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Meet The Ingredient: Turmeric

Meet..TURMERIC! If you haven’t met turmeric yet, settle in, kick your foot up and prepare to incorporate this powerful super-root into your daily lifestyle.

The use of turmeric date back nearly 4,000 years ago to the Vedic culture in India, it was original used a culinary spice and had deep religious meaning. According to Sanskrit and Ayurvedic medical records, turmeric has a long history of medicinal uses originating in Southeast Asia dating all the way back to 250 BC, and it was used to relief the effects of poisonous food.

Interestingly enough, in Sanskrit, turmeric has over 53 different names, including bhadra (which translates to auspicious or luck(y, hridayavilasni (gives delight to heart, charming), jayanti (one that wins over diseases), jawarantika (which cures fever), krimighni or kashpa (killer of worms), rabhangavasa (which disolves fat). These are just some of the different names of turmeric and showcases some of the powerful uses and beliefs behind the golden root.

Turmeric has a long recorded history of medicinal uses, and pharmaceutical companies even use derivatives of the root in common prescription pills to treat inflammatory conditions. Over USDA $650 million is spent on botanical supplements that are used for chronic inflammatory diseases such as chronic obstructive airways disease (COPD), asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis. Botanical supplements have been used for centuries in traditional medicine, including Ayurveda medicine, Chinese medicine, Japanese medicine, and Egyptian medicine. Several of the medicines that are traditionally used exhibit anti-inflammatory activities.

Turmeric is used as an herbal medicine for rheumatoid arthritis, chronic anterior uveitis, conjunctivitis, skin cancer, small pox, chicken pox, wound healing, urinary tract infections, and liver ailments. It is also used for digestive disorders; to reduce flatus, jaundice, menstrual difficulties, and colic; for abdominal pain and distension and for dyspeptic conditions including loss of appetite, liver and gallbladder complaints. It has anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial. The main clinical targets of turmeric are the digestive organs: in the intestine, for treatment of diseases such as familial adenomatous polyposis in the bowels, for treatment of inflammatory bowel disease and in the colon, for treatment of colon cancer. For arthritis,  8–60 gram dosages of fresh turmeric root three times daily have been recommended.

Check out my recipe for Golden Turmeric Dressing, here!

Let’s take a deeper look into the modern uses and nutritional benefits turmeric has to offer:

Turmeric contains powerful anti-inflammatory conditions. Inflammation is the root of all disease, by adding in more foods with anti-inflammatory properties you can combat diseases linked to inflammation like cancer, arthritis, and alzheimer’s. Curcumin, the anti-inflammatory property in turmeric blocks NF-kB, a molecule that travels into cells and turns on genes related to inflammation. The bioactive substance, curcumin fights inflammation and the molecular level. Turmeric matches the potency of several pharmaceutical drugs WITHOUT the harmful and toxic side effects!

Turmeric possesses high antioxidants levels. Antioxidants are essential in fighting disease causing free radicals in the body. If the body’s antioxidant levels are high than disease simply cannot grow or thrive in the body. Curcumin is a potent antioxidant and helps boost the activity of the body’s own antixodiant enzymes.

Turmeric can prevent and even treat cancer. Combining the two previous health benefits of turmierc, inflammation and antioxidant levels are important when it comes to preventing and treating cancer. Studies have shown that it can reduce angiogenesis, which is the growth of blood vessels in tumors, reduce the spread of cancer cells and even contribute to the death of cancer cells. Curcumin can reduce the growth of cancer cells and inhibit the growth of tumors in animal studies.

Turmeric contains properties that can lower your risk of heart disease.Heart disease is currently the number one killer in the United States, while cancer being a close front runner, studies have shown that turmeric can drastically reduce your risk of contracting either disease. Curcumin improves the function of endothelium, which is the lining of the blood vessels. It is already proven that endothelial dysfunction is the main cause of heart disease, while studies suggest curcumin can improve this disfunction leading to a healthy and strong heart.

Turmeric is fat soluble, meaning its best consumed after a meal that contains good fat like avocado or coconut oil. Also, in order to truly gain all of the benefits turmeric has to offer it is important to note that curcumin (the powerful property found in turmeric that is responsible for ALL of its greatness!) is extremely low in its levels of bio-availability. So, what does that mean? Turmeric is best taken alongside black pepper! Most of the curcumin that is ingested gets metabolized before it can get absorbed. Piperine (the key chemical found in black pepper) is said to help make curcumin more bioavailable.



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