Turmeric – The Liver-Loving Spice
By Louise Baker BHSc (Nut Med)
More than likely, at some point in your life, you have used the beautifully orange-colored spice that gives that zing to your favorite curry dish. Turmeric powder is derived from a root that has been used in Indian and Asian cuisine and Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, and is from the same family as ginger. In recent years, research for the medicinal use of turmeric has been growing, and it is becoming more apparent that we should all be integrating turmeric into our regular diets. The magic substance (active constituent) in turmeric that makes it so beneficial to our health, is called curcumin. It is this curcumin that is responsible for turmeric’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant ability. So, what can turmeric do for you and your liver?
Here are the top 5 benefits of turmeric:
- Reduced inflammation
Turmeric has been extensively studied for its anti-inflammatory properties. Multiple research papers suggest that turmeric can be as effective and in some cases, even more effective than regular anti-inflammatory medication. Curcumin blocks the COX-2 enzymes- the inflammatory pathway in the body, that the anti-inflammatory drugs target. Anyone with an inflammatory disorder will benefit from using turmeric, and it’s a great alternative to taking regular anti-inflammatory drugs. These drugs put additional strain on the organs that need to process it, and come with a whole range of negative side effects.
- Cholesterol lowering and heart health
Studies suggest that turmeric can help to naturally lower cholesterol in the body, and can help to prevent the build-up of plaque in the arteries (atherosclerosis). Turmeric is also a natural blood thinner, which helps to prevent blood clots and support healthy blood pressure. Due to the fact that inflammation is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease- turmeric’s ability to reduce inflammation in the body may also help to reduce the risk of heart disease. Prevention is better than cure!
- Reduced joint pain
Turmeric can be beneficial to those with arthritis to help relieve joint swelling, joint pain and improve joint mobility. Studies have shown that turmeric can help to reduce inflammation in the joints and is beneficial to those with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Turmeric can also be used to reduce overall pain symptoms, and could be used in replacement of regular pain medication. Paracetamol for example, is toxic to the liver and places a lot of additional strain on it. People take this on a regular basis and don’t realize that they are harming their livers. Try taking the natural route where possible.
- Improved mood
It has become more apparent that inflammation in the brain can contribute to mood disorders such as depression and anxiety, which are all too common in today’s society. Studies have shown that turmeric extract (curcumin) was more effective than a placebo at improving overall mood. This could be due to turmeric’s ability to reduce inflammation and oxidation in the body. Start using turmeric and spice up your life.
- Strengthens liver health
Turmeric helps to protect the liver against damage caused by free radicals, toxins, alcohol and waste products and supports healthy liver detoxification. By clearing out excess cholesterol, turmeric may help to reduce fatty deposits in the liver and can help to reduce liver inflammation. As turmeric will help you to reduce your use of anti-inflammatory and pain medication, you will be reducing the stress on your liver, and further improving your liver health. Your liver will love you for it! When choosing a liver tonic, ensure it contains turmeric (or curcumin) to give your liver the best possible support.
So, how much turmeric do you need to make a difference? 1-3g of turmeric per day is recommended, which could equate to about ½ – 1 tsp. When purchasing a turmeric-containing supplement, look for one that has at least 350 mg of curcumin per capsule (it may be written as curcuma longa). Some supplements contain only a small amount of turmeric, which is not enough to produce these health benefits. An interesting point to note is that turmeric powder is better absorbed when combined with black pepper and a fat, such as coconut milk. Please see our Spiced Golden Milk recipe below:
- ¼ cup turmeric powder
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- ½ cup water
- ¼ tsp cinnamon and nutmeg
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 tsp honey (optional)Method
- Place a small pan on medium heat and add the turmeric, pepper and water. Stir constantly until a thick paste forms. This will be your ‘turmeric paste’ and can be stored in a small glass jar in the fridge.
- Place a small saucepan on low-medium heat and add ¼ tsp. of turmeric paste, coconut milk and the cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir until well combined.
- Remove from heat and serve warm. Stir through honey if desired.