By Mariza Halliday
You might have seen those beautiful yellow turmeric lattes being whipped up in coffee shops, turmeric poached eggs being served for brunch and the magic golden spice being added to smoothies and ginger shots all around the world. What gives this new “it” ingredient, it’s rock-star status? You might know Turmeric as the spice that gives your curry and Indian foods that bold yellow-orange pigment, but it also carries an impressive array of health benefits.
Turmeric is a herb plant that grows in India and Central America and is part of the ginger family. Sometimes called the Golden Spice or Indian Saffron, Turmeric has a long history in Ayurvedic medicine. In fact, it’s been used as a culinary spice and in religious ceremonies in South East Asia for over 4,000 years. In Indian culture, the importance of turmeric goes far beyond medicinal purposes.
The Hindu religion sees turmeric as sacred and it is integrated deep into their culture. As a wedding day tradition, a string dyed yellow with turmeric paste, is tied around the bride’s neck by her groom. This is known as a Mangala sutra and indicates that the woman is married and capable of running a household.
It is a tradition that continues in Hindu communities today and has been compared to the Western exchange of wedding rings. A piece of the turmeric rhizome is worn as an amulet for protection against evil spirits in parts of Southern India.
In Buddhist culture, the beautiful Saffron-hued robes are dyed with Turmeric. This ancient and widely celebrated spice with its multitude of uses, has resurfaced within the health and nutrition communities thanks to Curcumin. Curcumin is the healing substance in Turmeric which supplies its vibrant colour and possesses significant anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.
A NATURAL ANTI-INFLAMMATORY
Turmeric is such a powerful anti-inflammatory that it matches the effectiveness of some western medicines like Ibuprofen, but without the side effects. It is also used to treat exercise-induced inflammation and muscle soreness, boosting recovery and performance in active people. Arthritis is a common disorder where joint inflammation leaves patients in a lot of pain and discomfort. Many studies show that Curcumin can help treat symptoms of arthritis and is in some cases more effective than some western medicine.
GRADUALLY INCREASES THE BODY’S ANTIOXIDANT CAPACITY
The Curcumin in Turmeric is a powerful antioxidant that can protect the body from free radicals by neutralizing them, thanks to its chemical structure. Curcumin doesn’t only block free radicals; it also stimulates antioxidant mechanisms in your body.
IMPROVES BRAIN FUNCTION & LOWERS THE RISK OF BRAIN DISEASE
Curcumin boosts levels of certain brain hormones, which increases the growth of new neurons and fights various degenerative processes. It is great for improving overall cognitive health and function.
AIDS IN CONTROLLING DIABETES
Turmeric helps your body control glucose and augments the effects of medications used in the treatment of diabetes. This powerful herb can be used to supplement diabetes treatments, as it helps to moderate your insulin levels. It also decreases the body’s resistance to insulin, which can prevent Type 2 diabetes from developing.
HELPS LOWER CHOLESTEROL
High cholesterol levels can be detrimental to your health and overall well-being. Studies have shown that simply using Turmeric as a food seasoning can significantly lower your blood cholesterol levels. Keeping healthy cholesterol levels is essential to prevent cardiovascular issues and other serious health diseases, so taking this step may be very beneficial to lowering your risk of heart disease. There are many benefits of incorporating this special spice into your daily diet. Whether through one of the excellent Turmeric natural supplements or adding this brilliant herb to your food. In some cases, the impact may be minor, others, the benefits will be major. It is always worthwhile incorporating this healthy herb in your daily diet.
BUT IT CAN ONLY WORK IF IT’S ABSORBED
For all its amazing potential, there is a secret to getting all you need from turmeric: some of the valuable flavonoids, like curcumin, are not well absorbed by the body. Fortunately, curcumin’s absorption can be enhanced by more than 2000% with the addition of black pepper. Astounding, but this goes a long way to explain why black pepper was such a valued spice in the dark ages as it aided in food preservation and the absorption of nutrients. Another way of improving the absorption of turmeric is by consuming it in dishes that contain dietary fats like coconut milk or ghee (clarified butter). Hats off to the ancient, instinctive wisdom passed down through the ages from mother to child.