By Jade Belzberg
Following hard training days and long races, I like to focus on foods that are naturally anti-inflammatory to support my gut health, improve my immune system, and help my body recover from the demands of running. While plenty of supplements can be found, I find it more rewarding (and financially easier) to find ways to naturally incorporate anti-inflammatory compounds in my daily diet. One way of doing this as the weather becomes warmer and you begin to crave post-run refreshments is with hydration.
Turmeric is well known in East Asia, where the rhizome of the plant has been used in cuisines, as a dye, and as a medicinal to treat numerous health conditions. Both turmeric itself and its powerful compound, curcumin, have been shown to be helpful in the treatment of arthritis, respiratory issues, cardiovascular issues, digestive issues, and as a powerful anti-inflammatory.
Turmeric, belonging to the ginger family, looks similar to ginger with both the rhizome (or root) and the shiny green leaves of the plant being difficult to tell apart. However, slice open turmeric root and you’ll quickly find the bright orange interior most commonly associated with turmeric. However, there are dozens of turmeric species, most of which are rarely found in North America.
The recipe below for a hydrating, anti-inflammatory drink can use any variety of turmeric, but note that each variety may have a slightly different taste and contain different properties. I was lucky enough to find a rainbow variety that includes red, orange, yellow, green, black, blue, and white (keep in mind that black turmeric looks blue, blue turmeric looks purple, and red turmeric looks akin to the bright orange turmeric found in stores.)
Since the active component of turmeric, curcumin, is not easily absorbed, there is one addition to the recipe that may be surprising: black pepper, which contains piperine, allows the curcumin of the turmeric to become better absorbed. To further aid with absorption, ensure that you enjoy this beverage with a fat source—like a handful of nuts or seeds.
I first came across a drink recipe that contained turmeric in my well-loved copy of Meghan Telpner’s The UnDiet Cookbook. The recipe, titled “Jamu Juice” and named after the refreshing drink often found available at roadside stands throughout Southeast Asia, uses turmeric, along with more palatable additions like lemon juice and maple syrup, to make a delicious drink. The recipe I’m sharing today is a slight variation of this. I like to juice the turmeric root with ginger for an extra boost of anti-inflammatory power, then add lime, raw honey, a pinch of salt, and dilute with still or sparkling water. Give this a try at the end of your next long, hot run!
- 1/2 cup turmeric root
- 1/4 cup ginger root
- 2 limes
- 2 tbsp raw honey
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Pinch of black pepper
- Still or sparking water
- Juice turmeric root and lime juice together, then set aside juice.
- Juice ginger root, then set aside ginger juice.
- Stir raw honey into the turmeric-lime juice. Slowly add ginger juice to taste—ginger root can be very strong, so start with less and add more as needed. Add salt and a pinch of black pepper.
- To serve, pour 2 tbsp of the turmeric mixture into a glass, then top with still or sparking water. You may find that you need more or less of the turmeric mixture depending on taste. Feel free to add more raw honey or maple syrup as desired for a sweeter taste. Enjoy!
*Note: If using a different type of turmeric, be aware that adding the lime juice to the drink will likely change the color dramatically! For example, the black turmeric that produced the blue-colored turmeric juice turned pink when lime was added.
Want a quick way to hydrate that doesn’t include juicing (and risking staining everything in your kitchen yellow or blue or green)? Spring Energy has Energy and Hydration Endurance Juices that offer both fuel and hydration in a convenient package: just add water and use it before, during or post-run.
If you want to create an extra powerful drink, add the Honey Lemon flavor to the Turmeric Limeade for a refreshing and anti-inflammatory post-run drink. The Pina Colada and Passionfruit Date also work great as mixes to the turmeric juice.
Daily, J. W., Yang, M., & Park, S. (2016). Efficacy of Turmeric Extracts and Curcumin for Alleviating the Symptoms of Joint Arthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials. Journal of medicinal food, 19(8), 717–729. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5003001/
Telpner, Meghan (2015). The UnDiet Cookbook. Penguin Random House.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Turmeric. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Retrieved February 25, 2023.
Zhang, H. A., & Kitts, D. D. (2021). Turmeric and its bioactive constituents trigger cell signaling mechanisms that protect against diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Molecular and cellular biochemistry, 476(10), 3785–3814. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8187459/