What is turmeric good for? As the buzzword of the moment, turmeric is being touted as the a spice that may potentially be helpful in the fight against all kinds of diseases from Alzheimer’s to cancer, and much more in-between.
It’s seemingly endless potential for helping with so many diseases may make you want to rush out to the nearest health food store to stock up on these amazing supplements. But you should wait before you spend your money, and be aware that these supplements are not all created equal and that the old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ is particularly true here.
After some pretty extensive research I have discovered what I believe are the top 9 curcumin benefits, and probably at least one or two of them apply to everyone. Common problems such as obesity, heart disease, depression, and degenerative disease affect so many of us at some point and they can all at least be helped to some extent with this wonder spice.
Turmeric (its botanical name is curcuma longa) is a a plant that is part of the ginger family, and is native to Southeast Asia. It has been used medicinally for over 4,500 years and has long served as part of Ayurvedic medicine – an Indian system of healing still widely used all over the world to this day.
The difference between the powdered root and supplements:-
Turmeric supplements can come in all kinds of strengths, and it’s the extracted extracted compound curcumin that gives it its bright yellow colour which is where its magic lies.
How to use turmeric
The ordinary turmeric powder that we all know and cook with is literally the ground down dried root with nothing added and nothing taken away. It is used in curries and other Indian and Asian type spicy food dishes. It is also great in sweets, deserts, hot milks and homemade turmeric paste which is pretty strong and can be used medicinally.
This turmeric powder in itself only contains 2% of the active compound curcumin, which is why supplementation of higher dose extracted curcumin is often recommended for therapeutic effect, but dosage also highly depends on your reasons for using it. For example, preventative supplementation usually only requires a much lower dose than the amount needed to actually ease a problem once you already have it.
The 9 Amazing Turmeric Benefits
1. ANTI INFLAMMATORY
Inflammation plays an important part in fighting invading pathogens and repairing damage in the body. But inflammation is only beneficial in the short term, and long term chronic inflammation can be a big problem.
There is now lots of evidence coming to light that this kind of inflammation may play a big role in a myriad of chronic Western diseases, including Alzheimer’s, some cancers, heart disease, metabolic syndrome and degenerative conditions.
Therefore eating a highly plant based diet with lots of anti inflammatory and antioxidant rich foods is crucial in helping keep this destructive kind of inflammation to a minimum. Check out my awesome beginner’s Guide to plant based eating here if you need some inspiration.
Foods that aggravate chronic inflammation:-
- Junk foods
- Trans fats
- Dairy products
- Processed meats
- White bread
- White pasta
- vegetable oil
- Soybean oil
The curcumin in turmeric is a powerful bioactive anti inflammatory able to fight inflammation at the molecular level. Respected studies have shown its potency matches that of anti inflammatory drugs, but without the nasty side effects – this is the kind of amazing potential we’re talking here of this magical spice!
2. ANTI AGING BOTH INSIDE AND OUT
Dermatologists agree that eating antioxidant rich foods along with not smoking, avoiding high stress levels, staying out of the sun, always using an SPF cream, and helping your body detoxify as well as it can to be the most powerful ways to slow down the aging process.
This is where turmeric can help being as curcuim is a POWERFUL antioxidant, and due to its chemical structure has the power to neutralise free radicals, stopping them from doing damage in the body. It also has the power to boost the body’s own natural antioxidant mechanisms.
Antioxidant’s fight oxidative damage!
Oxidative damage is one of the main mechanisms behind most diseases and the aging process in general, therefore supplementing with a powerful antioxidant such as curcumin could potentially help counteract this. The antioxidants in curcumin are comparable to those of vitamin E and C for scavenging the free radicals responsible for oxidative stress, whilst at the same time raising the levels of antioxidant enzyme.
3. CURCUMIN AND HEART DISEASE
There is a certain process on the path to heart disease and curcumin may play a role in reversing many of these steps towards it; the main benefit being improvement in the lining of the blood vessels. Endothelial (the technical name for these blood vessels) dysfunction plays a major role in heart disease mainly because the endothelium, along with its other roles regulates blood clotting and blood pressure.
4. TURMERIC FOR MUSCLES AND BONES
All of these weaken with age and also as tissues in the joints alter, preventing the surface of the joints from sliding together easily; all of this is not only painful, but can cause damage and affect motion. Osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and sarcopenia are the main diseases affecting the musculoskeletal system of older people.
A study of the anti-arthritic potential of curcumin on bone cells suggest that the anti inflammatory effects of curcumin make taking a supplement well worth while, especially for the long term management of these conditions.
5. TURMERIC FOR VISION
Your vision is affected in many ways as you age, which can lead to cataracts, glaucoma, dry eye, and retinal detachment to name just a few.
Due to turmeric’s strong antioxidant properties, supplementation can help act as a preventative due to the fact that oxidative stress is a direct cause of most eye conditions.
6. BRAIN AGING
With age, parts of the brain begin to shrink which can cause memory loss and a decline in cognitive performance. The changes in blood vessels can cause dementia, Alzheimer’s, or even bring on a stroke. As the curcumins in turmeric that serve as a powerful anti inflammatory AND antioxidant, then they can potentially act as a neuroprotective agent on the brain.
Curcumin is showing signs in some studies of also being able to control the oxidative stress of Parkinson’s disease by reducing neurotransmitter toxicity, and even delayed cucumin supplementation can still give protection against stroke damage – so it’s never too late!
7. TURMERIC AND DIABETES
Curcumin can be therapeutic for those suffering from diabetes by helping to deal with the associated complications such as cholesterol problems, nephropathy, retinopathy and neuropathy. This is all due once again to its amazing anti inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
8. WEIGHT CONTROL
As obesity causes chronic low grade inflammation in the body, it in turn heightens your risk of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, some cancers and metabolic syndrome. Curcumin, being such a powerful antioxidant, helps suppress the inflammatory messages in the fat, muscle and pancreas cells, all of which help with blood sugar levels, cholesterol, insulin resistance and other conditions associated with being overweight.
I wouldn’t say you can just use curcumin supplements alone to lose weight – if you do you may be disappointed; rather use them alongside regular exercise, and a healthy diet that contains lots of foods to help burn fat.
9. BOOSTED IMMUNE SYSTEM
The benefits of a strong immune system are obvious, as pretty much every illness, disease and virus requires a strong immune system to help fight it off. Alongside a healthy lifestyle, turmeric can help stimulate the immune system to fight off foreign invaders AND control immune response to inflammation.
10. CURCUMIN MAY BENEFIT DEPRESSION
Is there nothing this super spice isn’t good for? Recent trials are showing curcumin to be AS EFFECTIVE as an antidepressant drug due to its ability to boost the neurotransmitters of the brain, dopamine and serotonin. But remember that you should never come off any medication before consulting with your doctor that it is safe to do so.
It’s worth noting here that turmeric is more greatly absorbed by the body when taken with a little black pepper and fat. Many supplement providers take this into account and add extra ingredients to help make the curcumin compounds more bio available in the body.
If you add this spice frequently to food, then you will naturally be having other compounds that up absorption along with it, such as the fats and pepper.
Anxiety and depression need various treatments:-
As anxiety and depression is a big area with so many causes and other factors, it must be said (and I’m speaking from personal experience) that these mental issues usually need more than any one variable to be helped in the long term.
For maximum benefits when it comes to mental health issues you should eat a healthy low GI diet to keep blood sugar stable, and you MUST take regular exercise (a mix of weight bearing and cardio is best) as it will really help burn off the stress hormone cortisol, and also send a cascade of feel good chemicals through your body.
Always buy tried and tested turmeric from trusted brands trusted brands such as this one on Amazon:- SOLGAR full spectrum Curcumin
Always consult with your doctor before taking any supplements, especially whilst taking other medications; or during pregnancy or breast feeding due to possible interactions.
How much to take and side effects
Start with smaller doses and build up depending on your gut tolerance. Sometimes stomach ache or diarrhea may be experienced if dosage is too high to begin with. Turmeric has blood thinning qualities and should therefore be avoided 2 weeks before an operation, OR if you are already on blood thinning medications.
If you would like to leave any comments or questions about the subject of turmeric, or share your own experiences whilst using it then I would love to hear from you. You can post in the comments box below. Thanks for checking out this article today!