By Unni Greene
Turmeric, the common name for Curcuma longa, is an Indian spice derived from the rhizomes of the plant and has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine. This Indian medicine practice is one of the world’s oldest holistic (whole-body) healing systems.
Curcumin, which is turmeric’s main ingredient and responsible for its vibrant yellow color, has been shown in many studies to fight inflammation and free radicals as an antioxidant. It also has antimicrobial properties. Remarkably, studies reveal that this common spice has a beneficial effect on cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, pancreatitis, arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes and many other conditions.
As an anti-inflammatory, curcumin has been shown to break down amyloid-beta plaques, which are a hallmark of condition such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Other studies of curcumin have shown a beneficial influence on edema. The spice was nearly as effective as cortisone at reducing swelling and water retention, with none of the side effects.
Curcumin is rapidly metabolized and, therefore, has limited bioavailability, or usefulness, to our bodies. A proper dosage is key to achieving health benefits. While different conditions require different dosage, it is evident that curcumin clears the blood stream in just a few hours. The absorption of curcumin also is affected by what you take with it. Curcumin is fat-soluble, which means it dissolves with fat. Therefore, curcumin should be consumed with fat so it can be absorbed into the blood stream. Black pepper also assists the absorption of curcumin. In fact, adding black pepper, which contains piperine, enhances bioavailability by 1,000 times.
Here are some delicious ways to enjoy turmeric:
Use in curry dishes and add some black pepper.
Sprinkle on hardboiled eggs or avocado.
Stir fry with olive oil or coconut oil and fresh veggies.
Make a green smoothie and add coconut oil.
While there are many benefits of adding turmeric to your foods or taking a curcumin supplement, some people may experience side effects, including stomach upset and the interruption of iron absorption. Always check with your healthcare provider before starting a new supplement routine.
Unni Greene is the owner of SoMi Fitness and a Certified Nutrition Specialist. For more information, visit somifitness.com.