8 AMAZING HEALTH BENEFITS; 4 WAYS TO HELP YOUR BODY ABSORB TURMERIC AND 1 YUMMY TURMERIC MILK RECIPE
When I was young, Mum used to make Hardar Waro Doodh (Turmeric Milk, known on the internet these days as Golden Milk or a turmeric latte) to help boost our immune systems. She'd also spice her curries with it, make tea with it and use it medicinally and in skin care. I use turmeric in much the same way, because I've experienced its efficacy in my health and wellness since childhood. Turmeric powder has an intense taste, which is nature's way of telling you not to have too much. Wise woman wisdom that I grew up with places the consumed limit at about 1 teaspoon a day.
A QUICK LIST OF 8 AMAZING TURMERIC HEALTH BENEFITS
So what makes Turmeric such a health boosting all-star?
Quite a list of benefits, is it not? Hooray, Turmeric!
I’m not sure turmeric, or its active ingredient curcumin, should be taken as a supplement, honestly, due to poor bio-availability. This means that in order for turmeric to be effectively absorbed into the body, it has to be combined with other ingredients or prepared in particular ways, as my mother’s old school methods of using turmeric show.
I see curcumin supplements more as a last resort than the best option. I’m more in the camp of incorporating healing plants into diet and skin care in their most simple form. It is my belief that if we live in alignment with nature, her cycles and her gifts, then we are most likely to experience significant improvements in well-being, from the inside out. That means living more holistically and taking care of all aspects of health and happiness, rather than trying to fix a problem with a pill. Of course this is only my opinion and not intended as medical advice.
4 WAYS TO HELP YOUR BODY ABSORB TURMERIC
USE THE WHOLE ROOT
Turmeric is more than just curcumin. There are over 100 compounds in the turmeric root which have been found to have potent pharmacological properties. When the root is processed, many of these compounds are lost, and some supplements contain only extracted chemical curcumin. Old school Ayurvedic medicine and Indian cooking has always used the whole turmeric root because the various compounds in turmeric work synergistically together and can aid in the absorption of curcumin. This reflects the belief that whole plants are usually better for health.
Mum would use Turmeric in its dried and powdered form, mostly because, back in the day, it was more easily accessed in North America than fresh roots. If you're using turmeric powder, choose organic. Use less as it’s more concentrated than fresh root. If using fresh roots, add much more to your cooking. Rule of thumb: 1tsp of turmeric powder is equal to 3 tsps of fresh turmeric root.
ADD BLACK PEPPER
My mother’s curries, as in most of Indian cooking, are a complex blend of spices that support each other’s efficacy for health and healing. One of her ingredients that directly helps your body absorb curcumin directly is black pepper. According to UMass Medical School’s Center for Applied Nutrition:
“Curcumin only makes up about 5% of turmeric, similar to black pepper where the active ingredient, piperine also makes up about 5% of the spice. Piperine is responsible for black pepper’s rich flavor and helps inhibit drug metabolism. For example, the liver gets rid of foreign substances by making them water-soluble so that they can be excreted, and piperine can inhibit this process so that curcumin is not excreted. This explains how piperine can help to make curcumin more bioavailable. With just 1/20 teaspoon or more of black pepper, the bioavailability of turmeric is greatly improved, and turmeric’s benefits are further enhanced.”
MIX WITH HEALTHY FATS
Mum would make her curries using ghee or high fat oils like coconut or sunflower. She would make Hardar Waro Doodh (Turmeric Milk) with full fat milk. This makes sense for bio-availability. Curcumin has limited solubility in water, but it does like to attach to fats, which are then more easily absorbed into the bloodstream by the gut.
HEAT IT UP
Many spices become activated by heating, which can be the key to releasing their best effect. Research shows that heating turmeric increases its solubility in water, enhancing the overall antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin. Turmeric is moderately sensitive to heat, so there is no need to boil it for a long period of time. Short cooking times (under 15 minutes) do not destroy turmeric, but will in fact increase the bio-availability of turmeric's many compounds, inclduding curcumin. So heating turmeric in Turmeric Milk or a turmeric wellness tea, or adding it to your cooking, such as in curry or scrambled eggs, will maximize its absorption by the body.
1 YUMMY TURMERIC MILK RECIPE
This is a fabulous drink to help boost your immune system. My mother would give it to us regularly as a preventative measure. More cups would be downed in the event of an illness. You can incorporate Turmeric Milk into your day as your morning drink or in the evening, after a meal or before sleep.
A WORD ABOUT THE INGREDIENTS
Milk - Choose the milk that works best for you. If using dairy, choose grass fed and full fat; or give goats milk a go. If not, add a teaspoon of coconut oil to increase fat content for better absorption of turmeric into your body.
Black Pepper - Packed with manganese and Vitamin K, pepper stimulates the taste buds to get hydrochloric acid going, revving up digestion. When combined with black pepper, turmeric becomes 5,000 times more bio-available.
Ginger - Anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral, ginger is pro phytonutrients, especially potassium, magnesium, and Vitamin C. Loved all over the world as a digestive aid, it calms upset stomachs while improving nutrient absorption and circulation.
Cardamom - Loaded with naturally occurring minerals calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, and Vitamin C, cardamom is the go-to spice for mellowing out respiratory ailments, colds and flus, and sluggish, unhappy guts.
Turmeric - Already ‘nuf said above!
Coconut oil - Helps your body absorb curcumin while adding more fatty acids that that are beneficial brain food.
1 cup milk of choice. If using dairy, choose full fat. If not, add a teaspoon of coconut oil to increase fat content.
¼- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
A Pinch to ⅛ tsp black pepper
¼ teaspoon ginger powder
⅛ tsp cardamom powder
1 tsp honey or to taste
Place all the ingredients into a pan. Whisk together into the milk. Simmer on medium to low heat until the milk starts to steam (not so hot) or bubble (hotter). Whisk again to foam milk (optional) Pour into your favourite mug and enjoy!
LEGGO THE EGGO AND GRAB A SMOOTHIE
Breakfast: it's the most important meal of the day! Or at least that's what we were all told as children. I've never been a breakfast person. My first meal of the day is usually a few hours after I wake up, though coffee is essential. My body rejects eating breakfast at its traditional time, causing me to feel ill. For a long time I felt that something must be wrong with me. How could my body not allow me eat the day's most important meal?
As I have been transitioning from a couch-potato lifestyle to a healthier one, I've been doing research on the most effective ways to lose weight. While exercise is crucial, it pales in comparison to the importance of diet. When you think of breakfast which foods come to mind? Pancakes and waffles? Eggs and bacon? Milk and cereal? Seeing a trend? Traditional Canadian breakfast foods are based on the idea that we need to carbo-load to start our day. The Canadian Food Guide, created in 1962, is a dated and inaccurate template for one's diet. The guide breaks nutrition into 4 categories (Vegetables and Fruits, Grain Products, Milk and Alternatives, and Meat and Alternatives), and outlines how many portions of each category are required daily for optimal health. The demonization of fats in favour of carbohydrates is rooted in a set of studies done during the 1950's collectively called the Seven Countries Study. These studies flimsily found a correlation between heart disease and fats based on weak and preliminary results. As more and more studies have come out that refute the claims of the Seven Countries Study we have learned that our bodies don't need lots of empty carbohydrates; we need monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and nutrients, especially at the start of our day. Why? Because good fats jump start your brain.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are the 'good fats', trans fats are the 'bad fats', and saturated fats are somewhere in between. The difference between the four types of fats comes down to the amount of hydrogen atoms bonded to the carbon chain, and the length of the chain itself. A quick, easy, and efficient way to start your day on the right foot is to drink a morning smoothie that incorporates monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats instead of eating a traditional carbohydrate heavy breakfast. This realization has been extremely beneficial to me, not just in regards to weight loss but also to the way I feel throughout my day. I feel noticeably happier, my brain functions faster, and I'm more ready to handle whatever life throws at me. Now that I've sang the praises of the morning smoothie...
AVOCADO MANGO BREAKFAST SMOOTHIE RECIPE
2/3 cup - Frozen mango cubes
1/3 cup - Plain low fat yogurt
1/4 to 1/2 - 1 Ripe avocado (depends on the size of the avocado)
1 tsp - Ginger paste
1 tsp - Fresh lemon Juice
1/2 tsp or to taste - Cayenne pepper
1 cup - Ice cubes
1/2 cup - Cold water
Add 1 tbsp of coconut oil
Add 1 tbsp of sunflower seed butter
Add 1/2 cup of kale
Add 1/4 cup mint
Combine all ingredients into a blender. Blend until smooth or desired consistency. Enjoy!
WHY THESE INGREDIENTS IN A BREAKFAST SMOOTHIE
Mango - High in antioxidants, Lowers cholesterol (vitamin C, fibre, and pectin) clears the skin, improves eye health (vitamin A).
Yogurt - Supports health digestion (pro-biotic rich), excellent source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and vitamin B.
Avocado - Source of monounsaturated fat, vitamin K (essential for bone health), and high levels of folate (improves mood, sleep, and appetite).
Ginger - Anti-inflammatory, lowers risk of heart disease, can help fight infection.
Lemon - Vitamin C, detoxifier.
Cayenne Pepper - Headache remedy, prevents blood clots, anti-irritant, vitamin A.
Coconut Oil - Saturated fat containing medium chain triglycerides, brain food.
Sunflower Seed Butter - Magnesium for bone health, protein source, high in vitamin E for skin health.
Kale - High in iron for proper liver function, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, Vitamin A and C, calcium source for healthy bones.
Mint - Helps digestion, antioxidants.
This is a basic outline for a morning smoothie that works for me. Everyone is different so feel free to experiment and improvise. You know what works best for you.
The Free Lion Team