Turmeric is perhaps most commonly known as a spice that is used in Indian and Thai cuisine — giving curry it’s vibrant color. But besides being a key ingredient in curries, it is also used in other cultures for it’s medicinal qualities and benefits. These benefits have been known to ancient societies for years, but scientific research is just now keying in on how effective it can be.
Scientists have found that the positive health impacts of turmeric are largely attributed to its most active compound, a curcuminoid called curcumin. More research needs to be done, but they have already found a number of benefits related to the consumption of this magical spice. So what exactly does it do for you? Check out these 9 major health benefits of curcumin that can get you living a better and healthier life.
One of curcumin’s major benefits is that it is most strongly correlated to its anti-inflammatory effects. It’s actually comparable to some anti-inflammatory pharmaceutical drugs on the market. Except this has an added benefit: there are no side effects. Curcumin works by fighting inflammation at the molecular level, blocking the functioning of molecules that cause inflammation.
Why is this so important?
Even though inflammation can sometimes be a good thing because it helps your immune system ward off foreign pathogens and bacteria and it also plays a role in damage repair, almost every chronic disease is influenced by constant low-level inflammation.
Meaning a little inflammatory response every now and then can be a good thing, but long term is not so great. So, by stunting inflammation, it may very well be playing a role in disease prevention.
Great source of antioxidants
This powerful compound is not only a great source of antioxidants but it also helps boost antioxidant enzymes in the body. Antioxidants are key in disease prevention because they protect the body from free radicals, which are very reactive molecules that can multiply quickly and damage cells. Curcumin not only protects the body from these free radicals, it is also stimulating production of antioxidant enzymes making this a go-to for preventing diseases.
Improves brain function
Studies have shown that curcumin increases levels of a critical growth hormone in the brain called the Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). BDNF helps brain function by stimulating neuron development and developing new neural connections. Decreased amounts of this key hormone have been linked to both depression and Alzheimer’s disease. So an increase in it has shown to help delay or even reverse harmful, age-related, brain diseases.
Lowers risk of heart disease
Heart disease is one of the most common chronic diseases in the world. The causes and risk factors have been widely studied and they can be attributed to a number of things — including endothelial dysfunction.
Endothelial dysfunction makes it difficult for your body to regulate blood pressure or clotting and is strongly connected to heart disease.
The good news is, research has connected curcumin to improvement in the functioning of endothelium (a.k.a. the lining of blood vessels) making it good news for heart disease prevention.
In fact, 65% of study participants who took 4 grams of curcumin per day, a couple of days before and after coronary surgery, had a decreased risk of heart disease.
Mostly related to its high level of antioxidants, studies have shown multiple benefits of curcumin in preventing cancer. It has been associated with abilities to:
- reduce blood vessel growth in tumors,
- stop the spreading of cancer,
- and has even been associated with killing cancer cells.
Furthermore, there is some evidence that it might even aid in preventing different types of cancers — particularly cancers that occur in the digestive system.
In addition to supporting brain health through establishing new neural connections and increasing neurons, curcumin also fights against nasty Amyloid plaques.
A buildup of these plaques is a main reason and cause of Alzheimer’s and by clearing them, curcumin can slow down the progression of, or even reverse Alzheimer’s.
The majority of arthritis conditions involve inflammation of the joints and due to its anti-inflammatory properties, curcumin can also aid in easing arthritis symptoms and pain. In studies, the compound actually surpassed the effectiveness of the anti-inflammatory drugs.
In research on depression, this compound actually went par for par with the effectiveness of Prozac (an antidepressant drug). In addition, those that supplemented their dose of Prozac with curcumin had the best results. In addition to its association with increased BNDF levels, it has also shown some relation to boosting serotonin and dopamine levels — which are also known as happiness hormones because they play a key role in mood enhancement.
Curcumin has been linked to cancer prevention, the slowing and prevention of Alzheimer’s, as well as overall disease prevention. Really, for all of the reasons already mentioned, it’s no wonder curcumin can increase longevity. Through disease prevention and reversal, it plays a key role in prolonging life and decreasing some of the negative effects of aging.
Looking for some Turmeric now? We don’t blame you. The benefit to using curcumin over other pharmaceutical medications is that you don’t deal with the side effects caused by a lot of medications.
Just consuming turmeric alone won’t really give you the dosage that you need for all of these health benefits, but check out these tips on where to find it and how to take it:
- Curcumin can be found at most drug stores or health food stores.
- It isn’t absorbed very well by the bloodstream. So, in order to give it some assistance, eat some black pepper along with your daily dose (1 gram per day).
- Another way to increase absorption is to eat it along with a meal high in fat, since it is a fat soluble substance.
- Additionally, you can buy turmeric with bioperine which helps increase its absorption by 2000%
- To experience the full effect, try taking an extract.