Tag Archives: supplements

Turmeric-is it really a miracle spice?

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Turmeric is touted as a superfood and miracle spice. It’s delicious, and one of its “active ingredients” curcumin has been studied like crazy. It has antioxidant properties, anti-inflammatory properties, and many other great health benefits.

In this post I go over:

  • The difference between turmeric and curcumin.
  • Turmeric’s amazing health benefits.
  • How to get the most out of your turmeric.
  • Things to consider before running out to buy yourself curcumin supplements.

Not to mention my whole-food dairy- and gluten-free recipe! Can you guess which famous turmeric recipe I’ve created my version of?  And it’s much cheaper than the powdered prepared versions found in your local health food store!

Turmeric – Is it Really a Miracle Spice?

Turmeric is a rhizome that grows under the ground like ginger. It has a rich, bright orange color and is used in many foods. Originally used in Southeast Asia, it’s a vital component for traditional curries. You can find dried powdered turmeric in the spice aisle of just about any grocery store. Sometimes they carry the fresh rhizome too (it looks like ginger root, but smaller).

Turmeric contains an amazing anti-inflammatory, antioxidant compound called “curcumin.” The amount of this bioactive compound is around 3-7% by weight of turmeric. Curcumin has been studied like crazy for its health benefits. Many of these studies test curcumin at up to 100x more than that of a traditional diet that includes turmeric.

Health benefits of curcumin

There are dozens of clinical studies using curcumin extract (which is way more concentrated than ground turmeric).

Curcumin is an anti-inflammatory compound. It fights inflammation at the molecular level. Some studies even show it can work as well as certain anti-inflammatory medications (but without the side effects).

Curcumin is an antioxidant compound. It can neutralize free radicals before they wreak havoc on our biomolecules. Curcumin also boosts our natural antioxidant enzymes.

These two functions of reducing inflammation and oxidation have amazing health benefits. Chronic inflammation plays a major role in so many conditions including heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, dementia, mood disorders, arthritis pain, etc.

Curcumin has other amazing functions too:

  • Boosts our levels of “Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor” (like a natural growth hormone for your brain) which is great for brain health.
  • Improves “endothelial” function” (the inner lining of our blood vessels) which is great for heart health.
  • Reduces growth of cancer cells by reducing angiogenesis (growth of new blood vessels in tumors), metastasis (the spread of cancer), and even contributes to the death of cancer cells.

Do you think these make turmeric deserve the “miracle spice” title?

How to get the most out of your turmeric

Curcumin is not easily absorbed by your gut. For one thing, it’s fat soluble. So, as with fat-soluble nutrients (like vitamins A, D, E, and K), you can increase absorption by eating it with a fat-containing meal.

The second trick to get the most out of your turmeric is eating it with pepper. Interestingly, a compound in black pepper (piperine) enhances absorption of curcumin, by a whopping 2,000%!

If you want the health benefits of curcumin, you need to get a larger dose of than just eating some turmeric; this is where supplements come in.

Before you take a curcumin supplement, take caution if you:

  • Are pregnant
  • Are taking anti-platelet medications or blood thinners
  • Have gallstones or a bile duct obstruction
  • Have stomach ulcers or excess stomach acid


Always read the label before taking a new supplement.

Conclusion

Turmeric is a delicious spice, and it’s “active ingredient” curcumin is a great health-booster.

Curcumin has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which are great to bust chronic inflammation. It also has other amazing health benefits, like brain- and heart-boosting properties, and even cancer-fighting properties.

Curcumin supplements can be great for your health, but they’re not for everyone. Check the label or ask me before taking it.

I want to know: What’s your favorite turmeric recipe? Try my version of “golden milk,” and let me know in the comments below.

Recipe (turmeric): Golden Milk

Serves 2

1 cup canned coconut milk

1 cup hot water
1 ½ tsp turmeric, ground

¼ tsp cinnamon, ground
½ tsp honey

Instructions

Add all ingredients to a small saucepan. Whisk to combine.

Warm over medium heat, whisking frequently. Heat until hot, but not boiling.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: You can substitute 2 cups of almond milk instead of the 1 cup coconut milk and 1 cup water.

References available upon request

Disclaimer

The information contained herein is NOT intended as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the care of a qualified health professional. Always consult your doctor for all diagnoses, treatments, and cures for any diseases or conditions, as well as before changing your health care regimen.

Eight tips for choosing supplements wisely

green purple flower
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We all know the vast array of supplements on the market today. It seems that new ones are launched every day and there is more and more marketing lingo that promises to save your health.

And  remember the supplement business is a multi billion dollar industry!

But you are a savvy health-conscious consumer. You eat well, and you want to make sure you’re making wise choices with your health (and money).

There are a lot of choices out there, so I hope that the tips for choosing wisely are helpful.  After reading this post, should you decide you want guidance deciding which supplements are right for you contact me at 778-363-0779 or drop me a line at tessanp@shaw.ca

I’d love to get to know you better.  Meanwhile, read on……

Here are eight expert tips for you when choosing supplements:

Tip #1: If you’re in a country that licenses or pre-approves supplements (like I am in Canada), then make sure you’re getting the real thing, and not some illegally imported bootleg of a product.

Why?

This is your health, and it’s important enough to make sure you’re getting a product that at least meets the minimum requirements in your country. There are always recalls and safety alerts issued for contaminated supplements, or products that don’t even contain what they say they do.

Don’t get me wrong! This health authority approval is not a perfect gauge of quality, but it does have some benefits worth considering.

How?

In Canada, you would check its approval by making sure it has an 8-digit “NPN” number on the front label. This number means that the company meets the required standards (including quality standards and truthfulness of their labeling). And, if something does go wrong, there is someone who you can complain to (the company or Health Canada’s MedEffect program) and who is responsible (the company).

If you’re not in a country that pre-approves supplements, make sure what you buy meets the regulations of your country. If you have to look up the company or product online or call them, please do it – don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions before you use any health products. If the only address or phone number is not in your country, then steer clear, because if something goes wrong it’s possible that nothing can be done about it.

Tip #2: Read (and heed) the warnings, cautions and contraindications.

Why?

You don’t want a reaction, right?

How?

Check the label for things like:

  • To consult a healthcare practitioner if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, or
  • If you have certain medical conditions (e.g. high blood pressure, auto-immune disease, diabetes, ulcers, etc.), or
  • If you are taking certain medications (e.g. like blood thinners or immune suppressants, etc.) or
  • If you are taking other supplements, or
  • If you shouldn’t take it for more than a certain length of time (e.g. 6 or 8 weeks).

Tip #3: Look at the medicinal and non-medicinal ingredients for things you might be allergic to, or have reacted to in the past.

Why?

Just as you would do this with foods and medicines, do this with supplements. Again, you don’t want a reaction, right?

And even if you’ve used a product before, check it each time you buy it. Manufacturers may make changes to ingredients from time to time.

How?

Any credible supplement company will list every active ingredient, as well as the inactive ingredients. The print may be small, but worthwhile.

Info not there? Give them a call. Most reputable companies have a toll-free number on the bottle, or at the very least their website address.

PRO TIP: You can look up any Canadian NPN number on Health Canada’s database here:

https://health-products.canada.ca/lnhpd-bdpsnh/index-eng.jsp

Tip #4: Read the labelled “Indications” or “Uses” (a.k.a. How can this product help me?).

Why?

Be skeptical of health claims. What is the company claiming that their product can help you with? Beware of people  who tell you that this product can help you beyond what’s on the label. If they heard about it, or found it in a book, that may or may not be reliable information.

How?

Don’t be fooled by “sciencey” sounding words.  Ask for scientific studies, or look it up on credible websites that don’t make money from selling supplements (such as Examine, or the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements).

Tip #5: What “dose forms” can you get (i.e. tablets, capsules, powder, liquid, etc.)?

Why?

I personally prefer capsules. This is because tablets and caplets are not very easy to absorb because they’re compacted into a hard rock-like form that sometimes doesn’t break down in your digestive system.

You may prefer powders and liquids as they are easier to swallow and to absorb.  They can go “off” quicker because every time you open the bottle, you’re exposing all of the contents to the oxygen, moisture and microbes in the air. They can also be difficult to get accurate dosing (especially if they need to be shaken well).

Capsules (my preferred form) are powders placed into tiny dissolvable…capsules. You can get vegan capsules or gelatin capsules. They’re not compressed, so they’re more easily absorbed (they’re still loose powder), and the capsule itself provides an extra layer of protection from oxidation and contamination from the air.

How?

The front label should mention this loud and clear. Along with how many are in each bottle.

Tip #6: How much/many do you need for a recommended dose?

Why?

This is important to keep in mind because you may not want to take several capsules per day in order to get the recommended dose. Plus, many (but not all) bottles contain a 30 day supply. This helps you see how much you need to take, as well as the real cost per serving/dose.

How?

Read carefully.

Is the label information based on one capsule, two…maybe six? The amounts of each nutrient listed on the label may be based on each dose, or the entire daily dose.

For example, if a label recommends you take 2 capsules per day, the active ingredient amounts listed may be the total amount in those 2 capsules, unless it says “per 1 capsule”.

Yes, for this one you do need to read carefully.

Tip #7: Check the storage requirements and expiry date.

Why?

These two go hand-in-hand because the expiry date is based on how that supplement degrades over time at certain temperatures, humidity and light exposure.

How?

If the bottle says that it should be refrigerated, make sure it’s in the fridge at the store, or shipped in a refrigerated truck.

If it says to refrigerate after opening, then make sure once that seal is broken, you keep it in your fridge.

If it says to keep out of sunlight, make sure the store/shipping company is doing that, and that you do that too. This is sometimes why supplements are in dark or opaque bottles – to prevent sunlight from degrading it before the expiry date.

And, of course, I wouldn’t recommend taking supplements past their expiry date. After this date the manufacturer does not guarantee the quality or dose of the product.

Tip #8: If you’re trying a new supplement for the first time, start slow.

Why?

Keep an eye out for both positive and negative reactions, and act accordingly.

How?

You don’t have to dive right into a full daily dose on day 1. Try starting with half-doses, or skipping days for a week or two before ramping up to the recommended dose.

I hope these eight tips serve you well!

And remember there is no substitute for a healthy diet.

Still want more information?  I can help. Contact me at tessanp@shaw.ca

 

Important small print you must read:
Disclaimer
The information contained herein is NOT intended as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the care of a qualified health professional. Always consult your doctor for all diagnoses, treatments, and cures for any diseases or conditions, as well as before changing your health care regimen.