Turmeric is arguably one of the most powerful spices when it comes to fighting and even reversing disease. Its medicinal use can be traced back to thousands of years in China and India. Its use is recorded in the ancient practice of Ayurveda and has been cited as a medicine that promotes holistic well being to a person’s health. This has encouraged an increasing trend in the Western world. There are currently more than 10,000 peer-reviewed medical articles on the healing properties of turmeric.
What It Contains
One tablespoon of turmeric powder has roughly 1 gram protein, 29 calories, 6 grams carbohydrates and 2 grams fibre. It consists of minerals like phosphorus, potassium and manganese. As if that is not enough, turmeric is also packed with many beneficial compounds that keep you healthy and strong.
There are so many proven health benefits to using turmeric!
Bioactive Compounds in Turmeric
Modern-day research has begun to back up what the Indian traditional medicine has been claiming for thousands of years – that its compounds have medicinal properties. Compounds found in turmeric are called curcuminoids, among which curcumin is the most powerful in terms of medicinal benefit. It is the active ingredient and is packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. However, there is only 3% of curcumin in turmeric. Most studies on turmeric use curcumin extract in high quantity. If you want to benefit from its medicinal properties than you must take an extract with a high content of curcumin. Unfortunately, curcumin needs black pepper to be able to enhance its absorption power into the bloodstream. Black pepper increases the absorption power by 2000 %.
Anti-inflammatory compound in turmeric
Inflammation helps our body to repair damage and fight the foreign invaders. Although acute or short-term inflammation benefits us, chronic or long-term inflammation cause major problems. Today it is proven that long-term, low-level forms of inflammation is a major culprit behind most of the chronic diseases in the West. Some examples include cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, metabolic syndrome and a variety of degenerative conditions. It works at the molecular level by targeting many steps in the pathway of inflammation. Curcumin blocks a molecule called the NF-kB which turns on the inflammation genes by travelling into the very nuclei of the cells. In a nutshell, it fights inflammation at the molecular level. Several studies have proven that it is such a powerful anti-inflammatory that it could potentially replace some anti-inflammatory drugs without its side effects.
Antioxidants in turmeric
Aging and many other diseases are caused by oxidative damage. It includes free radicals and highly reactive molecules with those unpaired electrons. Free radicals react with major organic substances like proteins, DNA or fatty acids. Antioxidants are highly beneficial because it protects our bodies from these free radicals. Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes the free radicals because of its chemical structure. It also boosts the body’s own antioxidant enzymes. This way, curcumin provides a dual benefit to the human body.
Curcumin enhances brain-derived neurotrophic factors
The Curcumin in turmeric boots the neurotrophic factors in the brain by improving the function of the brain and lowers the risk of diseases in the brain. Neurons have the capacity to form new connections and can also multiply and increase in certain areas of the brain. Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor is one of the major driving forces behind this. It is a kind of growth hormone found in the brain. Common brain-related disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and depression are linked to decrease in these hormones. Curcumin can increase the BDNF in the brain, thereby delaying and even reversing multiple brain diseases and decrease in brain function due to old age.
Curcumin Lowers Risk of Heart Disease
Heart disease is very complicated, and various factors contribute to it. Curcumin can effectively reverse various steps leading to heart disease. Perhaps, curcumin’s main benefit related to heart disease is that it improves the function of endothelium – the lining of the blood vessels. It is well established that dysfunctions in endothelium is the cause behind heart disease and involves blood clotting, inability to regulate the blood pressure, etc. Several studies have proven that curcumin improves the function of endothelium. Reduction in inflammation and oxidation also reduces the risk of heart disease.
Turmeric can prevent and possibly treat cancer
Cancer is characterized by excessive cell growth. Although there are several types of cancer, it shares certain commonalities and some of these are positively treated when supplemented with curcumin. Many studies have researched the benefits of curcumin in the treatment of cancer and boosts the effects in chemotherapy. It works at the molecular level to affect cancer development, spread and growth. Studies have proven a reduction in metastasis (spreading of cancer), angiogenesis (formation of blood vessels in tumor) and even kills cancer cells. It is yet to test the effects of high curcumin dosage in humans. There are certain evidences that show a high probability that it could prevent the occurrence of cancer in the first place.
Curcumin supplements improve arthritis
Arthritis is a common problem and it commonly involves inflammation in the body joints. Several studies have proven that it helps patients with rheumatoid and osteoarthritis arthritis given that it is a powerful anti-inflammatory. A study conducted on patients suffering from arthritis have indicated that curcumin worked more effectively than anti-inflammatory drugs. Since the antioxidants in turmeric destroy free radicals, it reduces the level of damage to the cells, which is the major cause behind arthritis. Daily dosage has been known to positively relief mild joint pains. However, it should be consumed only after consultation with a medical practitioner.
Turmeric supplements are widely available in the market. Those supplements with Bioperine aka piperine works effectively better because it increases the absorption level of the curcumin by up to 2000 %. While pill supplements are more convenient, raw turmeric will offer the most benefit. You can incorporate turmeric in its powder form in your daily diet by adding it to salads, warm milk, curries, stir-fried dishes, etc.