If you're a natural health enthusiast, you’ve probably heard about the power of turmeric. With golden milk lattes and turmeric capsules exploding in popularity, it’s pretty much impossible to ignore this brightly colored spice.
The turmeric plant (which is in the ginger family) has an abundance of powerful active compounds, the most notable being curcumin. Curcumin, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, is responsible for many of the beneficial properties associated with turmeric.
Interestingly enough, curcumin isn’t easily absorbed by the body, so you can’t just take a teaspoon of turmeric and call it a day. Thankfully, you can remedy this by combining it with black pepper. Black pepper contains piperine, which improves the absorption of curcumin into the body by an impressive 2,000%.
The Benefits of Turmeric
What exactly can turmeric (and curcumin) do for your health? Here is a look at what the research has to say about this popular health supplement:
- Minimizes Inflammation: Curcumin is incredibly anti-inflammatory – so much so that it has been proven to be as effective as some anti-inflammatory drugs. Inflammation plays a major part in many chronic illnesses, and research is promising when it comes to curcumin’s ability to reduce the symptoms of many of these conditions.
- Fights Free Radicals: The antioxidant ability of turmeric allows it to fight off free radicals, which cause oxidative stress in the body. Free radicals can affect proteins, fats, and even your DNA, and free radical damage can lead to numerous health conditions.
- Reduces Joint Pain: One study of people with arthritis found that turmeric can help reduce joint pain – and may even be more effective than an anti-inflammatory drug. These findings were further supported by another study of people with knee osteoarthritis.
- May Improve Brain Function: Curcumin has been found to increase the levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Low levels of this hormone have been connected to multiple brain disorders, including Alzheimer’s and depression. This may mean that turmeric can help delay or even treat many brain diseases, as well as improve memory. While promising, more human studies need to be done.
- Fights Cancer: Curcumin has been shown to have anticancer effects, and may help prevent the growth of cancer cells. There is also promise that it may even be beneficial for cancer patients, but more studies are needed.
How to Add Turmeric to Your Diet
If you’re looking to add this powerful spice to your routine, there are plenty of easy ways to do so.
One popular way to work turmeric into your diet is by drinking a golden milk latte, which can be made hot or cold. While you can purchase a mix, you can easily make your own with milk, turmeric, black pepper, and a sweetener of your choice.
A simpler way to get the benefits of turmeric is through a supplement. When looking for a supplement, be sure to pick one that contains piperine for maximum effectiveness.
Finally, there’s the old fashioned way – through food. Obviously, curry is one of the most recognizable dishes with turmeric in it. Besides curry, turmeric works well in a variety of recipes. Pair it with chicken, add it to soups and stews, mix it in rice dishes...the possibilities are endless. Whatever you make, be sure you’re seasoning it with pepper, as well.
There are plenty of ways to enjoy the benefits of turmeric, so find a method that works with your lifestyle. As always, consult with a healthcare professional to ensure you are taking supplements that fit your body’s unique needs.