Chances are you’ve read about the turmeric craze and decided you best get on the bandwagon so you too can start increasing the growth of new neurons and neutralise some of those free radicals zooming about the place, not to mention the anti-Alzheimers and arthritis benefits of this potent anti-inflammatory. But sprinkling it into your tea, it turns out, is not enough. You need to activate your turmeric.

But, surely, you activate muscles, or Siri, on your iPhone, when in a bind. But spices? I didn’t really understand  – at what point had I ever deactivated my turmeric? All the other spices think it’s the favourite – I keep it in a pretty special, hexagonal, clip top jar right by the teas – not in the spice rack with all the others, so I would have thought, in the line of spice duty – my turmeric was as active as they come.

But of course, when we pay special attention to nature, the body and the way in which we re-integrate with all that potential – there are underlying processes that, once we know them, allow us to benefit from natures’ bounty far more than previously thought possible.

So, on to how to activate your turmeric. Let’s get those neurons growing, shall we?

Quick education on why activating turmeric is a must

Essentially it all comes down to absorption. The active good guy inside turmeric, is a substance called curcumin. So, the bio-curcumin supplements out there are offering you this key ingredient at a far higher dose.

But according to scientific studies, turmeric and its comprising curcumin have a low absorption rate and therefore a rather low bioavailability, meaning the good stuff is in there, but our bodies struggle to access it. Most of the curcumin is absorbed directly into the lining of the liver and stomach wall, as opposed to the bloodstream, where we want it in order to reap the health benefits.

How to increase absorption from turmeric or curcumin

1. Add pepper

The liver makes certain substances water soluble so they can more easily pass through our systems. But when we add pepper, high in a compound called piperine, the absorption of the curcumin is slowed down, thanks to the drug inhibiting components of piperine. So eating turmeric with pepper increases the absorption, I’ve read, up to 2000%.

2. Eat it with good fat

Turmeric is fat soluble – meaning it dissolves in fats. Without the fats binding it, the turmeric struggles to make it through the liver and stomach without being absorbed prematurely, and into the small intestines where it can be transferred through to the blood. So, by eating the turmeric with good fats, like avo or coconut oil (or in delicious curries), you’re more likely to absorb more of it into your bloodstream.

This is also why golden lattes are so popular. They all involve dissolving a turmeric paste with coconut milk (which is where the fats come in) and usually include the required pepper too.

3. Eat it with purple foods

These foods, like berries, red grapes (that includes a glass of red wine for dinner with your turmeric curry) and onions, and then also apples and green tea, all contain a plant pigment known as quercetin. This flavanoid is another enzyme inhibitor, of one in particular that deactivates curcumin. Your deeply coloured foods are richest in this flavanoid, so chuck some turmeric in a blueberry smoothie next time (as turmeric is also heat sensitive – which you’re avoiding in a smoothie completely).

4. Make a paste for golden lattes

You can pre-activate your turmeric for bed-time brews by mixing it with pepper and simmering on the stove for a while. The paste can be stored in a jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Here’s a recipe for the stovetop turmeric paste. Or you could enjoy the golden latte, piperine rich benefits of turmeric in the Taka Turmeric premixes for lattes and smoothies.

If you’re craving a more in-depth look at the science behind turmeric activation, check out this post on healthy-holistic living on boosting the power of turmeric.

And regardless of how you’re choosing to activate your turmeric, always make sure you get high-quality organic turmeric to begin with.