So I just had to choose turmeric as a National Nutrition Month super food review.
For those of you who have happily been using powdered turmeric in your Indian curries, raw turmeric looks like ginger root ( a distant cousin) and is bright orange when cut open ( no surprise there). Tumeric, both the raw and powdered form, has been used for a very long time in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic Medicine to treat digestive and liver ailments.
Tumeric, is gaining in popularity today, like many of these old remedies, because of the interest and research in the possible health benefits from this traditional food product. As is often the case, the public is ahead of the science in trusting the benefits of turmeric.
Proponents of the super properties of turmeric suggest that curcumin and the volatile oils found in turmeric can improve digestion, reduce the pain of arthritis, help eye infections, relieve menstrual pain, help in certain cancer treatments, relieve ringworm, headaches and improve irritable bowel syndrome. As you may have guessed this list of benefits is associated with many super foods.
Fortunately for us there is ongoing research on the health claims of turmeric and we do have preliminary evidence for some of these claims. One caution is that much of the research was and is being done at the “cell in test tube” and animal research levels. So a lot of the health claims are being extrapolated from test tubes to people and that is not really a true test of the effectiveness in humans.
The good news is that the University of Maryland Medical Center* has identified two studies using humans that show a positive effect from the use of curcumin on relief of symptoms of dyspepsia ( indigestion) and decrease episodic recurrence of ulcerative colitis. In some ways this should not be surprising since TCM and Ayurveda have long been prescribing turmeric for digestive ailments. A third human study used curcumin to treat uveitis, a particular eye infection, with promising results.
Unfortunately in animal studies, according to UMMC, turmeric does not appear to have an effect on cholesterol levels, either good or bad.
Is tumeric a super food? I give this one a maybe. Tumeric has plenty of nutritional benefits going for it. It is chock full of anti-oxidants and is considered to have anti-inflammatory effects. Both of these antis are great for building up our immune systems and reducing the nasty by products that come from everyday living in in a place like Shanghai. I expect we will be hearing much more about the healing benefits of this scraggly rhizome in the future.
So put a big squirt of yellow mustard( a good source of turmeric) on your hot dog, I can’t promise the yellow mustard will balance out the effects of that greasy dog but we can always hope!
Eat Well, Live Well, Have Fun