When I was told by a specialist that I had to stop running, I burst into tears. Yes, right there in the doctor’s office, sitting upright on his horizontal folding bed, I had an unexpected but honest sobbing fit.
At the time of my diagnosis, my knees had been aching for months: when I walked, when I wore high heels, but mostly when I ran. On early morning runs you could hear them pop. Going upstairs became a painful exercise in balancing, and as my intermittent pain became more prominent, my trainer insisted I see someone.
I was not a natural runner. I took up the sport when I was in my late thirties, running daily at 5:00 am around a two-mile Savannah loop with my friend, Sheena. Soon that two-mile loop became four, then six and later still, 10, and I got to be pretty good at it. I loved how running cleared my head and my heart and the over the top sense of accomplishment I felt when I deducted seconds from my miles. Mostly, I loved how I could run on your own terms. Music/no music? Treadmill/outside? With friends/solo? I got to decide and it was liberating for both my physical and emotional health.
Back at the doctor’s office though, I was unimpressed when after a 15 minute visit that included a few questions, a brief touch of my knees (but no X-ray, MRI or any lengthy knee bending tests), a diagnosis of patellofemoral pain syndrome and iliotibial band was made.
My trainer too was unhappy, not with the diagnosis, but with the specialist’s cavalier approach, and he recommended that I begin an icing regimen, research different kinds anti-inflammatories (he was convinced that my knees were over inflamed), and stop running for a bit, until we could assess any changes.
Maybe it was what I wanted to hear but my trainer’s advice just seemed more practical.
After weeks of research, I discovered that French fries (my nirvana at the time), a bottle of wine, chronic stress and bad knees all had something in common: they’re all causes or symptoms of inflammation, and the root of pretty much every degenerative illness. And when I read about the havoc too much inflammation can wreak on the body and of course, the knees, I began to look at natural ways I could reduce it.
It was then that I discovered the magic of turmeric.
Turns out there are more than 700 research papers on the spice, all of which have concluded that the ingredient curcumin, an antioxidant found in turmeric, gives it substantial disease-prevention and anti-inflammatory powers.
My next step was a no brainer. I took out the sleek silver tin of turmeric powder that was tucked away at the back of my spice rack, that I had reserved just for my Indian vegan dishes, and brought it to the front. I began steeping it, along with black pepper, into my hot morning beverage. I added it to warm almond milk (again with black pepper) and ginger at night, and dusted it across every dish I was eating, Indian or not.
Two months later, I could run again. Sure it was not like before; I couldn’t run hills, a ten-mile run was out of the question, and I had to limit the amount of time I spent exerting my knees. But I could do something. Two to three times a week, for 20-25 minutes each time, I could get on a treadmill and slowly experience that runner’s high without any of the pain I used to have.
It felt like magic simply because I could, once again, tune in to my body and ask myself important questions about what was working (in my life), and what wasn’t. And since it’s hard to be dishonest with yourself when huffing and puffing midway through a run, 30 minutes, 3 times a week, was all that I needed to feel that I had regained a significant part of my life.
I was back.
FIVE LIFE-CHANGING BENEFITS OF TURMERIC
If you want to experience the full effects of turmeric, you must ensure that you consume significant amounts of its key component, curcumin. Unfortunately, curcumin is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream. To boost its effects, add black pepper to any concoction that includes turmeric. The discreet kitchen staple contains piperine (marketed as Bioperine), a natural substance that enhances the absorption of curcumin by 2000%.
Here are five other life-changing benefits of turmeric:
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