Turmeric and the digestive system
Traditionally in India, turmeric has been used to support digestive wellness and liver health. It is believed to increase levels of the enzymes needed to support detoxification, it is also a bitter spice which may help to stimulate our digestive secretions and help us to break down food. Some studies suggesting that turmeric and curcumin, like many plant compounds, may help to influence our gut bacteria, which is so vital for digestive health.
Turmeric and joint health
As turmeric is believed to help control inflammation, it may also be beneficial to sufferers of joint problems.
There have been many studies into this, for example, one with 50 joint pain sufferers who were given a curcumin supplement daily. After 3 months, the patients using curcumin were able to walk significantly further. Another study also used curcumin extracts and found that patients could walk on a treadmill up to 3 times better after taking curcumin, and that levels of important chemicals in our blood that promote inflammation were reduced significantly compared to the placebo group. They also found that curcumin to have less side effects than other alternatives.
Turmeric for the brain
Turmeric extracts may help support brain health by helping to protect brain cells from damage from toxins. Studies have also shown that curcumin may help to increase the clearance of amyloid plaque, which can accumulate in the human body and cause damage to brain cells.
Turmeric and our immune system
In Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric has traditionally been used to help prevent coughs and colds, this could be due to its balancing effect on the immune system.
Turmeric is also thought to contain anti-bacterial properties, being used as a paste to help heal wounds and reduce infections. In fact, in certain parts of Bangladesh turmeric is the most commonly used medicine applied to umbilical cords after birth!
Can turmeric support optimum wellness?
Turmeric has focused on those with health issues. However, a recent study looked at whether the spice may be able to support the wellbeing of healthy individuals. A group of 40 to 60 year olds were given 80mg of curcumin for 4 weeks, and this significantly helped to decrease levels of blood triglycerides, which may affect heart health, as well as helping to support overall health.
How do I use turmeric?
So, now that we know some of the wonderful health benefits of turmeric, it’s important to discover the best ways to use it. India uses around 80% of the world’s supply of turmeric, so it’s no wonder that the spice is associated with Indian cooking, giving the strong yellow colour to so many of its dishes.
You can add powdered turmeric to so many of your favourite foods – the most obvious being rice dishes and curries. However, scrambled eggs, stews, soups, casseroles and even smoothies work really well with a good pinch or more of turmeric. A little turmeric mixed with lemon and some yoghurt makes a beautiful marinade for chicken, or you can use it to coat fish, or even added to your mashed potato. Cakes turn a beautiful colour when a little turmeric is added, or try some home brewed turmeric and orange tea, or make your own turmeric milk. Just add a half teaspoon of turmeric to a milk of your choice, gently heat, and stir in some nourishing coconut oil. If you have a sweet tooth, try adding a little honey, or perhaps some dark cocoa powder and cinnamon for a superfood hot chocolate.