Move over kale there's a new superfood in town. Say hello to the golden goddess, turmeric.
You'll already be familiar with this gorgeous, burnt orange powder being added to your favourite curry to boost its colour and depth of flavour. Yes, the taste is amazing, but there are even more important reasons to add it to your diet.
Turmeric, also known as 'Indian Saffron', is a well known staple of Ayurvedic medicine with a very long history of culinary and medicinal use, dating back almost 4000 years to the Vedic culture in India.
In Hinduism and Buddhism, turmeric is linked to fertility, luck, and the sun, and it is used to dye the traditional saffron-coloured robes worn by Buddhist monks. Hawaiian shamans also use turmeric within their religious and medicinal practices too.
But it’s not just ancient medicinal practices that favour turmeric - modern medicine has started to recognise turmeric's importance too. With over 3000 scientific publications dealing with turmeric and its primary polyphenol curcumin within the last 25 years, it is one of the very few scientifically verified spices found to be anti-carcinogenic, anti-fungal, anti-viral, and even immune boosting.
Here are 5 great reasons to add a little turmeric love into your diet…
#1 - It boosts your brain and your mood
Turmeric has been found to upgrade the brain's ability to heal itself and reconnect neuron pathways. Just a generous pinch each day can help to boost your working memory, improve cognitive function, and lift your spirits in as little as just 1 hour.
Studies found that even after prolonged use energy levels, anxiety levels, and even fatigue induced by psychological stress were significantly improved.
Turmeric has also been found to be an effective treatment of depression and to improve the severe symptoms of those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease such as dementia, irritability, agitation, anxiety, and apathy.
#2 - It balances your blood sugar and boost your immune system
The curcuminoids (antioxidants) contained within turmeric have been found to decrease blood glucose levels and improve insulin resistance by reducing serum free fatty acids and increasing fatty acid oxidation within the body. This is great news not only for those with type-2 diabetes, and even pre-diabetics, but for those embarking upon a healthier lifestyle too.
Balanced blood sugar levels are associated with good physical and emotional health, and most importantly longevity.
Turmeric is also an excellent source of dietary fibre, copper, iron, manganese, potassium, and vitamin B6. The health benefits of Vitamin B6 alone include protecting the immune system, increasing metabolism, alleviating premenstrual symptoms, balancing hormones, and even helping to maintain a healthy brain.
My coconut, lemon and turmeric pudding is a great way to get your daily fix. Grab the recipe here!
#3 - It helps you to burn fat
Turmeric has been found to reduce weight gain, stalling the spread of fatty tissue and increasing the rate at which fat cells are oxidised for energy. Turmeric is also known to detoxify and protect the liver, which plays a vital role in fat burning.
People who are overweight or obese are also more likely to have high levels of LDL or 'bad' cholesterol. High cholesterol is a risk factor for stroke and heart disease, as well as diabetes. Turmeric can save the day again by helping to reduce these bad cholesterol levels.
#4 - It's a powerful anti-inflammatory
Curcumin is a natural anti-inflammatory compound but why is this even important?
Well, inflammation plays a vital role within our bodies - from fighting pathogens to repairing damage. Chronic (long-term) inflammation however is the leading contributor to pretty much every disease in the western world from Asthma, IBS, depression, cancer to even heart disease. Curcumin can inhibit the molecules known to cause such severe inflammation.
Turmeric's combination of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects can offer analgesic relief particularly from those that suffer from joint pains associated with rheumatoid arthritis. In fact turmeric's potency has even been compared to anti-inflammatory drugs, but minus the horrible side effects of course.
#5 - It improves sports performance and recovery
Athletes require great mental focus and as turmeric improves cognitive function it’s definitely worth throwing into your sports supplement arsenal. It's amazing for joints too, and has even been shown to reduce muscle soreness in the days following a workout.
When we exercise, we create oxidative stress within the body. This is one of the main reasons that athletes must eat a diet higher in antioxidants than a sedentary person, as they help to 'mop up' the free radicals and repair cell damage that results from intense exercise. Whether you're a weightlifter, runner or anything in between, you will be amazed at the benefits that come with a pinch of turmeric post workout.
I'd highly recommend taking PERFORM post workout, which contains 400mg turmeric extract per serving to help accelerate recovery and get you back in training faster.
How to add turmeric to your diet
Although turmeric is a fantastic spice to add into your diet it only contains a rather pesky 3-5% curcumin at the best. It is therefore important to add a warming spice such as black pepper or ginger whenever possible, which will help to enhance curcumin's rate of absorption by up to a whopping 1000 times!
Switch your morning coffee for my turmeric latte for an easy way to load up on this spice!
To reap maximum benefits supplementation is very helpful, as most scientific studies use turmeric extracts (like the one found in PERFORM) which contain mostly isolated curcumin. If you can't get your hands on a supplement aim to consume 2-3g organic ground or fresh turmeric each day.
It's also worth noting that curcuminoids are fat soluble, so it would be beneficial to consume your turmeric alongside a fat source, or to add some a little avocado or almond milk to your smoothie or PERFORM protein shake.
You can enjoy fresh or ground turmeric root in golden milk latte’s, juices, cauliflower rice, chia pudding, curries, and even ice cream!
What's your favourite way to use turmeric?
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