It has been said a lot about turmeric. Although there is a solid basis in the literature that testifies to the health properties of this spice, obtained from the rhizome of the Curcuma Longa plant, there are those who doubt them, while others use turmeric almost everywhere, in every type of recipe, in sauces, soups and even in herbal teas. Who's right? As always, the truth is somewhere in the middle, but let's try to understand better.
Curcumin, properties and availability
Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric. Curcumin modulates the immune system, is antiviral and is characterized by antioxidant properties, useful to counteract the damage of free radicals. This substance is anti-inflammatory, capable of reducing the level of systemic inflammation, and anti-cancer, it can protect the kidneys, liver and the brain since it counteracts the accumulations of beta amyloid proteins and therefore reduces the risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases (Stohs et al, Molecules, 2020). Not only that, curcumin is helpful in case of metabolic syndrome since it improves insulin sensitivity, reduces adipogenesis, triglycerides and cholesterol and helps to keep blood pressure values ??under control. The problem is that curcumin is poorly soluble in water and therefore turmeric teas can be pleasing to the eye due to the orange color but do not bring the properties that are so appreciated in turmeric. Moreover, even taking the spice in powder form does not guarantee that you will be able to benefit from the properties of turmeric. In fact, curcumin does not easily cross the stomach barrier. To do this, it should be combined with a fat and ground pepper (Stohs et al, Molecules, 2020). It is estimated that piperine, the active ingredient in pepper, is able to increase the assimilability of curcumin by 2000% (Hewlings et al, Foods, 2017). For example, an excellent salad dressing is to mix a teaspoon of turmeric with ground black pepper and extra virgin olive oil. But there is also another very tasty way to take turmeric and benefit from its properties, turmeric milk or golden milk, which we offer here in a tastier and anti-viral version.
Turmeric and ginger milk, the recipe
The curcumin in turmeric is made assimilable by the pepper and fat contained in coconut milk. The combination of turmeric and ginger allows to amplify the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of turmeric (Suhaimi et al, Am J Clin Med, 2011). Not only that, the synergy between ginger, turmeric and cinnamon maximizes the antiviral action. In fact, fresh, but not dried, ginger has been shown to counteract the human respiratory syncytial virus, one of the main causes of childhood bronchiolitis and pneumonia (Chang et al, J Ethnopharmacol, 2013), while curcumin proves capable of counteracting replication of influenza A virus (Han et al, Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol, 2018). In a small bowl, mix 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder, half a teaspoon of cinnamon, some ground black pepper, 1 cm of freshly grated ginger and half a teaspoon of vanilla. Heat a cup of coconut milk, pour in the powders and mix, drink warm.
Turmeric, side effects
Turmeric is considered generally safe. However, in predisposed people it could cause headaches, diarrhea and nausea (Hewlings et al, Foods, 2017). Also be careful if you are taking blood thinners as turmeric may interfere with these drugs (Drugs and Lactation database).