Why Dr. Mike Carries Mustard in His Pocket
Two BlackBerrys. A computer. And a packet of mustard. Dr. Mike carries these with him nearly everywhere. The digital devices speak for themselves. The mustard? It's a huge health advantage in a tiny golden packet.
The yellow mustard he carries contains turmeric (look on the label; not all mustards have it), a spice called "queen of the kitchen" by Indian cooks. Turmeric not only gives its deep yellow color and spicy flavor to sandwich mustard; it's also an essential seasoning in Indian curries. And it may soon become an essential ingredient in health care.
For centuries, country doctors in India relied on the spice to treat arthritis, liver disorders, inflammation, body aches, and more. (Even today, reportedly there's an adhesive bandage on the Indian market that contains turmeric.) Now, new research hints that these historical uses may have been on the right track. Curcumin, a compound in turmeric, shows promise against cystic fibrosis, colon cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer's . . . even the discomfort of postworkout muscle soreness. So far, it's been building up an impressive medical resume: antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anticancer agent, although some of these need to go through more testing.
But there's no need to wait to unlock certain benefits, says Dr. Mike, who takes about 17 milligrams a day in a teaspoon of mustard. Turmeric activates the genes that clear nerve-cell waste. When you don't clear that brain poop (as Dr. Mike calls it), you develop inflammation that destroys brain cells. So Mike believes turmeric-laced mustard decreases his risk of memory dysfunction as he gets older. It's delicious insurance.