10 Miraculous Health Benefits of Turmeric
We always talk about adding a little spice in our lives! If you knew what we know (give it ten minutes for the full reveal) you should take this literary to be true. Turmeric is a spice that is native to southwest India and in its ground form was number six in our 10 Most Powerful Superfood Antioxidants article, so one thing we know is it is packed with plenty of these amazing antioxidant compounds that help the body fight cell damage and keep you looking as young as ever.
Turmeric is part of the ginger family and this wouldn’t surprise some of you amateur chefs reading this as it looks just like ginger in its natural form. In ground form it is a bright yellow-orange powder that may we warn you, is very difficult to remove from clothes and kitchen worktops so be very careful when using it especially on white surfaces!
Right warnings and disclaimers complete let’s get down to the main course. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin and is responsible for its yellow colour and a multitude of miraculous health benefits. So let’s dive in and let you know why you need to get this spice all up in in your life.
- Turmeric as an Anti-inflammatory
Curcumin in turmeric has the ability to inhibit the action of glyoxalase, an enzyme in the body which modulates several metabolic pathways; it stimulates the clearing up of oxidative and inflammatory agents from muscle tissues. Thus reducing the level of inflammation,pain and swelling experienced with muscle pain.
Though many of the current studies have been limited to various tests on laboratory animals, mice in particular, the initial results are promising for its potential effects on humans. This being the case the many countries in Asia including India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal have been using it as a first line of medicinal aid for common disorders such as inflammation, pain and swelling for at least 4,000 years.
2. Turmeric Can Lower The Risk of Heart Disease
An encouraging study in 2012 measured the effect of taking curcumin extract on 121 patients whom had heart bypass surgery between 2009 and 2011. Three days before surgery and five days after surgery half the patients in the study took curcumin capsules with their normal heart medication. The other half, the control group, took a placebo with their medication.
During their post-bypass hospital stays a larger proportion of the placebo group experienced a heart attack (30 percent) versus the curcumin group (13 percent) meaning a 65% lower chance of a heart attack amongst bypass patients taking curcumin.
These results are actually really encouraging for turmeric though for healthy hearts lets never forget a healthy diet that reduces saturated fat and processed sugar can help a great deal. That is one thing that wasn’t controlled in this particular experiment though not withstanding this curcumin would appear to have incredible effects on cardiovascular health.
3. Turmeric for Alzheimer’s and Dementia
Alzheimer’s is the most common neurodegenerative disease and is a leading cause of dementia. The unfortunate thing is that there is no current treatment or cure for Alzheimer’s. Thus prevention is the order of the day. Curcumin has been shown to be able to cross the blood-brain barrier and protect brain mitochondria against oxidative stress, which is one of the main causes for the disease.
Another key benefit of curcumin is to work on the reduction of protein tangles called Amyloid plaques that build-up in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Low doses over a long period of time were best according to the same research.
Brain health is something that is the Holy Grail in medicine and given its importance in treating Alzheimer’s turmeric would appear to be in a league of its own here. Though let’s not forget its use here is preventative not a potential cure.
4. Treat Cancer and Kill Tumours
A 2009 study in Ireland found that curcumin killed off oesophageal cancer cells. A team of researchers found that curcumin started to destroy the cancer cells within 24 hours of exposure. The results are very promising indeed.
There is further evidence that curcumin can help prevent cancer and tumours from occurring in the first place, especially those that can be found in the digestive system (like colorectal cancer). In one study 44 men with lesions in the colon that can turn cancerous, were given 4 grams of curcumin per day for 30 days, found that the number of lesions reduced by 40%.
Perhaps curcumin will be used along with conventional cancer treatment some day in the future! A longer and more robust study would of course have to be done but it would seem this powerful compound could have tremendous health benefits for both cancer treatment and cancer prevention.
5. Delay and Prevent Diabetes
Among people classified as pre-diabetes, on the borderline of developing type 2 diabetes, curcumin capsules were found to delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes in a 2012 study. Over a 9 month period, study participants were given either curcumin supplements or placebo capsules.
Just over 16 percent of people taking the placebo were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes by the end of the study. No one taking curcumin was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Researchers credit these results to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant powers of curcumin the marvellous and miraculous compound in turmeric!
Of course a balanced diet and avoiding too much refined sugar in your daily diet also helps tremendously in the fight against Type II diabetes. The recommended daily amount of sugar for those aged 11 and over is 30 grams and shouldn’t make up more than 5% of total calorie intake in a day. Ideally you would need to obtain these from natural unrefined sources such as fresh fruit.
6. Turmeric to Treat Depression
Curcumin has shown to work well in treating depression. In a controlled trial, 60 patients were randomly placed into three groups. One group took prozac, another group took a gram of curcumin and the third group took a mix of both prozac and curcumin.
After a 6 week period, those taking only curcumin had led to improvements that were similar to prozac. The group that took both prozac and curcumin had the best results. The study therefore showed curcumin to be an effective antidepressant.
Finally there is some evidence that curcumin can boost the brain neurotransmittersserotonin and dopamine. These two chemicals are manufactured in the brain and their relevant levels in the body can have a significant effect on those suffering from depression.
7. Turmeric to Treat Arthritis
Arthritis is a common issue with older individuals but it has its roots or starting points in early adulthood and looking after your joints properly with the right exercise and stretchingcan help delay or prevent you getting this too early. There are several types of arthritis but most involve some form of joint inflammation.
As we have seen curcumin has anti-inflamatory properties and studies have shown it to be an effective treatment for those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, in this study more so than an anti-inflammatory drug!
A great tip would be to make an energy boosting, protein fuelled peanut butter and banana smoothie post a weekend run or workout. Once you have all your ingredients piled up in your blender (only skimmed milk needs to be added to banana and a tablespoon of peanut butter) put in a teaspoon of turmeric and a small squeeze of honey. Tastes great and you will feel invigorated and boost your protein supply to feed your muscles and curcumin will get to work on relieving any aches, pains and inflammation issues.
8. Increases Antioxidant Capacity of the Body
Oxidative damage from free radicals in the body is believed to be one of the mechanisms behind ageing and many a disease. Free radicals tend to react with proteins or DNA in the body.
Curcumin also happens to be a very potent antioxidant that can neutralize free radicals. This is all down to its chemical structure. Antioxidants are so beneficial to your body because they protect you from free radicals. Exactly how they work can be found in our antioxidant article.
Curcumin also helps stimulate antioxidant activity. Therefore like a prime champion winning boxer it delivers a one-two punch against free radicals. First it blocks them directly, after that it stimulates the body’s own antioxidant mechanisms to provide that knock-out punch to free radicals.
9. Protect Against Liver damage
Your liver is the largest and certainly one of the most important organs inside your body. It is responsible for filtering and removing toxins from your blood, producing bile, a liquid that aids digestion and lastly enables you to metabolise nutrients in food.
A 2013 study on the effect of turmeric on liver function compared a control group against a group that was given 3.0g of fermented turmeric powder per day over a 12 week period. All the participants in the study had moderate to high elevated levels of alanine aminotransferase (ALT), a marker for liver damage and/or dysfunction.
A key finding of the experiment was that the group that were taking the fermented turmeric saw significantly reduced ALT levels and reduced serum aspartate transaminase (AST) and gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT), two enzymes that occur in high concentrations in the body when an individual has liver damage.
10. Heartburn and Digestion
Turmeric has been found to curb heartburn and indigestion. A study in 1989 tested a group taking a turmeric supplement against a group that was given a placebo. Turmeric most likely works due to the anti-inflammatory properties of it carries. The main group found they’re symptoms of both heartburn and indigestion reduced versus the control group.
Next time you have heartburn or indigestion following a meal reach for the turmeric. You can get some in capsule form from Amazon (what don’t Amazon sell these days!).
So there you have it “10 Miraculous Health Benefits of Turmeric”! This list could have been even larger as we originally had a list of twenty though you can find one article online with “600 Reasons Turmeric May Be The World’s Most Important Herb”.
As you can see the main ingredient in turmeric, curcumin is very powerful indeed and is one of nature’s finest creations and also appears in our 10 Most Powerful Superfood Antioxidants article at number 6. Getting some shouldn’t be a problem if you opt for capsules.
If you’d like to use this in a more natural form you can of course dish up a very nice curry or indeed use it to colour and flavour your basmati rice or even throw a little in a smoothie. You heard that last one correctly we mentioned the use of spice in our 7 Incredible Fruit-Infused Water Recipes article. You can use any spice to add a little hint of flavour to many a smoothie or Fruit-Infused water creation.
Are you thinking of adding turmeric to your diet or have tried it before? Let us know what you think in the comments section below?
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