A cup of gold-colored milk, fragrant and rich in health properties, this is the result of the Ayurvedic tradition that has its roots over the centuries. Today we are talking about golden milk, a drink prepared with milk, animal or vegetable, turmeric and spices, useful to give a boost to the metabolism, to counteract inflammation, to support the mind and immune system, but also to improve mood and to protect the liver. Yes, because golden milk, or turmeric latte, is not just tradition but can count on a solid basis of scientific evidence that, over the years, has proven its beneficial effects on health. So let's try to understand how golden milk works and how it is prepared.
The properties of turmeric
Turmeric, thanks to its most powerful active ingredient, curcumin, has an anti-inflammatory action useful, for example, to counteract arthritis, joint pains but also inflammation of the skin (Sumeet et al , Curr Drug Deliv, 2018). Not only that, turmeric is antioxidant and anticancer, since it inhibits tumor proliferation and angiogenesis, which is the formation of new blood vessels to bring nourishment to diseased cells (Wang et al, Front Oncol, 2021). These characteristics also make turmeric neuroprotective since, according to scientific studies, it appears that turmeric helps protect the brain from the risk of Alzheimer's thanks to a dual action. In fact, turmeric counteracts inflammations that could pave the way for neurodogenerations and at the same time counteracts the formation of beta amyloid plaques, which are a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease (Mishra et al, Ann Indian Acad Neurol., 2008). Turmeric protects the liver and the microbiota, improves mood and counteracts sadness and depression and helps modulate the immune system's reaction to external threats (Soni et al, Asian J Psychiatr., 2020). Finally, turmeric counteracts overweight thanks to its action in reducing adipogenesis. This spice, in fact, inhibits the conversion of preadipocytes into mature adipocytes responsible for storing fat (Icer et al, Altern Ther Health Med, 2021).
Golden milk, the action of milk and spices
The problem with turmeric is that, when taken alone, it hardly exceeds the intestinal barrier and the risk is to lose its benefits. Golden milk is a traditional drink, which has its origins in past centuries. Starting from this traditional use, scientists have been able to observe that the association of a fat, for example non-skim milk, just like in the original drink, increases the availability of turmeric. Not only that, an even greater action can be obtained by adding ghee, the clarified butter, to the preparation (Sumeet et al, Curr Drug Deliv, 2018). The association of turmeric with coconut milk also improves the availability of the spice (Douglass et al, J Am Coll Nutr, 2015). In addition to the association with a fat, the piperine of black pepper also makes curcumin more bioavailable, which is why a pinch of black pepper should be added to golden milk (Hewlings et al, Foods, 2017). Other spices, such as ginger, cinnamon or red pepper, also contribute to making golden milk a healthy drink. In fact, these spices act with anti-inflammatory, anti-obesity and anti-cholesterol properties. For example, for a more powerful anti-obesity action, you can add ginger and a pinch of red pepper. In fact, ginger improves metabolism and increases energy consumption while red pepper, thanks to capsaicin, increases thermogenesis, which is the process by which heat is generated from fats (Icer et al, Altern Ther Health Med, 2021). The addition of a pinch of cinnamon enhances the cardioprotective action of the drink. In fact, cinnamon helps to keep blood sugar and cholesterol under control, reducing bad LDL cholesterol while increasing good HDL cholesterol (Allen et al, Ann Fam Med, 2013).
Golden milk, how to make it
In a saucepan pour two teaspoons of turmeric powder, half a teaspoon of cinnamon, a pinch of black pepper and, if you like a spicy flavor, even red pepper, a grate of fresh ginger. Pour in two cups of milk, which can be whole cow's milk, but also coconut or soy milk. Heat until it reaches a slight boil, stir and remove from heat. Drink once lukewarm, if you wish you can add a little maple syrup or honey. If you have used soy milk, you can add a teaspoon of ghee or extra virgin olive oil to increase the availability of curcumin.
Golden milk, recommendations
Turmeric is considered a safe spice. However, when exceeded in quantity, more than two teaspoons per day, turmeric can cause headaches, nausea and diarrhea in predisposed people (Hewlings et al, Foods, 2017). Ask your doctor for advice if you are taking antibiotics, blood thinners, anti-inflammatory or chemotherapy drugs, as turmeric may interact with these medicines (Sharifi Rad et al, Front Pharmacol, 2020). The intake of turmeric should be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding due to the lack of studies on the spice's safety in these cases. Turmeric should also be avoided in case of gallstones (Sharifi Rad et al, Front Pharmacol, 2020). Finally, a general consideration on golden milk, pay attention if you are lactose intolerant, in this case, as mentioned in the article, you can resort to vegetarian alternatives such as coconut or soy milk.