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Column: Reclaiming my health with turmeric, ginger and mindful eating

Nutritionist offers advice on combatting inflammatory illnesses
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Woman cutting vegetables.

This informational column was submitted to PrinceGeorgeMatters from Claire Nielsen, Health Coach, Author, Public Speaker and Founder of Aunty Claire's Elixir for Life Ltd.

Several years ago, I was spending half my time in Vancouver, living a healthy active lifestyle, but when I turned 50 the “change of life” hit me with a vengeance.

Everything in my body started hurting and within a few months, I couldn’t even get out of bed or off the toilet without assistance.

My 10-year-old son (who was home with me during the day) was not impressed when he had to help me.

After copious medical tests, I was diagnosed with severe osteoporosis and osteoarthritis in most of my joints as well as fibromyalgia.

I went on anti-inflammatory medication but within a few months, I gained 30 pounds and developed an ulcer, resulting in more meds.

When I asked about possible healthier alternatives, I was told that I would be on anti-inflammatory meds for the rest of my life.

I did not feel like myself and knew I didn't want my life to be like this, so I burst into tears at this news. Seeing I was upset, the doctor wrote out a prescription for anti-depressants. This got me infuriated and out the door (with a few choice words). I realized I had to figure it out on my own!

It was a daunting task and I was overwhelmed and I felt very alone. I spent several months studying to find the best anti-inflammatory foods, as I have always believed that ‘We are what we eat’, and ‘Food should be our first pharmacy’. I researched foods that cause inflammation and foods that fight inflammation.

Turmeric (curcumin) and ginger were mentioned over and over as two of the top anti-inflammatory foods on the planet. I started putting Turmeric in everything (until my family boycotted my cooking), I filled jell caps, and then bought the expensive pills from the health food stores.

In my further research about turmeric, I learned that powdered turmeric is often heavily processed, (may contain additives) and could be many years since being picked.

As curcumin levels decrease over time, I decided to find fresh raw organic turmeric and ginger and attempt to make a drink (as I was sick of how many pills and vitamins I was popping).

It took me a year of tweaking my recipe to come up with something tasty that really helped with my inflammation. 

In my research, I have found that yellow oily turmeric seems to be the best for its curcumin levels.  

Please only choose organic Turmeric and Ginger roots because fungicide is often sprayed on (non-organic) roots while they are drying in the sun, not to mention the pesticides and herbicides used in the farming process.

The last thing we should be putting in our compromised bodies is more harsh chemicals.

In making the turmeric-ginger tonic and using it myself, I got my mobility back, I have the energy I had when I was in my 30s, I sleep better, have a much stronger immune system (no cold or flu for almost five years), better mental health and just generally feel so much healthier.

I am happy to share the recipe with anyone as well as my speech notes on eating an ‘anti-inflammatory diet’. I have been speaking on “Eating an Anti-inflammatory Diet” at many of the large Health and Wellness symposiums and fairs in the Lower Mainland but now (due to COVID-19 closures).

I encourage others to take control of their own health by making choices around what they put in their bodies.

My hope is that this article gives you the encouragement to do your own research as you reclaim your own health and the health of your families. 

Be safe and healthy.

If you wish to reach Claire Nielsen, you can do so by emailing or calling 250-567-7387.