Let me preface this by saying I not a medical professional. Or a health practitioner of any sort. Or, for that matter, an old wife. However, I do follow the health and living pages on the New York Times, the Guardian and The Huffington Post websites, amongst others. And due to a family history of Alzheimer’s and Parkinsons, I keep a particular eye out for articles relating to brain health.
Recently, I came across one entitled Neurogenesis: How to Change Your Brain by neurologist David Permutter, M.D. Obviously, you can read the full article yourself, but let me summarise it.
Up until fairly recently (the late 90s) it was believed that once we’re past early childhood, our brains don’t regenerate. But apparently they do. Not surprisingly, this process of neurogenesis is controlled by our DNA and a specific gene codes the production of a protein (BNDF), which plays a key role in creating new neurons.
Recent studies have revealed that patients with Alzheimer’s (and a number of other neurological conditions) have decreased levels of BNDF. Fortunately, as Permutter goes on to say “many of the factors that influence our DNA to produce BDNF factors are under our direct control.” That’s excellent news, but it begs the obvious question: how?
Back to you Dr Perlmutter. He continues, “The gene that turns on BDNF is activated by a variety of factors including physical exercise, caloric restriction, curcumin and the omega-3 fat, DHA.”
I can’t say I’m hugely surprised by physical exercise, calorie restriction (note to self, must eat only 2/3 of that block of Green & Black chocolate) and omega-3. But what’s the deal with curcumin? Well, it turns out that curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric. Apparently Alzheimer’s is not nearly as common in Indian villages.
So what’s all of this got to do with the photograph of a bowl of pumpkin soup below? Basically this is post is an introduction to a series of recipes which will follow. 101 (or possibly closer to 11) recipes with turmeric. They’ll be easy, I promise. I love cooking, but this is not about making curry from scratch.
Recipe with Turmeric No. 1
Particularly useful when you have a lurgy and don’t really feel up to cooking.
1 packet of ready made organic pumpkin soup, 1/2 an onion, 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric, a pinch of chilli powder and half a lemon.
Finely (or roughly – whatever works for you) chop half an onion. Sauté gently in a saucepan, along with the half teaspoon of turmeric and a pinch of chilli powder. Cook the onion as long as your like, until soft if that’s the way you like it, or a little longer if you like it crispy. Add the soup. Bring to the boil. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.
If you care about presentation, feel free to swirl some yoghurt or cream through the soup and sprinkle some finely chopped flat leaf parsley or coriander. Otherwise, you’re done.
I hope you enjoy it and that maybe it helps create a neuron or two…