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Unlocking the Golden Goodness: Turmeric for Health and Wellness

Updated: Nov 1, 2023

Turmeric (Curcuma longa), the vibrant yellow spice often found in curry dishes, has been cherished for centuries not only for its culinary charm but also for its remarkable health benefits. Known as the "Golden Spice" or "Indian Saffron" due to its rich yellow color, which comes from the compound curcumin. This ancient root has been celebrated in traditional medicine systems for its potential to enhance wellbeing and promote longevity. Let's journey into the world of turmeric to discover what it is, its numerous benefits, creative ways to use it, delectable recipes, and its wide range of applications in fostering health and vitality.


Turmeric Unveiled: What Is It?

Turmeric is a perennial plant native to South Asia, primarily India. The root, or rhizome, is where the magic happens. It's this root that's harvested, dried, and ground into the vibrant yellow powder we know as turmeric. The active compound responsible for its dazzling colour and many health benefits is curcumin.


Turmeric has been used for over 4,000 years in traditional medicine and cuisine, dating back to ancient India. Its vibrant yellow color made it a symbol of purity, prosperity, and sunlike power.

In Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric is considered one of the most valuable and versatile herbs. It's used to balance all three doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha) and is believed to promote overall health.

Turmeric's antimicrobial properties have made it a natural preservative for food, particularly in hot climates where refrigeration was historically limited.


Turmeric belongs to the ginger family (Zingiberaceae) and shares a similar rhizome structure with its relative, ginger.


The Golden Benefits of Turmeric:

1. Anti Inflammatory Powerhouse: Curcumin, the star player in turmeric, is renowned for its potent anti inflammatory properties. It helps combat chronic inflammation, which is implicated in various diseases.

2. Antioxidant Armor: Turmeric acts as an antioxidant, neutralizing harmful free radicals and supporting cellular health.

3. Joint Support: Many individuals turn to turmeric for joint health, as it may help alleviate symptoms associated with arthritis and joint pain.

4. Digestive Aid: Turmeric aids digestion by stimulating bile production and reducing bloating and gas.

5. Heart Health: Some studies suggest that turmeric may support heart health by improving the function of the endothelium, the lining of blood vessels.

6. Brain Boost: Curcumin may enhance brain function and reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases.

7. Skin Savior: Its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties can contribute to a healthy, radiant complexion.


Ways to Incorporate Turmeric into Your Life:

- Golden Milk: A soothing and comforting beverage, golden milk combines turmeric with milk (or plant based milk). Add a pinch of black pepper to enhance curcumin absorption*.

- Curry Creations: Turmeric is a staple in curry dishes. Use it liberally to infuse your meals with both flavour and health benefits.

- Turmeric Tea: Steep fresh turmeric slices or turmeric powder in hot water for a refreshing tea.

- Smoothie Supercharge: Add a teaspoon of turmeric powder to your morning smoothie for a health boost.

- Turmeric Roasted Vegetables: Sprinkle turmeric on roasted veggies for a flavourful twist.

- Marinate your protein (i.e. chicken or tofu) for the extra taste but also for a beautiful bright colour in addition to all its health benefits.


*Bioavailability Boost: To enhance curcumin absorption, black pepper, specifically a compound called piperine, is often paired with turmeric in recipes and supplements. This combination can increase curcumin's bioavailability by up to 2,000%.


Easy recipes to Spice Up Your Kitchen


Turmeric Smoothie:

- Blend banana, mango, Greek yogurt or Coconut yogurt, turmeric powder, a dash of honey, and a sprinkle of black pepper.




Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower:

- Toss cauliflower florets with olive oil, turmeric, cumin, and a pinch of salt.

- Roast until golden brown and tender.

- Garnish with fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lemon.


Turmeric Quinoa Bowl:

- Cook quinoa and stir in turmeric, chopped spinach, diced tomatoes, and a drizzle of tahini.

- Top with roasted chickpeas for added protein.



Beyond the Kitchen: Turmeric's Versatility

Turmeric isn't limited to the kitchen; it has applications beyond culinary delights. You can find turmeric supplements, topical creams, and even turmeric infused skincare products in your wellness toolkit.


Turmeric has been used as a natural fabric dye for centuries. Its vivid hue can be seen in traditional Indian clothing, such as saris and turbans.


Incorporate turmeric into your daily regimen and experience the many ways it can enhance your wellbeing. From comforting golden milk to flavourful curries and skincare solutions, turmeric's golden goodness awaits you.


What to consider before start taking Turmeric?

Turmeric is generally considered safe when consumed in moderate amounts as a spice in food. However, there are some contraindications and precautions to keep in mind, particularly when using turmeric supplements or consuming it in larger quantities:

1. Gastrointestinal Issues: Turmeric can be irritating to the gastrointestinal tract for some people, especially when taken in high doses. It may lead to stomach upset, acid reflux, or diarrhea. If you have a history of gastrointestinal issues, use turmeric with caution.

2. Blood Thinning Medications: Turmeric has mild blood-thinning properties. If you are taking anticoagulant or antiplatelet medications (such as warfarin or aspirin), consult your healthcare provider before adding turmeric to your diet or taking turmeric supplements to avoid potential interactions.

3. Gallbladder Issues: Turmeric may stimulate the gallbladder, which can be problematic for individuals with gallbladder issues or those who have had their gallbladder removed. If you have a history of gallbladder problems, consult your healthcare provider before using turmeric supplements.

4. Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: While small amounts of turmeric used in cooking are generally safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding, it's advisable to avoid turmeric supplements or therapeutic doses. Consult a healthcare provider for guidance.

5. Iron Absorption: Turmeric contains compounds that may inhibit the absorption of non-heme iron (the type of iron found in plant-based foods). If you rely on plant based sources of iron, it's advisable not to consume turmeric with iron rich foods to ensure adequate iron absorption.

6. Allergies: Some individuals may be allergic to turmeric. If you experience symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as rash, itching, swelling, or difficulty breathing, discontinue use and seek medical attention.

7. Bile Duct Blockage: Turmeric may worsen bile duct obstruction or related conditions. If you have such conditions, avoid turmeric without consulting a healthcare provider.

8. Surgery: Discontinue turmeric supplements at least two weeks before any scheduled surgery, as it may interfere with blood clotting.


Conclusion

In the world of holistic wellness, turmeric stands as a radiant gem. Known as the "Golden Spice", it offers a treasure trove of benefits, from taming inflammation to nurturing your heart and mind. It graces your kitchen with warmth in golden milk and flavor in curries, while its golden goodness extends to skincare and supplements.


Incorporate turmeric wisely, respecting its individual considerations. Embrace it, and let its myriad benefits guide you toward a life filled with well-being, vibrancy, and its radiant glow.


*Always consult with a healthcare professional before adding turmeric supplements to your diet, especially if you have underlying health conditions, are taking medications, or are pregnant or breastfeeding. It's essential to use turmeric judiciously and be aware of any potential interactions or contraindications.


References:

1. Hewlings, S. J., & Kalman, D. S. (2017). Curcumin: A review of its' effects on human health. Foods, 6(10), 92. https://www.mdpi.com/2304-8158/6/10/92



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