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The Healing Powers of Turmeric

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Turmeric seems to be everywhere these days, from juices to supplements, lattes, and beauty products. The ubiquitous Indian root with its vibrant range of yellow pigments has been used for thousands of years in Asia, for cooking, dyeing fabric, and healing. However, only relatively recently has the Western world finally caught up with turmeric’s talents for treating ailments of all sorts. A superpower plant, turmeric and its vibrant curcumin compounds boast antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that carry bold claims in their ability to cure myriad ailments.

To fully understand turmeric’s treasure trove of health benefits, it’s time to lift the cape on this colorful superfood and see what it’s all about.

Turmeric reduces inflammation

Turmeric’s main compound, curcumin, has been proven to reduce inflammation by blocking certain enzymes in your body. Health problems such as asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, and arthritis all involve chronic inflammation of some sort. But with curcumin, inflammation is stopped in its tracks. Studies have shown that curcumin’s anti-inflammatory properties are powerful enough to rival popular over-the-counter medications like Ibuprofen and aspirin, making it a go-to choice when looking to reduce the discomfort that inflammation can bring.

Turmeric keeps the heart healthy

Thanks to curcumin’s antioxidant properties, turmeric can also have a positive protective function when it comes to the cardiovascular system. Curcumin is known to improve insulin resistance, lower high blood sugar, and reduce cholesterol, making it a healthy spice to add to your diet to help keep your ticker working just right.

Turmeric is a mood-booster

Research is still being carried out on links between turmeric and mental health, but preliminary results show the spice to be incredibly beneficial as a mood booster. A study done by The Journal of the American Medical Directors Association showed that test subjects who consumed curcumin had decreased symptoms of depression and anxiety. Turmeric is also being looked into as a possible way to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, which can help with the unclogging of blood vessels and allow for more oxygen to reach the brain.

Glowing skin

A lesser-known benefit of turmeric’s curcumin is its ability to improve overall skin condition. Aside from its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which both fight off free radicals and conditions that can negatively impact the skin, curcumin is known to have wound-healing powers that can help to repair damaged skin from dermatological conditions like psoriasis and eczema. Acne and pigmentation issues can also be helped with the addition of turmeric to your diet. Alternatively, you can also try applying turmeric topically by making a face mask from its vibrant yellow powder. While the mixture might stain your clothes (be careful), there’s no fear of going “Simpsons”-grade yellow by applying it to your skin.

How to use turmeric

As good as it tastes in curries, adding turmeric as a sporadic spice in your monthly Curry Night won’t reap the many benefits this root has to offer. To fully get the effects of turmeric, it should be a regular addition to your diet.

Freely sprinkle turmeric on your roast vegetables or scrambled eggs, stir it into soups, or add it to the water you cook your rice or lentils in. Alternatively, mix some dried turmeric with boiling water and dried ginger to make a turmeric tea, or add the spice to warm milk, honey, ginger, and cardamom for a golden cup of goodness. Another great way to increase the amount of curcumin absorbed by the body is to mix turmeric with black pepper when seasoning food or tea in order to supercharge turmeric’s curcumin powers.

Turmeric can be bought whole and raw, in powdered form, or as supplement capsules. Although adding dashes of the spice, either from the raw root or as a powder, to your food is a good way to get small doses of curcumin into your system, if you’re thinking of adding supplements into your regime, remember to first check with a medical professional to confirm that taking curcumin is suitable for your health needs.

There’s a reason turmeric has been a staple of Ayurvedic medicine in Southeast Asia for over 4,000 years. A spice that tastes as good as the benefits it brings to your body? That’s one superfood you’ll want fighting in your corner.

-Stephanie Brandhuber

Photo by Marta Branco from Pexels

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