Sunday Health Hack No. 7 – Turmeric, the 5th Element

Sunday Health Hack No. 7 – Simply add a spoon of turmeric powder in your pasta water.

The four elements of western culture are: EARTH, AIR, FIRE, and WATER. So let me add a 5th one to it – TURMERIC.

I am only kinda exaggerating. Turmeric is such a powerful spice with multidruple health benefits which is why i.a. it has been one of the main pillars of Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years.
Many are already aware about the health benefits of pepper or curry but unfortunately turmeric is still often overlooked by many in the Western world.
One reason might be for not being sure how / where to use turmeric in the diet because of its distinctive bitter, black pepper-like flavour and earthy, mustard-like aroma which is not everyone’s favourite.

So, Sunday Health Hack No. 7, an easy way to incorporate turmeric into your diet is that you add a tablespoon of turmeric powder into your (boiling) water when cooking pasta, quinoa, or rice (in combination with Himalayan salt).

During the cooking process, the “cells” of the pasta (quinoa or rice) are opening up, absorbing the turmeric (and the salt), which is why they then also get a slight “yellow/orange” colour from the turmeric. But the “earthy” taste is gone, still all its benefits remain.
Of course, you can (should) put turmeric also maybe in your soups or any kind of extra sauces you prepare for meals too. You can sprinkle it onto your sandwich or – very trendy – put some even into your coffee. The more, the merrier.
But this is about what’s the easiest way how to integrate turmeric (sufficiently) as a fix staple in your daily nutrition.

So, let’s get to the good (health benefits) part. On purpose I like to combine turmeric with carbohydrates (like pasta). Every time you eat, your blood-sugar-levels rise, even more so if sugar or carbohydrates are involved. One of the most important functions of the pancreas is to produce sufficient insulin for bringing down the blood sugar level. Stress (too much food or too many meals during the day) and inflammation in the pancreas can negatively affect production of insulin and blood sugar control. The second most important function of pancreas is to produce digestive enzymes which break down fat and protein. Not having sufficient digestive enzymes to break down carbs can make you gain weight and feel sluggish.
Turmeric (more precisely the “curcuminoids” in the tumeric) now supports and works hand in hand with the pancreas to stabilize blood sugar (glucose) after every meal. Which then gives the liver a break for doing its job even more efficiently (filtering the glucose out of the food and storing it as glycogen, breaking down the fats etc.).
The liver is arguably the most dynamic and essential organ in the body (and unfortunately often the most neglected). Think of it as the master filtration and detoxification system of your body. And studies have shown that turmeric not only actively supports the liver in its detoxification process but also even acts like a little “safeguard” at the doorstep to the liver, already eliminating many of the “bad stuff” which wants to pass through the liver.
That’s because of the turbo anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity of curcumin. Yes, there are other foods, herbs and spices which are potent antioxidants too. But turmeric specifically supports and protects your most important organ, the liver.

Another “organ” which benefits immensely from these anti-inflammatory activities is your “brain”. Yes, issues like “environmental / business / private stress” (or lack of sleep) put your brain neurons on constant fire which has a negative effect on cognition, memory, focus or alertness. So think turmeric as your brain-firefighter.

And the list goes on and on – Turmeric drives autophagy, the recycling process of “dead” cells and waste in your body, cleaning your “system”. Turmeric improves the function of your mitochondria, your cell’s “energy power plants”. Or in Ayurvedic medicine turmeric is also used as a great “skin healer”, applied topically, for all kind of issues, from acne to wrinkles, as it enhances collagen synthesis and significantly speeds up tissue repair.

Special for vegans / vegetarians – Turmeric dramatically increases the enzymes needed for converting plant-based omega-3s (like eg. in flax seeds).

Special for gym-rats – Put some turmeric in your “post-workout-shake”. Due to its potent anti-inflammation attributes, it speeds up the “recovery” (healing) process and helps with the soreness.

Special for today’s Corona situation – Studies have found that curcumin is a promising compound for complementary COVID-19 treatment. Emphasis on “complementary” of course but still, the antiviral activity of curcumin has been long established against a variety of viruses including the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), Influenza A, and now the respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS).

But primarily, please remember turmeric as the best friend of your liver and your brain, your two most important “organs” for keeping you healthy and wise.

Tip – I buy turmeric in a “bulk”. Most Indian shops do have (organic) turmeric powder in 500gr or 1.000gr bags. Or I order it online directly from a trusted source like Azafran (in Germany).
Emphasizing once again, that I have no relation and no affiliation with this company. But people keep on asking for recommendations, and I don’t want to let them buy some junk either.

Extra-hack – Add some black pepper into the mix (eg. the pasta water). Each, turmeric and black pepper, have immense health benefits on their own, due to the compounds curcumin I mentioned above and piperine in black pepper. But combining these two spices magnifies their effects, as piperine enhances curcumin absorption in the body by up to 2.000%!

Love & spices – Andreas  

Consistency is more important than perfection.

An homage to Milla Jovovich in the 5th Element movie. Not only matches her hair the colour of turmeric 🙂 but metaphorically the way how she kicks ass is what turmeric does to the “bad guys” in your “system”.

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