Turmeric milk, or golden milk as it’s also known, is a traditional Indian drink that has recently gained traction in Western culture. There are many incredible benefits of turmeric milk. As a result, it has historically been used as a holistic treatment for a variety of ailments. These include upset stomachs and the common cold.
Turmeric milk is made by combining either animal or plant-based milk with spices. Turmeric, cinnamon, and ginger are most commonly used. Some recipes also incorporate other spices such as black pepper and nutmeg.
The nutritional content of the beverage will vary depending on the specific spices and base milk utilized. Overall, however, this bright gold drink offers a variety of health benefits as a result of its rich nutrient content.
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- The top health benefits of turmeric milk
- Further purported benefits of turmeric milk
- Final thoughts on the benefits of turmeric milk
The top health benefits of turmeric milk
Reduces inflammation and joint pain
The primary ingredients of golden milk, namely turmeric, cinnamon, and ginger, are well-known for their strong anti-inflammatory properties.
Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has especially remarkable anti-inflammatory powers. Some studies imply that it is even more effective than certain medications.
Because inflammation is a causative factor in the joint pain experienced by those suffering from arthritis, turmeric milk may help reduce the incidence and/or severity of this pain. In fact, this effect has been demonstrated by research trials.
A 2012 study showed that rheumatoid arthritis patients receiving 500 mg of curcumin reported more significant improvement in joint pain than those receiving 50 mg of a common arthritis medication.
Chronic inflammation also plays a critical role in the development of many chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, COPD, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer. Reducing inflammation, perhaps by adding golden milk to your daily regimen, is a great way to help prevent or manage these conditions.
Reduces cellular damage
Our bodies are often subject to cellular damage resulting from free radicals within the body. These free radicals enter the body either through internal metabolic processes or external sources such as air pollution, cigarette smoke, and chemical and pesticide exposure. Cellular damage from these harmful free radicals can be prevented by antioxidants found in food and spices.
Turmeric milk is considered to be rich in antioxidants. Curcumin is touted for its strong antioxidant properties and resultant ability to curb cellular free radical damage. Furthering its antioxidant content, golden milk’s other primary additives, cinnamon, and ginger, are also considered to be great sources of these magical antioxidants.
Free radical damage is thought to play a role in the development of many chronic diseases, including heart disease and cancer. By regularly increasing your antioxidant intake, you may be reducing your risk of developing one of these conditions in the future.
Improves memory and cognitive function
Golden milk may also have a positive impact on your memory and brain function. This is one of the most welcomed benefits of turmeric milk in my eyes!
Studies have suggested a positive correlation between curcumin ingestion and levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This compound promotes the growth and maintenance of brain cells. Low circulating levels have been associated with neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
Additionally, animal studies have suggested a beneficial effect of cinnamon on brain function and symptoms in those with Parkinson’s disease. However, research on human subjects is needed to further evaluate this claim.
Protects against heart disease
According to the American Heart Association, 121.5 million adults in the U.S. – nearly half of the U.S. adult population – suffer from heart disease. In fact, heart disease is considered the number one cause of death in the U.S.
Interestingly, all three key ingredients of golden milk have been proven to have cardioprotective properties. When studied, curcumin compounds were discovered to reduce the incidence of heart attacks in post-bypass patients.
Cinnamon, which has been praised for its blood sugar lowering capabilities, was also found to improve blood lipid levels in type 2 diabetics. Cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, which are all precursors for heart disease, were lowered. HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels were improved.
While the exact physiology of this effect is unknown, it is likely that the antioxidant properties of these spices play a role.
Lowers blood sugar levels
Some of the ingredients in golden milk have also shown promise when it comes to lowering blood sugar levels.
Ginger and cinnamon, in particular, may have a positive impact on fasting blood sugar levels. Cinnamon has been a hot topic of research in diabetic patients. Research on this population has shown that cinnamon does have antihyperglycemic properties, resulting in reduced insulin resistance and lower fasting blood sugar levels. It has been suggested that cinnamon regulates carbohydrate absorption following a meal. This contributes to its antihyperglycemic effect.
Although ginger is less commonly associated with blood sugar control, it has proven to have a positive impact in this area as well. In fact, research has suggested that adding ginger to your daily regimen in small amounts may lower your fasting blood sugar levels by up to 12% and your hemoglobin A1c level by up to 10%.
Reduces cancer risk
It may come as a surprise to some that the foods and nutrients we consume can increase or decrease our risk of developing certain types of cancer. And with the rising incidence of this disease, alternative treatment and prevention options are becoming increasingly of interest.
Although research is somewhat limited and results are conflicting, the primary ingredients of turmeric milk have all shown some promise in the area of cancer prevention.
-gingerol, the active ingredient in ginger, has been described as having anti-cancer properties. Cinnamon has demonstrated further anti-cancer effects. Lab and animal studies have shown the potential of cinnamon to inhibit the growth of cancerous cells. Curcumin has also been reported as being effective against several different types of cancer by interfering with cellular signaling and growth.
Enhances immune function
Golden milk has been used historically as a holistic treatment for a variety of ailments and conditions. And, as it turns out, this is for good reason. This golden beverage contains immune-boosting properties, which help protect against and fight different types of bacteria and viruses.
Studies have implied that curcumin has antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties, thus helping to prevent and treat infections. Ginger and cinnamon have also been touted for their immune-boosting properties. For this reason, they are commonly used as holistic treatments for colds and the flu.
Further purported benefits of turmeric milk
Milk products – both animal and plant-based – are rich in calcium and vitamin D. Both of these nutrients are vital in supporting bone health and reducing your risk of developing conditions of the bone such as osteoporosis. Milk is also rich in protein, which is another key nutrient for building and maintaining healthy bones.
While cow’s milk is naturally rich in calcium and fortified with vitamin D, this is not necessarily the case with all plant-based milk products. When choosing a coconut or soy milk product for your golden milk, make sure to select a product that is enriched with both of these nutrients to ensure that you’re reaping this significant health benefit.
Ginger is well-known for its impact on the digestive tract. In fact, it is commonly used in the treatment of nausea. Research suggests that ginger may help speed up digestion and stimulate gastric emptying in those suffering from dyspepsia.
Although not as widely known, turmeric may positively impact digestion as well. Turmeric may help increase bile flow, thus helping to enhance fat absorption and reduce unpleasant symptoms of indigestion.
Potential to improve your mood
Yes, that’s right! Evidence has suggested that curcumin can improve your mood when consumed on a regular basis. Amid a pandemic, this seems like a benefit we can all get behind!
A recent study demonstrated an improvement in mood and symptoms associated with major depressive disorder in subjects receiving curcumin supplementation. Subjects receiving curcumin in combination with an antidepressant medication saw the most improvement.
Although evidence to support this claim is limited and further research is needed, it is certainly worth exploring.
Final thoughts on the benefits of turmeric milk
As you can see, the benefits of turmeric milk are plentiful. This tasty beverage is packed with antioxidants and nutrients, making it beneficial for consumption on a regular basis. Golden milk offers a variety of health benefits spanning from protection against heart disease and other chronic illnesses to the promotion of bone health.
To ensure that you are maximizing the nutritional content of your golden milk, follow these helpful suggestions:
- Utilize a milk product that contains both calcium and vitamin D
- Keep sweeteners, such as syrup or honey, to a minimum
- Consider adding other spices, such as pepper, vanilla, or nutmeg, to further boost the micronutrient content of your beverage, and enhance the flavor
- If you plan to consume turmeric milk regularly, choose Ceylon cinnamon, rather than cassia cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon is less common and costs a bit more as it is of better quality. Cassia cinnamon can be toxic in high doses, so Ceylon cinnamon is worth the small extra investment!
Have a favorite turmeric recipe you’d like to share? Do you have any questions about the benefits of turmeric milk? Feel free to comment below!
Elly: If you enjoyed this article, you may enjoy some of our other healthy eating articles. Examples include our articles on the benefits of lesser-known “superfoods” like pili nuts and sacha inchi oil.
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