I’ll level with you: before this year, I used to be pretty sickly. If there was a cold going around, you could bet I’d be the first to catch it (and probably spread it all around the office, soz guys). Basically, my immune system wasn’t exactly firing on all cylinders. In fact, I’d say probably 40% of the cylinders. And more of a squashed tin can than a cylinder.
So back in January, like the shameful New Year’s cliché I am, I decided it was time to kick my immunity into gear. And since I started taking a specific supplement, I’ve barely been sick once in the whole of 2020. In fact, I can’t recall taking a single sick day (apart from that pretty savage lockdown birthday hangover, soz again guys).
Okay, so disclaimer time: I’m no doctor, and what works to bolster one person’s infection-fighting cells may not have the same benefit for another person’s. I should also caveat that 2020 was the year I started taking exercise seriously (I know, I know, I’m such a bore, don’t @ me), which has likely strengthened my immune system, too.
But I don’t have to be a doctor to know that this is probably more than just a happy coincidence. You don’t go from being the human embodiment of the bubonic plague to Popeye after a can of spinach just from doing a few sit-ups.
“Turmeric has amazing benefits for your immune system,” says GP and lifestyle medicine physician, Dr Alka Patel. “One of the active ingredients found in turmeric, curcumin, is known to have anti-inflammatory properties that help boost immunity. Because it reduces inflammation, turmeric has also shown improvement in inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.”
“Piperine – one of the active ingredients in black pepper – helps absorption of curcumin, and studies have shown that combining turmeric with black pepper increases the levels of curcumin by 2000%,” adds Dr Patel. She also adds that incorporating turmeric into your diet via the fresh root or grounded spice is best as they contain a host of other nutrients – magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc – that supplements don’t. You should also avoid turmeric if you have active gallstones or kidney stones.