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Is Turmeric Good For You? Benefits & Side Effects

Is Turmeric Good For You? Benefits & Side Effects

Turmeric is a spice of the ginger family that has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine and South East Asian cuisine. It’s part of almost every Indian dish because of its delicious earthy and peppery flavor. 

However, it may not be just a great culinary herb: some studies suggest that turmeric could be an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, while others question the validity of those studies. Still, many have shown that turmeric has some benefits when combined with other herbs. 

In this article, we'll discuss all of these issues plus more so you can make an informed decision about whether or not to include turmeric in your diet!

Is turmeric good for you?

The active compound in turmeric is curcumin, which has antioxidant properties and is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties as well. Some research suggests that curcumin may also help improve brain function and protect against Alzheimer's disease.

The one challenge with turmeric is that it has a low bioavailability, meaning the body doesn’t absorb  it easily, excreting it quicker. For this reason a carrier agent is needed to help it stay in our system long enough for us to experience the benefits of turmeric. These carriers could be olive oil, coconut oil, cream, avocado, nuts or fatty fish.

But once turmeric is absorbed in the body, what are the benefits?

What are the health benefits of turmeric?

Turmeric has been found to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Curcumin helps to reduce inflammation by lowering levels of certain proteins that contribute to the development of atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in arteries) and blood clots. There are still studies being conducted on this particular area, but from what we can see, there appears to be some benefit to heart health.

Studies have shown that curcumin may help ease pain from rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and other types of joint pain by reducing inflammation in joints and cartilage. One study compared the intake of a turmeric supplement , three times daily, to taking 1200 mg/day of Ibuprofen. Of course, if you’re experiencing pain to the extent of needing Ibuprofen, it is advisable that you consult your doctor before taking any sort of supplement.


Turmeric may help support the immune system. Our immune systems are often compromised through lack of sleep, stress or toxins around us. Curcumin helps to boost immune cells called macrophages that fight infections like bacteria and viruses. Turmeric supplements are a great way to get what you need for your immune system, without having to use the powder form.

Turmeric has also shown to be helpful when it comes to digestion. One of the ways that turmeric may help with digestion is by reducing inflammation in the gut. Inflammation can lead to irritation and damage to the lining of the intestine, which can interfere with nutrient absorption. Turmeric’s antioxidants may also help protect the gut from oxidative damage caused by inflammation. Additionally, turmeric may help stimulate digestive enzymes which can improve digestion.

Fresh turmeric root - shop online


Is it good to take turmeric everyday?

Turmeric is considered a superfood and one of the healthiest spices you can add to your diet. There are over 6,000 studies on turmeric, with many touting its benefits for digestion, weight loss and skin health.


Turmeric has been used in Indian cooking for centuries as a traditional treatment for digestive disorders like indigestion and constipation. Today it's recommended by nutritionists as part of an overall healthy eating plan because of its anti-inflammatory properties that support joint mobility.

How much turmeric should you have a day?

Because it’s so common to use turmeric in foods like curry powder and mustard, it's hard to get the recommended daily amount from your diet alone—which can be anywhere from 1–5 grams per day (depending on whom you ask).

The recommended turmeric dosage is between 150-250 mg of curcumin per day per person (ideally taken with heart-healthy fats like oils, avocado or nuts). For optimal absorption try taking turmeric with black pepper which helps improve bioavailability by 2x!


Side Effects of turmeric

There are several side effects associated with taking turmeric.


Turmeric can cause an stomach upset, bloating and diarrhea. If you experience these side effects, it's best to take turmeric after meals when the stomach is empty.


Turmeric can interact with certain drugs like blood thinners and medications for diabetes. Check with your doctor before taking turmeric if you're on any medications or if you have a medical condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure.


Turmeric has blood-thinning properties that may increase your risk of bleeding if taken at the same time as other herbs or supplements that also have this effect (such as ginkgo biloba). It's recommended that people who are currently taking anticoagulant medications consult their doctors prior to using turmeric in excess amounts.


Who should not use turmeric?

It's important to remember that turmeric isn't for everyone. If you have any of the following health conditions, you should avoid using turmeric:


If you have gallstones or gallbladder disease. Turmeric may worsen these conditions by increasing bile production and causing jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyeballs). Turmeric can worsen symptoms of gallstones because it increases bile production, which can make the stones move around in your gallbladder more easily. If you have this condition and take high doses of turmeric, it could lead to more painful attacks that require surgery.


If you have low blood pressure. The American Heart Association warns that using turmeric can increase your risk of bleeding and stroke because it lowers blood pressure too much, which is especially problematic if you've had heart problems in the past. People with anemia should also avoid taking turmeric since this spice stimulates blood cell production more than usual.


If you have diabetes mellitus type 2 (or pre-diabetes). Because curcumin has been shown to inhibit insulin secretion while increasing glucose levels following meals, people with diabetes may experience increased symptoms while consuming even moderate amounts of this spice regularly over time; high doses could cause adverse effects even more rapidly than moderate ones would do so alone!  


If you're taking blood thinners like warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin. Turmeric might make your blood clot more easily and cause bleeding in your brain or other organs.


If you're pregnant or breastfeeding. Turmeric might be safe when taken in small amounts by adults, but the safety of using turmeric during pregnancy hasn't been established. It shouldn't be used during lactation because it might pass into breast milk and affect infants who are less than 6 months old. Generally the feeling is that it is okay to add small amounts to your food, but to avoid turmeric supplements all together during pregnancy or breastfeeding.


If you have bleeding problems like hemophilia or iron deficiency anemia. Taking large amounts of turmeric might increase your risk of bleeding excessively from cuts, wounds, or surgery.


If you're taking aspirin to prevent heart attack and stroke, don't take turmeric at the same time because it interferes with how aspirin works in your body.


Cooking with turmeric


The best way to get the most out of turmeric is to cook with it. Turmeric can be used in many different ways, but you'll find that adding it to your food as an ingredient for curries and soups, or even drinks, will give you the best results. For example:


An Anti-inflammatory Green Juice

Rice with Turmeric

The Best Golden Milk Latte Recipe

Chickpea Salad

Conclusion

So, to answer the question "Is turmeric good for you?" The answer is: yes! But it's important that you understand the benefits and side effects of using this spice regularly. Turmeric has been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years, but recent research has shown us that there are many reasons why we should be consuming more of this food as part of our regular diets.

 

Written by Caryn Mackenzie on behalf of Turmeric Zone

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