WHAT IS TURMERIC?
Turmeric…the name might ring a bell. It is recognized as the yellow hued spice that often appears in Indian cuisine. However, it’s usage stems way beyond traditional cooking. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, Turmeric has been utilized for over 4,000 years to treat a wide variety of health ailments. There are many impressive health benefits from the daily consumption of this relative to ginger we can discuss. The great part is: you can literally add turmeric to almost anything. I include turmeric salads, soups, juices, and even meat dishes as its taste is minimal. (As a disclaimer it will turn your food yellow and that is completely normal.)
WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF TURMERIC?
Natural Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Turmeric contains curcumin, which lowers the levels of two enzymes in the body that cause inflammation. It has also been proven to stop platelets from clumping together to form blood clots. In other words, turmeric acts as a natural Ibuprofen. Over-the-counter medications such as Ibuprofen and Aleve may reduce pain, but in the process wreak havoc on crucial organs such as the kidneys, stomach, and liver. This means that the herb can be beneficial to individuals battling conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, and any other condition which inflicts chronic pain and inflammation.
I have personally put the herb to test myself on several occasions and I have not been disappointed. Most people have come in contact with the dreaded (but wonderful) post-work out soreness which occurs not one, but two days after a hard work out. Well, I added turmeric to my green juice during these painful times and was pleasantly surprised at the results and my ability to get moving quickly.
Curcumin, found in turmeric, is also a powerful antioxidant. Curcumin sets an attack against dangerous free radicals. It blocks them directly, then stimulates the body’s own antioxidant mechanisms. Free radicals are attributed to diseases such as cancer. According to the Dermal Institute, “Once a free radical forms and it succeeds in gaining another electron from a nearby molecule, it leaves its victim short an electron and has now made this new molecule a free radical, which will in turn, try and steal an electron as well. The result is what we call a free radical cascade, an enormous chain reaction of free radicals that quickly wreaks havoc on living tissue.” In simpler terms, free radicals harm otherwise healthy cells.
Prevention of Degenerative Disease
Turmeric supports overall brain health. It is a well-known fact that inflammation and oxidative damage play a role in Alzheimer’s disease. Fortunately, curcumin has been beneficial for both of these issues.
A main symptom of Alzheimer’s Disease is the buildup of protein tangles called Amyloid plaques. Studies show that curcumin can help clear up these plaques.
Cholesterol Miracle Herb?
According to University Health News, “In research published in the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, for example, ten healthy volunteers consumed 500 mg of turmeric (curcumin) per day for seven days. Not only did their blood levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol drop by 33 percent, but their total cholesterol dropped 11.63 percent, and their HDL (“good” cholesterol) increased by 29 percent.”
The effects on cholesterol are due to the fact that curcumin helps to reduce inflammation and both prevent and repair oxidative damage. Since both of these processes can damage blood vessels and cause plaque build-up (which can lead to a heart attack or stroke), preventing them helps to reduce hardening of the arteries.
Detox the Easy Way
Additionally, Turmeric can be considered a natural liver detoxifier. The liver detoxifies the blood through the production of enzymes and turmeric increases production of these vital enzymes. These vital enzymes break down and reduce toxins in the body. Turmeric also is believed to stimulate and improve overall blood circulation. This is the recipe for optimal liver health.
How to Consume Turmeric
So, I’ve explained everything this herb can do for you, but the lingering question is how do you consume it? Turmeric can be consumed in numerous ways. The herb can be bought fresh at local markets or grocery stores, and then can be peeled and grated into meals. The other option is to buy it pre-grated as a spice ( if you take this route make sure it is organic!).
Lastly, turmeric can be consumer in capsule or pill form and found at your local health food store such as Whole Foods or Fruitfield Yield. No matter what route you decide to try, I cannot begin to express the amazing benefits of this herb! One caution I can offer is if you are working with fresh turmeric be forewarned that your hands may wear the neon yellow hue for a day or two should you come in contact with it. These days, as a mom of a toddler, it could very well be yellow marker all over me so potatoe, potato
I could go on and on about the health benefits of this ancient herb..as this is just considered a short list. But, I hope after finding out about some of the powerful benefits you are at least tempted to sprinkle a little of this golden spice on your next meal! Bon appetit!