Terrific Turmeric –Health benefits of this wonderful spice By Varun Venaik
Turmeric is one of my favourite spices. It comes from the root part of the curcuma longa plant which is part of the ginger family. Don't forget to check out Varun Venaik   In addition to its vast number of health benefits (which are explored below) turmeric has a beautiful vibrant colour (although beware it may stain your clothes and hands!) and introduces a delicious earthy taste and smell to food. It has been used in Asian cooking (for example Indian curries) and as a medicinal herb for thousands of years, and it has recently become a very trendy food addition in Western cooking. These days, it is not uncommon to walk into a café and see “turmeric latte” next to the coffees on the drinks menu!   The powdered turmeric that you see in the spice aisle of your local shops is ground from the fresh root of the plant. A few years ago, I started looking for fresh turmeric in the shops but was unable to find it (or when I did find it, I found it to be extremely expensive). This inspired me to grow my own turmeric in the backyard and I have been fortunate enough to have success with this (see photo below of the fresh turmeric from my backyard, and the photo below the fresh turmeric is how it looks when it’s ground into a fine powder).   Turmeric has a substantial number of scientifically proven medical benefits which I am going to explore today. Many of these benefits come from curcumin, which is the active ingredient in turmeric. Curcumin has extremely powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.   Curcumin absorption can be maximised by consuming turmeric with black pepper. varun-venaik-post Anti-inflammatory properties Ayurvedic medicine has long recognised the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric, but this is now also gaining recognition in Western medicine. Given that long-term inflammation can lead to many chronic health diseases, there is significant benefit to introducing turmeric into your diet to combat inflammation and lower your risk of having these diseases.   Recent studies have discovered that turmeric may assist with relieving some of the symptoms of arthritis, such as joint pain, swelling and stiffness. For example, a study that was published in the medical journal Trials compared the efficacy of turmeric on the one hand, to a well known anti-inflammatory drug called diclofenac on the other, in reliving joint pain. The study found that curcumin in turmeric had a similar efficacy to the allopathic medicine diclofenac, and could be used as an alternative treatment option. Turmeric appears to be a safe supplement to take over the long term to treat conditions like arthritis and help lower the risk of other health conditions that are caused by chronic inflammation.   varun-venaik-post Amazing antioxidant characteristics   You’ve probably seen me talk a lot about antioxidants and their wonderful health benefits on my blog. The antioxidant properties of turmeric may neutralise free radicals and protect your body from them, which lowers the risk of many chronic and more serious health conditions including high blood pressure, diabetes and serious heart conditions. More generally, the antioxidant properties of turmeric can boost immune system function.   The antioxidant properties of turmeric can also improve memory and neuroplasticity and reduce the risk of declining neurocognition.   Aids in digestion   A health digestive system is so important for our overall physical and mental wellbeing, and can also drastically reduce the risk of many chronic or serious health conditions. A significant proportion of society experiences some forms of digestive issues, for example bloating, gas, and ulcers. Many of these may be markers of more serious conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome. Turmeric has shown significant potential in reducing the severity of symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome such as abdominal pain, constipation, bloating and gas.   Improving skin health   Many believe that turmeric can be beneficial for improving overall skin health. Turmeric’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties (discussed above) can help improve skin texture and glow. There are a number of natural face mask recipes which call for moderate amounts of turmeric to be used. The anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties of turmeric can also assist with healing wounds, including acne scars or more serious wounds.   How can you introduce turmeric into your diet? If the above information has inspired you to start thinking about upping your intake of turmeric then I’ve done my job! It is incredibly easy to introduce this versatile spice into your diet – add a teaspoon into the next curry that you make, pop a pinch into your scrambled eggs or use about half a teaspoon in your seasoning for roasted or stir fried vegetables. You can also add it into freshly cooked rice, smoothies or soups. Many people also swear by using turmeric to season their fish or other meats. You can also make a turmeric tea by boiling water and turmeric (along with any other additions like ginger) for having on a cold day. It couldn’t be easier to introduce this terrific health-boosting spice into your diet today.  

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