Turmeric is all the rage lately and it’s no wonder — this spice has healing and disease-fighting powers that you need! It’s not as hard as you may think to find delicious turmeric uses to add this exotic-sounding ingredient to your daily cooking. Dr. Michael Fenster, a cardiologist and professional chef, shares the health benefits of turmeric, five reasons why it’s imperative to get more turmeric in your diet plus six ways to use turmeric in your daily diet.
Turmeric Uses in Your Diet
If you’re a fan of spices, curries and tasty food in general, you probably know a thing or two about turmeric. But there’s an ancient secret about this uniquely flavored spice: it has some serious healing power. Our ancestors knew all about it, but only recently have modern nutritionists and health professionals become big time fans, according to Dr. Michael Fenster, a Montana-based medical professional, teacher, author and expert on the relationship between food and health.
It’s hard to blame them though. Who would have guessed that what started off as a bright golden fabric dye, now infuses mustard, butter and a host of other treats with a vibrancy the color of sunlight, and a powerhouse of healing as well?
A simple way to use turmeric is to add it into your diet. Turmeric can typically be added to the diet in one of two forms; as a powder or as a fresh root. Many people only think of it as a spice to sprinkle on top of your meal, but there are a lot more turmeric uses than you may realize. Before you use the fresh root, you have to peel it and then cut off whole pieces. Turmeric pieces can be stored in a refrigerator for up to 10 days. Most grocery stores sell ground turmeric in the spice aisle too, so don’t feel like you need to prepare turmeric yourself, either!
The best ways to add turmeric to your daily routine include:
Add one or two teaspoons of turmeric to your eggs in the morning, scrambled or in a frittata or quiche. You’ll get a bold taste and an even bolder color.
A simple way to use turmeric is to put it in a smoothie! Simply take a one-inch piece of the root and blend it together with any fruit or juice of your choosing. Another way to use turmeric is to just add a teaspoon of powdered turmeric to your juice or smoothie-just mix it right in!
3. Hot beverages
Top your Greek yogurt with a tablespoon of turmeric, ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper, a teaspoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt for a unique and tasty savory yogurt bowl.
5. Marinade for meats
A flavorful way to use turmeric is to add turmeric to any of your favorite marinade recipes to give a zesty little kick to that chicken or fish.
6. Salad dressing
Stir some turmeric into your favorite salad dressing.
Blend one teaspoon of turmeric to pumpkin pie batter to add rich flavor and color.
Benefits of Using Turmeric in Your Diet
Now that you know how to get some turmeric uses for getting it INTO your diet, let’s review why it’s so important in the first place. Turmeric is a spice with a multitude of secret health benefits. Here are a few.
1. Natural Pain Reliever
A unique flavor and delightfully brilliant hue are not all turmeric has to offer. Did you know about the benefits of turmeric for pain? The medical world has developed several medications and treatments to deal with inflammation, most commonly, NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). While these medications can help alleviate symptoms of inflammation, they also can come with some unpleasant side effects.
Turmeric provides a more natural approach to pain relief by suppressing inflammation responses throughout your body, without the uncomfortable, and downright scary, litany of side effects recited on those drug commercials. Studies have shown that turmeric is able to help manage joint pain, post-surgery pain, and pain due to a variety of conditions, including arthritis. In fact, turmeric root has been used for thousands of years to relieve pain, and we can surely see why!
2. Anti-Inflammatory Agent
Curcumin, the primary active ingredient of turmeric, has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Given the extent of damage inflammation and toxins can do to our bodies, this little compound is just what you have been looking for. Used in India and China for centuries as a medicinal herb, turmeric has caught the attention of the Western world in regards to preventing chronic inflammation. We need inflammation to protect us acutely from pathogenic takeover and to help heal injuries, but chronic inflammation is responsible for the breakdown of the body from within. Many doctors have come to agree that chronic inflammation can be linked to just about any undesired body condition.
Curcumin helps to keep inflammation responses controlled by interfering with the pathway on a molecular level. Nuclear Factor Kappa-Beta (NF-κβ) is a molecule that travels to the nuclei of cells, triggering the inflammation-related genes. Curcumin is able to prevent this meeting in a more natural way than the leading medications without serious side effects.
Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory behavior can be particularly helpful to people with inflammatory diseases like Alzheimer’s disease or psoriasis.
Along with inflammation, oxidative damage is also known to contribute to aging and many diseases. Thankfully, curcumin also possesses antioxidant qualities to neutralize those oxidative-causing free radicals and prevent damage.
3. Digestive Aide
Inflammation is the common pathway for many digestive troubles and diseases, including GERD, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Curcumin helps increase gastric mucus production, which protects the stomach lining from damage that can occur from poor diet or allergies.
Turmeric has been used for centuries to support liver and digestive function because it increases bile flow into the intestines, essential for proper digestion. Curcumin can help you maintain a healthy microbial balance in the gut. Regular turmeric supplements support liver healthy function and total digestion, and simply promote overall health. They are able to reduce symptoms due to bloating, gas, and so much more.
4. An Ally Against Cancer
Characterized by the uncontrolled growth of cells, cancer can affect anyone in any part of the body, regardless of age, gender or health. Researchers have found that curcumin has the ability to hinder cancer growth, development and spread at a molecular level.
Not only can curcumin contribute to the death of cancer cells, it reduces angiogenesis, which is the growth of blood vessels in tumors. When combined with other powerful natural foods such as fish oil, olive or coconut oil and black pepper, curcumin’s anti-cancer effects are even better!
Because turmeric is so beneficial to digestion, it has been shown to also possibly prevent cancers of the digestive system, too!
5. Brain Booster
A number of common brain disorders are linked to decreased levels BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotropic Factor); curcumin increases the levels of this hormone. The presence of curcumin may help to delay and even reverse degenerative neurogenic diseases, as well as help prevent age-related decreases in brain function.
Curcumin’s ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, as well as its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties, may even make turmeric beneficial in disrupting the progression of Alzheimer’s. Curcumin has also been shown to clear plaque, a key contributor to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
6. Mood Enhancer
We all need a pick-me-up every once in a while. Turmeric has been shown to be an effective mood booster based on its therapeutic qualities. Clinical research has shown that curcumin can help stabilize mood. After all, while mood is affected by a multitude of external factors, a major factor is systemic inflammation. This can have a large impact on the brain and your overall mood.
Because curcumin is a quality brain booster and can impact proinflammatory cytokines, it can be a great way to naturally manage depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.
7. Blood Sugar Check
Curcumin has proven to be quite the star when it comes to blood sugar regulation and improving insulin sensitivity. When you add turmeric or curcumin into your diet, you are helping stimulate the enzyme AMPK. AMPK is what initiates glucose uptake from the bloodstream and into the cells. This is important because regulating blood sugar is crucial for the prevention of diabetes, meaning it can also help prevent heart disease.
Keeping your blood sugar in check can additionally help you with other things in general, including weight stabilization and appetite control!
8. Skin Care
Turmeric curcumin uses never seem to end! Yes, turmeric can be used for skin care purposes. Turmeric has antimicrobial properties that help fight off pesky pathogenic bacteria that cause acne. Turmeric and curcumin are anti-aging — they can be quite effective against scar prevention and skin repair. Curcumin in particular can aid in the reduction of skin rashes, especially for people who may be suffering from eczema or even just simple skin wounds and topical tissue damage.
We want to look good and feel good. Curcumin can not only accelerate wound healing, it can also reduce irritation as well. Turmeric powder uses include this ability to care for skin — consider making a simple turmeric face mask with turmeric powder to really soak in the benefits. Applying turmeric directly to the surface of your skin can leave your skin glowing! We’re starting to wonder what turmeric and curcumin can’t do.
9. Heart Healer
This should be no surprise considering one of the turmeric uses is that it can keep your blood sugar in check. If you want to protect yourself against heart disease, turmeric and curcumin may be the way to go.
According to several studies, supplementing with turmeric or curcumin can protect against blood clotting. It can also reduce blood pressure through strengthening the endothelial lining of blood vessels. Turmeric is here to protect your heart and body against blood-related conditions including hypertension and deep vein thrombosis.
10. Immune System Strengthener
Keeping the immune system at its best is so important because it is your body’s defense against disease and infections. The immune system prevents and heals. One turmeric use is that turmeric can help modulate the immune system thanks to its famous active component, curcumin.
Curcumin’s antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory characteristics help your body’s natural defenses and therefore improve immunity — and this turmeric use is great for people with immune disorders as well. Curcumin has been shown to increase white blood cell count, communication pathways, and strength! This could be the immune system boost you need.
Is Turmeric the Right Option for You?
If you’re looking to enhance your brain and mood, or naturally relieve pain, or if you’re just trying to manage your inflammation for your overall health, turmeric is here for you. If any of the uses for turmeric appeal to you, don’t hesitate to give this golden spice a try!
The powers of this spice are plenty, and we’ve just shown you that there are lots of turmeric uses too. Thankfully, turmeric is something you can easily start adding to your daily regimen. Turmeric supplements, readily available, usually contain black pepper, as well. Why? Because turmeric has low bioavailability, which means it is not absorbed well by the body. When paired with pepper, the absorption of turmeric into the bloodstream is enhanced, which helps ensure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.
If you choose to add turmeric to meals, forgoing the supplements, follow the Indian classic of combining black pepper to dishes that include turmeric.
Always consult a doctor before adding anything new into your daily diet. If you want to check out more of the general health benefits of turmeric and curcumin, go here. As you can see, turmeric is here to heal your body and mind, inside and out!
- Turmeric has a lot of health benefits that you don’t want to miss!
- Adding turmeric into your diet helps to suppress inflammation and alleviate pain associated with inflammation.
- Turmeric in your diet can help support liver and digestive function.
- Turmeric can help in cancer prevention and even in preventing Alzheimer’s.
- Supplementing with turmeric can benefit a variety of organs and systems, including your brain, heart, immune system, and skin!
- Turmeric is able to help boost mood.
- Turmeric can keep your blood sugar in check and protect your body against heart and blood-related diseases.
- There are so many turmeric uses that you can incorporate into your daily diet.
Michael S. Fenster, known to friends and fans simply as “Dr. Mike,” is a board-certified interventional cardiologist, professional chef, and currently serves on the Doctor Advisory Board for 1MD.org.
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