There’s no question that turmeric is one of the most health beneficial spices on the planet. The deep yellow color of the spice comes from curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric. But, this substance accounts for much more than just the color. According to research, curcumin is the reason why turmeric has a wide array of medicinal properties.
Study abstracts kept at the National Library of Medicine, the database is also known as MEDLINE, confirm that turmeric and its primary polyphenol – curcumin provide more than 600 potential health benefits of turmeric.
But, even though turmeric is highly recommended as part of any diet, there are several things to know in order to reap most of its benefits.
Curcumin Is Not Easily Absorbed in the Body
A number of animal and clinical studies have revealed that curcumin absorption in the body is so low that it represents a problem as you can’t fully take advantage of its health benefits. To be more specific, the studies have shown that regardless of the dosage, the concentrations of curcumin in blood plasma, urine, and peripheral tissues, if detectable at all, are extremely low. This low absorption rate seriously reduces your chances of getting the most benefits from this health-boosting spice.
How to Increase Turmeric’s Bioavailability
Luckily, there are a few simple tricks that are extremely effective in raising turmeric’s bioavailability.
- Always Mix With Black Pepper
Not many people know that aside from providing a number of health benefits on its own, black pepper is also a potent turmeric adjuvant.
According to NutritionFacts, “If people are given a bunch of turmeric curcumin, within an hour there’s a little bump in the level in their blood stream. We don’t see a large increase because our liver is actively trying to get rid of it. But what if the process is suppressed by taking just a quarter teaspoon’s worth of black pepper? Then you see curcumin levels skyrocket. The same amount of curcumin consumed, but the bioavailability shoots up 2000%. Even just a little pinch of pepper—1/20th of a teaspoon—can significantly boost levels. And guess what a common ingredient in curry powder is besides turmeric? Black pepper.”
A study called Influence of Piperine on the Pharmacokinetics of Curcumin in Animals and Human Volunteers showed that co-administration of piperine and curcumin to human subjects increased bioavailibity of curcumin by 2000%.
- Add a Healthy Fat to Turmeric
Turmeric is fat-soluble meaning that it depends on fats to be fully absorbed in the body. When combined with healthy fats, including coconut, ghee or olive oil, curcumin is directly absorbed into the bloodstream through the lymphatic system partly bypassing the liver. In other words, less curcumin is exposed to metabolic enzymes and remains in the body in its free form.
- Heat Increases Turmeric’s Bioavalibility
According to Dr. Sukumar “The potent ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which, despite its power, is not easily absorbed by the body without assistance. This is where the sauté pan and a little warm oil come into play.”
“I use it [turmeric] in every sauté, just a quarter teaspoon, a half teaspoon is enough. But you don’t have to use it sparingly – use it lavishly.”
“The better way to take it, I feel, is to use it in your cooking very extensively. If you have any sauté, just sprinkle it in. The moment you heat oil and add turmeric to it, it now becomes completely bioavailable to you.”
It’s strongly recommended to do these 3 things in order to optimize the effectiveness of turmeric:
- Heat up turmeric in order to activate it.
- Combine it with some freshly ground black pepper to increase its absorption by 2,000%.
- Mix turmeric with some healthy fat to avoid the metabolic processes in the liver.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, the recommended daily allowance for turmeric is:
- Cut root: 1.5-3g
- Dried, powdered root: 1-3 g