Let’s talk about Turmeric then.
If you’re like me, my ever first encounter with Turmeric was in form of a spicy aroma emanating from the food my Indian friend Ranjit, would bring in for lunch back when we were still in college. I would always grab my sandwiches and a convenient burger around school, but Ranjit always had his home cooked meals, which always smelt really good compared to what I had on offer and also had a distinctive “orangey ”colour which made it even more intriguing as it filled up my air waves.
If I’m being honest, my first reaction to the aroma was not a pleasant one, considering it was all a new experience to me. As time went on though, and with gradual exposure, I began to notice that initial pungency, which I found overwhelming, would reveal a different sweet sharpness that awakened my senses and activated the digestive juices making me instantly hungry.
Nevertheless, I was still cautious about any food that didn’t come off the middle aisle of the grocery store, so I remained steadfast and content with my bland sandwiches, never venturing to as much as enquire about Ranjit’s food throughout our time in college. If he noticed anything, I didn’t know about it, because he never brought it up either. It seemed like we both subconsciously accepted that any discussion towards that end posed a threat to our friendship, which looking back now seems a little silly and ridiculous, but we were young and naïve, so we stayed that way for a bit more.
It wasn’t until years later, after college, and when Turmeric had become a huge deal in the west, and I had evolved to eating more for health than satiation, that I encountered Turmeric again. It had become a staple of health on this side of the Atlantic, and was being promoted in fancy transparent glass containers where the rich orange colour enticed health fanatics everywhere luring us to health stores that replicated everything eastern and oriental and made it look cool, situated right in the middle of New York city. I imagine the Indians would have looked on in amusement as the airwaves suddenly started chanting about something they had discovered and mastered centuries earlier.
Anyway, my first taste of a turmeric-spiced dish had hit my taste bud and immediately triggered memories of Ranjit happily masticating his favourite orange dish in college, scooping spoon after spoon into his mouth with gusto. I smiled wryly as I repeated the same behaviour years later, wondering how a simple change in mind set changes our perceptions and invariably us. Turmeric or curry at the time, was something I had turned my nose up at, and yet here I was shamelessly shovelling a rice curry dish into my mouth without a care in the world – along with the rest of my white tribe who had discovered this delicacy.
The media and health experts chimed in, touting it as the new food drug on the market and how you could mix it with anything and everything – even coffee. Yes! coffee!
It was the strangest taste when I tried the Turmeric and coffee combination, but as I mentioned earlier, mind-set is everything; and I’ve rarely have my coffee any other way.
Nowadays, I just use supplement capsules of the product for convenience, and the health benefits have been immense; so much that I now preach about the benefits of this wonder food or spice to anyone who will listen.
Ranjit had been responsible for my first exposure to Turmeric – albeit a negative one, but we’ve been friends ever since; Turmeric! not Ranjit.
I lost contact with him after college and reckoned he probably ended up
in an arranged marriage, with loads of little Indian kids running some
financial hotspot in downtown New York.
That was a joke.
Ranjit and I are actually still friends, he is single and dating and he is running one of those financial hotspots in downtown, so I’m pretty sure we’re all relieved he lived up to the stereotype we’re more comfortable with. And Yes! he gave his permission to use that joke, so “CHILL”
Anyway, back to Turmeric; what is this spice and what does it do for you:
Turmeric fights inflammation in the body, caused by, but not limited to negative effects of some foods, lifestyle, and stress. It can be difficult to decipher which particular foods or environmental factors affect each unique individual, so using Turmeric protects us regardless of the source of our inflammation.
By Inflammation, I mean the body’s natural coordinated communication (reaction) of different immune cells to protect the body from pathogens, infection, or tissue damage. While this process is a good thing, repeated exposure to the cause of this immune response wears the body down and can cause secondary diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
Turmeric counters all of this through the action of its main component Curcumin, which blocks off the onset of inflammation at the cellular level and protects the body even before it signals the cell response cycle. As any doctor would explain to you, the process can be more complicated than that, but for simplicity sake, we will use this nonprofessional’s description that translates to “Turmeric is good for you – period!”
Benefits of Turmeric
Turmeric acts as an Antioxidant, which protects you from free radicals and oxidative stress and help you age better
- It improves brain function and reduces the risk of brain disease – which Alzheimer’s can occur
- It helps with skin problems especially for cancer patients treated with radiation
- Can help or prevent cancer by protecting cells from going rogue
- It lowers the risk of heart disease
- It can also help fight depression through the action it takes on the brain and cells as mentioned
Side effects of Turmeric
While Tumeric is generally safe for use, overindulging can cause undesirable but mild symptoms. If taking supplements, the general advice is to keep to below 3 grams, but more importantly it is worth noting that none of the reported side effects are serious enough to cause a threat to life.
Some reported cases of side effects include issues like;
- Stomach upset and diarrhoea
- Decrease absorption of Iron
- If you’re medicating with blood thinners, Turmeric may not be for you as it thins the blood further
It is important to familiarize yourself with these side effects, and stop immediately if you experience any adverse symptoms, especially if using Turmeric as a food ingredient rather than a supplement capsule, which is easier to measure.
It is highly recommended that you include Turmeric in your supplemental regimen or just use it in food along with other antioxidants that can combat the oxidative stress, which is invisible to us but surely plugs away at us as we age.
Thorne supplement’s Turmeric is the one we live by. I am sure there must be better out there, but if there is, I haven’t heard about it.
Always check with your physician before starting any health and fitness program;