Spice it up
Turmeric is one of the best spices you can add to any dish for enhanced flavor and to capitalize on the health benefits it boasts. Most often, people find this root in its ground up form. It is easily identified by its intense yellow/orange coloration. I absolutely love to add turmeric to any dish I can; it goes great with broccoli, ground beef, and even teas. Besides the mild spiciness this root has to offer, it is a potent anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory.
A super spice that keeps inflammation in check
Turmeric root has been used for thousands of years to help ailments ranging from stomach aches to infections. The active component of turmeric is a compound called curcumin. Curcumin has many beneficial effects but is best known to decrease inflammation. Curcumin has the ability to inhibit cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), lipoxygenase (LOX), and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), similar to the way ibuprofen and other NSAIDs work (1, 2). These enzymes mediate inflammatory processes in the body. Curcumin is also a potent anti-oxidant and even positive effects on suppressing cognitive deficits and amyloid accumulation found with Alzheimer’s disease (3).
What is an inflamed state and how do I get there exactly?
The typical American diet has earned an unhealthy reputation with the amount of sugar, carbohydrates, and inflammatory oils we consume. When we eat junk food, we ingest an overabundance of arachidonic acid (AA) which is an omega-6 fatty acid. Our cell membranes actually become saturated with pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids (like arachidonic acid) instead of the good anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids (4). Surprisingly, when curcumin in turmeric is ingested, it actually inserts itself deep in to the membranes of our cells (6). However, with a lousy diet we can truly can eat ourselves into an inflamed state. This is the same kind inflamed state your body experiences when you stub your toe or get a fever from the flu. Even the fat in our body becomes inflamed and an inflammation generator (5). The catch is, most people don’t feel the symptoms of this low-grade inflammation.
How do I know if turmeric is healthy for me?
When you look at it, all diseases are similar in the fact that they are initiated by inflammation (5). The typical American diet pushes individuals to be chronically inflamed. Curcumin is a powerful modulator of inflammation and may help combat the side-effects that come with it. Turmeric can have however have interactions with some medications such as aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others (6). Always remember to consult with your doctor to determine if turmeric is personally beneficial to your overall health. Dr. Bobby Koser is currently accepting new patients for nutritional consultations and would be happy to address your specific health needs and concerns. Click here to schedule a free consultation!