One of the most effective nutritional supplements to exist may be Turmeric. Research, backed up with many studies, prove the undeniable benefits it gives for your body and brain.
Here are the top 10 evidence-based health benefits of turmeric:
1. Turmeric Contains Bioactive Compounds with Powerful Medicinal Properties
Ever wonder where curry gets its’ yellow color? That would be Turmeric. It’s been used in India for thousands of years as a spice and medicinal herb.
Only recently, this aged method has been brought into the light and backed up by science –Turmeric truly contains compounds with medicinal properties. These compounds are called curcuminoids, most importantly, curcumin. Curcumin is the main active ingredient in Turmeric; proven powerful anti-inflammatory effects and established as a strong antioxidant.
Although, looking at the Turmeric spice itself, the curcumin content is not high -it’s around 3% by weight. Most studies on the herb use turmeric extracts which are made up of mainly curcumin -with dosages usually exceeding 1 gram per day. These levels would be difficult to acquire when using the regular turmeric spice in your foods. Therefore, in order to experience the true benefits, a ‘high in curcumin’ supplement would be required.
One slight issue … curcumin is not easily absorbed into the bloodstream. Black pepper is the resolution to this problem; piperine, a natural substance enhancing the absorption of curcumin by 2,000%, is a main ingredient. This means, curcumin supplements containing piperine are the best on the market. Also being a fat soluble, taking curcumin with a fatty meal may be highly beneficial.
2. Curcumin Is a Natural Anti-Inflammatory Compound
Inflammation is incredibly important; used to aid your body in fighting foreign invaders and carries a role in repairing damage. Without inflammation, pathogens like bacteria could easily take over and kill you. Although acute, short-term inflammation is beneficial, it can become a major problem when it becomes chronic and inappropriately attacks your body’s own tissues.
Scientists now believe that chronic, low-level inflammation plays a major role in almost every chronic, Western disease. This includes heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s and various degenerative conditions. Therefore, anything that can help fight chronic inflammation is of potential importance in preventing and even treating these diseases.
Curcumin is strongly anti-inflammatory. In fact, it’s so powerful that it matches the effectiveness of some anti-inflammatory drugs -without the side effects. It blocks NF-kB, a molecule that travels into the nuclei of your cells and turns on genes related to inflammation. NF-kB is believed to play a major role in many chronic diseases.
Being extremely complicated, we won’t get into each detail of inflammation, but the key takeaway is that curcumin is a bioactive substance that fights inflammation at the molecular level.
3. Turmeric Dramatically Increases the Antioxidant Capacity of the Body
Ever wonder what causes aging and an array of different diseases? It involves free radicals -highly reactive molecules with unpaired electrons. Free radicals tend to react with important organic substances, such as fatty acids, proteins or DNA.
Antioxidants are very beneficial due to the fact they protect your body from free radicals. Curcumin is a potent antioxidant that can neutralize free radicals due to its chemical structure. In addition, curcumin boosts the activity of your body’s own antioxidant enzymes. In that way, curcumin delivers a two-fisted punch against free radicals. It blocks them directly, then stimulates your body’s own antioxidant defenses.
4. Curcumin Boosts Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, Linked to Improved Brain Function and a Lower Risk of Brain Diseases
Our knowledge of neurons has evolved and grown over the years; once believed to be incapable of dividing and multiplying after early childhood, we now know this does happen.
Neurons can form new connections, but in certain areas of the brain they can also multiply and increase in number. One of the main drivers of this process is brain-derived neurotrophic factor, BDNF, which is a type of growth hormone that functions in your brain.
Brain disorders including depression and Alzheimer’s disease have been linked to a decrease in this hormone. Interestingly, curcumin can increase brain levels of BDNF, making an effective delay or even reversing many brain diseases and age-related decreases in brain function. Also said to improve memory and aid brain growth, given its effects on BDNF levels.
5. Curcumin Should Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease
The number one cause of death in the world is none other but heart disease. Researchers have studied it relentlessly for decades, learning the why’s and how’s. As to be expected, it is incredibly complicated and various things contribute, although, curcumin may help reverse many steps in the heart disease process.
Function improvement of the endothelium -lining of your blood vessels- may be the main benefit of curcumin when it comes to heart disease. It’s well known that endothelial dysfunction is a major driver of heart disease and involves an inability of your endothelium to regulate blood pressure, blood clotting and various other factors.
Several studies back this information. One study found curcumin to be as effective as exercise while another shows its’ similarity in function to the drug Atorvastatin. In addition, curcumin reduces inflammation and oxidation (as discussed above), which play a role in heart disease as well.
One study randomly assigned 121 people, who were undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery, either a placebo or 4 grams of curcumin per day, a few days before and after the surgery. The curcumin group had a 65% decreased risk of experiencing a heart attack in the hospital.
6. Turmeric Can Help Prevent (And Perhaps Even Treat) Cancer
Cancer -driven by uncontrolled cell growth- comes in many different forms, although maintains a common ground. This allows curcumin herb supplements to aid in the treatment and healing of these diseases: preventing cancer growth, development and spread at a molecular level.
Studies show its’ contribution to ridding the body of cancerous cells and reducing angiogenesis -growth of new blood vessels in tumors- and metastasis -spread of cancer. For example, In a 30-day study, 44 men with lesions in the colon -which could turn cancerous- were given 4 grams of curcumin per day, this reduced the number of lesions by 40%.
7. Curcumin May Be Useful in Preventing and Treating Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease in the world and a leading cause of dementia. Unfortunately, a good treatment has yet to become available; therefore, preventing it from occurring in the first place is of utmost importance.
Fortunately, curcumin has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier. It’s known that inflammation and oxidative damage play a role in Alzheimer’s disease, and curcumin has beneficial effects on both.
A buildup of protein tangles called amyloid plaques is a key component of Alzheimer’s disease; studies show that curcumin can help clear these plaques.
8. Arthritis Patients Respond Very Well to Curcumin Supplements
Arthritis, a common problem in Western countries, is divided into several different categories, all involving inflammation in the joints. Given that curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory compound, it makes sense that it may help with arthritis.
In a study in people with rheumatoid arthritis, curcumin was even more effective than an anti-inflammatory drug. Many other studies have looked at the effects of curcumin on arthritis and noted improvements in various symptoms.
9. Studies Show That Curcumin Has Incredible Benefits Against Depression
Curcumin has shown some promise in treating depression. In a controlled trial, 60 people with depression were randomized into three groups: one group took Prozac, another group one gram of curcumin and the third group both Prozac and curcumin. After 6 weeks, curcumin had led to improvements that were similar to Prozac. The group that took both Prozac and curcumin fared best. According to this small study, curcumin is as effective as an antidepressant.
Depression is also linked to reduced levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, BDNF, and a shrinking hippocampus -a brain area with a role in learning and memory. Curcumin boosts BDNF levels, potentially reversing some of these changes.
There is also some evidence that curcumin can boost the brain neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine.
10. Curcumin May Help Delay Aging and Fight Age-Related Chronic Diseases
Because curcumin can help prevent heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s, then obviously it is highly beneficial for longevity. For this reason, curcumin has become very popular as an anti-aging supplement.
But given that oxidation and inflammation are believed to play a role in aging, the advantages of curcumin play a role in your over-all health.
The Bottom Line
Turmeric and especially its most active compound curcumin have many scientifically proven health benefits, such as the potential to prevent heart disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer.
It’s a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant and may also help improve symptoms of depression and arthritis.
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