Turmeric tonic

Liz Con­nor takes a closer look at the won­der spice

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - This Week -

LIKE av­o­ca­dos, kale and chia seeds be­fore it, turmeric is one of those cure-all in­gre­di­ents that seems to have blown up out of nowhere.

Scroll through any mil­len­nial’s In­sta­gram feed and you’ll likely spot a few riffs on the golden won­der spice; turmeric lat­tes, spicy rice, aro­matic golden soup. Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent re­port by Waitrose, it’s even over­taken cin­na­mon as the most pop­u­lar spice in our kitchen cup­boards, while Google searches for it are up 75% in the last five years.

This po­tent plant of the gin­ger fam­ily grows wild in the forests of South­east Asia, and has long been a sta­ple in Pak­istani, In­dian, Per­sian and Thai di­ets.

But is it just a fad or are there ac­tual ben­e­fits to the won­der spice? Here, we’ve found some science-backed rea­sons why you should tap into its heal­ing po­ten­tial.

1. It de­creases in­flam­ma­tion: We’re all prob­a­bly a lit­tle too fa­mil­iar with joint pain, with arthri­tis af­fect­ing around 915,000 peo­ple in Ire­land. Re­searchers have found that cur­cumin, the bright yel­low chem­i­cal pro­duced by turmeric, is ca­pa­ble of in­ter­act­ing with a va­ri­ety of mol­e­cules in­volved in in­flam­ma­tion, eas­ing swelling, aches and pains in the joints and mus­cles. In fact, a study pub­lished in the Na­tional Cen­ter for Biotech­nol­ogy In­for­ma­tion found that cu­cur­min may be just as ef­fec­tive as as­pirin and ibupro­fen at sup­press­ing the body’s in­flam­ma­tory re­sponse. 2. It has an­tiox­i­dant ef­fects: An­tiox­i­dants are pretty im­por­tant sub­stances; they pro­tect your cells against the ef­fects of free rad­i­cals — un­paired elec­trons that scav­enge the body to seek out other elec­trons so they can be­come a pair. The dam­age caused by free rad­i­cals has been linked to pre­ma­ture age­ing, a host of neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­eases, and even can­cer. As well as bolstering the body’s nat­u­ral an­tiox­i­dant func­tion by in­creas­ing glu­tathione lev­els, stud­ies have found cur­cumin’s molec­u­lar struc­ture can even neu­tralise harm­ful free rad­i­cals in the body, less­en­ing the chances of dis­ease. 3. It can keep the heart healthy: Heart and cir­cu­la­tory dis­ease lead to one in five pre­ma­ture deaths in Ire­land, ap­prox­i­mately 10,000 deaths each year. Mul­ti­ple stud­ies

have found that the yel­low pig­ment in turmeric root can help to main­tain the func­tion of the in­te­rior lin­ing of your blood ves­sels. One study pub­lished in the

Nu­tri­tion Re­search jour­nal in 2012 even found cur­cumin may be as ef­fec­tive in im­prov­ing vas­cu­lar func­tion in post-menopausal women as a mod­er­ate ex­er­cise rou­tine. 4. It re­duces the symp­toms of

de­pres­sion: As well as be­ing good for your heart and your joints, turmeric could also help to im­prove your mood. Re­search has shown that cur­cumin has a sim­i­lar ef­fect as an­tide­pres­sants on pa­tients suf­fer­ing from de­pres­sion, mood swings and anx­i­ety, and stud­ies on mice found daily doses of turmeric can even in­crease the amount of happy hor­mones (sero­tonin and dopamine) in the brain. 5. It boosts im­mu­nity: Thanks to its lipopolysac­cha­ride con­tent, turmeric can help stim­u­late the body’s im­mune sys­tem, help­ing you to avoid cold, flu and coughs. Its an­tibac­te­rial, an­tivi­ral and anti-fun­gal agents also help to bol­ster im­mu­nity.

PO­TENT SPICE: Turmeric is an an­tiox­i­dant and can help to re­duce in­flam­ma­tion.

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