Turmeric is really having its moment. From skincare to golden lattes (seriously, even Starbucks attempted their own turmeric drink), turmeric is a hot commodity. This spice, once only found in Indian cooking, has emerged in the west as the latest health craze with a long list of benefits to back it up. But what makes turmeric so beneficial, and is it worth incorporating into your health routine?
The answer would be a resounding yes! Trends aside, this root has been used in Ayurveda for centuries to soothe inflammatory conditions and support healthy functioning digestion, joints, liver, brain, nervous system, circulatory system, immune system and blood sugar levels.
Turmeric is known to be tridoshic, supporting Kapha, Vata and Pitta constitutions. Turmeric is especially known for igniting agni (digestive fire) and is especially beneficial to Vata and Kapha doshas.
Turmeric has an affinity for blood and is particularly beneficial for rakta dhatus (blood and plasma of the circulatory system). Because of its powerful effect on blood, turmeric is known to have a positive effect on both blood sugar and blood pressure. However, care should be taken before consuming large amounts of turmeric. Consult your doctor if you are pregnant, taking blood thinners or platelet inhibiting medication.
Using turmeric in your cooking is an easy way to incorporate this spice into your lifestyle. Turmeric is easy to add to sautéed veggies, rice and pairs nicely with poultry or stews. If you aren’t particularly fond of the taste of turmeric, the flavor is well masked in smoothies.
A simple, warming way to add turmeric into your routine is to add about 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric to a warm mug of milk. This is a traditional Ayurvedic drink called golden milk that is often consumed before going to sleep. Feel free to add in warming spices of ginger, cinnamon and a hint of black pepper. For a hint of sweetness, add a small amount of honey or maple syrup. See end of article for recipe.
Consuming turmeric in cooked dishes and drinks will definitely help, but if you are looking for the maximum benefits of this root, you need to take it in supplement form.
Turmeric supplements abound, but you need to look for an ingredient called curcumin. Curcumin is an active substance found in the turmeric root that supplies all the amazing benefits. An average turmeric root only contains about 2% of curcumin, so it’s important to look for the more potent curcumin when considering supplements.
The bioavailability of curcumin is limited, meaning it is not easily absorbed by the blood stream and therefore may not work as well. Studies show that curcumin paired with black pepper will increase the absorption rate. When searching for a supplement it is important to look for both curcumin and black pepper to ensure you are receiving a high quality and effective product.
Golden Milk Recipe
Serving Size: 1 Cup
1 Cup whole or 2% milk or diary free alternative
1/2 – 1 Teaspoon high quality, ground turmeric (adjust amount to taste)
1/2 Teaspoon powdered ginger or fresh grated
1/2 Teaspoon cinnamon or 1/2 cinnamon stick
Dash of fresh cracked black pepper
1/2 -1 Teaspoon honey, maple syrup or agave
Gently heat 1 cup of milk on stovetop using cation to not scald. Add in spices and allow to simmer on low for 5 minutes, stirring often. Stir in sweetener of choice (optional) and pour into a mug. If grated ginger or whole spices are used, strain the Golden Milk before consuming.