Medically reviewed by
Dr. Minako Abe, M.D., Board-certified emergency medicine physician researching the relationship between lifestyle and disease onset in relation to the immune system and cancer, Japan
Turmeric has many anti-inflammatory properties that boost overall health and immunity. See how it can complement your thyroid condition.
Your thyroid is a small gland at the base of your throat that is responsible for controlling a variety of bodily functions through hormone signaling.
Impaired thyroid function can be detrimental to overall health as the organ’s function is implicated in fundamental body processes like metabolism, or the expenditure of stored energy. One way to mitigate the effects of thyroid conditions is to adopt anti-inflammatory lifestyle changes such as an anti-inflammatory diet.
A staple in many Asian cuisines, turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory compound that has been shown to possess ample medicinal properties.
This article will discuss the following topics:
- What is turmeric?
- How can turmeric improve your thyroid health?
- What are some other benefits of turmeric?
- How can you incorporate turmeric into your diet?
What Is Turmeric?
Turmeric is an herbaceous plant that is closely related to ginger. Its root is most commonly used in Asian cuisines and is most known for giving curry its yellow color.
Due to its extensive health benefits, it has been a significant part of Ayurvedic and other traditional medicine for centuries.
Its main ingredient, curcumin, is found in relatively low levels within the amount of turmeric typically used to spice food. Therefore, many people elect to take it in supplement form to gain all the benefits it has to offer.
How Can Turmeric Improve Your Thyroid Health?
Inflammation is a normal part of fighting injury and infection. That being said, sustained and chronic inflammation is indicative of ill health as well as a cause and consequence of many thyroid conditions. Some of the symptoms include:
- Myalgia, or body pain
- Excessive changes in weight
- Insomnia and other forms of disordered sleep
- Mood disorders like depression
Turmeric has been shown to reduce inflammation, which is achieved in part by curcumin’s antioxidative properties. The compound protects against cellular damage, which can have perceivable benefits for individuals with chronic thyroid conditions.
What Are Some Other Benefits of Turmeric?
Aside from its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, turmeric has also been shown to have:
- Anti-cancerous properties → Curcumin has been shown to prevent the spread of cancer by promoting apoptosis, or the programmed death of cancerous cells. Although the exact biomechanics behind this effect has not been fully delineated, studies even show that turmeric is correlated with reduced papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) spread.
- Brain-boosting properties → Research shows that curcumin has positive effects on neural development by promoting proteins that support the health and longevity of brain cells.
- Lowered risk of heart disease → Emerging studies also suggest that turmeric derivatives are correlated with reductions in ‘bad’ or LDL cholesterol, which lowers heart disease risk. Additionally, curcumin has been shown to upregulate nitric oxide shown to increase nitric oxide bioavailability, a vasodilative compound that improves blood vessel tone and blood flow.
- Improved mood regulation → Studies have shown that curcumin can positively impact the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine, which are associated with improved mood.
How Can You Incorporate Turmeric Into Your Diet?
The most obvious way to add turmeric into your diet is to use recipes that call for spice, such as various curries and stews.
By itself, curcumin has low bioavailability and is not readily usable by the body in its regular form. To improve its absorption by the body, consider taking it along with black pepper, or along with something oily/fatty as it is fat-soluble.
Juices and Smoothies
Juices are one of the easiest ways to sneak some turmeric into your diet. If you like to press or blend your own juices, simply add about a ½ teaspoon of ground turmeric (or ¼ teaspoon of freshly grated turmeric).
If you are looking for a more filling smoothie option, you can also blend frozen fruits or ice into your juice.
Aptly named for its hue (as well as many health benefits), golden milk is prepared by warming up your milk of choice (dairy or non) with ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper and any sweetener such as honey or agave syrup.
The great thing about this drink is that you can have it hot or cold, depending on your preference and it only takes 10 minutes or so to prepare!
Having recently burst into the limelight via health and lifestyle blogs, wellness shots are an efficient and fresh way to incorporate turmeric into your diet.
You can prepare morning wellness shots the night before by combining pressed ginger and turmeric, a pinch of black pepper, a squeeze of lemon, some freshly-squeezed orange juice and a little bit of olive oil to increase the curcumin’s absorbability.
Lastly, if you want to take turmeric without meal preparation, you can purchase
turmeric/curcumin tablets, with black pepper added, at many wellness stores.
- Your thyroid is a small gland at the base of your throat that is responsible for controlling a variety of bodily functions through hormone signaling.
- One way to mitigate the effects of thyroid conditions is to adopt anti-inflammatory lifestyle changes such as an anti-inflammatory diet.
- Turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory compound that has been shown to possess ample medicinal properties.
- By itself, curcumin has low bioavailability, but increased absorption occurs when taken alongside black pepper or oils.
- Some ways to include turmeric into your diet are to try recipes that use turmeric, take daily ‘wellness’ shots, smoothies/juices containing turmeric, make golden milk, or by taking turmeric supplements.
You can get more dietary tips, healthy recipes as well as lifestyle advice on the ThyForLife website, and track how your dietary changes affect any thyroid-related symptoms using the ThyForLife app.