Why Try Turmeric?

What is Turmeric?

Turmeric is a perennial plant of the ginger family (Zingiberaceae). It is both rhizomatous and herbaceous, meaning that it is an herb which is found underground. The rhizomes, which are harvested annually, are found underground whereas the leaves grow up above the ground standing vertically. The plant’s growing style is similar to that of a carrot!

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Due to its large leaves, turmeric can reach up to 1 meter (3 ft 3 in) tall. The plant is native to southern Asia and thrives in temperatures between 68°F and 86°F with a generous amount of rainfall.

The rhizomes can be used fresh but are generally boiled, dried, and ground into a deep-orange-yellow powder. This is what consumers commonly know turmeric as!



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Turmeric has a very Earthy taste and is often used for its vibrant and unique color. Fun fact: turmeric is what gives curry its bright color! Turmeric has been a large part of Asian medicine for thousands of years. The spice has also been used in India’s traditional Ayurvedic medicininal practice for millenniums!

turmeric-powder

What Are the Benefits of Turmeric?

So, why exactly have Asian and Indian medicine practices been using this spice, dating all the way back to ancient times? To put it simply, longevity. There are many aspects of turmeric that aid in health; but, essentially the spice is believed to lengthen one’s lifespan.

  1. Curcumin

    Although the ancient Asian and Indian cultures have known about its healing properties for quite some time, it wasn’t until recent years that the active ingredients of turmeric were identified. Scientists now know that the 3 active curcuminoid substances in turmeric are curcumin, demethoxy-curcumin, and bis-demethoxy-curcumin1. These 3 substances work together to bring our bodies numerous health benefits.

  2. Anti-Inflimmation

    One of the amazing benefits of turmeric’s main active ingredient, curcumin, is its ability to fight inflammation. Inflammation plays a major role in the cause of heart disease (America’s #1 killer), cancer, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s, and gastrointestinal diseases. A study which utilized curcumin essential oils found that the oil displayed significant anti-inflammatory activities2. These anti-inflammatory properties help alleviate pain and chronic conditions3.

  3. Increased Production of Antioxidants

    The study that used curcumin essential oils found that the body was scavenged of free radicals2. This is a great finding as free radicals damage molecules in cells and contribute to faster aging and dangerous diseases like cancer! Antioxidants fight the production of free radicals. These findings could prove the theory that carcumin, and turmeric, increase our bodies production of internal antioxidants!

  4. Improved Brain Function

    Many common brain disorders, such as depression and Alzheimer’s disease, have been linked to decreased levels of the growth hormone Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF)5. Oddly enough, curcumin has been proven to increase levels of BDNF in the brain6,7. Now, including turmeric into one’s diet after diagnosis may not have strong effects but the results could be phenomenal when taken as a preventative measure!

  5. Combat Digestive Diseases

    As previously mentioned, curcumin has been applauded for its ability to fight inflammation. Many people who suffer from the common digestive issues, such as IBS and Celiac Disease, also have sever inflammation,8. “In India, where turmeric is one of the primary flavors, there is a very low incidence of gastrointestinal disease and lower reports of cancer,” says Mark Blumenthal, executive director of the American Botanical Council,3.

Note: Even though curcumin has all of these awesome fantastic benefits, our bodies are not superstars at absorbing the substance into our blood streams. This is why one should ideally consume black pepper with it. This contains piperine which is a natural substance that enhances the absorption of curcumin by 2000%,9.

How to Include Turmeric in Your Daily Diet

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Make a delicious Turmeric Tea! I love to have one of these heavenly drinks either at the start or end of my day.

 
 
 

Sources

1“Capitalizing The Health Benefits Of Turmeric.” Nutraceuticals Now (2016): 10-12. Academic Search Complete. Web. 7 Dec. 2016.
2Liju, Vijayastelter B., Kottarapat Jeena, and Ramadasan Kuttan. “An Evaluation Of Antioxidant, Anti-Inflammatory, And Antinociceptive Activities Of Essential Oil From Curcuma Longa. L.” Indian Journal Of Pharmacology 43.5 (2011): 526-531. Academic Search Complete. Web. 7 Dec. 2016.
3MOLINE, PEG. “Spice Of Life.” Rodale’s Organic Life 2.7 (2016): 38. Academic Search Complete. Web. 7 Dec. 2016.
4TWEED, VERA. “A New Way To Look At Turmeric.” Better Nutrition 78.4 (2016): 22-24. Academic Search Complete. Web. 7 Dec. 2016.
5http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0896627391902733
6http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0166432812006997
7http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006899306027144
8León, A. J., et al. “Interleukin 18 Maintains A Long-Standing Inflammation In Coeliac Disease Patients.” Clinical & Experimental Immunology 146.3 (2006): 479-485. Academic Search Complete. Web. 7 Dec. 2016.
9https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9619120



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