Vibrant orange spice or medical supplement? We’re talking about tumeric of course! Turmeric supplements have grown in popularity within the health and wellness community in recent years, and we are here to tell you everything you need to know about turmeric and its cousin plant, curcumin. Both have similar health benefits and will be discussed in this blog.
What are Turmeric and Curcumin?
Turmeric and curcumin come from the same plant family that includes ginger root. Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric that gives it the rich coloring (so bright!) and extensive health benefits. Turmeric has been widely used in Indian and Chinese medicine because of its healing properties.
Historically, turmeric was used to treat skin disorders, upper respiratory tract infections, joints, and the digestive system. Today, turmeric is advertised as a dietary supplement with health benefits and ability to mitigate a variety of conditions, including:
- Digestive disorders
- Respiratory infections
- Liver disease
Turmeric and curcumin are known to have powerful anti-inflammatory properties as well as their ability to reduce pain in the body. Turmeric supplementation has even been compared to the effects of taking ibuprofen. Additionally, these plants can reduce “bad” or LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood, which can reduce the risk of heart disease.
Despite this extensive list of health benefits, tumeric and curcumerin have low bioavailibility, meaning very little amount actually reaches the bloodstream when consumed orally. Luckily, there are ways to increase the bioavailability of turmeric and ability to be absorbed by the body. Turmeric is fat-soluble, meaning it requires a source of fat in order to be absorbed in the body. Consuming turmeric with coconut milk or dairy is a great way to consume it. A new fad recipe has surfaced called “golden milk”, which is a warm drink with turmeric that has more bioavailability due to the presence of fat.
Another method of promoting absorption of turmeric in the body is pairing it with black pepper. A component of black pepper called piperine is responsible for its flavor and helps prevent turmeric and curcumin from being excreted from the body. Even just a sprinkle of black pepper can dramatically increase the bioavailability of turmeric.
Precautions for supplementing with turmeric
Although the extensive list of health benefits of turmeric and curcumin seem desirable, individuals with certain health conditions should be cautious before taking them.
Pregnant women - Turmeric is safe when used in small amounts as a spice in foods, but can be unsafe to pregnant women when in larger amounts of turmeric as a medicine. It has potential to induce a menstrual period or stimulate the uterus, which can put the baby at risk.
Breastfeeding women - Similarly to pregnant women, turmeric is safe in small amounts as a spice in foods, but can be harmful to the baby when consumed in large quantities. We advise speaking to your doctor before supplementing with turmeric.
Individuals with gallbladder problems - Turmeric can worsen your gallbladder complications if consumed in high amounts.
Bleeding problems - Supplementing with turmeric might slow blood clotting and increase the risk of bruising and bleeding in people with bleeding disorders.
Hormone-sensitive condition (breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis) - Curcumin has the potential to act like the hormone estrogen and therefore have effects on hormone-sensitive conditions.
Infertility - Turmeric might lower testosterone levels and decrease sperm movement in men, which can reduce fertility. Turmeric should be used cautiously by people trying to conceive because it also possesses negative effects for pregnant women as well.
Iron deficiency - Taking high amounts of turmeric might prevent the absorption of iron into the blood and should be used cautiously by those who are iron-deficient.
How to Incorporate Them into Your Diet
Turmeric is a great spice to incorporate into your diet if able and in moderate doses. If you are unsure if you should or can incorporate turmeric into your diet, we recommend consulting with your doctor. Pure Plates offers many food selections that can help provide similar benefits to turmeric, such as decreased inflammation.
The Bottom Line…
Turmeric and curcumin have grown in popularity for valid reasons: their healing properties and proven health benefits can be a great alternative to traditional western medicine in treating certain health conditions. Choose a meal delivery service such as Pure Plates that offers a wide selection of nourishing foods to improve your health. We recommend consulting your doctor or a Registered Dietitian before starting a supplement regime of turmeric.