In the hustle-and-bustle world we live in, it’s hard to keep track of the latest health and nutrition craze. From fad diets to trendy cleanses, how do we decide which product will help us live longer, happier lives? Sometimes, it is best to look to the past for answers.

 

Ayurvedic medicine is a whole-body approach to health and wellness that was founded in India over 3,000 years ago. Ayurveda uses spices and herbs from the Earth that have healing qualities to promote wellness and treat disease. Turmeric is the root of a plant, Curcuma longa, and has been used in ancient civilizations for thousands of years. Turmeric is a bright, yellow-orange spice with a mild, Earthy flavor. It is used in many curry dishes to add color and has also been used in traditional Eastern dyes. Turmeric is part of the ginger family and shares many similar soothing qualities.

 

As a medicine, turmeric’s active ingredient, curcumin, acts as a powerful anti-inflammatory agent in the body. Inflammation throughout the body activates our immune system and causes reactions that can, over time, lead to chronic disease. Cardiovascular disease, the number one killer in America, is a direct result of long-term inflammation. By incorporating natural anti-inflammatory foods into our daily diet, we can work against chronic disease without spending excessive amounts of money or taking synthetic, man-made medications with a lengthy list of side effects. Ancient Ayurvedic medical men identified the healing power of curcumin and used it to treat a variety of ailments like headaches, indigestion, lung infections, and even potentially fatal diseases like leprosy.

 

As a nutritionist, turmeric is a spice that sits next to my stove and gets sprinkled on just about everything that hits the plate. The flavor is mild and the spice gives vegetables a nice bright color. Some studies show that higher amounts of curcumin have a better impact on inflammation. When it comes to supplementation there are several important variables to consider regarding dose, absorption and bioavailability. I recommend speaking with an Integrative or Functional Medicine practitioner or nutritionist for recommended brands and doses.

How can you add turmeric into your diet?

Try this delicious hummus recipe for your daily dose.

Golden Turmeric Hummus

Yields 8 servings

 

2 cups drained chickpeas, keep the liquid in a dish

½ cup tahini

¼ cup cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzle garnish

2 peeled cloves of garlic

1 tablespoon turmeric, plus extra for garnish

Juice of one lemon, to taste

Salt and pepper, to taste

 

  1. Put all ingredients except chickpea liquid into a food processor or blender. Begin to blend the mixture and add chickpea liquid slowly to achieve smooth, desired texture.
  2. Taste and adjust the flavor by adding more salt, pepper, lemon juice, or turmeric to your liking. Serve with drizzled olive oil.

 

Chickpeas are a traditional lentil from the Middle East and are chock full of protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates. When blended, chickpeas create a smooth puree with minimal flavor, making it a blank canvas for flavor enhancement. Hummus is a great healthy dip for snacking or a creamy spread to add to salads. Another option is to coat chicken in hummus prior to roasting to form a flavorful crust without the breading. With the addition of turmeric, hummus is a bright and beautiful food that tastes good and is good for you.

 

Written by: Jessica Keller, Dietetic Intern and Master’s student
Jessica is a future dietitian studying integrative and functional nutrition at the University of Kansas Medical Center. She also works as a Graduate Research Assistant in the EDGE lab where she helps conduct cancer research. She is passionate about helping people heal their body with whole, natural food.
Edited by: Abby Stanley, MS RDN LD

Abby has recently joined the PIH team as a Functional Nutritionist. She is also the owner and CEO of Revive Nutrition Solutions, LLC. She loves helping others improve their health and life through nutrition an advocate for eating REAL food!