Turmeric – The trend that is here to stay
Though turmeric looks similar to the ginger root in its
organic form, most will have encountered it as a spectacularly coloured powder,
broadly used within Indian cuisine and responsible for the orange hue of many
The popularity of this spice actually took off a year ago,
thanks to many TV programmes such as Channel 4’s Trust Me I’m a Doctor, recent
studies and the rise in use in cuisine. A number of health benefits skyrocketed
its super spice status, and we all ran to the nearest health food shop to
invest in its promise of extensive health benefits and anti-inflammatory
So why is turmeric experiencing a comeback?
The thing is, it isn’t. Turmeric may have had a makeover; turmeric
flavoured latte anyone? But in terms of coming back, it never left in the first
place. The difference this time around is that we know far more about how to
get the most out of this spice, and, specifically, we know more about how our
bodies’ best absorb its nutrients.
it actually work?
The benefits of turmeric are extensive, it helps to maintain
the health of joints and bones, and is a powerful antioxidant.
You may have heard a discussion on turmeric between Dr.
Michael Moseley and Jeremy Vine on BBC Radio Two. According to Dr. Moseley, decent
evidence shows that turmeric controls blood sugar levels, as well as that that
it has a positive effect on the inflammation gene and therefore on inflammatory
diseases. The latter was discovered during a trial which analysed the effects
of certain foods on switching genes either on or off.
There was only one problem highlighted during this
interview; the absorption of turmeric into our bodies.
So how can we make the most out of turmeric?
According to Dr. Michael Moseley, turmeric is better
absorbed when eaten with fats or with black pepper. There are two problems with
this. Firstly, turmeric is somewhat caustic in taste, and secondly, an awful
lot has to be eaten in order to maximize its potential.
Dr Sarah Brewer, GP and Medical Director at Healthspan says,
‘When normal powdered turmeric is consumed, as little as 1% of the active
component, curcumin, is absorbed whole into the circulation, whether it’s taken
in supplement or food form.’
Unfortunately, the use of black pepper as part of a turmeric
supplement is easier said than done. The addition of black pepper can be of risk
to the older population whom use other products or medicines, and it can also
interfere with other prescribed medicine.
But, when another
study compared the absorption of turmeric when taken in three different forms,
one of these forms,
known as liquid micelles, revealed
an effective method of boosting curcumin absorption[i]. This form absorbed turmeric 185
fold greater than the method which used turmeric in its powdered form, and which
would have been used by Dr Michael Moseley in his study of Turmeric.
to Dr. Sarah, liquid micelles are the key component for a winning supplement, ‘Supplements
that provide turmeric in the form of liquid nano –micelles are far better
absorbed than turmeric in powdered form. These are the ones I choose to take.’
Many supplements rely on a specific delivery in order for
their nutrients to be thoroughly absorbed. Fat soluble and water soluble
vitamins, for example, require utterly different methods of consumption, with fat
soluble supplements, like vitamin A, producing better benefits when ingested
with food. If you’ve ever ignored that
packet that says ‘don’t take on an empty stomach’, it’s time to re-think. Your
body will surely thank you later.
is this important?
A year ago, it might have been correct to say that turmeric
had to be eaten with fats or black pepper in order for the individual to reap
its health benefits. This is no longer the case.
For those of us not overly keen on the idea of turmeric
flavoured coffee, the right supplement will
provide you with the extensive benefits that turmeric provides, and the right
supplement is a viable alternative to
eating turmeric with fats or black pepper.
If there’s one thing we can agree with Dr. Michael Moseley
on, it’s that turmeric can provide some very powerful health benefits.