As part of the annual CKNW Health Series, this week we are taking a look at healthy eating habits.
All week we will be speaking with certified naturopathic physician Dr. Allana Polo about ways to improve your diet.
Today, Tim Dickert chats with Dr. Polo of the Polo Health and Longevity Centre about a bright yellow spice that’s been catching a lot of eyes in health circles.
LISTEN: The power of turmeric
There has been a lot of talk recently about adding turmeric to your diet… but what exactly is it?
“Turmeric is the new buzzword food,” explains Dr. Polo, who says you can get it both in powder form for cooking or as a capsule as a supplement.
The substance is derived from a plant in the ginger family.
“The active ingredient that we’re also concerned about – or really interested in – is actually curcumin. It’s the main active ingredient which holds the most inflammatory and anti-oxidant potential. The beautiful thing about turmeric is that in all the recent studies and journalism [and] medical information that we have, it’s really effective against inflammatory conditions, like arthritis.”
Polo says research shows it can actually match the effects of some specifically anti-inflammatory medications people are taking.
Turmeric is widely used as a spice in South Asian and Middle Eastern cooking, so does that mean you can take a pass on arthritis by loading up on curry?
“No, you need a therapeutic dose,” says Dr. Polo.
“So if you just sprinkle some curry powder on your food, it might not be as helpful, but if you’re taking it through a capsule, which has been purified and has a therapeutic or stronger dose, then you can definitely find relief in some of your pain.”
That doesn’t mean you need to be taking turmeric pills to get a benefit. Dr. Polo says people who pick turmeric up from a regular grocery store and add it to their meals could still see some improvement.
“I think they will over time, if they use enough of it. If you add it to one meal a day – probably not. But if you’re doing a hefty dose a few times a day, or you’re adding it to your smoothies, and then into your dinner, or your lunches, and you’re taking it in capsule form, then probably overtime, yeah, you definitely will.”
If you are interested in the stronger dose, and are looking to pick up capsules, you can find them at many health food stores, naturopathic clinics, even places like Whole Foods.
But Dr. Polo says you’ll want to ensure you’re getting good quality turmeric to ensure you get the benefits.
She says while turmeric is an ancient product, used for thousands of years by people around the world it’s only recently taking off for its health benefits.
“I think it’s just recently that people are becoming more aware about how food can be medicine, so people are trying to use food instead of medications. If they can incorporate things into their diet that are anti-inflammatory, then just being more aware – which we are becoming – is at the forefront right now,” she says.