Spotlight on: turmeric

At Forever, we understand the importance of good nutrition and how a balanced diet can have an impact on overall health and wellbeing. This week, we’re taking a detailed look at the properties of turmeric, the compounds present in the spice and the scientific research into its benefits. 


Dietary fads are so frequent and fleeting these days, it can be difficult to keep up. Should you be drinking kale and cassava smoothies for breakfast this week, or was it acai and moringa powder porridge? As quickly as one exotic-sounding superfood becomes old news, another becomes the hottest new thing. 


One such food fable doing the rounds at the moment is the supposed health benefits of a kitchen-cupboard favourite: turmeric. Used in many indian dishes, turmeric is what gives curry its vibrant yellow colour; it has a warming, pepper-like flavour and a mustard aroma. But what exactly are the benefits of this popular spice and how can we integrate turmeric in to our diets?


Curcumin: turmeric’s secret weapon 


Curcumin is a naturally occurring chemical compound found in turmeric and it’s what makes this humble spice so special. Also known as curcuminoid, this specific substance has been the focus of numerous scientific experiments in recent years and is what is believed to make turmeric so beneficial as a dietary supplement and culinary ingredient. An article(1) published in the Journal of Natural Science, Biology and Medicine looks at numerous studies in relation to the benefits of turmeric and curcumin, and we recommend a read.


So how exactly can turmeric help you? 


Turmeric isn’t the usual powder you’d expect to find hidden in the depths of one’s makeup bag, but actually, thanks to its antioxidant properties, turmeric is believed to be an excellent skincare ingredient, particularly if you have dry skin. According to celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas(2), "Turmeric is wonderful for anyone who has super-sensitive skin." This natural exfoliant can help improve the appearance of wrinkles, skin texture and bring back your skin’s natural glow. 


This all sounds pretty amazing, but there is a caveat. Turmeric only actually contains about 3% curcumin, and curcumin is not easily absorbed into the bloodstream. Also, most of the studies into the benefits of curcumin on health have involved high doses, which would be difficult to achieve from just adding turmeric to your food. 


To consume enough turmeric to stand a chance of reaping any of the benefits mentioned above, you would need to supplement your diet with turmeric extract, or a vitamin supplement containing turmeric/curcumin. Absorption is also key, so finding a supplement that contains something to help your body process and utilise the curcumin is a good idea. One thing you could try is black pepper; black pepper contains piperine, a substance which aids the absorption of curcumin. Try adding some into your diet (as well as turmeric), or even taking a few whole peppercorns with your turmeric-based supplement.


The good news is, turmeric is pretty easy to get your hands on. It can be bought in dry powdered form from most supermarkets, and in its fresh, root form (it looks a bit like ginger) from any good food market or greengrocer. It’s a versatile ingredient, so if you want to increase your intake, add it to curries, stews, soups, rice dishes, roast vegetables – whatever takes your fancy. No doubt there is a turmeric smoothie recipe out there somewhere if you’re that way inclined! Nutritional supplements are also a good way to increase your intake of curcumin and are widely available – Forever Move combines an astonishing 23.33% of curcumin with natural eggshell membrane and it’s an excellent daily supplement to add to a healthy and balanced diet.


Have you tried integrating turmeric to you diet? Let us know on social media.


Studies of interest:


1 Role of curcumin in systemic and oral health: An overview, Monika Nagpal and Shaveta Sood, 2013, Journal of Natural Science, Biology and Medicine: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3633300/ 


2 http://www.livingly.com/Beauty+Trend+Report/articles/uHnF_uIpvH2/Turmeric+Belongs+Skincare+Routine


UCLA study: http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/curcumin-improves-memory-and-mood-new-ucla-study-says

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