Updated: Dec 28, 2022
Turmeric - no longer just a random spice!!
Remember when turmeric was just a random spice in the back of your spice cabinet? You know, the bottle you bought when you were going through that experimental cooking phase, and decided to try to make curry from scratch?
Yeah, that one. I found mine shoved behind the ground mustard and celery seeds. Well, guess what? The contents of that little bottle can help you lose weight, fight infections, AND boost your energy. No kidding. (OK, maybe not that specific bottle; turmeric needs to be fresh and properly cared for, but we will get into that later.)
So, what IS turmeric? A cousin of the ginger plant, it’s commonly grown in India and other hot, humid climates. The root, which closely resembles ginger in its appearance, is ground and turned into a fine, golden powder. It's been used in Asia for almost 4000 years! That's right, 4000 years! It has a rich heritage which includes its use not only for cooking but as a healing herb. It's even used in religious ceremonies.
So why is it suddenly so popular in the West, and what's all the hype? Is it really the greatest thing since cheese (my personal witness that God loves the world)? Or is it just the latest fad in a long line of fads designed to raise our hopes and pilfer our wallets? And no judgment from me about succumbing to fads... I was sucking down bacon and steak on the Atkins Diet a few years back! So what about turmeric? Can it actually help you lose weight and added a variety of other health issues at the same time? I've done my research, and trust me, it can!
Research is kind of my thing: I’ve spent the last 20 years researching the patentability of pharmaceuticals as my full-time job. Sometimes I put those mad skills to use for my own health, and when articles started popping up in my feed about turmeric, I did my homework. You know the biggest sign that you are really onto something big? When the pharmaceutical industry starts trying to make a “fake” (i.e., chemically synthesized, therefore patentable) alternative. Yeah. They are working on that like crazy. But the awesome thing about science is, well, scientists! You can pretty much count that if there’s truth out there, they are going to find it and publish it. And there's an explosion of articles in well-respected scientific publications about the health benefits of turmeric (see references at the end). In this article, I’m going to focus on weight loss. Because let’s be honest, I know you are just as interested in that as I am!
Turmeric helps you lose weight in a unique way. It doesn't make you eat less. It doesn't suppress your appetite. It doesn't "trick" your metabolism as so many other diets (ahem, Atkins) do. It turns you into a calorie-burning, inflammation-reducing machine!
Scientists have shown that curcumin (one of the main components of turmeric) can turn your ugly, white, clumpy belly fat into lovely, brown, calorie-burning brown fat! That's right, it turns bad fat into good fat IN YOUR OWN BODY.1 Just a measly 2 ounces of brown fat, if maximally stimulated, could burn off 300 to 500 calories a day.2 That's enough to lose up to a pound in a week. (Yes, you guessed correctly, you are going to need to exercise to get the maximum benefit, but more on that later!)
The other way turmeric can help you lose weight is even cooler, in my opinion. Scientists have recently linked obesity with chronic inflammation.3 Curcumin has been shown to reduce both inflammation and alleviate insulin resistance!4 So this means that not only can turmeric help you lose weight, it can help reduce inflammation in your body while doing it.5 Pre-diabetes? Ha! Take that!
Keep reading for really cool ways you can incorporate turmeric into your diet without even trying very hard. (I see those wheels turning… you were wondering if you had to start eating curry every night, weren’t you?) I’ll also tell you how much you need when you need it, and most importantly, what to look for. Unlike people, not all turmeric is created equal! Don’t waste your time and money with old powdered stuff from the grocery store. I’ll teach you how to get the freshest stuff around! Leave a comment with your email below and I’ll send you updates every time I post!
Wang et al. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2015 Oct 16;466(2):247-53. Curcumin promotes browning of white adipose tissue in a norepinephrine-dependent way. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=curcumin+brown+adipose+weight)
Cannon et al. J Clin Invest. 2012 Feb;122(2):486-9. Epub 2012 Jan 24. Yes, even human brown fat is on fire! (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22269320)
Blüher. Clin Sci (Lond). 2016 Sep 1;130(18):1603-14. Adipose tissue inflammation: a cause or consequence of obesity-related insulin resistance? (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27503945)
Jiménez-Osorio et al. Biofactors. 2016 Jun 21. Curcumin and insulin resistance-Molecular targets and clinical evidences. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27325504)
Bradford. Biofactors. 2013 Jan-Feb;39(1):78-87. Curcumin and obesity.