My interest in the benefits of turmeric was sparked a few months ago after hearing about its ability to reduce brain inflammation. Although I do take a great turmeric supplement, I wanted to experiment with concocting a turmeric elixir. Thus began my hunt for a recipe.
Lucky for me, I found a great recipe in the Mama Love cookbook (which is full of many delicious recipes).
I am hooked on this elixir. This spicy, herby, peppery, tangy, and slightly sweet shot has become a welcomed addition to my morning routine. The recipe I share with you is my version of Mama Love’s.
But, first I will explain why we might want to include turmeric and ginger in our diet.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF TURMERIC
Turmeric (Curcuma Longa) is a powerful anti-inflammatory herb. Curcumin is the constituent in turmeric that gives the root it’s bright yellow/orange color. Curcumin has been studied extensively and continues to be a focus in current research. Researchers have found that curcumin is a more powerful anti-inflammatory substance than both pharmaceuticals, aspirin, and ibuprofen (1).
Many of today’s chronic diseases are associated with chronic low-grade inflammation (2, 3, 4). Because of it’s anti-inflammatory action, curcumin may help prevent or reverse pro-inflammatory chronic diseases such as neurodegenerative (such as Alzheimer’s disease), cardiovascular and pulmonary (diseases of the heart, veins and arteries), metabolic (such as diabetes and insulin resistance), autoimmune (see this list), and neoplastic (malignant and benign growths) diseases (5, 6, 7).
The biggest reason I got interested in turmeric, is because of its ability to turn off brain inflammation. Inflammation in the brain is mediated by immune cells called microglial cells. Activation of these microglial cells is considered a hallmark of brain pathology and may contribute to neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and multiple sclerosis (8). If you want to preserve your brain, and keep it sharp and healthy well into your golden years, having your microglial cells deactivated will help. Turmeric does just this; it reduces brain inflammation by deactivating microglial cells. Not only has turmeric been found to inhibit microglial activation, but has also been found to increase stem cells in the brains of mice (9). Take home message – turmeric is incredibly neuroprotective.
In addition to its anti-inflammatory action, turmeric also has strong antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anticancer properties, and may protect against mercury exposure (10, 11, 12, 13, 14).
Curcumin has also been shown to exert it’s effectiveness, without causing any side effects (15). One study found curcumin is safe even when ingesting 8 grams per day, for 3 months (16). Now, that is a lot of curcumin!
HEALTH BENEFITS OF GINGER
Turmeric’s cousin, Ginger (Zingiber Officinale) also possesses strong anti-inflammatory & antioxidant properties. Ginger also has a plethora of other health benefits, including:
- Ginger has long been used as a digestive aid and can reduce nausea and indigestion (17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22).
- Ginger possesses anti-diabetic activity and can reduce fasting blood sugar levels (23).
- Ginger may help with menstrual pain (24).
- Ginger may help to prevent cancer (25, 26, 27).
- Best of all, ginger also is strongly neuroprotective and can improve brain function and brain health (28, 29, 30, 31, 32).
WHY THE BLACK PEPPER?
I know, pepper seems like a weird ingredient. The reason pepper is added to this recipe is because the piperine (found in pepper) increases the bioavailability of curcumin by 2000%. This means that more of the curcumin that you ingest will be absorbed into your body (33).
As well, curcumin is hydrophobic polyphenol, meaning it is fat soluble (34). For this reason, I recommend drinking your elixir with a meal that contains a fair amount of healthy fat, to further improve the bioavailability. I have my elixir shot with breakfast, which always includes coconut oil and grass-fed butter. Yum!
- Turmeric Root – you can use any amount you like. I tend to use a lot. My last batch had 150 grams.
- Ginger Root – Again, I use a lot. My last batch had 130 grams.
- 2 or 3 Lemons
- 1 – 1.5 tbsp Honey
- 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
- 1 liter of Water
Step 1 – Peel the turmeric and ginger root, then cut into blendable sized pieces. Place the root chunks in your high powered blender. I peel the roots using a spoon and a paring knife. Warning: peeling turmeric will stain your fingers yellow for a couple days. Don’t wear light-colored clothing while doing this. If you have a white countertop, use a cutting board that you don’t mind staining. This job can take a few minutes, so throw on an interesting podcast or your favorite music.
Step 2 – Zest the lemons, using a zester or vegetable peeler. Put the zest in your blender.
Step 3 – Juice the lemons, then pour into the blender.
Step 4 – Place the honey and black pepper in the blender along with 350 ml of water.
Step 5 – Blend the bejesus out of it. I blend for a few minutes, increasing the speed of the blend as it becomes smooth.
Step 6 – Pour the elixir into a sieve, pressing with a spoon until as much juice is squeezed out of the pulp as possible.
Step 7 – Pour the elixir into a 1 liter mason jar, then top the jar up with water.
Step 8 – Place the pulp in a 250 ml mason jar, for later use in soups, stews, salads etc.
Step 9 – Enjoy an ounce once or twice a day.
I WOULD LIKE TO HEAR FROM YOU!
Now that you know the incredible health benefits of turmeric & ginger, will you try to incorporate them into your diet?
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