You know it, I know it, we all know it: Turmeric is very, very good for us. But why? What is in turmeric that makes it so useful on our menu and so beneficial to our health?
How Much Turmeric Does Your Body Need?
Curcumin is the active “ingredient” in turmeric. It is one of at least three curcuminoids found in the spice, and it gives turmeric its yellow colour. Curcuminoids have long been known to fight diseases and help with the symptoms.
Because of this, curcumin has a clear link with fighting infection and diseases. Increasing your turmeric intake could help your body fight against inflammatory diseases like pancreatitis and irritable bowel syndrome, chronic diseases like diabetes and Alzheimer’s, and even cancer.
There’s got to be a catch, right? Well, there is.
Curcumin has a low bioavailability.
What does that mean?
Very simply put, bioavailability is how much of something we absorb into our bodies. So if something has a low bioavailability – like curcumin – then our bodies don’t get all its got to offer. Does this mean we should just eat more of it?
What we need to do is find the best way to boost curcumin’s bioavailability. Get all the health benefits turmeric has to offer by using these little tricks:
How to Boost Turmeric’s Effects for Your Body
1. A Little Fresh Black Pepper?
Black pepper is medicinal in its own right, but when added to turmeric it significantly increases the way your body responds to the healthy and helpful curcumin within. Studies show that when we eat turmeric, our bodies show a slight bump in curcumoids, but when black pepper is added, the levels skyrocket.
“The same amount of curcumin consumed, but the bioavailability shoots up 2000%. Even just a little pinch of pepper—1/20th of a teaspoon—can significantly boost levels,” says Michael Greger, M.D. a physician, author, and professional speaker on public health.
2. Healthy Fats
Turmeric needs to be combined with a fat for our bodies to fully absorb it and realize its health benefits. Even just eating turmeric whole is a good idea; the natural oils found in turmeric (fresh, dried, or as a powder) make the bioavailability of curcumin way stronger, meaning your body gets more out of it.
“When it doesn’t dissolve properly, curcumin has a tough time getting into the gut, which is where most of the immune system lives,” explains Dr. Joseph Mercola, a health philanthropist and best-selling author.
Curcumin is fat-soluble, so add it into your sauces and dressings for a kick of taste, colour, and health benefits.
3. Turn Up The Heat
This is where the cooking comes into play. All you need is a little heat and the curcumin benefits are all yours. Dr. Saraswati Sukumar, oncologist and pathologist at the Johns Hopkins Center, advises using turmeric not-so-sparingly:
“I use turmeric in every sauté, just a quarter teaspoon, a half teaspoon is enough. But you don’t have to use it sparingly – use it lavishly. The best way to take it, I feel, is to use it in your cooking very extensively. If you have any sauté, just sprinkle it in. The moment you heat oil and add turmeric to it, it now becomes completely bio-available to you.”
So there you have it. Combine turmeric with black pepper, healthy fats (like coconut oil, or ghee) and heat it up. It’s a delicious way to get the most out of the spice, and you won’t even notice how healthy you’re being.