Most of the foods that are beneficial to us are easily available and accessible. And that indeed is a great blessing from Allah subuhanawuta’la! In today’s article, I’m going to discuss one of the super spices— that is, turmeric. This spice is excellent for our health and well-being and I’ll tell you why!
Turmeric is one of the most widely used spices in South-east Asian cuisine. If you’ve ever had an Indian dish, then you have certainly had at least some traces of turmeric!
Turmeric has been used in many cultures for 1000s of years. This spice is not only used to cook but also for its healing properties. It’s still widely used in Ayurvedic medicine; on the other hand, traditional medicine is just opening its doors to explore this amazing spice. Scientists are interested in turmeric particularly due to its powerful primary active substance known as curcumin, which is also responsible for turmeric’s vibrant yellow colour.
The benefits of turmeric and all its powerful compounds such as curcumin are simply too many to list. When I was writing this article, I was originally going to title it “10 Amazing Benefits of Turmeric”, but that would have been a disservice to turmeric because the last time I checked the research articles, I found 10’043 peer-reviewed published article that proves the benefits of turmeric and, specifically, curcumin.
These studies suggest that turmeric is the most powerful spice on the planet in combating and potentially reversing, many modern diseases known to human.
Here are a few crucial benefits of this amazing super spice:
Turmeric Fights Inflammation
While short-term inflammation in our body has very important benefits including fighting foreign invaders and repairing damages in our body, chronic (long-term) inflammation is very harmful to our body.
The causes of many modern diseases such as cancer, heart diseases etc. are attributed to the chronic inflammation in our body. That’s why fighting this chronic inflammation is crucial not only in curing these diseases but also in preventing them.
Turmeric, particularly its active substance curcumin, is extremely well known for its ability to control inflammation in our body. In fact, a study conducted by researchers at the University of Texas shows that curcumin is among the most effective anti-inflammatory compounds in the world. The study also cited that aspirin and ibuprofen are the least effective in fighting inflammation.
So, turmeric certainly trumps these medications when it comes to anti-inflammation. Compared to these medications, this spice also has almost no side effects.
Turmeric Is a Powerful Antioxidant
Just like inflammation, free radicals are also necessary to our well-being. However, excessive amounts of free radicals are detrimental to our health. The oxidative damage caused by free radicals is thought to be one of the mechanisms behind cancer, autoimmune diseases, heart diseases and ageing.
Antioxidants that are also found in vegetables and fruits protect us from the damages of free radicals. A balance between free radicals and antioxidants is necessary for proper physiological function.
Curcumin is known to neutralises those free radicals. Nevertheless, the biggest advantage of curcumin is that it boosts the activity of our body’s own antioxidant enzymes. This, in turn, helps our body to create its own antioxidants!
Other Health Benefits of Turmeric
Turmeric as an antioxidant and inflammation-fighting powerhouse provides loads of health benefits. Some research studies point towards the following health benefits:
- Curcumin in turmeric plays a protective role in cardiovascular diseases. These studies suggest that it may help ward off heart attacks
- Many studies on animals have shown that curcumin can reduce the growth of cancerous cells. So, based on these studies, curcumin may prevent and, perhaps, treat cancer. However, as for now, the studies are preliminary to make any definitive conclusion
- Preliminary studies also show that curcumin could help rheumatoid arthritis patients. This substance was shown to be even more effective than an anti-inflammatory drug
- Curcumin has the ability to boost our brain. Research shows that curcumin can increase the levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in our brains. BDNF plays an important role in keeping our brain healthy. It is known to propel the growth of “good for you” new neurones. It also fertilises brain cells to keep them functioning and growing. So, an increased level of BDNF means that your brain is protected from many brain diseases. An increase also means a delay in the decrease in brain function associated with ageing. The more BDNF in your brain, the better it works! (By the way, regular exercise is an incredibly powerful way to increase these BDNF in your brain)
The truth is, turmeric and, in particular, its active compound curcumin provides 100s of health benefits from delaying diabetes to digestive disorders! And it’s impossible to list them all here.
What You Need to Know
In order to benefit from the benefits of turmeric, you will need a certain amount of turmeric per day. But since scientific studies are quite messy at times, it’s not easy to find an amount that can help us to improve most of our health challenges.
However, if you are looking for a way to optimise your health, along with the usual recommendations of proper nutrition and exercise, then adding a teaspoon or two a day of this super spice will certainly help you towards your goal.
According to the University of Maryland, 1.5-2 teaspoons of turmeric powder is absolutely fine to consume on a daily basis. After extensive research, I would also say this is a good amount to stick to.
In general, turmeric is very safe and rarely has side effects. Side effects can occur only when extremely high turmeric doses are taken for very long periods of time.
How to Include Turmeric In Your Daily Routine
In order to increase the absorption of curcumin, add a pinch of black pepper whenever you use turmeric. Funnily, grandmas all around the world used to do this without even knowing the scientific wisdom behind it 🙂
Here are few ways how I use turmeric daily:
- I add a teaspoon of turmeric to my morning omelette. Turmeric reduces the oxidation of oil while heating, thereby making the process of cooking with oil a bit healthier!
- I use it in curries
- At times, I add a little turmeric to cook rice or lentils.
- I make turmeric tea, either with turmeric powder or turmeric root.
- Here’s how to make turmeric tea using the root: Add ¼ teaspoon of pepper to 1 teaspoon of freshly grated turmeric root. Pour boiling water and let it steep with the lid on for 5 minutes. You can serve it with honey (important point: I don’t use honey)
- Here’s how to make turmeric tea using powder: Add ¼ teaspoon of pepper to 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder to boiling water. Let it simmer it for 5-10 minutes. Strain and enjoy.
Enjoy this super spice while improving your health, bi’idnillah!