food to glow

feel good food that's good for you

turmeric milk

For the first time ever I am pretty much re-posting one of my top posts; one that many of you will not have seen.

I don’t have much truck with the idea of super foods: for nearly anything you can name context is so important, and the term super food as typically used gives a false sense of importance in the diet. But, I will stick my neck out a bit and tentatively declare a daily ‘dose’ of turmeric to be a jolly good idea. Read the following and you will see why, as well as how to get it into your life in the easiest way possible. Just a warning though: I know many people who have ditched their coffee habit and acquired a turmeric milk habit. 🙂

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{Originally published August 2013} This is my science-updated take on an old Ayurvedic treatment beloved of Indian grandmothers. Treatment for what, you may wonder. Just about everything. Although clinical evidence supporting its cure-all reputation is scanty (not many big studies have been funded), what is around looks very promising. Very promising indeed. And with 14 centuries of culinary and medicinal use, perhaps grandmother really does know best.

turmericWhy is turmeric so good for us? Looking at the wide-ranging literature (both clinical and not), turmeric seems to be anti just about anything bad: viruses, disease-causing bacteria, carcinogens – perhaps even vampires: who knows. Turmeric is also widely used to support digestive health and treat gastrointestinal complaints, such as IBS and colitis. This highly-pigmented root –  that we typically use ground – tastes like a very peppery ginger (to which it is related). It is also what makes curries yellow.

Many integrative cancer centers in the US and in Europe recommend turmeric use for those with certain types of cancers, most notably colorectal. A small 2008 study of pancreatic cancer patients showed turmeric slowed tumour growth. Other studies also point towards effectiveness for a wide range of conditions. A recent small study of kidney transplant patients showed fewer rejections with the use of curcumin in combination with another antioxidant, quercetin, compared to placebo. It is also widely used in many countries to treat rheumatoid arthritis, with recent science finally ‘validating’ its impressive anti-inflammatory action. Here is a fantastic overview of the recent research, as is this one from Drugs.com. For a more detailed, clinical read click on this academic overview.

Turmeric is not a miracle spice by any stretch of the imagination, especially because absorption is limited, but there are few potential side effects. If you have health issues, discuss turmeric with your doctor before embarking on using it beyond the culinary.

How to use: The good stuff is quite strong tasting so if you have some old stuff knocking about in the back of your cupboards perhaps treat yourself to a new, more potent, jar of it. It’s usually pretty cheap. “Therapeutic grade’ turmeric is sometimes preferred as it will contain a standardised amount of the main active compound, curcumin. Here in the UK your best bet is definitely from the respected herbalists, Napiers.

Some people drink milks such as this one daily when colds and sore throats are zinging around, or if they are prone to/have a respiratory infection. It has many, many other purported uses (eg rheumatoid arthritis) and a few important cautions (e.g. those with gall bladder disease). Read this dispassionate summary from the always-reliable mskcc.org for more information. It can also be used with immune-stimulant echinacea to reduce the symptoms of a cold.

turmeric root

turmeric root

The research-indicated optimal ‘dose’ of turmeric (as opposed to straight curcumin – which is not to be recommended) for daily consumption is ½ teaspoon, working up to 1 tsp – ideally with black pepper and some kind of oil (a curry a day!).  To be honest I only began to take it daily when I had a long-running lung infection (it seemed to be more helpful than the ruddy antibiotics!) but have kept it up. Knock on wood, I haven’t had as much as a cold in years. I also rub it onto any grazes and cuts for quick – and bright – healing.

So, my turmeric milk update? Coconut oil. Oil helps us absorb the notoriously difficult to absorb curcumin, and coconut oil seems much more palatable than, say, olive or rapeseed. But you could use those if you like. If you use full fat milk, or best-quality coconut milk, that will have plenty enough uptake-enhancing fat. Here is a link to more interesting info about coconut oil, citing some valid studies. Even still, I don’t think of it as a ‘wonder food.’

And I know the idea of black pepper (piper nigrum) in this sounds odd, but it also helps us to ‘take up’ this useful and very pretty spice, and tastes absolutely fine in this sunny-hued milk. Studies have indicated that turmeric may be 2000 times better absorbed with the piperine in fresh black pepper. However, high doses of piperine (as extracted drops) may interfere with some medication, so stick to just a drop if using an extract, or as little as 1/16th of a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper.

Disclaimer: This post and recipe is not intended to treat any illnesses, diagnosed or suspected. But, it is a delicious – and potentially helpful – drink in its own right. If you are interested in the therapeutic and preventive, as opposed to the purely culinary, benefits, please see the links in this post. Always check with your doctor before embarking on a change of diet or adding therapeutic foods. This is especially true if you take medications.

There are loads of ways to use turmeric other than in curries. I’ve listed some recipes below, as well as links to other sites featuring turmeric-based recipe. For something quick and tasty I sometimes mix turmeric with best olive oil and salt and use it as a fabulously healthy and tasty dip or spread for good bread. What way do you like your turmeric? Do you use it as a remedy? If so, how? I would love to hear your suggestions and uses.

turmeric milkSpiced Golden Turmeric Milk

Absolutely everything in this simple drink is good for us – the turmeric, the good local honey, cardamom, cinnamon, and pepper. Use whatever milk you like, but to keep cholesterol out of the picture, choose a calcium-fortified plant-based milk, such as almond or hemp. To your health!

Serves One

250ml (1 cup) milk of choice – I use unsweetened almond milk

1 crushed green cardamom* pod OR 1/8 tsp ground

small cinnamon stick, lightly bashed – optional OR 1/4 tsp ground

½ tsp ground turmeric* (from jar or capsule)

1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper* (grind straight into the milk to capture the essential pepper oil)

1 tsp best local honey (or to taste) – another great anti-viral and antibacterial ingredient OR raw sugar, to taste – optional

½ tsp  pure virgin coconut oil/coconut butter – optional if your milk has about 4% fat

1. Heat the milk slowly with the cardamom and cinnamon stick (if using), whisking in the turmeric, pepper, honey and coconut oil. Simmer for eight minutes to activate the curcumin. Strain and enjoy immediately.

Just a note, the ingredients are not soluble, and will settle in the bottom of your cup, so do give it a stir once while drinking or you’ll get a strong surge of turmeric at the last sip. A lovely substitute for your morning coffee.

Turmeric Crib Sheet

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-cancer** (preventive and therapeutic), especially esophagus, mouth, bowel/colorectal, stomach, breast, pancreas, skin
  • Anti-viral
  • Anti-bacterial
  • Appetite stimulant

Historical Uses: diarrhea, fever, bronchitis, colds and nonspecific viral infections, parasitic worms, leprosy, bladder and kidney infections, skin infections and wounds (topically applied)

* An alternative is to use the very excellent Holy Lama Spice Drops – one drop of each is quite enough for one serving. The clear advantage is that unlike the ground or whole spices, the drops blend in so well. I take them on holiday with me – just in case!

**animal studies show curcumin slows growth/spread of some tumours; human trials are underway, and very promising.

spices

Other posts with/about turmeric on Food To Glow:

* Cooking for Maximum Culinary/Nutritional Synergy

* Turmeric and Lime Salmon with Lime-Scented Baked Rice (delicious recipe; shame about the photos!)

* Jerk Marinade

* Vietnamese Savoury Crepes

* Quinoa Bowl with Citrus, Avocado and Edamame

* Rogan Josh Spice Paste

* Tandoori, Lentil, Potato and Eggplant Hash

* French Lentils, Poached Egg and Smoked Paprika Yogurt

* Indonesian Fried Rice with Homemade Kecap Manis

* Groundnut Stew

Naan-chiladas

…and other recipes too. My Instagram feed is filled with turmeric mentions and ideas, mostly as breakfast posts.

Others’ Turmeric-centric Recipes 

Red Lentil Soup with Lemon via 101 Cookbooks

Indian Spiced Scotch Egg with Curry Mayo and Turmeric Potatoes via Cook Eat Live Vegetarian

22 Surprising Uses for Turmeric via Mother Nature Network

 

29 thoughts on “Give Us This Day Our Daily Turmeric

  1. I take turmeric capsules every morning, It really helps the hereditary & increasingly aching (and aging) joints in my hands and fingers x

    1. Make sure you have piperine and some fat with it too.

      1. I take the capsules at the same time as cod liver oil capsules – does that work?

  2. Susan says:

    Lovely! I just attended a class on curcumin as its cancer prevention properties are pretty well documented. One of the things that I took away was that the best oil to speed absorption is Turmeric essential oil so perhaps a few drops in the tea would help as well!

    1. The spice drops I mention are just that! Powerful stuff. Lucky you getting an actual class on this amazing ingredient / phytochemical 😊

  3. Gale Dorion says:

    Thank-you, Kellie !!!!!!! Live, Love, express Light and Joy! Gale KF5TTP

  4. I love turmeric and get my daily dose through capsules and it’s definitely helped my joint pain I acquired while pregnant (and never left). But I also do cleanses occasionally, though not often anymore, that include turmeric. Just mung beans and brown rice (or basmati, depending on taste and philosophy) combined, then add turmeric, cumin, and coriander cooked in ghee as a simple curry. Eat as much as you want for a few days of it, but nothing else.

    1. Thanks for chipping in with your own use of turmeric. It is incredibly versatile, isn’t it? I even add it to polenta cakes. 🙂

  5. superfitbabe says:

    I love it in my curries!! YUM ❤

  6. wow! it even looks tasty! the Protein Essentials team will have to give it a try

  7. Mike says:

    Great photos the food looks yummy and gorgeous yet funky presentation!

  8. Well as you know, my family find this recipe really helpful, especially when my sons asthma flares up – he also has it regularly during exams. Oddly, personally, I find turmeric tricky to drink but I use it (and love it) most days in dahls, soups, curries etc.
    I could sit and look at the colour all day = happy

    1. I know you can’t ‘do’ turmeric milk, but of course that’s just my quick “down the hatch” way of getting it in most days. I have also taken to adding it to every avocado toast I make (er, every other day!). I sprinkle on a goodly amount and have the rest in something else. Dal is always a winner in my book! And can I just add that I am chuffed to bits that youngest son finds turmeric milk useful. *beaming*

  9. Really good idea to re-post this. And all the power to you for sticking your neck out for this particular superfood. It’s a small risk worth taking and I’ve personally witnessed the difference a daily dose of turmeric can make. Have recommended this recipe to clients on numerous occasions. I also make a turmeric harissa oil drizzle that is pretty divine on soups/grains, poached eggs, etc. 😉

    1. That sounds delicious, Katie. I add turmeric in to all kinds of things but as yet not harissa. A super idea. And thanks for agreeing with me about turmeric. :))

  10. Great post. LOVE that bumble bee mug, so cute!!

  11. purehonest says:

    Reblogged this on Pure Honest Food.

  12. belladermis says:

    Reblogged this on Bella Dermis Skin Care LLC and commented:
    When I lived in India, I recall people using turmeric for EVERYTHING! And there is some scientific evidence of its power against inflammation.

  13. wheelie38 says:

    This is a brilliant post I love Turmeric and drink it in boiling hot water, so many positive benefits.

  14. I remember this post now! I think this could be a good post workout drink?

    1. Indeed it is! I have had it with a shot of decaf coffee, which is weird but quite good. 🙂

      1. I don’t like coffee, but I’ll take your word for it! 😉

If you have time, I would love to hear from you. Thanks so much!

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