I have been super excited about turmeric since learning about the potent health benefits several years ago. After finding whole turmeric in the produce department of my local grocer, I spent months grating it by hand to steam in my herbal tea each night. This made me happy even when my fingers looked as if I had spent my life smoking Marlboro reds-ooh!
That's why I am always thrilled to find a good product where someone has done the work for me. Such was the case a few weeks ago while at the Carrboro Farmers Market where I found Golden Milk Kefir produced by Carolina Farmhouse Dairy. I didn't really need a sample but took two! Owner Cindy Hamrick told me that research showed that the nutritional properties of turmeric increased when consumed with good fats, just as it does when used with fresh ground pepper. I left with a quart of Golden Milk Kefir.
What are the benefits of turmeric?
- A potent antioxidant with a one-two punch! Not only does it protect cells from being damaged by free radicals in the body, it also has the ability to build it's own antioxidant enzymes. This is believed to be the reason turmeric is a preventative measure in cancers such as prostate, breast, colon, and skin.
- Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is the root of many ailments in Western society from arthritis to heart disease. Turmeric increases the function of the body's endothelium which is the lining of the blood vessels. When the endothelium is nice and smooth, blood flows through faster without getting clogged up. Exercise is another important factor in endothelium health (I'll save that for another post)!
- Turmeric is known to boost the levels of the brain hormone, Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which is known to produce growth of new neurons (neurogenesis)! When this happens it is a preventative measure against Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Multiple Sclerosis, dementia, and even depression.
I like to incorporate turmeric into my daily routine by using it when cooking or in herbal teas. One of my favorite evening rituals is to sip on homemade Golden Milk just before bed because it's also great for insomnia and digestion! Another great reason to fall in love with this South East Asian herb that has been around for over 4,000 years!
As a reminder, always check with your health care provider before using turmeric in large doses. Because of it's anti inflammatory properties it can react to blood thinners or medication related to the treatment of diabetes.