Every now and then a new superfood pops up from nowhere and is claimed to provide an endless list of benefits when consumed. One of the most recent in this long conveyer belt of health foods is turmeric. The vivid orange spice which gives curry its famous colour comes from the turmeric root and has been used for its medicinal properties for thousands of years. It’s once again rising to popularity, though.
Turmeric originates from the curcuma longa plant grown in Southeast Asia and it is the dried root of the plant which is ground into the powder that we use in cooking.
Much of the research into turmeric seems to show a wealth of health benefits, though it should be noted that most studies into turmeric have been in laboratories and the eﬀects on human health are less well-researched.
For those who believe in the wonders of turmeric, it is the active component curcumin which seems to be the key to
its benefits. Curcumin is a substance which has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which can prove incredibly useful for the body. In fact, some believe that curcumin can actually be more eﬀective than prescription drugs.
The most documented health benefit of turmeric is it being an anti-inflammatory. Controlling inflammation is incredibly important for fighting multiple diseases and its thought that turmeric’s ability to do this may be the key to its other health benefits.
Other benefits thought to be linked with turmeric consumption, include arthritis management, regulations of cholesterol and the ability to act as an antidepressant. Whether you believe that these claims are true or not, consuming turmeric won’t cause your body any harm, so why not give it a try and see if you feel any diﬀerent.
How to get your turmeric fix
Turmeric is one of the key spices in Indian cuisine and is what gives curry its recognisable yellow colour. Eating curry more frequently ultimately means eating more turmeric.
2) Tofu scramble
Tofu scramble on toast is a plant based classic. Add a pinch of turmeric to your scramble to give it some colour and a subtle flavour enhancement.
3) Roasted vegetables
When roasting vegetables, adding spice and seasoning can really elevate your veg to the next level. This is a really easy way to get more turmeric into your diet.
4) Turmeric tea
Turmeric tea is the perfect drink to start your day with. Add agave syrup to sweeten.
As the weather starts to get cooler, a warm, hearty soup is just the thing you need to get you through those autumn afternoons. Adding turmeric is the perfect addition.
Boost the benefits
The infinite benefits of turmeric are all well and good — but if your body isn’t absorbing them properly, then what is the point in adding the spice to your healthy eating regime? That is the downside to turmeric. Studies have shown that it isn’t easily absorbed by your body; in fact the absorption rates for turmeric are incredibly low. Therefore, if you want to reap the benefits of adding turmeric to your diet, then you are going to need to give it a little helping hand.
There are a couple of simple ways to increase the bioavailability of curcumin in the body. The most widely known is to add black peppercorns to your turmeric-containing food or drink, as black pepper contains the key active ingredient piperine which has been shown to assist turmeric absorption by around 2000 per cent. Another way to improve the bioavailability of the curcumin in turmeric is to mix it with fats. Due to the fact that curcumin has low solubility in water, mixing your turmeric with oils like coconut or olive oils may be the way to ensure optimum absorption.
Give your skin the golden makeover
Trudy Collings, co-founder of PAAVANI Ayurveda Skincare, outlines the benefits of turmeric outside of the kitchen. From the dyeing of clothes, to Hindu wedding ceremonies, to healing digestive and skin ailments, turmeric has served humankind in a myriad of ways. Ayurveda, India’s traditional medical system that dates back over 5,000
years calls turmeric the Golden Goddess.
The Golden Goddess has also gained wide popularity in the skincare and beauty industry for its positive effects on skin health. It can even skin tone, soothe and smooth the skin, while also lightening any excess skin pigmentation. Skin elasticity can be improved through daily application of turmeric. Another gift turmeric offers is its ability to heal and prevent acne due to its strong antibacterial properties. In short, turmeric is one of the greatest allies when searching for organic, earth-based, chemical-free skincare.
Want to give a turmeric face pack a try? Here is a simple exfoliating face mask recipe to bring turmeric into your skincare and beauty ritual:
Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl to make a paste. Apply the paste evenly to the skin of the face and neck. Be sure to apply in gentle, circular, upward strokes. Let it sit for 2-5 minutes. Gently rinse away the mask with tepid water.