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Turmeric can keep you healthy

Turmeric has so many medicinal properties that it is a wonder we still see it as a simple kitchen spice rather than as a herbal sensation. So how do you include turmeric in your diet? Find out.

health and fitness Updated: Apr 24, 2010 18:57 IST
Shikha Sharma

TurmericTurmeric or haldi has so many medicinal properties that it is a wonder we still see it as a simple kitchen spice rather than as a herbal sensation. Haldi has been used in traditional Indian medicine for centuries, as a home remedy for sprains, swellings and wounds and to treat stomach ailments and infections. It is such an efficient antibiotic that it not only kills dangerous bacteria in the human intestine when it’s cooked with food, but can also neutralise parasites when applied as a paste on wounds. And adding haldi to dals is a simple way to allow the body to digest dal better – most dals are difficult to digest and cause gas. In ancient India, all vaids and doctors used haldi to treat injuries and wounds.

Those vaids knew what they were doing. Recently, Austrian scientists reported that haldi protects against liver damage that eventually causes cirrhosis. Curcumin, the active ingredient that gives turmeric its characteristic yellow colour, reduces inflammation that causes liver cell damage, blockage and scarring in eight short weeks, reported Gut, a British medical journal publication.

Turmeric has been used since ancient times to boost the body’s immune response. In fact, it is one of the few spices allowed in khichri for babies above six months of age. In 2007, US researchers reported that curcumin helped stimulate the immune system cells among people who had Alzheimer’s disease, slowing the progression of the degenerative disease. Later that year, Clinical Cancer Research reported that curcumin effectively blocked the activity of a gastrointestinal hormone implicated in the development of colorectal cancer.

Since then, turmeric has been proven to prevent rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis that leads to bone loss. Its anti-inflammatory properties were not only found to relieve the aches and pains of arthritis, but also prevent it, said the study in Arthritis and Rheumatism, the American College of Rheumatology journal. International studies have also shown it suppresses cancer tumours and that people who eat lots of turmeric are less prone to the disease even though curcumin loses its anti-cancer attributes quickly after being ingested. In laboratory tests, haldi has also successfully killed and stopped the growth of melanoma skin cancer cells in laboratory tests.

So how do you include turmeric in your diet? Here’s how:
Add it to dals and vegetables
Add it to milk for children, along with jaggery.
Add it to rice or atta dough. It will give the foods a lemon colour
Add it to stews and soups, especially if you have loose motions or any infection
Mix it with sandalwood and use as a face mask if you have acne with recurrent infections
Add it to milk if you have bruises and internal injuries.