By Carolyn Brown, MS, RD
Turmeric might just be magical. I ran in a 10k (6.2 mile) race last week that I hadn’t trained for properly — or trained much for at all. Normally, this results in insane soreness and complaints with every move for a couple of days. Over the past few weeks though, I’ve been on a super anti-inflammatory kick. Turmeric, the brightly hued and earthy flavored root is my new staple ingredient, finding its way into quinoa, smoothies and green juices, teas, and even chicken marinade recipes. And my recovery after last week’s race… A total breeze.
While I can’t promise turmeric will be the magic cure for all your aches and pains, it’s definitely worth a shot. It’s anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing effects are comparable to potent drugs like hydrocortisone and OTC meds. Evidence suggests that turmeric and the active agent in it, curcumin, has incredible anti-inflammatory and disease preventative benefits.
The researchers explain it best, so I’ll let them do the talking: “Curcumin has been shown to exhibit antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anticancer activities and thus has a potential against various malignant diseases, diabetes, allergies, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and other chronic illnesses” (Advanced Experimental Medical Biology). Other specific chronic illnesses turmeric may be preventative or therapeutic for: IBD, cirrhosis, and heart disease.
So how do you get turmeric into your daily life? Well you may already be eating it: It’s responsible for the bright yellow color of mustard and curry powders. But for those who don’t eat curry every day, there are other ways to work it into your diet. A company called Tumeric Elixir of Life is bottling the stuff in a sweet/spicy drink form. Tons of teas contain it (we give clients Organic Turmeric Snap from David’s Tea). But it’s far cheaper and just as easy to buy the root at the grocery store – you’ll probably find it next to its relative, ginger, in the produce section – and that way you can add it to just about anything you like. For optimum curcumin concentration you can also get it in supplement form. However you try it, turmeric’s a trend that’s not going anywhere. Are you on board?