(Written by Ujjwala Jain Baxi, Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator)
Think of an Indian wedding and the divine scene of bride & groom covered in the yellow paste—flashes in front of our eyes. As much as the golden spice has won accolades for its endless health benefits globally, little is known about its religious & spiritual realm by the western world.
This spice is profoundly known for its antiseptic and antibacterial properties. Yet, there are several other, less talked about health benefits it brings to mankind. Let’s find out more about it further below.
Turmeric has also been known to be beneficial in other neurological disorders like Alzheimer's disease, seizures, and chronic stress to name a few.
- It has an Antiarthritic Effect
This includes both degenerative arthritis - osteoarthritis and inflammatory arthritis (rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylosis, psoriatic arthritis, gout, or others. The majority of the health benefits derived from turmeric are attributed to its active curcumin compound which forms only 3-5 % of turmeric. So, in order to get enough curcumin for its benefits to be effective, advocates suggest a daily curcumin supplement of 200 to 1000 mg that contains 95% curcuminoids.
- Helps relieve Cough & Cold
Listen to any individual in any Indian household down with some infection like a cold, cough, sore throat, and sneeze and there comes the golden milk latte—The western name for “haldi doodh”. Turmeric milk is an ancient quick remedy to calm the distress caused by an ailment and recover from it.
- Improves Heart Health
Turmeric is a natural vasorelaxant and helps to control high blood pressure. A study showed that feeding an ethanolic extract of turmeric to rats elevated the high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol/total cholesterol ratio. The extract also caused a significant decrease in the ratio of total cholesterol phospholipids. Turmeric extract exhibited better cholesterol and triglyceride lowering (85% and 88%, respectively).
- It has an Antimutagenic effect on Cancer
In one study, the antimutagenic effects of turmeric were examined in 16 chronic smokers (Polase et al. 1192). Turmeric was given in doses of 1.5 g/day for 30 days, and this was found to significantly reduce the urinary excretion of mutagens in these smokers. In six nonsmokers, on the other hand, no change in urinary excretion of mutagens was noted. These results suggest that dietary turmeric is an effective antimutagen and may be useful in chemoprevention.
- It may help with Depression
Approximately 280 million people in the world have depression and turmeric is proving its mettle in fighting the blues. Thanks to its active compound Curcumin - wins the credit for most of the goodness, the spice offers. Just 80 mg/kg body weight of turmeric was found to be more potent than that of the antidepressant fluoxetine. It does this by modulating the release of serotonin and dopamine - the feel-good hormones
Best Source of Turmeric -
80% of the world’s turmeric crop is grown in India and is considered to be the best in the world. Thanks to its inherent qualities and high content of the important bioactive compound curcumin. Erode, a city in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, is the world’s largest producer of and the most important trading centre for turmeric. It is also known as “Yellow City,” “Turmeric City,” or “Textile City.”
Sangli, a city of Maharashtra, is second only to Erode in size and importance as a production and trading site for turmeric.
How to Ensure Effective Absorption -
Some black spice to go along with it - Turmeric's healing properties grow multifold when consumed with black pepper. This is because both the active compounds - curcumin in turmeric and piperine in black pepper are compatible in nature. So having turmeric with pepper increases the absorption, it’s been reported, up to 2000%. With just 1/20th tsp of black pepper, the bioavailability of turmeric is greatly improved, and turmeric’s benefits are further enhanced.
One more reason to eat good fats - Consume turmeric with some fats like ghee, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, nut butter, nuts, fish, etc. and curcumin will directly be absorbed into the bloodstream and easily absorbed without the need of going through the digestive system. This is also why turmeric is commonly mixed with warm milk—any kind of milk including coconut, cow, and almond.
Befriend Quercetin - Rich foods for turmeric-Foods like apples, berries, red grapes and onions, contain a plant pigment (flavonoid) known as quercetin. This flavonoid inhibits the enzyme that inactivates curcumin. Adding turmeric to quercetin-rich foods can increase the absorbability of turmeric.
Raising up the temperature - Heat is said to increase the solubility of curcumin by 12 times, which may also increase its bioavailability in the body. So make sure to not just sprinkle it raw in a cold dish.
Quality matters - Consuming high-quality turmeric becomes prudent when it comes to absorption. So do source some authentic ones to reap maximum health benefits.
- Doses of 500–2,000 mg of turmeric per day, often in the form of an extract with a curcumin concentration that is much higher than the amounts naturally occurring in foods is highly recommended.
- Look for the active compound Curcumin in extract form which may pack up to 1,900–2,375 mg of curcumin. In other words, turmeric spice provides around 3% curcumin, compared to 95% curcumin in extracts.
- The World Health Organisation (WHO) has determined 1.4 mg per pound (0–3 mg/kg) of body weight.
Why should its consumption be moderated?
We all know that excess of anything is bad and here’s why you should limit the consumption of turmeric.
- Turmeric contains 2% oxalate. High doses of turmeric may contribute to kidney stones in predisposed individuals.
- Some turmeric powder may also be high in lead (heavy metal) - especially harmful to the nervous system
- Digestive problems like bloating, acid reflux diarrhea, and flatulence—an overdose of turmeric can cause irritation to digestive health as it stimulates the stomach to produce more gastric acid.
- Turmeric purifying property can harm if taken in large doses. People taking blood-thinning drugs like warfarin should avoid consuming large doses of turmeric.
Health is wealth and this spice if used well, then it can surely keep one in the pink of their health, and prevent diseases and the cost of unwanted medical bills at bay.
About Ujjwala Jain Baxi
Ujjwala is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. With an experience of over 15 years, she has been helping people heal from within and help them discover their healthier selves. She has used her expertise to put together this effective detox plan for everyone to begin their new year on the right note.
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