Turmeric is a superfood that has long been hailed for its numerous health benefits, and if you know it, you swear by it.
Recently, English television presenter and journalist, Kate Quilton, also dedicated an entire segment of her show “Superfoods: The Real Story” to discuss the purported advantages of this gold-hued spice. She explained that her interest in turmeric stemmed from an accident that had occurred in 2016, when she fell down a flight of stairs and sustained a serious back injury with two of her vertebrae fractured. Though she underwent physiotherapy, Quilton stated that she attempted to incorporate turmeric into her meals in “as many weird and wonderful ways as possible”, after she came to know of its healing and anti-inflammatory effects.
Quilton recovered in due time and traveled to India to find out if turmeric did indeed play a role in her healing. She met scientists who confirmed that it indeed did, so much so that they advised viewers of the program to consume at least 1.5 teaspoons of turmeric a day.
Turmeric is far more than just the main spice of curry dishes. So what is it about this spice that makes it worth singing praises about?
The answer lies in turmeric’s antioxidant polyphenols.
Turmeric’s “curcuminoids”, and especially curcumin, the most abundant and famous one of these substances, have immense health benefits, most notably as an anti-inflammatory agent. Curcumin has been observed reducing instances of inflammation inside and outside of the body. Psoriasis, ulcerative colitis and osteoarthritis are just some of the health ailments that curcumin, and subsequently turmeric, are known to provide relief from.
It is also an antidepressant and an antibiotic, and it cleanses the system of cholesterol. It is beneficial in the treatment of cancer and much more. It has even been said to aid weight loss by encouraging “good” brown fat cells to burn more fat by way of increasing these cells’ metabolic rate.
While there’s no denying that turmeric is a truly wonderful and beneficial superfood, it does suffer the unfortunate side effect of having poor bioavailability. This means that the body has difficulty digesting, absorbing and getting the most out of its nutrients. So even if you religiously consume that recommended 1.5 teaspoons everyday, you may just be shoveling down a delicious spice, without reaping its health benefits.
Luckily, there’s one easy way to get around this. You don’t even need to make a trip to a specialty grocery store for you to increase the bioavailability of turmeric; you just need to use it along with some black pepper.
Similar to how turmeric has curcumin, black pepper has piperine, a compound that gives black pepper its flavour and makes it the perfect partner for turmeric. By lowering the rate by which curcumin is metabolised in the digestive system, piperine essentially stretches out the time that curcumin spends in the intestines, giving our guts the opportunity to absorb this important substance in its active form. Piperine also hinders the metabolising action of certain enzymes that would otherwise break down and suppress the efficacy of curcumin.
So be sure to add some black pepper to your turmeric dishes. Pre-ground pepper will suffice, but grinding your own peppercorn is even better, especially if you want that nice, added shot of flavour along with your meals.
Fresh turmeric root is even better. Use it in your soups, stews, curries, on rice, potatoes, anything 🙂