A recently aired special on CNN by famous doctor Sanjay Gupta discussed the possibility of using food as medicine. I was intrigued by this idea and thought I would look into the foods and flavor ingredients that have dual purposes mentioned in the special: yogurt and turmeric.
Turmeric is a spice mainly found in Indian and Pakistani dishes often used in making curry with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and possibly anti-cancer properties. Curcumin is a component in turmeric that some studies have found can stop the growth of different kinds of tumors.
It couldn’t hurt to add this spice to some of your cooking, especially if you’re into hot and spicy foods. Some stomachs may not be able to handle turmeric. You’ve probably seen movies spoof people having diarrhea after going to an Indian restaurant- turmeric is spice to blame. Most girls will remember a certain episode of Sex and the City when Miranda goes on a date and udders the phrase “You’re just not that into me” after her dates cuts things short after dining on Indian cuisine.
Yogurt also has medicinal properties. I’m a big believer in yogurt to help supplement natural bacteria that you may lose through treatment with antibiotics. Antibiotics don’t always discriminate between good and bad bacteria. The good bacteria, called normal flora, lives in your digestive tract, on your skin- everywhere, really. When taking a course of antibiotics, the good and bad bacteria are wiped out leaving you susceptible to a secondary infection. In women, this can manifest as a yeast infection, so double check with your pharmacist first before you eat yogurt.
The calcium in your yogurt may bind to any antibiotic you are taking, and make it less effective. You will need to space any calcium, vitamins and other supplements 2 hours before or 2 hours after your antibiotic. Basically, they shouldn’t be in your stomach at the same time, otherwise you may end up doing another round of antibiotics and suffer nasty side effects like diarrhea.
Being a pharmacist, I’ve always tried to promote a healthy lifestyle, but living one myself has been a different story. I am finally seeing food in a different light using it as fuel and not for comfort. Before you scarf down your meal, find out what it is you are truly eating and if those ingredients can benefit your health. The power of food can be really eye-opening.