Katie Murray is Altruvita’s nutritionist. Read her full bio on our About page.
Have you ever tried to get rid of a turmeric stain from clothes or your kitchen counter? It resists the fiercest scrubbing. But it may be some consolation to know that the power of turmeric is not limited to its colour.
Part of the ginger family, turmeric has been used for generations, not only to boost flavour in cooking, but also to support wellbeing. The success of turmeric in treating ailments is believed to be thanks to curcumin, a natural chemical compound found in it. And the more we get to know about it, the more evidence seems to support the choice of curcumin for a boost to mind and body.
Curcumin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and has been shown to have benefits for the bowel, breast, pancreas and liver. Antioxidants fight against free radicals in the body, which damage cells and contribute to disease. Many studies have revealed that curcumin also works with the nervous system, including the brain, and there has been further research to see whether curcumin could be used to treat depression.
While turmeric, and therefore curcumin, is common in Indian and South Asian cooking, the typical Western diet could benefit from more. We know that, for curcumin to be absorbed into the body effectively, it’s best either eaten with fat or heated in oil before it is eaten. Mixing it with small amounts of olive or rapeseed oil (high in essential fats) is probably the best option. However, for curcumin to have an impact in our bodies, we need to keep enough of it in the blood and it can be difficult to get this much from diet alone.
Scientists continue to study curcumin to try and understand the full extent of its promise. In the meantime, the nutritional evidence firmly supports the inclusion of curcumin in our diets, especially where we have specific health concerns.
Altruvita Curcumin+ contains use CurcuWIN® a form of curcumin that is 46 times more absorbable than standard curcumin**.
If you’ve ever uttered the words, ‘I’ve got a gut feeling about this’ or ‘I’ve got butterflies in my stomach’, you’ll understand the connection between your gut and your brain. What you may not know is that there is a real biological link between them.
The gut is home to an important part of the nervous system, and contains over 100 million nerve cells. These line the gastrointestinal tract, and help digest food and control blood flow. They are the reason we can ‘feel’ what is happening in the gut.
The gut is also home to part of the immune system, in the form of gut bacteria. These bacteria also communicate with the nerve cells.
One of the most common causes of discomfort during the digestive process is stress. Typically, once the stressful stimuli go away, your gut will return to normal. But ongoing stress can cause chronic inflammation, increasing the harmful bacteria in your gut.
Inflammation is a leading cause of many diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer, which is why it is so important to control it. The right nutrition can be very helpful in reducing inflammation in the body, but how do you achieve it?
A good place to start is with your levels of vitamin D3. Vitamin D is responsible for the normal function of the immune system, so see your GP for a blood test if you suspect you have changes to your gut health or you don’t get enough sunshine. You may be advised to take a supplement if deficiency is found.
Botanical extracts like green tea are known to have antioxidant properties and may maintain healthy gut flora. It can be drunk as tea, or taken as a green tea polyphenol supplement.
Curcumin, the extract from the Indian spice turmeric may contribute to digestive comfort and is an excellent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. Turmeric, in the form of powder or fresh root, can be added to stews, curries and vegetables, and also to nut milk for a warming, latte-style drink.
Altruvita Happy Tum contains vitamin D, curcumin and green tea. Click here to find out more.
If you’ve ever suffered from bloating after a big meal, you’ll know how uncomfortable and unpleasant it is. Bloating happens when the gut stores up excess gas, produced by bacteria. It can affect anyone, but it needn’t make you change your plans or affect every day activities. Take a look at our top tips to support gut health and digestive comfort.
- Trial avoiding vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, onions and leeks for a week.
- Cut back on pulses like dry roasted peanuts, beans and lentils for a week.
- Take a probiotic for four weeks: put some lactobacilli and bifidobacteria in your gut.
- Avoid sweeteners like glycerol, sorbitol, mannitol or xylitol as gut bacteria love to munch on them!
- Slow down and avoid swallowing air! Take at least 15 minutes to eat a meal.
- Get tested for vitamin D3 deficiency.
- Drink green tea or peppermint tea. Green tea may maintain healthy gut flora.
- Try lactose-free milk and dairy products for 2-4 weeks: large doses of lactose may cause wind and bloating in a small amount of the population.
- Add curcumin to your diet: it’s known to contribute to digestive comfort.
- Don’t go too long between meals or chew chewing gum: an empty stomach produces more gas.
What we eat affects all our organs, but it’s the gut that has to deal most directly with our dietary choices. A poor diet, high in processed foods, can cause constipation and inflammation, and could lead to more serious conditions.
How do we look after our gut? The traditional Mediterranean diet (without the processed meats) is one answer: high in fruit, vegetables and omega-3 oils, but low in saturated fat, sugar and processed food.
We can also show our gut some love by eating individual nutrients that support gut health.
Curcumin is a compound from the spice turmeric and can reduce inflammation and support digestive comfort. Turmeric isn’t only good in curries – it’s also great sprinkled on eggs and green vegetables, and stirred into milk as a night time drink.
Green Tea contains antioxidant compounds and is a good choice to replace our regular tea or coffee. It may also help maintain healthy gut flora.
Eat a rainbow diet, full of different coloured vegetables, fruit, wholegrains and pulses. Fibre helps the bowel to contract and each colour provides us with different nutrients.
Pre- and pro-biotics: prebiotic foods like onions, Jerusalem artichokes, garlic, asparagus and chicory are favourites of the bacteria that live in our guts. And the live bacteria found in probiotic yogurts, drinks and supplements are super-friendly to our digestive systems.
Get more calcium from foods like green vegetables, dairy products and some fish. It’s good for our bowels and strengthens our bones at the same time.
Part of our immune system is in the gut, as gut bacteria. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to immune health. We need more Vitamin D than we usually get from sunlight and we can boost our intake through oily fish, egg yolks and fortified dairy products.
And of course…
Don’t forget to exercise.
Physical activity is great because it gets the bowel moving. We might not want to think about it too much, but the longer waste sits in our bowels, the more likely we are to develop problems.