic low-level inflammation. This is what makes turmeric, specifically the curcumin in turmeric, so important in fighting inflammation at the molecular level. I’ll be writing more about inflammation, which is a complex subject, soon.
Curcumin is poorly absorbed in the body on its own which decreases the benefits you may get from it. So, in order to get the most absorption, we must pair this spice with something that increases the bioavailability (the amount of a substance that is available for the body to use). By adding a small amount of pepper and a healthy fat, such as coconut, with your turmeric you increase the bioavailability and therefore the amount the body is able to use. That being said, the bioavailability of curcumin is still quite low so the health benefits are widely debated. The NCCIH states:
“Because the actions of turmeric and its components in people are complex and not well understood, no clear conclusions have been reached about whether these substances have benefits for health conditions.”https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/turmeric
As always, do what feels best for YOU. Personally, I believe that adding turmeric into my diet helps with my digestion and respiratory/joint health, aka inflammation. I suggest using fresh or dried/powdered turmeric rather than turmeric supplements as there can be additives and other substances in the composition of the supplement that are not expected. You can buy the culinary spice in the spice isle of the grocery store or the root in the produce area. Consuming turmeric in amounts that are generally found in food is safe for most people but may be unsafe for pregnant or breastfeeding women. Always consult your healthcare professional before adding something into your diet if you have any health concerns. Before reaching for painkillers, try a turmeric smoothie (see below), or golden mylk (turmeric tea) to see if it helps with any inflammation you may be experiencing like headaches, joint aches, stuffy sinuses or chest congestion. Approaching minor health upsets with a real food treatment may alleviate the issue before needing to bring out the big guns like painkillers or steroids.
Want to add this spice into your diet? You can use turmeric in smoothies, soups, curry, as a spice on fish, veggies or chicken, and many more! Doing so can potentially boost your immune system and relieve underlying inflammation. So, I’ve got a smoothie recipe for you that is one of my favorite creations thus far!
For those wondering, this smoothie has a somewhat sweet and mellow spice (not spicy) flavor to it.