By now you have definitely heard about all the wonderful benefits of turmeric and all that it can do for your health and all the different forms in comes in and that probably has left you a bit confused. So my aim this week is to shine a light into what it is and how you can most benefit from it, and I think in the end you will agree that it is an amazing compound you should incorporate into your daily life.
Turmeric is a rhizome that grows under the ground like ginger. It has a rich, bright orange color and is used in many foods. Originally used in Southeast Asia, it’s a vital component for traditional curries. You can find dried powdered turmeric in the spice aisle of just about any grocery store. Sometimes they carry the fresh rhizome too (it looks like ginger root, but smaller). In India, it is a major part of their Ayurvedic health practices.
Turmeric contains an amazing anti-inflammatory, antioxidant compound called "curcumin.” The amount of this bioactive compound is around 3-7% by weight of turmeric. Curcumin has been studied like crazy for its health benefits. Many of these studies test curcumin at up to 100x more than that of a traditional diet that includes turmeric.
Health benefits of curcumin
There are dozens of clinical studies using curcumin extract (which is way more concentrated than ground turmeric). Curcumin is an anti-inflammatory compound. It fights inflammation at the molecular level. Some studies even show it can work as well as certain anti-inflammatory medications (but without the side effects).
Curcumin is an antioxidant compound. It can neutralize free radicals before they wreak havoc on our cells. It also boosts our natural antioxidant enzymes, like glutathione, our master antioxidant without which we cannot make energy to fight off immune invaders from toxins, stress and the food we eat. So you can begin to understand how important it is that our immune system is prepared for anything we might throw at it.
These two functions of reducing inflammation and oxidation have amazing health benefits. Chronic inflammation plays a major role in so many conditions. Including heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, dementia, mood disorders, arthritis pain, etc.
Curcumin has other amazing functions too:
● Boosts our levels of "Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor" (like a natural growth hormone for your brain) which is great for brain health.
● Improves “endothelial” function” (the inner lining of our blood vessels) which is great for heart health.
● Reduces growth of cancer cells by reducing angiogenesis (growth of new blood vessels in tumors), metastasis ( the spread of cancer), and even contributes to the death of cancer cells.
The best benefit of all, in my opinion is that it helps the liver get rid of excess toxins, waste and even excess estrogen by increasing the production of bile. This means that if we combine fiber-rich foods like vegetables and leafy greens with some good fats and turmeric, we help our liver become more efficient at packaging inflammatory toxins and shipping them out to the colon for elimination.
Do you think these make turmeric deserve the “miracle spice” title? I am convinced!
How to get the most out of your turmeric
Curcumin is not easily absorbed by your gut. For one thing, it’s fat soluble. So, as with fat-soluble nutrients (like vitamins A, D, E, and K), you can increase absorption by eating it with a fat-containing meal.
The second trick to get the most out of your turmeric is eating it with pepper. Interestingly, a compound in black pepper (piperine) enhances absorption of curcumin, by a whopping 2,000%!
If you want the health benefits of curcumin, you need to get a larger dose of than just eating some turmeric; this is where supplements come in.
Before you take a curcumin supplement, take caution if you:
● Are pregnant
● Are taking anti-platelet medications or blood thinners
● Have gallstones or a bile duct obstruction
● Have stomach ulcers or excess stomach acid, you will need to address those types of gut issues first.
Always read the label before taking a new supplement.
Personally, I love turmeric essential oil. If it is a high quality oil, it has the ability to be absorbed even better than in a supplement form because it is an oil, and as you may recall, curcumin is fat soluble. I add it to my tea or drink it in 4oz of water with a drop of pepper oil for a fast pick-me-up.
I want to know: What’s your favorite turmeric recipe? Try my version of “golden milk,” and let me know in the comments below.
‘til next time!
P.S. If you haven’t downloaded my FREE 5-day challenge to curb sugar cravings, is this not the perfect time?? You don’t need to wait until the new year to start healing your gut by removing processed sugar from your life, and in this challenge I help you weed out the bad from the good stuff…read more about it here!