Turmeric refers to the flowering plant in the ginger family. But the roots are usually the one referred to. Its natural anti-inflammatory properties have been sought after, especially for sore joints and muscles and to slow the growth of cancer, and the spice has been an integral part of everyday cooking for generations. It provides the best natural remedy for everyday soreness, a source of natural immunity, and the daily dose of antioxidants to enable the body perform its peak! Being a cyclist, I benefit greatly by incorporating turmeric into my everyday diet.
So, what is turmeric?
The root of the turmeric plant is the one mostly consumed. The main active compounds within turmeric are called cucuminoid. Curcuminoids are polyphenolic pigments and include curcumin, demethoxycurcumin, and bisdemethoxycurcumin. Curcumin is the primary curcuminoid in turmeric and the compound for which most studies for its benefits have been done. Turmeric is used mostly as an ingredient in cooking, as a paste for skin care (for its antibacterial properties), and in crushed form that is used in smoothies and food preparation. The benefits of adding turmeric to everyday meals is gaining popularity, but many are not aware of the best way to consume turmeric for maximum benefits –
Turmeric, when mixed in a smoothie or sprinkled over food directly, does not provide much benefit to the body, unfortunately. This is because curcumin, by itself, does not survive the pH of the stomach, the acidity of the body’s digestive enzymes, and is not absorbed by the intestines.
How to cook turmeric?
In either powder or raw form, turmeric is pungent and not very appealing. The best way to consume it is to include it in cooking, where its “taste” is masked by other ingredients, without impacting its benefits. Also cooking usually includes either fat (oil, butter, etc) and/ or some type of pepper, and heat. Indian cooking recipes seldom miss it, and it forms an integral part of the majority of Asian cuisines.
Turmeric cooking Tips
- When mixed with black pepper, the piperine in black pepper enables the curcumin to be absorbed during digestion, and slows down the breakdown of curcumin by the liver, releasing more of the healthy compounds into the blood.
- Turmeric is also fat soluble, meaning it is better absorbed by the body when combined with fat, (lipids) such as coconut milk or ghee (clarified butter, popular in Indian cooking). Since turmeric is not water soluble, including it in fat enables it to permeate through the intestine walls, and enables direct transport to the blood though the intestinal-lymphatic system.
- One other way to derive the benefits of turmeric is by heating it. Heat breaks down turmeric into compounds that is easily absorbed by the body.
The Benefits of Turmeric are amazing!
1. Reduce Pain, Inflammation and Soreness
Turmeric has been used to reduce pain, inflammation and soreness for generations, and proved to be very vital to overall well-being. Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, regulates the action of pro-inflammatory enzymes cyclooxygenase (COX) and lipoxygenase (LOX), whereas regular OTC medicines inhibit only COX. So, turmeric provides a complete anti-inflammation remedy.
Turmeric, or more specifically curcuminoids, have strong antioxidant properties. Free radicals, the by-product of chemical processes in the body, are released on a regular basis. These free radicals are unstable compounds that destroy other cells to become stable, but in the process end up causing more damage. The body has built in mechanisms to handle free radicals, fighting “rogue” compounds constantly. But the abundance of these free radicals, usually caused by external factors (exposure to sun, certain types of radiation, eating certain foods) overwhelms the body. External antioxidant sources such as turmeric provide this much needed “boost” to address the free radicals and maintain overall wellbeing. (link)
Anti-arthritic activity – the presence of free radicals has been related to inflammatory joint diseases, which leads to arthritis. Turmeric’s anti-oxidant properties alleviates arthritic symptoms by reducing inflammation and related inflammatory joint disease and discomfort.
4. Bone Health
Bone Health – inflammation in arthritis leads to degradation of joint tissues. Osteoarthritis could also lead to slow degradation of bones. Use of turmeric has shown to protect bone and joint from degradation in arthritis related disease, and prevents the synovial fluid from thickening. Synovial fluid lubricates joints. Thickening of this fluid fastens joint degradation. Consumption of turmeric and effective turmeric juices such as Ivory’s Turmeriq-mango shots has shown to improve bone health.
5. Improves Auto-Immune conditions.
Autoimmune is a condition where the body’s immune systems attacks its own tissues. Use of turmeric has shown to decreased antibody activity, and inhibits immune T-cells, and prevents inflammation from spreading.
The benefits have been identified and enjoyed for generations. You have now seen what turmeric is, how to consume it effectively, and how it helps maintain long term good health. This spice is now starting to be available everywhere, and try including it in your in your cooking.
Hope you fond this useful. Check out my other posts as well.
To your health and well being!