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Turmeric & Golden Milk Lattes - Popular, Yes, But Are They Actually Good For You?

Food trends go in and out of style as much as clothing, music, or the latest hottest celebrity. There is always some new ingredient to be coveted, with new trendy shops opening their doors from LA to NYC, devoting their menus to that new "it" thing. From kale to matcha, a new miracle super-food seems to define not just each calendar year, but health goddess menus from coast-to-coast, turning every day omnivores into health nuts and modern day "foodies".

Move over pumpkin! With the rise of Ayurveda & Fall arriving, this seems to be the season of turmeric.

From golden lattes to lemonade, soups and smoothies, turmeric has been quickly moving beyond it's traditional Indian/Southeast Asian roots and seems to be popping up everywhere and IN everything! Even Google Food Trends reports the search of the word 'turmeric' has doubled in popularity since summer 2015!

So what's the big deal? Why is everyone so obsessed? And should you jump on this bandwagon?

Turmeric, related to the more widely known ginger root, is one of world's most powerful anti-inflammatory foods. This super power means that as it's working its way through your digestive tract, your body extracts useful particles that calm your stressed out gut and help repair cell damage throughout your body.

Why do we need this?!

First, A Little Biology Lesson:

As we age, cell breakdown and inflammation builds from chronic stress, environmental pollution, lack of sleep/rest, and eating foods we have hidden sensitivities/intolerances to. We also age from the build-up of top inflammatory foods...a little here, a little all adds up. Top inflammatory foods are refined sugar, refined white flour, processed foods with preservatives, GMO's & dyes, fried foods, meats like sausage & bacon, and lard {such as margarine}. Over time, our healthy cells wear themselves out trying to play hero as they fight to protect us from any chemicals and free radicals hidden in these foods {think of a robot gone haywire like the femme-bots in Austin Powers}.

Due to our primarily American diets growing up, MOST of us out there have had inflammation quietly building up inside us without even realizing it for a very long time. We accept little discomforts such as tiredness, acne, sadness, headaches, bloat, brain fog, and irritability as normal. These are just part of "adulting", right?! But nope, that's all fact many times these symptoms are due to inflammation that has been quietly building over time.

When inflammation goes ignored, our gut can become overrun with bad bacteria, our nerves and joints can become inflamed, our hormones can be knocked out of a healthy balance, we can become frequently sick, or experience ailments no one can seem to diagnose. There's a million ways inflammation manifests itself depending on your unique biology, but in one way or another it's going to show up!

If inflammation continues to be ignored over extended periods of our lifetime, it can lead to chronic diseases, acid reflux, depression, diabetes, migraines, fobromyalgia, arthritis, cancer, and even more long-term, Alzheimer's.

Consuming anti-inflammatories helps to repair and can even reverse, some of the long term damage we create.

If you're starting to build a healthy lifestyle, adding in a variety of anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant foods is a great way to begin! These foods help balance bacteria in the gut, reduce digestive bloat, fight heart burn, relieve headaches, increase mental clarity, reduce arthritis pain, even out mood, fight cancer, etc. Our health really does BEGIN with food!

Super-foods are foods that can do these things using very small quantities and with minimal caloric impact. Turmeric is one such super-food!

Now For Our Feature Presentation - Turmeric:

We often tend to hear that we should eat our colors. And it's true...bold bright saturated colors in foods is a great way to tell how powerful they are nutritionally. These bright colors signify the presence of antioxidants like beta-carotene (orange), lycopene (red), and anthocyanins (purple). So, think about it...there aren't many other foods out there that can compare to the bright yellow-orange of turmeric!

Curcumin is the molecule in turmeric that we can thank for all of it's amazing benefits. Consuming just 500mg of curcumin {about 3 Tbsp. of turmeric) a day could be enough to begin seeing amazing changes in your body such as: boosting your immune system, balancing bacteria in the gut, reducing digestive bloat, reducing heart burn, relieving headaches, increasing mental clarity, reducing arthritis & joint pain, evening out mood, preventing cancer, etc. Like, seriously, whoa...

If you're not into downing 3 whole Tbsp. of the golden powder from your spice cabinet {contains only about 5% curcumin, so we need that much of it to be effective}, go for the raw stuff in the grocery store, the kind with the peel still on it resembling ginger root! You can even take a curcumin OTC supplement {consulting your doctor first, of course} and just add it into your daily vitamin regimen. The maximum amount recommended for daily consumption is about 2,000mg.

Also, fun fact, consuming curcumin with black pepper actually increases its absorption! Just another way to get more bang for minimum caloric buck. You can add this into teas, veggies, soups...right along with the golden magic root.

I Have Turmeric, Now What Do I Do With It?

The flavor of turmeric is actually quite mild, which means its incredibly diverse...just watch out, it DOES STAIN! Here's some ways to incorporate both the spice and the raw fresh turmeric form right at home.

Ground Turmeric Spice:

· Add a dash of it into your eggs/fritatta

· Sprinkle it on roasted vegetable with your other usual spices

· Add it into ground turkey and other meats with some cumin, salt & pepper

· Blend it into your grains such as brown rice, couscous, lentils or quinoa {adds a very pretty yellow color to grains}

· Throw it into chicken or veggie soups

· Sprinkle it in a glass of kefir with cinnamon

· Add into your plain Greek yogurt with some crushed walnuts & honey

· Simmer on the stove with coconut milk & honey for an espresso-free version of a golden latte

· Toss it in salads with cumin, garlic, salt, and pepper

· Add it into mac-and-cheese sauces for an added nutritional boost without any color change {because, what's life without mac-and-cheese?}

Raw Turmeric Root:

· Cut a 1" thick piece and blend into smoothies

· Grate it and add into homemade dressings with olive oil, vinegar, parsley, & mustard seed

· Boil up two to three 1" pieces in water - once ready, pour water and boiled ginger pieces into a tea cup {tea of your choosing} along with a dash of black pepper, lemon, and honey

· Add grated root to marinades

· Throw freshly grated turmeric into your stir fry

· Shave and place on hummus or other dips

So there you have it, a million ways to make a bigger nutritional impact with very little change to your diet. No, there is no such thing as a miracle food, and turmeric alone will not cure illness {it's a spice, not Jesus}, but when folded into a diet with other antioxidants and minerals, every little bit adds up! And less inflammation means a healthier, more energized and happier you.

So, Who SHOULDN'T Have Turmeric?

Yes, who knew such a group existed! While MOST people would benefit greatly from turmeric, not ALL are actually advised to consume it. There's always a catch isn't there? So pay attention to this list, because you'll either be on here, or you'll know someone who is!

Turmeric can cause blood thinning, which means anyone taking blood thinner medications {such as aspirin, ibuprofen, warfarin, naproxen} and anything of the sort should be careful about adding this ingredient. When in doubt, always ask your doctor. Additionally, since turmeric can cause blood thinning, it can make it difficult for blood to clot. So if you're taking any herbal supplements that slow blood clotting OR you have a medical condition that makes it difficult for wounds to heal, talk to your doctor or avoid all together.

Turmeric may also lower blood sugar! While this is great for a healthy person, it's not so for diabetics on medication that already keeps their blood sugar low. Adding turmeric could drop their blood sugar even lower, leading to hypoglycemia, which can be very dangerous for a diabetic.

If you are pregnant, use turmeric in small quantities, if at all. Turmeric has been known to stimulate the uterus and can even induce a period. This could create false contractions or other scary episodes for mommas-to-be which creates either unnecessary worry, or at the other end of the spectrum, increases the risk of miscarriage.

At the end of the day, always discuss any dietary changes or supplements with your doctor, especially if are monitoring other health conditions. And get to know how YOUR unique body processes all foods! Just because something is healthy or popular doesn't mean it works best for you. And just because your body can or cannot handle a food doesn't mean you are sick or weird. We are all simply made up differently, with food enzyme combinations as unique as our finger prints! Let your bio-individuality speak to you...because our bodies never lie, and they are always talking to us!

As the famous Proverb goes, "One man's food is another man's poison"


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