Turmeric Chai Latte
Updated: Sep 4, 2020
This warming drink is a delicious alternative to coffee, and is perfect for when you feel that you need something a little more filling and comforting than herbal tea. More than just comfort, there are many therapeutic benefits that this beverage can offer to help support your health. Here I will provide a brief overview on some (there's many) of the health benefits of turmeric.
Turmeric comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant and is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory spice that belongs to the ginger family, Zingiberaceae, and is native to Southeast Asia. Its characteristic bright yellow/orange colour comes from a polyphenol called curcumin. The medicinal benefits of turmeric have been known for thousands of years, being used in both Arurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat inflammatory and digestive disorders. However, it is only in more recent times that this herb has been studied scientifically to explore its therapeutic effects, which have been mostly focused on the use of curcumin as an isolated extract.
Research has been able to highlight that curcumin's anti-inflammatory properties target similar pathways as non steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen, yet is able to steer the anti-inflammatory process in a direction that avoids the detrimental side effects commonly associated with the long term use of these drugs. Research studies have also shown that curcumin, as a biological modulator, can inhibit many mediators that drive inflammation, playing a beneficial role in the management of chronic inflammatory conditions including gastrointestinal disorders, arthritis, colitis, allergies, arteriosclerosis (thickening and hardening of the vascular wall due to damage and aging), metabolic syndrome, diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders, respiratory disorders, pancreatic disease, pain and various cancers.
As an antioxidant, curcumin has been found to be protective against oxidative stress, a biochemical process that can inflict damage to DNA and cell membranes and further aggrevate inflammation. Curcumin also has shown to be protective against liver damage, to support the regeneration of liver cells while also increasing their ability to break down toxic compounds to be removed by the body. Expressing anti-carcinogenic activity, curcumin has also been found to limit or even inhibit oncogenesis (the process by which healthy cells are transformed into cancer cells) during both the promotion and progression periods in a variety of cancers. As a complimentary treatment, curcumin can also be useful in metabolic disorders by helping to improve insulin sensitivity and in turn blood glucose management.
It is important to note here that the bioavailability of curcumin from turmeric is actually very poor. This is because it is poorly absorbed within the small intestines, and then with the small amount that does get absorbed, the liver tends to quickly break it down into a water-soluble molecule which is then excreted from the body. Curcumin can be purchased as a supplement in its isolated form with its bioavailability enhanced, but I would caution here to seek advice from a health care professional trained in herbal medicine (this is not myself) as while curcumin has a good safety profile, caution needs to be exercised in some health conditions such as gall stones and with some medications. It should also only be used as a compliment to supervised medical treatment.
I'm a big believer in the benefits of culinary herbs because there is still so much we don't know about this herb as a whole and how individual components can work synergistically, and its delicious and easy to implement into your cooking where you can. It's quite fascinating that traditionally, black pepper and turmeric have always been used together as ingredients for making curries. Black pepper contains an alkaloid called piperine which blocks the break down of curcumin, greatly improving its bioavailability (by over 2000%) and thus enhancing the therapeutic benefits of turmeric (this is often used with curcumin in supplements). This is why black pepper is included as in ingredient in this recipe.
Turmeric Chai Latte
Preparation and Setting Time
Prep Approx 10-15 minutes
2 tbs of turmeric
1 tbs of ground cinnamon
1 tbs of ground ginger
1 tbs of all spice
1 tbs of cardamom
1/4 tsp of cracked, black pepper
Add ingredients to a jar, screw the lid on and give it a good shake
To make a turmeric latte, add 1 level tsp to a mug with ½ to 1 tsp of honey. Pour a little preferred steamed milk into the cup (coconut tastes best but I also use almond milk), give it a stir before adding the rest
If milk is frothed, sprinkle ground cinnamon on top