Turmeric the root of a plant from the well-known ginger family. Containing active compounds called curcumin, it has been used in India as part of Ayurveda medicine for thousands of years. In our modern world turmeric is most likely to be spotted in the spice aisle of your local supermarket, in the form of a bright yellow/orange powder, which gives an earthy flavour to curries (and yellow stains to fingers!). But I’m not going to be sharing my favourite Balti recipe with you today …
Not only is this a tasty ingredient at the dinner table, this ancient spice is noted for its health properties. Including, its ability to help a varied array of conditions including stomach bloating, cancers, heartburn, arthritis and inflamed joints, endothelial dysfunction, Alzheimer’s, depression and even aging itself!
Read on to find out more about turmeric’s health benefits…
Turmeric’s Anti-Inflammatory Effects
These anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric are highly valued, as most modern diseases have inflammatory aspect associated with them. These include cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, arthritis and metabolic syndrome.
Curcumin is the active compound in turmeric and it is this that has been shown to reduce the expression of the inflammation gene associated with Alzheimer’s. This is supported by epidemiological studies which demonstrate that in India, because of the widespread consumption of curcumin, people’s health benefits and disease rates are reduced:
“In India there is a four to five times lower incidence of Alzheimer’s disease seen in patients between 70 and 79 years of age, compared with similarly aged patients in the USA”
The same scientific paper concluded by saying that such studies provide a rationale for the therapeutic use of curcumin, found in turmeric, as a safe natural product.
Turmeric is also the preferred choice if you are suffering from any inflammatory conditions and want a gentle option for your stomach. Studies have found that it to be more effective than current arthritis medications. Current painkillers used for arthritis can even cause stomach ulcers and kidney damage, whereas curcumin, found in the turmeric causes no such side effects and may even protect the stomach lining.
Anti-cancer Effects of Turmeric
Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric has been shown to interfere with multiple cell signalling pathways, including cell cycle, apoptosis, proliferation, survival, invasion, angiogenesis, metastasis and inflammation.
In other words, turmeric delays many factors which would normally be involved with the growth of cancer and its negative side effects. This quality is a positive to one to health, as turmeric’s actions have been reported to work against leukaemia and lymphoma, gastrointestinal cancers, genitourinary cancers, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, lung cancer, melanoma, neurological cancers, and sarcoma. This re enforces turmeric’s ability to positively affect multiple areas of the body.
But How Easy Is It to Get Enough Turmeric?
It’s important to mention that the Indian study I discussed before, reflects daily consumptions of turmeric in Indian population. This spice is in almost everyone’s diet on a regular basis. For example, people drink turmeric milk and tea for breakfast, they add it to their scrambled eggs (delicious by the way, a must try!) and families are brought up eating curries daily. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a curry just as much as the next person but I don’t fancy eating one every day.
Lastly but importantly, if you don’t want to be wasting all that golden goodness, this supplement needs some helping hands.
Take Turmeric With Fat…
Try adding coconut milk to your curry’s, and heathy oils to your supplement regime. These healthy fat sources are needed for nutrient absorption, without it the benefits can’t be reaped from the turmeric.
Take Turmeric with Pepper, or Even Better Bioperine…
Meaning, add in pepper to your cooking, or make sure your supplement contains Bioperine, this is an extract derived from black pepper. According to an article published in the “Journal of Ayruveda and Integrative Medicine” in 2010 this is important is because it aids in the abortion of turmerics powerful active compounds. The most established effect of Biopeprine is its effect on absorption of nutrients from the intestine. This effect is known as “bio enhancement.” Not only that, Bioperine is noted for its antidepressant activityl, although is not yet been firmly established ,a trial demonstrated supplementation had antidepressant and cognitive-enhancing effects.