Interesting articles on Curcumin

Like Curry? New Biological Role For Curcumin Identified

Oregon State University (OSU) scientists recently identified a new reason why some curry dishes, made with spices humans have used for thousands of years, might be good for you. New research has discovered that curcumin, a compound found in the cooking spice turmeric, can cause a modest but measurable increase in levels of a protein that’s known to be important in the “innate” immune system, helping to prevent infection in humans and other animals.

This cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide (CAMP) is part of what helps the immune system fight off various bacteria, viruses or fungi even though they hadn’t been encountered before. Prior to this, it was known that CAMP levels were increased by vitamin D. Discovery of an alternative mechanism to influence or raise CAMP levels is of scientific interest and could open new research avenues in nutrition and pharmacology, scientists said.

The newest findings were made by researchers in the Linus Pauling Institute at OSU and published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, in collaboration with scientists from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

“This research points to a new avenue for regulating CAMP gene expression,” said Adrian Gombart, associate professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the Linus Pauling Institute. “It’s interesting and somewhat surprising that curcumin can do that, and could provide another tool to develop medical therapies.”

The impact of curcumin in this role is not nearly as potent as that of vitamin D, Gombart said, but could nonetheless have physiologic value. Curcumin has also been studied for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

“Curcumin, as part of turmeric, is generally consumed in the diet at fairly low levels,” he said. “However, it’s possible that sustained consumption over time may be healthy and help protect against infection, especially in the stomach and intestinal tract.”

In the study, Chunxiao Guo, a graduate student, and Gombart looked at the potential of both curcumin and omega-3 fatty acids to increase expression of the CAMP gene. They found no particular value with the omega-3 fatty acids for this purpose, but curcumin did have a clear effect, causing CAMP levels to almost triple.

There has been intense scientific interest in the vitamin D receptor in recent years because of potential therapeutic benefits in treating infection, cancer, psoriasis and other diseases, the researchers noted in their report. An alternative way to elicit a related biological response could be significant and merits additional research, they said.

The CAMP peptide is the only known antimicrobial peptide of its type in humans, researchers said. It appears to have the ability to kill a broad range of bacteria, including those that cause tuberculosis and protect against the development of sepsis.

 

Turmeric (Curcumin)

In the U.S., turmeric is best known as a spice. It’s one of the main components of curry powder. In India and other parts of Asia, turmeric is used to treat many health conditions. It is believed to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and perhaps even anticancer properties.

Why do people take turmeric?

Curcumin, a substance in turmeric, may help to reduce inflammation. Several studies suggest that it might ease symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, like pain and inflammation. Other compounds in turmeric might also be medicinal.

In lab tests, curcumin seems to block the growth of certain kinds of tumors. One study showed that turmeric extract containing curcumin could — in some cases — stabilize colorectal cancer that wasn’t helped by other treatments. But more research is needed.

Other preliminary lab studies suggest that curcumin or turmeric might protect against types of skin diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, colitis, stomach ulcers, and high cholesterol. Based on lab studies, turmeric and curcumin might also help treat upset stomach, scabies, diabetes, HIV, uveitis, and viral infections.

But it’s important to keep in mind that most of these studies have been done in the laboratory. Researchers haven’t yet conducted significant studies on the benefits of turmeric and curcumin. So it’s too early to say what health benefits turmeric might have.

 

How much turmeric should you take?

Turmeric is an unproven treatment, though it has years of traditional use and some preliminary convincing research. There is no standard dosage. Ask your health care provider for advice.

 

Can you get turmeric naturally from foods?

Turmeric, as a spice, is a common ingredient in Indian cooking. The spice (and supplement) comes from the underground stems (rhizomes) of the turmeric plant.

What are the risks of taking turmeric?

  • Side effects. Turmeric is generally safe. It can cause nausea and diarrhea, especially in high doses or after long-term use. It might also pose a risk of ulcers in high doses. As a topical treatment, it can cause skin irritation. Caution is advised when turmeric is taken by people known to have gallstones; consult your health care provider first.
  • Risks. Pregnant women should not use turmeric supplements. Talk to a doctor before using turmeric supplements regularly if you have any medical conditions, like gallbladder or kidney disease, bleeding disorders, diabetes, or immunity problems. Since turmeric can potentially increase bleeding, stop taking it at least two weeks before any surgery.
  • Interactions. If you take any medicines regularly, talk to your doctor before you start using turmeric supplements. They could interact with medicines like aspirin, NSAID painkillers, statins, diabetes drugs, blood pressure medicines, and blood thinners. They might also interact with supplements that decrease clotting, like ginkgo, ginseng, and garlic.

Given the lack of evidence about its safety, children and women who are breastfeeding should only use turmeric if a doctor recommends it.

SOURCES of CURCUMIN:

Curcumin is responsible for the yellow color of the spice turmeric. Beneficial for health, this active component has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. According to the Arthritis Foundation, curcumin can prevent and reduce joint inflammation. It has also been linked to reduced blood cholesterol and protection against Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, curcumin is being explored as a cancer treatment because of its anti-oxidant activity. Foods with curcumin are those that contain turmeric.

Yellow Mustard

Turmeric is added to prepared mustards, and the curcumin it contains gives it the familiar, bright yellow color. This includes store-bought, standard yellow mustard commonly used as a condiment for hamburgers or hot dogs, and in potato salads and salad dressings. Check the ingredient label of the mustard to ensure that turmeric is listed. Most brown, spicy and Dijon mustards do not contain turmeric for flavor or color.

Indian Cuisine

Turmeric is an essential ingredient in Indian cooking, which makes the cuisine especially rich in curcumin. Turmeric is used in curry powders that flavor common dishes in South Asian and Indian cuisines. The spice is used in multiple Indian dishes, but some examples include Dal Fry, a lentil soup, Chicken Tikka, Baigan Ka Bharta, an eggplant curry, and mango chutney. Worlds Healthiest Foods, a nonprofit health organization, suggests using turmeric instead of premade curry powders when cooking these foods at home because of the higher concentration of curcumin.

Indonesian Cooking

Commonly used in cooking throughout Indonesia, turmeric adds color, flavor and the health benefits of curcumin to many dishes. Fried chicken is a traditional dish in the area, and Ayam Goreng Kuning is a variety of fried chicken that is flavored with turmeric. Turmeric is also used in Javanese Kare Jawa, a beef curry, and in the lamb curry Kari Kambing. Nasi Kuning is a rice dish simmered in coconut milk with turmeric and lemongrass.

Thai Curries

The cuisine of Thailand is also known for curry that contains curcumin from turmeric. Thai curries are different from Indian curries as they are often flavored with coconut milk and scented with kaffir lime leaves. In addition, not all Thai curries contain turmeric. You may consider green, red and yellow Thai curry to be very similar, but it is only the Thai yellow curry that includes turmeric, and therefore, curcumin. In addition, coconut curry and fish curry also contain turmeric. Remember that curcumin is responsible for a deep yellow color, so the more yellow the broth or sauce the more likely the food is to contain it.

Caribbean Cuisine

Curry is a popular spice blend in Caribbean food and cooking. Many foods include curry powder that contains turmeric and curcumin such as Curried Goat and Jamaican Beef Patties. Others require turmeric powder, which ensures that you will get a more concentrated source of curcumin. Curry Pumpkin Soup is one dish common in the Caribbean that uses turmeric powder.

 

 

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Memorial Weekend

I am slacking this week and we are going to eat from our leftovers that are in the freezer so I’m sorry for no weekly menu.  We are headed to St. Louis this weekend for my husband to do a century ride with his brother and I do not have anymore room in my freezer for leftover meals. I will be back in the swing next week though.

Our memorial weekend was great!  It was filled with Bachelorette festivities, horse shows, flower bed work, house work, a 20 mile bike ride and oh yes the Royals game adventure.  I say adventure because it was a downpour for about 2.5 hours while we where trying to tailgate.  However, we had the canopy up and chairs out in the huge storm! I think we spend more time holding the canopy down from flying away than we did relaxing.  Apparently we where bad examples as other people started to put their canopy’s up as well but they quickly blew away. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!  The KU canopy was still standing!!!  Finally, the rain and wind let up and we where able to enjoy some company and grill up some food. We had leftover Sweet potato, black bean and quinoa burgers from last week.  I also made a summer vegetable salad that turned out to be spicier than expected from the jalapenos.  The game was delayed for an hour but the sun came out and it was beautiful for the entire game. Here are some pictures of our time!

image 1

Doing my best to stay dry!

Doing my best to stay dry!

Soaking wet

Soaking wet

Sunny and Smiles

Sunny and Smiles

More sun and smiles

More sun and smiles

Love birds!  My husband and I

Love birds! My husband and I

 

Peanut Butter Granola

Peanut Butter Granola

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. creamy almond butter
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • ¼ tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 c. oats

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Spray cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
  3. Combine peanut butter and honey in a bowl and microwave until peanut butter melts (approximately 20 seconds). Stir.
  4. Stir cinnamon and vanilla into peanut butter and honey mixture. Add oats and stir until oats are completely covered in peanut butter mixture. Spread out oat mixture onto prepared cookie sheet and bake for 7 -8 minutes until granola is slightly browned.
  5. Let cool until granola is crunchy.

Serves: Four ¼ c servings

Granola Muffins

Gluten Free Granola Muffins

I chose this recipe because I had a bagful of homemade granola- it is so easy to make at home!  I will post a recipe with our favorite so far at the bottom of the page.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups Silvana’s flour mixture (I used almond flour)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • dash salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup softened butter or margarine (I used avocado)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • Udi’s gluten free granola (I used Udi’s Sweet & Fruity Cranberry granola) 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease muffin tin.
  2. Mix together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Cream together sugar, eggs and butter. Stir in dry mixture. Add vanilla and milk. Mix. Pour into muffin tins.
  4. Top with granola and press down.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes.

Spaghetti Squash with Black Beans (Mexican Style)

Spaghetti Squash with Black Beans (Mexican Style)

Ingredients:

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced (leave seeds in for more heat)
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 Tbs. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbs. Mexican oregano
  • 1 Tbs. chili powder
  • 1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup freshly torn cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 1 lime

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Cut squash in half lengthwise.
  3. Roast squash on a baking sheet for 50 minutes. Let cool another 30 minutes, then cut in half. Spoon out the seeds, then using a fork, scrape up the flesh, making the “spaghetti.” Isn’t that cute?
  4. Heat oil in a medium skillet. Add the onion, garlic, jalapeno pepper and red bell pepper. Saute 2 minutes. Add cumin, Mexican oregano, chili powder and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Saute another minute. Add the beans, corn and cilantro. Stir to combine. Squeeze in the lime juice and give one last stir.
  5. Add in half the “spaghetti” to the bean mixture and stir to combine. Taste and season accordingly.

Serves: 2

Vegan Meatloaf with Quinoa

Vegan Meatloaf with Quinoa

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 ounces wild mushrooms, finely diced
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 bag of spinach
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 10 sundried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 Teaspoon Cumin
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
  • 2 cups cooked red quinoa
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley and
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme

Directions:

  1. Heat the onion in a pan and caramelize the onions for 10 minutes. Add garlic cook for a few, then add mushrooms and cook until tender. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  2. Wild mushrooms with caramelized onions and garlic
  3. Saute the spinach and set aside
  4. Sauteed spinach lightly seasoned
  5. In a food processor, combine the beans, oats, sun-dried tomatoes, cumin, paprika, mustard, salt, pepper and pulse until a homogeneous paste that is deliciously sticky is formed. Toss in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients (minus the spinach). And yes, any quinoa will work, but the red goes gorgeous with the sun-dried tomato color.
  6. Mixing the thyme and parsley into the quinoa and oat mixture creates a gorgeous rust color and texture
  7. Pour half in a lightly oiled loaf pan. Place the spinach in the middle and top with the rest.
  8. Spinach in the center of the loaf creates a color and texture contrast
  9. Bake at 350 for roughly an hour. Rest for 5 minutes and unmold.
  10. Unmolded loaf in a green plate

Need my groovy cashew mushroom gravy?

Sophisticated Mushroom Gravy

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups hot water (you can also use low sodium veggie stock)
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 8 ounces mushrooms roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup of dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoon nutritional food yeast

Directions:

  1. Put only one cup of water and all ingredients in a blender. Go for it. Add the rest of the water and blend again.
  2. Saute the mushrooms until cooked, roughly 7 minutes.
  3. Deglace with white wine and reduce slightly.
  4. Pour the cashew mixture, the thyme, allowing the gravy to boil.
  5. For added richness, add a couple of drops of white truffle oil

When you cut through the quinoa loaf, the spinach will show through its gorgeous green color.
Two thick slices resting on each other
Serve just like this.
With a dollop of the mushroom gravy, this makes the perfect comfort food

Vegan Meatloaf Quinoa

Osteoporosis and Milk

Osteoporosis Around the World

Throughout the world, the incidence of osteoporosis correlates directly with animal protein intake. The greater the intake of protein, the more common and more severe will be the osteoporosis. In fact, world health statistics show that osteoporosis is most common in exactly those countries where dairy products are consumed in the largest quantities – the United States, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Nathan Pritikin studied the medical research on osteoporosis, and found no basis at all for the Dairy Council viewpoint:

African Bantu women take in only 350 mg. of calcium per day. They bear nine children during their lifetime and breast feed them for two years. They never have calcium deficiency, seldom break a bone, rarely lose a tooth… How can they do that on 350 mg. of calcium a day when the (National Dairy Council) recommendation is 1200 mg.? It’s very simple. They’re on a low-protein diet that doesn’t kick the calcium out of the body’.

At the other end of the scale from the Bantus are the native Eskimos.

If osteoporosis were a calcium deficiency disease it would be unheard of among these people. They have the highest dietary calcium intake of any people in the world – more than 2000 mg. a day from fish bones. Their diet is also the very highest in the world in protein – 250 to 400 grams a day. The native Eskimo people have one of the very highest rates of osteoporosis in the world.

In March, 1983, the Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported the results of the largest study of this kind ever undertaken. Researchers in Michigan State and other major universities found that, by the age of 65 in the United States:

  • Male vegetarians had an average measurable bone loss of 3%
  • Male meat-eaters had an average measurable bone loss of 7%
  • Female vegetarians had an average measurable bone loss of 18%
  • Female meat-eaters had an average measurable bone loss of 35%

Keeping our PH- levels in check

Keeping our blood at an essentially neutral pH is top priority for our body. If our blood were to become too acidic we would die. Accordingly, if the diet contains a lot of acid forming foods (meat, dairy, sugar and processed carbohydrates), then the body, in its wisdom, withdraws calcium from the bones and uses this alkaline mineral to balance the pH of the blood. Meat, eggs and fish are the most acid-forming of the foods, and hence the ones that cause calcium to be drawn from the bones to restore the pH balance. Most fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, generally yield an alkaline ash, and so require no depletion of calcium stores from the bones to maintain the neutrality of the blood.

In spite of its high calcium content, milk, due to its high protein content, and high acidity, appears actually to contribute to the accelerating development of osteoporosis. The occurrence of this disease in the United States has reached truly epidemic proportions, and the promotion of dairy products as an ‘answer’ to the suffering of millions seems, not only self-serving, but absolutely immoral and downright dishonest.

Just a few thoughts…

Making health meals is a priority and I will agree with anyone it is very time consuming.  I just try to bulk things together.  I will prepare my vegetables for the week on Sunday.  Then they are ready to grab and go! Also,   Soak your beans for 12-24 hours prior to cooking. I had not done this previously but since I started doing that I have noticed a difference in the effects of bean!  The gas and bloating is greatly reduced with soaking.  The purpose of soaking is to aid in digestion and breakdown.  I believe it has really helped.  If you have a steamer it will save you some much time!  You can do your beans and the sweet potato in your steamer!