I yelped getting out of bed yesterday. A yelp just like that of a small, yappy dog stuck in the purse of some super model – my muscles screamed and the noise escaped through my mouth. I was sore from a run over the weekend and reminded yet again that I’m not 18. Thank goodness.
With signs of our own mortality evident all around us, my husband and I have [attempted] to make healthier lifestyle choices over the past year or two. We kicked it off by not downing kegs of beer each week, eliminating buttery garlic bread as a side to every meal and trying to run at least a mile. We’re doing better.
While several elements to the change included exercise and meditation, our diet has experienced one of the most substantial overhauls. And we’re early in our journey… really early. But I thought I’d share some of what we learn on this blog.
My most recent, “holy sh*t, nature is amazing” epiphany happened with turmeric.
Grown wild in the forests of Southeast Asia, turmeric is a bright yellow spice used extensively in Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi cuisine. Because I’m the person who regularly fails to pronounce “bruschetta” properly (“brusketta” just feels like I’m trying too hard), I had to look up how to pronounce turmeric before embarking on a mission to find it. Right, you just drop the “r” so it sounds like “too-mer-ic.”
My first experience with turmeric left my fingers orange for a week. This cousin of ginger that comes in a similar finger-like form and it stains just about everything it touches. You’ve been warned–just use an old cutting board or bowl when cooking with it. I’d sought high and low for this wonder spice to make a dish I’d heard about on my new favorite podcast. While most larger grocery chains do sell turmeric in the root form, apparently extensive flooding in the area where it grows has impacted the supply (my source on this is the local specialty grocer, so don’t quote me on it).
Because I didn’t need the full container of turmeric root, I offered some to my mother who is a naturalist when it comes to medicine. While I knew it fell under that generic marketing term of “healthy,” I didn’t realize just how incredible this root spice can be when it comes to aiding digestion, fighting cancer, improving your mood, easing the pain of arthritis—the list goes on. She testified to its benefits firsthand.
The thing that makes turmeric so powerful is its active component, curcumin. When our bodies have cellular damage, apparently curcumin helps mop up the issues.
While I’m far from a doctor and definitely not espousing any medical advice, some quick research highlights several of its benefits:
On treating arthritis pain: the Journal of Orthopaedic Science compared curcumin extract to a placebo in a group of patients over 40 with knee osteoarthritis over the course of eight weeks. At the end of eight weeks, patients taking curcumin reported significantly less pain than the placebo patients.
On slowing cognitive decline and defending against cancer: This U.S. News and World Report article links to several studies highlighting the benefits of turmeric.
So definitely check out turmeric. Even if you’re not a hipster who’s ready to start taking shots of turmeric juice, there are some great recipes around that use turmeric either in the powder or root form:
- Toddy Tonic, which is described as a “healthy, digestive sleep aid” in the New York Times.
- Turmeric Tea, which is recommended as a cough suppressant in Bon Appetit magazine.
- While turmeric is said to be used in basically all Indian curry recipes, here’s my personal favorite Indian dish, tikka masala with a dash of turmeric powder.