Rajan Nanavati
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Rajan Nanavati

The Life-Changing Spice In Your Spice Cabinet

It’s got a weird yellow glow. It sits in the back of your pantry, because you randomly bought a bottle of it after needing a quarter-teaspoon of it for some recipe you made months ago. You’re probably a few months away from throwing it in the garbage without ever having used it again, because you have no idea what else it can be used for.

But what you may not realize is that bottle of Turmeric might contain one of the most powerful dietary supplements few people ever talk about, and can be used in a whole variety of ways to improve your health and well-being.

We’ll start with the upfront disclaimer: while the anecdotal and historical reports regarding the health benefits of turmeric are ample, many top research organizations and medical journals have stated that there is no clear or definitive evidence suggesting that turmeric, or the principal compound curcumin found within it, can be used as therapy to treat any particular disease or condition.

But as the saying goes: “where there’s smoke, there’s often a fire.” In other words, there is simply too much evidence, even if circumstantial, that demonstrates how Turmeric can do wonders for our health. Millions of people from south and southeast Asia, from where the plant originates, swear by turmeric being a powerful weapon in the battle against weight loss, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and inflammation. And some scientific studies have shown that while there may not be a direct causality through the consumption of turmeric, the results of a 2013 clinical trial in which patients consumed curcumin supplements did show “promising effects” in the prevention of cardiovascular disease, cancerous cells, arthritis, and a whole host of gastrointestinal conditions, including Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel disease.

To keep it simple, the two biggest (potential) health benefits of consuming turmeric are around its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

“Inflammation” is a buzz-word that’s thrown around a lot these days, but few people can truly explain what it means. Simply put: inflammation is an essential short-term process, in which your body works to heal itself. It’s why a part of your body will swell up when you sustain an injury. But many of us suffer from “chronic inflammation,” meaning that our body detects and tries to repair parts of the body that don’t require repair. Ironically, this weakens the body’s tissue, and leaves it more vulnerable to the bacteria and viruses that the inflammation process was designed to protect against. Research has shown that the curcumin in turmeric actually blocks the radical molecules in your body that triggers cells into becoming incorrectly inflamed.

Similarly, we all know that antioxidants are good for us, but we may not be sure why that’s the case. Your body breaks down and rebuilds cells all the time, through its own natural processes. But when we’re exposed to toxins in the environment and in our food, some of these cells breakdown prematurely and then rebuild themselves as “zombie” cells, known as free radicals. These zombie cells often go around and feast on good, healthy tissue in the body, and impair its function. This “feasting” is often the precursor to cancer. Antioxidants, like curcumin, are essentially the body’s security against these zombie cells. Curcumin not only fights against free radicals, preventing them from performing the aforementioned damage, but it also signals the body to enhance its own antioxidant security measures.

Given the rise of these inflammation and toxin-based diseases we’re seeing as a society, even though we don’t have conclusive proof that turmeric really does provide these benefits, you’d rather gamble upon turmeric being able to help you with these, especially considering there’s no risk whatsoever to adding turmeric in to your diet in general.

If you’re looking to incorporate Turmeric into your daily diet or health regimen, there is one key wrinkle of which to take note. Generally speaking, our bodies do not do a good job of absorbing ingested curcumin into the bloodstream on its own. However, when you consume turmeric with a little bit of peperine, which is a key element found within traditional black pepper, the absorption of curcumin by the body can increase by as much as 2000%.

You can find a whole host of drink recipes or “supplement cocktails” through a quick web search, which will show you different ways to maximize the effects of this wonder spice.

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Rajan Nanavati

Father. Husband. Indian American. Sports Junkie. Marketing Dude. Freelance Writer. Productivity Zealot. Enthusiastic Gourmand.