Turmeric: Everything You Need to Know

  • Hannah Aylward
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Turmeric: Everything You Need to Know

By Hannah Aylward

Turmeric is a golden yellow root, commonly ground into a spice. Ever had Indian curry? You’ve had turmeric. It is on top of the list as one of the most frequently mentioned medicinal herbs in all of science, with over 11,000 peer-reviewed articles published supporting turmeric benefits.

Most of turmeric’s amazing health benefits are due to its active compound, curcumin. So let’s get into some specific benefits.

ANTIOXIDANT POWERHOUSE

Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant (1). Antioxidants may reduce or help prevent some of the oxidative damage and inflammation caused by free radicals, which are byproducts of cellular reactions. The leading health problems facing many of us today including heart disease and dementia, have been linked to increased levels of oxidative damage and inflammation. Antioxidants help to minimize this damage, which is somewhat inevitable due to environmental factors like pollution and toxins. The more antioxidants we can get in through our diets, the better.

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY

This is what turmeric is most well-known for — its anti-inflammatory properties. While acute inflammation can be healthy.Think ofyour body’s reaction of sending fluid to an injured body part causing “swelling." It is a protective, short-term response to injury.However, chronic inflammation can lead to chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, neurological disease, autoimmune disease, diabetes II, and arthritis. Curcumin can lower the levels of two enzymes in the body that cause inflammation (2). Its anti-inflammatory properties help ease symptoms caused by many diseases, like headaches and joint aches, and even help with allergies, pain, and fatigue. Take ibuprofen? Turmeric has been shown to be as effective (3). 

BLOOD SUGAR BALANCE

Blood sugar balance is key to optimal health, especially weight management, mental health and energy levels. Turmeric has been shown to lower and regulate blood sugar by improving glucose tolerance (5). Curcumin can help stimulate hormones to offset blood sugar imbalances (6). Suffering from diabetes or insulin resistance? Turmeric can help.

HEALTHY SKIN

Research suggests turmeric’s anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties make turmeric effective in treating skin conditions. It can help speed wound healing, calm the pores, and help control psoriasis flares (7).

BRAIN PROTECTION

Curcumin has been shown to have positive effects on brain function and memory by increasing levels of the brain hormone that boosts neuron growth and fights decay. It also helps break up amyloid plaques that form over the course of Alzheimer’s and can prevent them from re-forming (8). These properties make turmeric a natural and safe option for those that suffer from depression. Curcumin can also boost those feel-good neurotransmitters — serotonin and dopamine.

HELPS INFLAMMATORY BOWEL DISEASES

Turmeric can help to maintain remission of ulcerative colitis (9). For many patients with inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, corticosteroids help reduce pain symptoms but will actually damage the intestinal lining over time. This, therefore, makes the condition worse (10). Supplementing with curcumin, however, helps ease these negative side effects.

HOW TO USE

When consuming turmeric, try to pair it with black pepper. Yes, that means I’ll throw a dash of black pepper into my morning smoothie.You can’t taste it! Black pepper contains a compound called piperine, which helps boost turmeric’s absorption from the digestive system into the bloodstream. Fat can also increase your body’s absorption of curcumin, so pair the two.

APPLICATION

Curries

Most people have enjoyed turmeric due to these nourishing dishes.It’s what gives curries that beautiful yellow-orange color!

Stir-Frys

Whenever I cook, I start my stir-frys with a base of onion, garlic, ginger and turmeric. These ingredients add huge flavor to anything that follows next.

Golden Milk Lattes

Want a delicious, warming drink that will help you fall asleep? Combine turmeric, ginger, cinnamon and vanilla with warm unsweetened nut mylk and drink in tons of healing benefits.

Supplements

Grab a high-quality supplement for an easy, fail-proof way to get all of turmeric’s benefits. Don’t skimp on quality!


Important note: Turmeric is amazing, but it is not going to makeup for an unhealthy lifestyle. First and foremost, lead a healthy, anti-inflammatory lifestyle that focuses on eating a nutrient-dense diet with minimal sugar and processed foods, managing stress and incorporating daily movement and mindfulness practices.



*We recommend that you do not rely solely on the information presented and that you always read labels, warnings, and directions before using or consuming a product. You should consult your health care professional before making any changes to your regular health care routine.



SOURCES

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17569207
  1. http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/turmeric
  1. https://www-ncbi-nlm-nih-gov.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/pubmed/24672232
  1. https://www-ncbi-nlm-nih-gov.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/pubmed/24840628
  1. https://www-ncbi-nlm-nih-gov.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/pubmed/27990751
  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4819133/
  1. http://www.healthline.com/health/turmeric-for-skin#skin-benefits2
  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1937555
  1. https://academic.oup.com/ibdjournal/article/15/6/9...
  1. https://www.webmd.com/ibd-crohns-disease/crohns-di...

Hannah Aylward

Hannah Aylward is a Certified Health Coach, nutrition consultant, fitness instructor, healthy living expert, and founder of HAN. She helps both men and women around the world lose weight, heal skin disturbances, balance hormones, heal gut imbalances and feel at home in their bodies through healthy eating, movement, mindfulness and positive self-talk. Her goal is to help others “learn the tools that they need to live the lives they deserve”. Get to know her by visiting her website and following her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.


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