Turmeric has significant benefits for your brain and body. These benefits come from a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties called curcumin. Curcumin's bioavailability must be improved to benefit fully from its effects. It helps to consume curcumin with black pepper, which contains piperine – a natural substance that enhances the absorption of curcumin. It may also be a good idea to take curcumin supplements with a meal that’s high in fat – curcumin is fat soluble, which means it breaks down and dissolves in fat or oil.
What is turmeric
Turmeric is the spice responsible for curry's yellow colour. Known in India for thousands of years as both a spice and medicinal herb, this yellow-orange spice is related to ginger. Turmeric is also commonly used in Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine. Lately, it has been promoted as a superfood that might fight cancer, alleviate depression, and more. Scientists have begun to prove traditional claims that turmeric contains compounds with medicinal properties. These compounds are called curcuminoids, and curcumin is the most important among them: curcumin has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Researchers are studying whether it might help diseases – such as arthritis and ulcerative colitis – in which inflammation plays a role.
Check out what turmeric can do to help fight 10 of the most common health conditions.
Remedy for headaches
Turmeric is popularly considered a natural remedy for headaches – especially for migraines – but there is little evidence that turmeric effectively treats or prevents headaches despite what people say online.
Scientists are excited about curcumin's potential to alleviate depression and improve the effectiveness of antidepressants. Some studies suggest that curcumin is as effective as an antidepressant in lessening symptoms of depression.
Depression is also associated with low protein levels known as a brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and shrinkage of the hippocampus, an area of the brain involved in learning and memory. Curcumin enhances BDNF levels, possibly reversing these changes.
Curcumin may also increase levels of serotonin and dopamine – chemicals in our brain that control mood and other body functions.
Type 2 diabetes
Since curcumin can fight inflammation and keep blood sugar levels steady, it could help prevent or treat type 2 diabetes. According to a study, taking a curcumin supplement for 9 months lowered the risk of developing diabetes in 240 people with prediabetes. Studies are in progress, but they have focused on animals rather than humans so far.
Irritable bowel syndrome
Turmeric could be beneficial in treating patients with diseases like Crohn's and ulcerative colitis. Researchers have found that turmeric could help alleviate IBS symptoms, including abdominal pain. However, further studies are needed.
Curcumin might protect against viruses like herpes and the flu, but most research has been conducted in the lab, not on humans. There is only about 3% curcumin in turmeric, and the body poorly absorbs curcumin, so one cup of turmeric tea won't do the trick.
Curcumin was found to alleviate PMS symptoms in a study that followed women for three menstrual cycles in a row. An animal study suggests that turmeric may help relieve menstrual cramps, too.
Turmeric's ability to lower cholesterol has been studied, but the results have been mixed. Turmeric has been found to lower LDL cholesterol in some studies, while others found it to have no effect. Researchers continue to study turmeric's heart-protective effects. The use of turmeric in conjunction with cholesterol-lowering medications may be effective.
Memory and Alzheimer's disease
Alzheimer's patients suffer from chronic inflammation, and turmeric appears to have natural anti-inflammatory properties. So does turmeric prevent and fight Alzheimer's? Unfortunately, there is no strong evidence yet that curcumin can slow or even reverse the progression of Alzheimer's disease in people.
A clinical trial conducted on adults without dementia found that 90 milligrams of curcumin taken twice a day for 18 months improved their memory performance.
According to researchers, curcumin's antioxidant properties led to less decline in the ability to think and reason.
Turmeric has shown promise in treating joint pain, stiffness and inflammation. However, there’s still a lot of research to be done before turmeric is recommended as a treatment for arthritis. If you decide to try it to treat your joint pain, combine turmeric with black pepper to help your body absorb curcumin naturally.
Turmeric may help prevent cancer
Several studies have examined the effects of curcumin on cancer growth and development and have shown that it is beneficial to cancer treatment. Turmeric has been shown to stop the growth of tumours in animals in lab studies. However, the studies do not show what will happen in a person's body when they eat turmeric. Moreover, turmeric might interfere with some chemotherapy drugs as well.
Whether high-dose curcumin can assist in treating cancer in humans needs further study. However, it has been shown that it has the potential to prevent cancer, in particular cancer of the digestive system.
A curry sauce is not complete without this ingredient – potent, pungent, bitter and earthy. The spice can be bought ground, or you can purchase the fresh root and keep it in the refrigerator in an airtight container. You can then peel, chop or grate it to use in a variety of recipes.
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