Turmeric is one of spices known just as much for its health benefits as its unique flavor and color. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which is the source of most of the medicinal benefits of turmeric. What many people overlook is the fact that our bodies only get to use a small percentage of the curcumin found in turmeric because much of it is metabolized before it's absorbed by the body. There are several ways to improve the body's absorption of curcumin, but perhaps the most simple way is taking it with black pepper.
Black pepper is proven to make the curcumin more bioavailable, which means it helps the substance get absorbed by the body. The active ingredient in black pepper is known as piperine. On its own, piperine has a variety of medicinal uses including pain relief and improved memory. In fact, both curcumin and peperine have been shown to help prevent cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer's disease individually.
When combined, curcumin and peperine become even more potent because of the way the peperine inhibits the metabolism of substances such as curcumin. Peperine prevents the curcumin from being broken down by the liver and excreted from the body, which means more curcumin passes through the blood stream to be used by the body. Even a small amount of black pepper has been proven to drastically increase the bioavailability of curcumin by up to 20 times!
Coincidentally, much of the world's black pepper is produced in the same geographical regions as turmeric, such as India and Southeast Asia, and the two have been used together for thousands of years. The only difference is that now we have scientific proof of what our ancestors may or may not have known for generations. Because black pepper is readily available and is already used in most cultures to enhance the flavor of almost any dish, this is the most convenient and delicious way to increase your curcumin intake!
While both of these spices can be incorporated into a variety of marinades or curries and consumed regularly, it would be a bit difficult to get health benefits from simply sprinkling turmeric over a dish. Turmeric is typically not a spice that is used in excess in cooking because of its bitter flavor, but adding black pepper will significantly maximize the benefits. For individuals who would like to consume curcumin more directly, we recommend taking our Geo-Fresh curcumin tablets, which are more highly concentrated than turmeric powder. In either case, increasing your black pepper consumption will ensure that your body is getting the most out of your curcumin intake.
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