On a recent trip to Sydney, I was reminded about how powerful food and lifestyle changes can be to health and wellbeing. I was in Sydney to attend the Mindd Practitioner Training for three days where I brushed up on my knowledge on everything to do with our microbiome (from the mouth all the way to the end!) as well as gut health, worms, how to treat common infections with herbs and nutrients, and reducing our exposure to environmental toxins. It was a fascinating and very informative three days with GPs, paediatricians, dentists, naturopaths and nutritionists, all leaders in their field, sharing the latest research and clinical application.

But the one thing that really stood out was a conversation I had with an older man of Malaysian and Indian heritage. He wasn’t attending the conference. He was an Uber driver and we had a great chat on my way home one evening.

He was excited to tell me his story of arthritis. A few years ago he started to have severe pain in some of his joints and went to see his doctor about it. His doctor (with Chinese heritage) explained that he could give him medication and it would give him relief for a little while but slowly the pain would return as the medication effects lessened. Instead, the doctor recommended the man do what many cultures have done for thousands of years and use food as medicine. He advised the man to drink a warm milk with turmeric, cinnamon, ginger and honey daily. He also talked to the man about doing regular movement and eating lots of fresh, whole foods. The man told me this resonated culturally and that within weeks of starting this daily drink, his pain started to ease.  He no longer has any arthritic pain. He took on this advice wholeheartedly and continues to eat a plant based diet and does exercises every day.

This is the ultimate practice of using food as medicine, and this is what I do with my clients every day. I help my clients understand that food can nourish the body into health and repair damage. Lifestyle changes are just as important and sometimes extra nutrients are also needed to make improvements to health.

I often recommend to my clients the very same drink this man has daily. The herbs, spices and plants we have access to are very powerful and they have been used traditionally in most cultures for thousands of years. It is also so easy to incorporate them into our meals.

The key ingredient in this drink is turmeric, also known as a Curcuma longa, which is traditionally grown in India and other Southeast Asian countries. The dried root of the Curcuma longa plant is ground into the distinctive yellow turmeric powder. Thousands of scientific studies have been done with this plant and while there are many beneficial compounds in the plant, curcumin is the most well known and studied. It’s best known for its anti-inflammatory and pain reducing effects. It’s safe and not only does it provide nutrition when consumed regularly, it can also provide amazing health benefits.

Here is my recipe for those keen to add a warm, nourishing drink to their daily routine!

Serves 2

2 teaspoons ground turmeric (organic, best quality possible)

1 teaspoon cinnamon powder

¼  teaspoon ginger powder or fresh ginger grated

Grind of black pepper

2 tsp coconut oil

2 cups coconut milk

Raw honey, to serve, optional
Place all the ingredients into a medium saucepan and bring the boil, allow it to boil for a few seconds before removing it from the heat, give it a good whisk to settle the bubbles, then return it to the heat again. Repeat this process three times, pour into mugs, sweeten if desired and enjoy!

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