The more I read about turmeric the more I want it in my life. A natural anti-inflammatory, it’s been linked to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s, cancer, liver disease. It’s also anti-septic, anti-bacterial and packed with anti-oxidants – that’s a lot of anti! In India, where the spice is consumed far more than here, less than one in one hundred of over-65s have Alzheimer’s, in the UK the figure is one in fourteen.
In one study –admittedly a very small one – three dementia sufferers were each given a teaspoon of of turmeric a day. Within a few months their symptoms had reduced significantly so they were able to resume some day -to -day activities, greatly enhancing both their quality of life and that of their carers. Fluke or the power of turmeric? There’s a video here http://www.eat2think.com/2014/11/3-cases-of-turmeric-improving-alzheimers.html?m=1The video makes the point that further research on this is unlikely as you can’t patent a common kitchen spice, so there’s no money to be made from proving that it has a beneficial effect on dementia in a larger study. It’s an interesting point about the power of big pharma, but lots of studies around the world make use of turmeric. For example, research in Austria found that curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric) delays the liver damage that can lead to cirrhosis; at the University of Texas rodent studies indicated that curcumin inhibits the growth of melanoma and studies at the University of South Dakota found that pre-treatment with curcumin makes cancer cells more vulnerable to chemo and radiotherapy.
Turmeric appears to have a particularly strong effect on the low grade, chronic inflammation which increases as we age – so much so that experts now refer to it as ‘Inflamm-ageing’. This may be the common biological factor responsible for the onset of disease and decline in the elderly. It’s not the sort of inflammation response we need to heal a cut, rather it comes from the ageing process itself. How to fight it? One of the most powerful tools for modulating the ageing process is nutrition, specifically a low-meat diet rich in fruit, veg and spices like turmeric.
There are plenty of ways to get your daily turmeric dose. In The Brain Fog Fix, Dr Mike Dow suggests a shot of half a teaspoon each of turmeric and black pepper, stirred into 30ml of cold water. When I was in Melbourne recently I went to the fabulous Serotonin Eatery http://www.serotonindealer.com/ which has ‘golden lattes’ on the menu – turmeric, ginger, cinnamon and black pepper whizzed up with coconut milk. It was delicious and came topped with a sweet smiley face of cinnamon in place of a more usual shake of chocolate – I’ll post a pic on our Instagram accountwww.instagram.com/kaleandcocoa and blog more about The Serotonin Eatery soon.www.wunderworkshop.com sells a product with the alluring name of ‘Instantly Golden’ a blend of turmeric, pepper and coconut milk powder- just add hot water for an instant latte. I’m trying to make my first drink of the day a mug of warm water with the juice of half a lemon, half a teaspoon of turmeric and a good pinch of black pepper. It tastes a lot better than you might think, and is gentler on the system than going straight in for a cup of tea. The pepper helps the absorption of curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric. And this simple fish curry is a winner – giving the family a good dose of turmeric. The fat in the coconut milk also aids absorption but don’t forget the black pepper.
TURMERIC FISH CURRY (serves 4)
- 1 tbs curry paste (I like Pataks)
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp ginger pulp
- 1 tbs coconut oil
- 400ml tin of coconut milk
- 2 tsp sugar
- 300g boneless, skinless white fish fillet, cubed
- 150g raw prawns
- 2 handfuls spinach
- juice of 1 lime
- black pepper and salt to taste
- fresh coriander, chopped, to serve
- cooked quinoa or rice to serve
Heat the oil in a pan and gently fry the curry paste and turmeric for a couple of minutes, or until the mixture becomes fragrant. Add the coconut milk and sugar and mix together. Simmer for a few minutes until it has reduced slightly, then stir in the fish and prawns. Cook for five minutes then add the spinach leaves. Cook for another couple of minutes then stir in lime juice and pepper. Adjust seasoning then serve over cooked quinoa or rice with coriander sprinkled over the top.