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Let’s Talk Turmeric

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Turmeric needs a cape for all its super powers!

I’d like to give turmeric some love. As you already know, it’s been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties, but that’s really just the beginning.

  • It has been shown to have anti-tumor effects, inhibiting the growth and spread of cancer cells
  • It’s been shown to improve brain function and reduce the risk of cognitive decline
  • It’s been shown to have a positive effect on heart health, reducing the risk of heart disease and improving cardiovascular function, and so much more!

For years, I’ve been incorporating turmeric into my daily diet, but as I focus on healing my broken ankle bone, I’m upping my turmeric game — both in terms of consuming more of it, yes, but also (mainly) in terms of increasing its bioavailability — in other words…increasing my body’s absorption and use of it.

Increasing turmeric’s bioavailability

Turmeric’s active compound, curcumin, has low bioavailability. It’s considered hydrophobic, meaning it doesn’t mix well with water. In other words, it’s quickly metabolized by the liver and excreted from the body.

That’s not what we want. Not only do we want to CONSUME the nutrients that make us thrive and heal; we also want our bodies to be able to ABSORB and USE them. Otherwise, we’re not getting the full potential of the healthy plant foods we’re eating.

Fortunately, there are two significant ways to increase the absorption of curcumin:

  1. Black pepper — black pepper contains piperine, a compound that can increase the absorption of curcumin by up to 2,000%!!
  2. Fat — curcumin is fat-soluble, which means it should be eaten with a source of healthy fat, such as coconut milk, almond butter, or avocado.

It’s not that I wasn’t doing this before, and it’s not that I’m not using NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) for pain management and inflammation reduction, but I’ve definitely made some adjustments:

  • I’ve increased my intake of turmeric.
  • I’m consuming turmeric with fat and black pepper.

Prior to breaking my ankle, I was trying to eat 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric a day, but while I’m focusing on healing this break, I’m eating about a teaspoon a day. That’s specifically because its anti-inflammatory properties reduces my pain, promotes faster healing, and supports my immune system, which of course is also critical for overall health.

And let me emphasize that I eat only ground turmeric (or freshly grated turmeric root) — not a curcumin supplement. Curcumin is just ONE of the many healthful compounds of turmeric. The magic of whole plant foods is that all of the components work together to create the beneficial effect. Isolating one nutrient means missing out on the combination.

Here are some ways you can incorporate turmeric into your diet:

  1. Golden milk latte: Mix turmeric powder with plant-based milk, black pepper, and a touch of maple syrup for a warm and comforting drink.
  2. Tofu scramble: Sprinkle turmeric powder on scrambled tofu, and add black pepper for an extra boost. (Enjoy my recipe for classic Tofu Scramble!)
  3. Turmeric hummus: Mix turmeric powder with chickpeas, tahini, garlic, and lemon juice to make a flavorful dip, and add a little bit of olive oil for a creamy texture.
  4. Turmeric grains: Mix turmeric powder with brown rice or quinoa, and add a tablespoon of coconut oil or coconut milk to make it more flavorful and bioavailable.
  5. Turmeric roasted chickpeas: Toss chickpeas with turmeric powder and a pinch of black pepper, and bake them until they’re crispy for a healthy snack.(Check out my Crispy Chipotle Chickpeas recipe; add turmeric to the other delicious spices I recommend!)
  6. Turmeric salad dressing: Mix turmeric powder with olive oil, apple cider vinegar, mustard, and a touch of maple syrup for a tangy and flavorful salad dressing.
  7. Turmeric lentil soup: Add turmeric powder to a lentil or bean soup, and add a little bit of coconut milk for a creamy texture and / or oil to increase bioavailability.
  8. Turmeric smoothie: Add turmeric powder to a smoothie with almond milk, banana, and a little bit of black pepper for extra absorption.
  9. Turmeric salad dressing: Mix turmeric powder with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and agave nectar for a tasty and healthy salad dressing.
  10. Roasted veggies: Add turmeric powder to roasted vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, carrots, and cauliflower, and drizzle them with a little bit of olive oil for healthy fat.

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