Turmeric is a key component in curry. It is also a spice that is used to zest up popular Nigerian dishes like jollof rice, suya and pepper soup. It has a sharp piquant flavour and a gloriously rich colour and for centuries turmeric has been used to treat illnesses and ailments.
What is it about turmeric that makes it so special? Along with a host of other plant substances that have been ground together to create the distinctive spice, turmeric contains curcumin – a bright yellow chemical that is naturally produced in the curcuma longa plant.
It is this organic substance that is doctor, traditional healer, beautician and chef… all neatly rolled into one. By adding curcumin-rich turmeric to your food, good health need not be a lottery – it can be a progressive jackpot instead, where you have the combination to the money vault!
How can turmeric improve your health and well-being? Let’s have a look at a few of the extraordinary health benefits attributed to this humble and inexpensive food flavouring:
Can Assist with the Management of Diabetes
Nigeria has the highest incidence of type 1 and type 2 diabetes in sub-Saharan Africa. Estimates are that more than five million Nigerians are suffering from the disease, a disease that is now one of the leading causes of death in lower to middle income countries.
How can turmeric arrest the development of diabetes? Research indicates it can promote the production of insulin in the body while lowering blood sugar levels. By adding turmeric to a properly formulated diabetic diet you can more easily manage the disease.
The curcumin in turmeric is also rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants, as we know, destroy free radicals and prevent damage at the cellular level. Curcumin not only prevents oxidative damage; it can actually improve the performance – and repair and regenerate – vital pancreatic cells know as beta cells.
That is the fact-based medical opinion of the potential potency of turmeric, an opinion that it interestingly shared by the top dieticians in the world. According to leading nutritionists turmeric has a hugely beneficial effect on diabetes-related complications such as liver disorders, kidney diseases, neuropathy and adipocyte disfunction.
If you or a family member has been diagnosed with diabetes – either type 1 or type 2 – it is clearly time to consider adding turmeric to your daily diet!
Reduces Risk Associated with Heart Attacks
More than 30 percent of Nigerians have hypertension or high blood pressure. Hypertension is known as the silent killer. If left untreated it can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
How does high blood pressure trigger a heart attack? Well, the excessive strain of the high blood pressure has a weakening effect on the coronary arteries serving the heart. These arteries slowly narrow due to the build-up of fat, cholesterol and other substances known collectively as plaque.
As the arteries harden, blood clots are more likely to form. When that happens the flow of blood through the heart is impaired and a heart attack occurs.
The good news is curcumin can prevent the development of clogged arteries. It apparently alters the genetic signalling involved in plaque build-up at the molecular level.
It has also been found that both turmeric and curcumin have a natural protective effect on the heart. They suppress chronic inflammation, reduce the impact of high glucose and normalise blood lipid profiles – risk factors associated with heart disease.
Protects Smokers from Nicotine-Induced Cancer
Although the prevalence of smoking in Nigeria is relatively low, it is nice to know that something as common and easily attainable as turmeric can prevent the spread of cancer.
As science has shown us nicotine itself is not carcinogenic but it does have the propensity to stimulate the formation of cancerous cells. According to a study conducted in India, curcumin was able to block nicotine from triggering cancer causing cells.
Curcumin is now widely recognised as a chemopreventative argent that can help prevent cancer. That’s opposed to chemotherapy that is used to treat cancer. It plays a role in blocking every stage of cancer and may even repress carcinogens before they even get to our cells!
Anti-Inflammatory and Pain Killer
Besides its awesome efficacy in preventing and treating major diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer, turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory and pain killer.
That means painful, uncomfortable and debilitating conditions like arthritis and gout can be dealt a significant blow simply be adding turmeric to your food.
The tangy spice with its trademark yellow colouring is indeed a wonderful elixir that has proved as successful at treating chronic and life-threatening conditions as it does day to day illnesses like flu, bronchitis, asthma and the common cold.
How to Get Your Daily Dose of Turmeric
The easiest way of taking a daily dose of turmeric is by adding it to at least one meal a day. However, there is another – equally effective – method of getting the required amount of curcumin into your system – and that is by turning turmeric powder into a palatable paste. If you add tumeric to a comprehensive nutrient rich diet and move your body enough, it won’t be long when you will find that you are in Total Shape.
Not sure of the quantities and how to prepare turmeric golden paste? Here’s a quick recipe to help you on your journey to health and wellness.
You will need:
- Half a cup of turmeric powder
- 1 cup of water
- 1/3 cup of coconut oil
- 3 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper
Method: Add the turmeric and water to a pot, bring it to the boil and allow the mixture to simmer until it has the consistency of a thick paste. Allow the mixture to cool, add the oil and black pepper and stir together well. Pop the paste in a jar and store in the fridge.
Dose: Take a quarter of a teaspoon, two times a day with food and water. Slowly increase the dose to three to four times a day over a period of approximately a week.