WHAT IS CURCUMIN [ TUMERIC ] & WHY SHOULD I ADD IT TO MY DIET & INFLAMMATION REGIME
Curcumin, primarily found in turmeric, is a powerful medicinal plant belonging to the same genus/family as the ginger plant. It is usually found dried, ground up and used as spice to enhance the flavour and hue of many curries and cuisines. However the naturally occurring curcuminoids in turmeric have been shown to have many benefits, most notably it’s affects as an anti-inflammatory and powerful antioxidant. These benefits have been extremely well documented and researched - see below for more information with links to peer-reviewed articles on this topic.
EVIDENCE BASED ANTI-INFLAMMATORY BENEFITS OF CURCUMIN [ TUMERIC ]
Our bodies inflammation response is completely natural, helping the body fight off disease and infection. However, when the body enters a state of chronic inflammation - or prolonged inflammation, it can contribute to a number of chronic pathologies such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. For that reason, if you suspect your body is under a state of consistent inflammation (i.e. from injury or stress) or would like to help bolster and protect the body from such a response, finding ways to lower inflammation is advantageous. Curcumin has been found to receive inflammation in the body by inhibiting the activity of enzymes involved in this process (1).
One peer reviewed study compares the anti-inflammatory effects of several compounds - like aspirin and ibuprofen, two commonly prescribed medications to treat inflammation - and found they were the least effective while curcumin extract was most effective in combatting the inflammatory response (2).
The implications of the known anti-flammatory effects of curcumin could have potential benefit in treating other inflammatory related conditions like arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis, asthma as well as getting the body quicker out of inflammation as a result of injury (3). Curcumin has also been found to be have impact on joint pain overall - especially relevant for those suffering from osteo and rheumatoid arthritis by acting as a natural pain killer (4); as well as having implications in reducing nerve related pain (5).
INCREASING THE ABSORPTION
OR BIO-AVAILABILITY OF CURCUMIN [TUMERIC]
When choosing a supplement aim to find one that contains piperine (a natural compound found in black pepper); traditionally black pepper was added to dishes and ayurvedic recipes to increase the absorption of the turmeric (curcumin) One animal study found that the combination of curcumin and piperine together increased the bioavailability of cur cumin by a whopping 2000% (1) . There is also evidence that fermented versions, and varieties adding fats to this product have higher bioavailability (2).
PRECAUTIONS & POSSIBLE
DRUG INTERACTIONS OF CURCUMIN [ TUMERIC ]
Though a generally safe to consume product be mindful and consult your health care practitioner in you experience - nausea, diarrhea, low blood sugar, increased bleeding, fertility issues, or increased menstrual flow. These are some of the most common side-effects associated with cur cumin use but generally it’s well tolerated (1). If you are anemic, you may want to exercise additional caution in your consumption; one study found that there was a possible association with iron absorption and curcumin consumption (2). If you are on diabetes medication or blood thinners be sure to consult with your physician before using these products as there are potential drug interactions.
HOW TO BEST INCLUDE CURCUMIN IN
YOUR DIET OR INFLAMMATION REGIME?
Adding curcumin to your diet is relatively straight forward, make sure to see the precautions section to ensure that this is the right choice of inflammation fighting supplement for you (i.e. that you dont have any drug interactions or are anemic). Whether using natural tumeric or a supplement make sure that it includes pepperine (pepper) to increase the bioavailability and get the most benefit out of this naturual product.
You can use Tumeric in your cooking, especially suited to making rich curry dishes, but you can use it as seasoning on baked/cooked meats as well - again making sure to add a pinch of pepper to get the most benefit. I’ve included a recipe for one of the ways Tumeric has been enjoyed traditionally - ‘Golden Milk’ - this tumeric infused latte is soothing and a great way to include it in your diet if you aren’t going to use it as a cooking spice or buy a supplement.
GOLDEN MILK RECIPE (2 Servings)
1 cup of organic coconut milk (buy organic full-fat coconut milk in a bpa-free can )
1/2 teaspoon of ground turmeric
big pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 small (1/4 inch) piece of ginger root (peeled and grated)
big pinch of ground cardamom (optional)
1/4 teaspoon raw honey added off the heat (optional)
Method: Blend / Whisk all ingredients then warm on the stove. Simmer (do not boil) for 15 minutes if using ground turmeric powder (see notes above). You can blend the ingredients manually by hand or in a high-steed blender for a frothier drink.