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  • Writer's pictureDr. Megan Choy

Turmeric: A Natural Anti-Inflammatory

While many of us are used to looking in a medicine cabinet, or supplement cabinet, when we're not feeling well, there are a lot of things in our kitchen that can assist with health. One of the most versatile, and incredibly beneficial, is turmeric. Turmeric is a yellow-colored spice originally from India, that is used in many dishes from that region of the world. Medicinally, it contains curcuminoids which are a great anti-inflammatory substance, and there is a lot of research on its different benefits in the human body.

I'm not going to focus on all the benefits of turmeric in this post, you can see in the word cloud some of the things that it is used for. But as you can see, its benefits are numerous, and throughout the different parts of the body.

What I want to focus on, is how to get the maximal benefit from the turmeric that you consume. Turmeric is somewhat poorly absorbed, but there are ways to prepare it, and foods to combine it with, that improve the amount that gets into the body.

Firstly, turmeric is fat soluble. This means that it dissolves more readily in fat. Therefore, it will be absorbed better if it is consumed with other foods that contain fats like butter, ghee, olive oil, coconut oil, etc. One traditional preparation of turmeric is Golden Milk. This is a beverage that is often served to someone who is ill, and the milk and ghee provide the fat to help with absorption.

A second absorption aid is pepper, specifically the compound piperine that is contained in the various colored peppercorns. When the preparation of turmeric includes peppercorns, that also improves the absorption. It is quite common to find in traditional India dishes, that they will contain both turmeric and peppercorns.

The third food combination to improve absorption is any foods that are high in lecithin. This includes eggs, many different types of beans but especially chick peas and kidney beans, seafood, meats, organ meats, and certain vegetables. The various dals and other bean dishes in Indian cuisine commonly have turmeric in them, and this is a great combination to improve the absorption of the beneficial compounds in the turmeric.

The final thing to note about turmeric is that it is degraded by extreme heat. This means that the longer it is cooked, and the higher the cooking temperature, the more the curcumins are degraded. So the best forms of turmeric are those that are cooked the least, and of the different cooking methods, boiling appears to have the best outcomes.

If you're looking for some inspiration to include turmeric in your diet, here are a few ways that I enjoy. I've linked some recipe's that I consider good representations of the food, but obviously there are many other recipes out there as well.

Of course, there are also turmeric supplements, and many of these have been "engineered" to be sure they are better absorbed by the body. These might even be a good option if you're needing to ensure a high quantity of turmeric intake during a more acute need. However, for a preventive, regular intervention, I LOVE being able to get this potent anti-inflammatory while eating foods that I enjoy!

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