In many cases, food can be the best form of medicine. Avoiding sugary, processed foods and drinks is a decision that promotes optimal health. Ditching fried foods and charred meats can also be beneficial. But, it is not always about taking things out of the diet. Including health-promoting foods is the other piece of the puzzle. For example, superfoods, such as organic blueberries, have anti-inflammatory properties that can help to lower oxidative stress, and high fiber seeds like chia seeds can promote bowel regularity. One of the foods that offer an extensive array of health benefits is the spice turmeric.
Turmeric is a yellow-colored spice that is often used in Indian dishes. It has a mild, earthy flavor and can complement various dishes' flavor profiles, including meats, soups, and vegetables. Apart from adding flavor to food, turmeric is well known for its anti-inflammatory benefits. But, there is so much more to turmeric above and beyond its ability to fight inflammation. Let's explore all the reasons why turmeric is truly the king of spices when it comes to health.
Turmeric is best known for its ability to fight inflammation. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin. It is curcumin that possesses a positive influence on inflammation and oxidative stress. Curcumin is a free radical scavenger, which means it "mops up" reactive chemicals in the body that, when left unchecked, can lead to DNA damage, inflammation, and more. Curcumin is able to lower the output of cytokines such as TNF-alpha, NF-kB, and interleukins. These chemical messengers in the body are one of the main ways inflammation is signaled within the body. These messengers can lead to a cascade of inflammation, pain, and tissue damage.
Curcumin is often taken for joint pain, muscle pain, and other inflammatory conditions, including autoimmunity. It is both safe and well-tolerated by most people. However, it can affect the way some medications are processed, so always speak with your doctor before starting any new supplements, including curcumin.
Curcumin has shown great promise in the realm of cancer. Animal studies have shown that curcumin has anti-cancer properties and helps reduce tumor size. Furthermore, curcumin may be able to stop cancer cell growth and well as induce cancer cell death, known as apoptosis.
Keep in mind that if you have cancer, you should always check with your oncologist before starting any new supplements. Curcumin is not intended to replace any medications you currently take and should only be added to your routine under your physician's advice.
Metabolic syndrome is a collection of changes to a person's physiology, including high blood pressure, insulin insensitivity, being overweight, and having a large waist circumference. This condition is often a precursor to diabetes. Curcumin has shown great promise in multiple aspects of this condition.
Research has shown that curcumin can help lower cholesterol, including the "bad" cholesterol, LDL. It also can elevate the "good" cholesterol, HDL. Together, these improvements are very beneficial to a person's lipid profile, which can positively affect a person's cardiovascular health. Furthermore, curcumin can also help improve a person's insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, and weight. Since high insulin levels are associated with inflammation, weight gain, and diabetes, balancing insulin has many benefits to a person's health.
Over liver is known as our master detox organ. It is responsible for processing many of the medications we consume as well as any toxic chemicals we are exposed to, including alcohol. Cirrhosis is a condition where the liver becomes scarred from continual damage. Common causes of cirrhosis are alcoholism, fatty liver, and hepatitis C. Currently, there is no cure for cirrhosis apart from a liver transplant. However, curcumin has a profound effect on protecting the liver against damage and reversing damage as well.
Animal studies have shown that curcumin quenches the oxidative stress induced by alcohol and other chemicals that leads to liver damage and cirrhosis. It can therefore not only protect but may also reverse damage to the liver. Plus, it encourages bile flow through the gallbladder, which is one of the ways we can eliminate byproducts to be excreted. Curcumin upregulates phase 2 of our liver's detoxification process. During this process, chemicals and metabolic products are conjugated (linked to other molecules) to be eliminated by the body. This process allows the body to remove inflammatory and toxic substances from the body.
It is important to note that we use this detoxification process to eliminate medications from the body. Therefore, it is possible for curcumin to speed up the elimination of some drugs. Always check with your doctor before beginning any new supplements, including curcumin, as it may affect how your body processes the medications you take.
Brain Health & Memory
One of the most detrimental aspects of aging is memory loss and cognitive impairment. Dementia and Alzheimer's rates are on the rise in America. Currently, there are few, if any, effective treatments in conventional medicine. Today, over 5 million Americans live with Alzheimer's Disease. The symptoms are progressive memory loss, confusion, personality changes, and more.
Fortunately, curcumin is showing great promise in preventing memory loss and improving cognition. Researchers looked at how curcumin affects the brain and a person's memory using animal models. They discovered that curcumin helps prevent memory loss and improves a person's ability to form memories by increasing brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the hippocampus. This growth factor supports the growth and health of neurons in the brain. The hippocampus is the area of the brain where memories are made. Therefore, curcumin appears to help maintain the health and function of our brain's memory center.
Curcumin also may reduce oxidative stress and plaque formation in the brain. Amyloid plaques are areas of protein deposits in the brain that impair the brain's function. They are one of the hallmark signs of Alzheimer's. Curcumin has been shown to lower inflammatory cytokines as well as halt the process of amyloid plaque formation. In summary, curcumin has the potential to improve multiple parameters of brain health and memory formation. Keep in mind, curcumin is not an FDA-approved treatment for any brain-related condition. Always consult with your doctor before beginning any new supplements.
How to Get More Curcumin
There are a few options for increasing your intake of curcumin. The first one is by including more turmeric in your diet. It is important to note that turmeric is not 100% curcumin, so you will have to include quite a bit of turmeric in your diet to equal a large amount of curcumin. Approximately 3% of turmeric is curcumin. Also, turmeric is poorly absorbed. You can enhance absorption by adding both fat and black pepper.
A great option is a Golden Latte that combines all these ingredients into a delicious drink.
Boil 1.5 cups of nut milk (oat, almond, coconut)
Add 1 tsp of turmeric
Add a pinch of black pepper
Add a dash of honey to taste
Since the spice turmeric contains only around 3% of the active constituent, curcumin, another option is to take a curcumin supplement. Curcumin supplements typically contain 95% extracted curcumin in capsule form. In most cases, they also contain black pepper to enhance absorption. Again, fat will help improve absorption, so taking curcumin supplements with a meal containing fat is advised.
In summary, turmeric is an earthy bright yellow spice with health benefits more significant than almost any other food product. The active constituent, curcumin, can help improve multiple aspects of a person's health and wellness. Potential benefits of curcumin include:
- Reduced pain and inflammation levels
- Anti-cancer properties
- Healthier blood lipid profile and insulin sensitivity
- Liver health
- Improved brain health and memory
Getting more turmeric and curcumin into your life is easy. Adding turmeric to food or using a supplement are two easy ways to reap the benefits of curcumin. Remember to add fat and pepper for optimal absorption!
Disclaimer:Statements made on this website have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Information provided by this website or this company is not a substitute for individual medical advice.
Statements made on this website have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Information provided by this website or this company is not a substitute for direct, individual medical treatment or advice. It is the responsibility of you and your healthcare providers to make all decisions regarding your health. SmartHabits recommends that you consult with your healthcare providers regarding the diagnosis and treatment of any disease or condition. Products sold on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.