Many know turmeric as just a spice that adds a bit of flavour and colour to dishes. However, turmeric can also benefit your health and wellbeing in various ways, and is becoming increasingly popular as a result.
Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric known to help a variety of ailments. Used for more than 4000 years in countries such as India and Sri Lanka, research shows us that this spice can do much more than flavour and colour our foods. Curcumin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that are still being researched for their aid in the fight against diseases including Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. Here’s just some of the ways turmeric can help our health and wellbeing.
Colds and Flus
Studies have shown that by simply adding turmeric to your diet, you can lessen the chances of catching bacterial or viral infections. Turmeric’s chemical compound, curcumin, has antiviral and anti-bacterial properties. Curcumin is also a powerful antioxidant, which can fight free radicals that damage our immune system.
Helping with Depression
Curcumin seems to fight against the oxidative and inflammatory responses that are sparked in those suffering with depression. The loss of brain neurons is a common factor in depression, more so in older sufferers, and turmeric is well known for increasing the level of neurotropic factors responsible for the growth and survival of nerve cells. It can also help raise the level of neurotransmitters in the brain, boosting your mood – when these transmitters are blocked, your happiness levels drop which can also trigger anxiety. Curcumin seems to also enhance the effect of some antidepressants, and can increase serotonin and dopamine levels leading to better sleep. Just adding a teaspoon of turmeric to your diet could bring noticeable improvements.
Helping Alzheimer’s Sufferers
We are still searching for a cure to this most common neurodegenerative disease. While certainly no cure, curcumin can cross the blood-brain barrier and has been shown to bring some improvement to Alzheimer’s patients
Curcumin stimulates bile production, helping with your digestion. Turmeric is commonly used in Germany as an antidote prescribed for an upset stomach, bloating and gas. It may also help sufferers of irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease.
As well as anti-bacterial properties, studies suggest turmeric may also contain anti-tumour properties that might help to reduce the size of tumours, and may even assist in preventing some cancers. Studies are still being conducted on curcumin’s benefits, but including turmeric in your diet, in consultation with your doctor, may be worth exploring.
How to add Turmeric to your diet
Turmeric is commonly used in curries and is found in many Indian dishes. It adds a great taste and colour and can be incorporated into your cooking in many ways. Adding it to cooked rice adds a mild flavour and ‘spices’ up a meal instantly. Incorporating turmeric into a bowl of soup, or tossing it through vegetables are both easy ways to add this beneficial spice to your diet. Just check when purchasing powdered turmeric that it is organic and has no added ingredients – good quality makes a difference but will usually cost more. It’s also worth noting that adding black pepper increases your absorption of curcumin, so combine the two for best results.
With none of the side effects of popular anti-inflammatory medications, turmeric might be a better option. Many find that turmeric reduces the pain associated with osteoarthritis and can also lessen the symptoms of inflammatory
Looking for a simple way to boost your immune system? Turmeric tea may be the answer. Also known as golden milk, it’s one of the easiest ways to add the benefits of turmeric. Drink it before bed to relax and to improve your immune
- All you need is:
- 2 cups of milk (cow’s, almond, coconut …whatever you prefer)
- 1 teaspoon of good quality turmeric
- ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon of ginger powder or a tiny piece of fresh ginger root, peeled
- A pinch of cayenne pepper or ground black pepper (optional)
- 1 teaspoon of raw honey or maple syrup
Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth.
Pour into a small saucepan and heat for 3-5 minutes over medium heat without boiling. Drink immediately and enjoy!
Turmeric is said to be safe to ingest while pregnant or nursing, however turmeric supplements shouldn’t be taken without consulting your doctor.
This article contains general information only and should not be considered as a substitute for seeking personal medical advice from your doctor. Though all reasonable care has been taken to ensure accurate information at the time of publication, no guarantee can be made as to its validity for your individual circumstances.
Photography by Tim Brand
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