Let’s get real for a minute. It’s fall, and although I hate to admit it, I love anything and everything pumpkin. And yes, that includes PSLs (Pumpkin Spice Lattes for those unaware of this growing phenomenon. And yes, it’s so basic, it even has an abbreviation.) Pumpkin bread, pumpkin butter, pumpkin granola, you name it: Get at me. I was even recently informed that Trader Joe’s is now carrying pumpkin spiced pumpkin seeds. No kidding. And the sad part is, I would probably buy them. The thing is, even I need to add a little spice (no pun intended) to my pumpkin flavored items.
That’s where turmeric comes in. I didn’t get onto a turmeric kick until recently, but now I’m ALL ABOUT IT. Here’s why.
Turmeric has long been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese cuisine not only for its delicious flavor, but also for its amazing health benefits. Turmeric (the spice that causes curry to have that glorious yellow-orange color) has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, making it an extremely helpful agent in preventing arthritis, Alzheimer’s, menstrual problems, common cold, cystic fibrosis, heart disease, and even certain cancers.
How, you might ask? Every day, our bodies are flooded with toxins and chemicals. Whether from the air (pollutants), the foods that we eat (pesticides, especially The Dirty Dozen), and even materials we are in contact with on a daily basis (BPA containing plastics like waterbottles), our bodies are constantly in a state of trying to clean up and clean out. And just like us, bodies can get tired of all that work. As a result, our bodies—our skin, our organs, and our bodily functions—eventually become overworked and inflamed.
It’s important to note, however, that not all inflammation is bad. For example, when you bump your knee and it gets swollen—this is good inflammation. It’s your body telling you it’s working on healing you, albeit through a red, puffy knee. But here’s the big take-away: it’s short-term and concentrated to the one area of your body that needs it. The problem arises when we flood our bodies with foreign toxins and chemicals, and our bodies have to work double-time to rid ourselves of them.
Many health experts argue that one of the biggest common denominators of chronic disease such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, high cholesterol, asthma, acne, and arthritis (among others) are due to systemic inflammation—fancy term for when the immune system runs on overdrive and begins to attack other areas of the body instead of concentrating on the one area that needs it.
[Enter turmeric with flowing cape here.] This delicious (and nutritious) spice has potent antioxidant effects that neutralize free radicals in our bodies. Not only that, but turmeric also boosts our bodies’ own antioxidant enzymes. Meaning that when all of those malignant foreign toxins enter our systems, turmeric works two-fold: first, by helping to neutralize these chemicals on its own, and secondly, by stimulating our body’s defense systems to do the same.
All that being said, turmeric comes from a root (which you can usually find at Whole Foods and some specialty health food markets) but is usually sold in powder form. (Note: Be careful when using it as it will stain clothes!) Truth be told, I’ve been consuming this stuff like it’s going out of style. It’s a great alternative (and much healthier) than a hot coffee in the morning, not to mention it’s a good way to help boost your immune system while everyone else seems to be coming down with the cold or flu (‘tis the season). Besides, with the leaves changing, the weather getting colder, I couldn’t think of a more comforting, nutritious drink to have on a cold day.
Anti-Inflammatory Hot Turmeric Milk
1 cup unsweetened almond or coconut milk
¾ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice from Trader Joe’s (or you can just use ground cinnamon)
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoon honey
Directions: Heat milk in pan or in microwave. Add in remaining ingredients. Stir until blended, and enjoy!