Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant-rich spice that's widely available. Find out the 7 powerful benefits of consuming turmeric and check out 3 simple recipes you can make today!
When it comes to spices, many of us think of them as flavor enhancers in food. And while that's true, most spices contain a ton of health benefits. However, there's one spice that stands out in particular. And that's turmeric.
Turmeric has been used in traditional Indian cooking for thousands of years and Ayurvedic medicine considers it to be not just food but medicine.
What is Turmeric?
Turmeric is a root, belonging to the ginger family, having a similar shape, aside from being smaller and orange. It can be consumed raw, but its most available in powdered form. It has a mustard like flavor, earthy and peppery taste. I wouldn't recommend munching on a root (though feel free to do so and let me know how that works out), turmeric is often consumed in curries, soups, smoothies or it can be taken in pill form.
Turmeric contains curcumin, which is the main active ingredient that's responsible for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant power. I've mentioned this in several posts, but it's important to remember that while turmeric is a miracle spice, it's poorly absorbed in the blood stream. One way to counter that is by adding pepper to whatever you're consuming that contains turmeric.
Why the Turmeric hype?
Turmeric has been getting a lot of attention in the scientific community mostly because it has amazing health benefits, which I will be covering here. As mentioned previously, turmeric has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years and shows significant health benefits, especially when it comes to inflammation. So let's look at some of the health benefits of turmeric backed by science.
Health benefits of turmeric
If you want to reduce inflammation, turmeric may be a doable, natural solution. While most whole foods reduce inflammation, turmeric does it on another level. It is now well known that inflammation is the root cause of most modern diseases. Diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and even cancer have been linked to chronic inflammation in the body. "Based on early cell culture and animal research, clinical trials indicate curcumin may have potential as a therapeutic agent in diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, arthritis, and chronic anterior uveitis, as well as certain types of cancer."
There is mounting evidence that turmeric can play a major role in MDD (Major Depressive Disorder). This study shows that turmeric can be as powerful as anti-depressant medication. Another study focused on the involvement of curcumin on the serotonin and dopamine systems, which are nothing short of fascinating.
Treatment for PMS
If you're a woman in your reproductive age, you know periods suck and not just periods but the week leading up to it. Everything is basically awful, for me at least. I'm miserable, moody and have chocolate cravings galore (not that the chocolate part is a bad thing or anything). This 2015 study shows that curcumin may reduce symptoms of PMS. "Our results for the first time showed a potential advantageous effect of curcumin in attenuating severity of PMS symptoms, which were probably mediated by modulation of neurotransmitters and anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin."
Alzheimer's prevention and treatment
Alzheimer's is one of the world's worst neurodegenerative diseases. There is no cure so a big focus in the area of research is prevention as well as cure. Some promising advances have been made in the area. In patients who already have AD, it's shown that behavioral and psychological symptoms improve when supplementing with curcumin. "The present cases suggest a significant improvement of the behavioral symptoms in the AD with the turmeric treatment, leading to probable benefit of the use of turmeric in individuals with the AD with BPSD."
Acts as a potent antioxidant
Turmeric is one of the most powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants scan the body for free radicals which damage cell membranes as well as DNA. Antioxidants are vital for optimal function. "Antioxidants scavenge molecules in the body known as free radicals, which damage cell membranes, tamper with DNA, and even cause cell death. Antioxidants can fight free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause."
Helps with gut health
If you've read any of my wellness posts before, you know that I'm all about making sure the gut is happy and things are functioning smoothly. Turmeric is extremely beneficial when it comes to gut health. One of the humps researchers have had to overcome is that curcumin is poorly absorbed by the GI tract. However, scientists have discovered that using phospholipids in conjunction with curcumin has significantly improved absorption. Basically that just means, when you take turmeric, make sure it has pepper in it as well for optimal absorption.
Aids with weight loss
The results from this randomized, controlled study shows that patients who were on a 30-day diet and lifestyle intervention showed little results in terms of weight loss. But after an additional 30 days of the same diet, with the addition of phosphatidylserine and curcumin, there were remarkable changes in terms of weight loss compared to subjects who took straight phosphatidylserine.
How can you use Turmeric?
There are several ways you can get all the benefits of turmeric. Here are several things you can do:
This is one of my favorite ways to get all the goodness of turmeric without having to eat an entire pot of curry. My recipe is simple. You'll need:
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon honey
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
Combine everything in a small bowl and drink it down.
***Word of caution. If you're pregnant or nursing, you may want to consult your doctor prior to consuming higher amounts of turmeric than you would in food. It can cause uterine contractions and would be particularly troublesome for women who are less than 37 weeks along***
So easy to make and such an effective way to hydrate while also receiving all the benefits of turmeric.
- 4 cups of water
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- honey and lemon to taste
Bring water to a boil and add turmeric. Simmer for 10 minutes. Cool for a few minutes and add honey and lemon if you wish. *I recommend eating a few peppercorns (you can swallow them whole) if you're consuming this tea. Again, since turmeric is poorly absorbed, by consuming pepper along with it, you'll ensure you're receiving all the benefits from this incredible spice.
Golden milk with a twist
And lastly, my absolute favorite way to consume turmeric. As soon as chillier weather rolls in, it's pretty much a staple in my house. It's warming, delicious, and makes the whole house smell wonderful. I like to make it extra special by adding collagen to it for a little extra. Recipe below.
Golden Milk with Collagen
An easy nutrient dense golden milk you can whip up in just minutes. Get all the benefits of turmeric and collagen in one cup!
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon collagen (leave out if vegan)
- 1.5 cups almond milk
- 1-2 teaspoon honey to taste or leave out
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil (optional)
1. Over medium-low heat, combine all ingredients and simmer for 3-5 minutes.
2. Add golden milk to blender including coconut milk to create a frothy consistency (but this is optional and not required)
3. Pour in mug and sprinkle with additional cinnamon if you wish.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 205Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 30mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 2gSugar: 23gProtein: 8g
Are you referring to fresh or ground tumeric/Ginger in the recipes above?Especially the tumeric shot
Hey Jennifer! Thanks for pointing that out. For the sake of making things easier, I use ground in all the above recipes 🙂 As much as I love fresh, ground is easier for most to have on hand...
Your Golden milk with Collagen sounds superb! You have listed 1/2 tsp ground ginger and 1/4 tsp ground ginger in your recipe. Is one of them suppose to be cinnamon?😉
I am forever grateful when my readers point things out I can easily miss! Thank you so much, Linda!! You're absolutely right about that 😉 it's most definitely supposed to be cinnamon, and I've fixed it now!