HERE’S 4 REASONS YOU SHOULD BE FERMENTING YOUR TURMERIC
Boost the Nutritional Power & Bioavailability
Turmeric is a bright, spicy herb that can be found in everything from lattes to curries. It’s become quite the trend in the last few years because of its long list of health benefits, but it’s been used in Eastern medicine for centuries.
But it can be kind of tough to make sure you get the most benefits from the turmeric you eat. Unfortunately, it’s not the kind of thing where you simply consume more to get more benefits. If you eat too much, it can upset your stomach. Plus, the really powerful nutrients in turmeric, like curcurmin, aren’t easily absorbed into your body.
So how do you get the most out of your turmeric?
Simple! You ferment it. Fermentation–basically a controlled rotting–boosts the nutritional power and bioavailability of this brightly colored superfood. Here’s what you need to know.
Why You Should Be Eating Turmeric In The First Place
Before you set up your fermentation station, let’s go over what’s so great about turmeric in the first place. It’s chock-full of nutrients and vitamins that pack a powerful punch.
An Amazing Antioxidant
One of turmeric’s biggest benefits is its powerful antioxidant properties. Antioxidants help to kill the dangerous free radicals in our bodies that we get exposed to everyday. Free radicals can kill or damage cells throughout your body, and antioxidants help eliminate or mitigate the damage they do.
On top of being an antioxidant, turmeric is also anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial. Thanks to those properties, it’s especially good for skin issues like acne and even psoriasis. Turmeric can calm irritated skin, speed up the wound healing process (think acne breakouts) and soothe psoriasis flare-ups.
Inflammation is like a secret, silent killer. It tells your body that you’re in a constant state of low-level stress because you think you’re hurt, even when you’re not. Over time, that can damage your cells and body tissue. And chronic inflammation often ends up in chronic disease, like heart disease, immune issues, arthritis, and diabetes.
But turmeric, or more specifically, curcumin, is the antidote to inflammation. Because it lowers the levels of inflammation-causing enzymes, it’s just as effective as ibuprofen at reducing inflammation. This can help if you have body aches, allergies, or just general pain.
Turmeric is one of the best brain foods around. It increases the levels of a growth-hormone in your brain known as BDNF. Researchers have found that when these levels are high, brain damage and brain diseases like Alzheimer’s can be slowed down or even reversed! It also lowers your likelihood of getting Alzheimer’s by blasting away the bunches of protein called amyloid plaques that build up on your brain when you have the disease.
Plus, curcumin is like a natural antidepressant. Studies have found that it works just as well as Prozac, possibly by boosting our serotonin and dopamine levels.
4 Reasons To Ferment Your Turmeric
Clearly, there’s a bunch of reasons why you should be eating or taking turmeric. But like we said earlier, it’s hard to get all of the nutrients out of the spice and into your body. Here’s how fermentation helps.
Bioavailability refers to how well your body can absorb a supplement. High bioavailability means your body soaks up all of the nutrients you consume, but low bioavailability means you’re not getting all of the benefits the supplement has to offer.
Unfortunately, turmeric has a pretty low bioavailability. So if you’re taking dried or fresh turmeric, you’re probably not getting a lot of the vitamins and nutrients the herb is bursting with. But fermentation increases bioavailability by breaking down excess plant materials, carbs, and sugar, leaving you with all the best stuff. Once you ferment turmeric, it’s bioavailability goes up by 150%.
Of course, taste is totally subjective. But turmeric packs a pretty powerful punch. It’s got a rich, earthy flavor that’s fairly bitter. It’s a very warm ingredient with a gorgeous yellow coloring that shows up in a lot of Indian curries. But the taste isn’t for everyone. Luckily, fermented turmeric isn’t as spicy as the fresh or dried kind, so some people prefer it.
Help Your Digestive System
Fermented foods like kimchi, kombucha, and sauerkraut are great for your digestive system because they boost the levels of probiotics in your gut. Turmeric is no different!
Give Your Liver Some Love
Along with your digestive system, fermented turmeric is great for your liver function. The liver detoxes your blood, getting rid of the toxins from the food you eat and environmental exposure.
But when your liver isn’t working as well as it should, it releases an enzyme known as alanine aminotransferase (ALT) in the blood. High levels of ALTs are associated with liver damage or disease, but fermented turmeric can help lower them–and keep them low.
How To Ferment Turmeric
Now that you know all about the benefits of fermented turmeric, it’s time to set up your fermentation station and get to work!
- Fresh Turmeric
- Brine with a salt content of 2% (20 mL of salt to 1000 mL of water)
- Fermentation or canning jar
- Clean the root thoroughly, scrubbing with a vegetable brush. Make sure the root is firm, and cut off any squishy or moldy bits.
- Cut the root in half lengthwise, then thinly slice or grate the turmeric.
- Fill the jar to the halfway point with loosely packed turmeric root.
- Fill the jar with the 2% brine until it’s almost full.
- Place the lid on the jar and use your airlock to seal it.
- Let the jar sit at room temperature (68-72ºF) for a week. When the bubbles start to slow down, it’s ready to be moved to the fridge and enjoyed.
Not into DIY fermentation? No worries, you can find fermented turmeric in powder form, too. Either way, you’ll be maximizing the benefits of this bright and spicy herb!