The Role of Turmeric on Gut Health

Curcuma longa or turmeric has been used for centuries in traditional Asian medicine and cuisine for its healing properties. Today, it has gained massive popularity and is  widely used in foods and supplements as a way to promote health. You can find it added to almost everything, from “golden” lattes, to yellow crisps, to aromatic curries. 

The remedial benefits of turmeric are attributed to the compound called curcumin. Curcumin is a polyphenol (beneficial plant compound) that gives turmeric its bright yellow colour. This compound has received considerable attention for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. For this reason, it has been proposed as a management tool for a number of modern-day chronic diseases, including gastrointestinal diseases, diabetes, and several types of cancer.

In particular, curcumin has been studied extensively for its role in our gastrointestinal health. Here’s what the latest research shows:

  • Curcumin can support the growth of beneficial gut bacteria

  • When you consume turmeric, it is broken down and the curcumin gets accumulated in the digestive tract. This is where the magic happens.

    A recent study concluded that curcumin has a direct regulatory effect on your gut microbiome - an ecosystem of microorganisms and their genetic material that reside in your gut. It is thought that curcumin helps to promote the growth of beneficial bacterial strains, microbial richness and diversity, as well as helps to restore the balance within the ecosystem. 

    A balanced and enriched gut microbiome is associated with better digestive health and overall health as well as a reduced risk of developing chronic diseases. 

  • Curcumin helps to protect the gut lining

  • Once inside our body, curcumin is metabolised (broken down) further into other active metabolites. Studies show that these metabolites of curcumin have a positive effect on the intestinal barrier function. 

    The walls of your intestine have tight junctions, which help to regulate how easily substances can pass through - or intestinal permeability. When the tight junctions of the intestinal walls become loose, the gut becomes more permeable. This can allow bacteria and toxins to pass from the gut into the bloodstream and cause serious problems. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as “leaky gut”.

    Simply put, curcumin helps to strengthen and restore the lining in your gut, such that there is no unregulated cross-over into the bloodstream.

  • Curcumin has shown to help alleviate IBS

  • IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a chronic disorder that affects your colon and can cause abdominal pain, bloating, and alternating diarrhea and constipation. While the cause of IBS is not well understood, it is thought to involve some degree of gut inflammation and/or imbalance in the gut microbiome (called dysbiosis). This is where curcumin comes in.

    Evidence suggests that curcumin plays an important role in the management of IBS due to its unique anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties as well as its ability to modulate gut microbiome. 

    In fact, a study published in 2018 found that supplementing with turmeric powder of varying strength for just a month has helped to alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life in IBS patients.

  • Curcumin may help to prevent gut inflammation

  • Curcumin has shown to have a positive effect in the prevention and treatment of inflammation in the gut - both in the small intestine and colon. It does so by inhibiting various inflammatory mechanisms in the body. A study demonstrates that it acts on multiple steps in the pathway to reduce and regulate inflammation in the gut.

    It also has the ability to protect against metabolic disorders - disorders that impact your body’s natural ability to process and distribute nutrients. In the long run, this can severely impact  your overall health and increase your risk of certain diseases.

    Given the powerful effects that turmeric (curcumin) has on our health, it is a good idea to start incorporating it into our diet and making it a part of our daily meals - or snacks.

    Turmeric is a golden superfood, not only because of it's colour but because of it's absolutely 'Golden' benefits. Our organic Turmeric Latte is a perfect blend of spices that soothes the body, from tip-to-toe with all the benefits listed above, a pure, no additives blend. While our organic Turmeric Powder has high curcumin content making it a great medicinal spice, but also a versatile super-ingredient that can be added to your drinks, dishes or even desserts! 

    Check out our recipes page for some delicious ideas!

    Here is a light and refreshing recipe that uses turmeric, and it is absolutely simple to make!

    Recipe - Turmeric tahini dressing

    Ingredients 

    2 tsp hulled tahini

    ¼ tsp Dhow organic turmeric powder

    ¼ tsp ground black pepper

    ¼ tsp iodised salt

    ½ lemon, juice only

    3 tbsp filtered water


    Method

    1. In a small bowl, add tahini, lemon juice and water. 
    2. Mix until smooth, adding more water as needed.
    3. Add in the turmeric powder, salt and pepper. The pepper helps to increase the bioavailability of curcumin in turmeric, so don’t skip this!
    4. Enjoy this dressing on top of a salad - we recommend a refreshing noodle salad!

    Dhow X Soulsfood Nutrition

    Thimpika Sachdej, a qualified & registered nutritionist, founded and currently runs Soulsfood Nutrition (@soulsfood_nutrition). A great solution for translating scientific evidence regarding health & nutrition into daily, achievable steps to practice at the comfort of your own home. Soulsfood mainly focuses on the benefits of whole foods and a plant based diet.

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