Curcumin’s Coming

The orange powder that’s popping up in lattes and juices is becoming the athlete’s best friend 

Some years ago I was in a restaurant at Kuala Lumpur International Airport with former UFC Middleweight Champion Rich Franklin. We were waiting for our flight and looking to get some breakfast.

To say that Rich is a fitness fanatic is understating things, so workouts and nutrition play a big part of his life. In short he’s a very fussy eater and for those who don’t know him, it can generate the odd raised eyebrow. 

I selected an a-la-carte option but Rich started to politely ask if he could have a bit of this, a double portion of that and none of the other. To my surprise, the charm of an all-American superstar overcame all challenges of communication and menu flexibility.

“Sure, I’ll get that for you,” said the waiter. I looked across the table at a mutual friend with some surprise, but that wasn’t the end of it. 

“Hey, you’ve got turmeric in that dish. Can I just get a shot of that? In fact. three shots of turmeric for me and my buddies?” His wish was apparently our waiter’s command and moments later we had turmeric-infused liquid in three shot glasses on the table ready for our pre-breakfast consumption. This was washed down with an education from the champ about how healthful it all is. It tasted good too.

Two years later I attended a nutrition seminar in Melbourne and got confirmation from the nutritional advisor to Australian rugby and cricket professionals that the orange stuff really is all Rich had claimed. 

Back in Singapore, Mount Alvernia Hospital’s view is portrayed on its website through the opinion of Ms Sarah Shamila, manager of its Nutrition and Dietetics Department. She explains that curcumin (pronounced ker-kyew-min) is the active ingredient and mainstay responsible for turmeric’s touted health benefits. Studies have demonstrated it to be a potent antioxidant. Others claim it fights numerous diseases, including cancers, high cholesterol, Alzheimer’s and arthritis, among others.

It was curcumin, given in the form of an intravenous drip, that persuaded entrepreneur Patrick Oliver to seek its benefits on an ongoing basis, long after he claimed its anti-inflammatory properties helped manage the degenerated disc condition in his lower back.

Originally from Miami, now based in Singapore, Oliver told The Gym Pod in an email: “Upon reading more, I realised that there were countless benefits to turmeric and curcumin especially when combined with piperine and a healthy fat. For example, I use MCT Oil which increases its efficacy multi-fold,” MCT oil is a supplement made from a type of fat called medium-chain triglycerides (MCT). “With that knowledge, I started to make my own home recipe and it helped me a lot with the joint pain that I get after I exercise,“ he added. 

Having recommended it to his fiancée and friends, he’s now selling the recipe via Instagram @drink.rmdy in 120 ml shots. Rich Franklin would doubtless be pleased.

Huggs coffee which has several outlets in Singapore, offers a blend of what it calls. ‘East meets West” beverages and includes a turmeric latte, made up of 7 spices. It certainly changes the flavour of your favourite milky coffee, adding a kick that blends surprisingly well with traditional flavours.

And you don’t have to hunt far online for turmeric-based recipes that include Lemongrass turmeric chicken wings, Indonesian turmeric rice and turmeric scrambled eggs.

If inflammatory reactions are restricting your workout and causing discomfort, seek medical advice. But as an ongoing holistic way to manage this response, try incorporating turmeric into your daily diet. Turmeric supplements are widely available and could be a great way to boost the effectiveness of your workout regime. If it works for a world champion, it will likely work for you.
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