As winter approaches and the air feels brisk and chilly, it seems natural to think about curling up on the couch with a bowl of warm and spicy soup. Winter is a time for comfort foods which help to warm the body and support immunity and digestion. The abundance of squash and pumpkins in our gardens and grocery are chock full of nutrients our bodies need to keep our systems healthy and strong throughout the cold months. Spices help with digestion of cooked foods, but they can also provide excellent nutritive value in themselves.
One such spice is turmeric, the yellow-pigmented “curry spice” often used in Indian cuisine. Turmeric contains curcumin, the active component which exhibits over 150 potentially therapeutic activities, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. As an immunity booster, turmeric is nearly 8 times stronger than Vitamin C or E!
Curcumin is capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier and holds promise as a neuroprotective agent in a wide range of neurological disorders. This is very good news for those suffering from collateral damage to the brain from long term drug intervention. When they first noticed that the rate of Alzheimer’s among older adults in India is more than four times lower than in North America, scientists began studying the beneficial effects of curcumin on Parkinson’s and other degenerative brain conditions. With its inflammatory properties, curcumin may also help with gallstones, Crohn’s disease, cataracts, IBS, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Along with using turmeric as a healthy spice, it is important to include black pepper, which increases the bioavailability of curcumin by 2000 times. Black pepper stimulates the production of hydrochloric acid for better digestion and contains piperine, which, according to the University of Michigan Cancer Center, can help keep breast cancer down, especially in combination with turmeric.
Go ahead! Spice it up this winter with this recipe. It will keep you feeling good and ensure that you get all the health benefits of curcumin.