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Proven Health Benefits of Turmeric

Proven Health Benefits of Turmeric

If you’ve spent any time perusing the health and wellness corner of the Internet, you’ll know turmeric is one buzzword that crops up a lot. And for good reason – this herbal wonder adds more than pizazz to your curries or scrambled eggs; its active compound, curcumin, has been widely touted for its impressive health benefits i. From supporting immunity and busting free radicals, to easing mobility pain and supporting mood, this beautiful golden root wins on every front. If there’s one thing you to do today, stock up on turmeric and start adding it liberally to your food! It really is the spice of life.


Turmeric reduces inflammation in the body

Don’t judge turmeric root on its small size, this little guy is a potent weapon against inflammation. Scientists now propose inflammation plays a part in almost every chronic health condition in the West, including metabolic syndrome, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and cognitive decline ii iii. Without getting into the nitty gritty of inflammation – it’s a pretty convoluted subject – the bottom line is that curcumin is thought to offer some protection against it iv v. One simple way to reap the anti-inflammatory benefits of turmeric is in a superfood juice, jam-packed with goodness. Blend 1 apple, ½ cucumber, 80g beetroot, 1 tbsp. fresh turmeric, ½ fresh ginger, ½ tsp. lemon juice, and a pinch of black pepper. Et voila – a nourishing way to jumpstart your day!


Turmeric supports immune function

In light of its immense antioxidant, antimicrobial, and antioxidant credentials, turmeric is a powerhouse for immunity vi. Coming down with a sniffle? Try this delicious cold-fighting tea. Bring 1-½ cups of water to the boil and add one teaspoon of turmeric. Remove from the heat and add ¼ tsp. of ground ginger. Another quick win is making ‘golden milk’, which is especially in vogue at the moment. Instead of using water in the aforementioned recipe, choose milk, coconut milk, or another plant-based milk (ahem, creamy oat milk works a treat!). Added bonus: curcumin is fat-soluble, so consuming it with a fat-containing food will support its absorption.


Turmeric fights free radicals

This herbal hero has also been heralded for combating oxidative stress (i.e. the weakening of antioxidant forces) in the body, caused by free radical scavengers vii. It does this in two ways: firstly, curcumin is a powerful antioxidant that neutralises invading free radicals; and secondly, it enhances your body’s production of antioxidants viii ix. In this way, curcumin delivers a double whammy against oxidative stress; it fights free radicals directly and triggers your own antioxidant defences to quash them. This is particularly advantageous for supporting cognitive ability, immunity, skin health and heart function x. Add a teaspoon to your smoothies, curries and even scrambled eggs for a potent antioxidant hit.
 

Turmeric improves heart health

Heart health is another area where turmeric really shines. You see, curcumin appears to supports the function of the endothelium – the lining of your blood vessels xi. And it’s well documented in scientific literature that endothelium dysfunction is an underlying factor in the development of heart disease, involving the inability of the endothelium to regulate blood clotting and pressure xii. Several studies suggest curcumin can improve the endothelium function in the body; with one investigation even proposing it could be as effective as exercising xiii. As we’ve previously noted, curcumin also reduces inflammation and free radical damage in the body – additional components that may contribute to heart disease. For the ultimate heart-hug, combine olive oil with turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, cumin and black pepper, and toss over chickpeas. Roast until crispy (around 20 minutes) and enjoy with a salad or as a snack.


Turmeric supports mobility health

Thanks to its impressive anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric is thought to support mobility health, too. A raft of scientific evidence surmises curcumin has the ability to help manage the inflammation associated with mobility conditions xiv. An easy way to up your turmeric intake is by adding it to dressings. For a potent anti-inflammatory hit, mix apple cider vinegar, miso paste, tahini, and turmeric, and pour over salad to spice up your leaves.


Turmeric keeps your gut happy 

If you weren’t already convinced of its slew of impressive health benefits, turmeric also works wonders for your gut. As a powerful anti-inflammatory agent, studies have presented curcumin as a promising remedy for digestive problems xvi. To keep your gut bacteria fighting-fit, try adding a teaspoon of turmeric to a gut-soothing soup, using chicken bone broth or veggie stock as nourishing a base.


Turmeric improves cognitive function

According to research, this super spice may also keep your grey matter healthy. It supports the production of a hormone called ‘brain-derived neurotropic factor’ (BDNF), which helps safeguard your long-term cognitive function and fight degenerative processes in the brain xvii. Now here’s some food for thought: sprinkle turmeric on your scrambled eggs – another brilliant brain food, we might add. Seriously, breakfast will never be the same again. Think bright yellow, nutritionally dense, and mouth-wateringly moreish.


Turmeric supports emotional health

Given curcumin’s positive impact on the hormone, BDNF, scientists believe turmeric has the power to enhance emotional wellbeing and support the reduction of low mood xviii. Better still, this herbal wonder may even bolster levels of the ‘feel-good’ hormones serotonin and dopamine (19).  Reap turmeric’s mood-supporting properties by adding it to savoury porridge – yet another mighty mood-food by virtue of the tryptophan in oats, which is a precursor to your happy hormone, serotonin.


Final thoughts

Turmeric is the big daddy of the spice world and, unquestionably, deserves its reputation.  To get the most from this beautifully golden spice, always partner turmeric with its best buddies for optimal absorption: fat-containing foods; oily fish, milk, avocados etc. Oh, and before you rush out to make a purchase, be sure to choose high-quality, organic, ground turmeric or fresh turmeric root where possible. All that’s left to do is get sprinkling! Your smoothies, soups and salads are crying out for a hit of this herbal hero.



References:

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  2. Inflammation, depression and atherosclerosis or depression, inflammation and atherosclerosis? Atherosclerosis, 1251, 542-543.

  3. & Inflammatory links between obesity and metabolic disease. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 121(6), 2111-2117.

  4. Safety and Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Curcumin: A Component of Tumeric (Curcuma longa). The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 9(1), 161-168.

  5. , & Specific inhibition of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) expression by dietary curcumin in HT-29 human colon cancer cells. Cancer Letters, 172(2), 111-118.

  6. Anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, a major constituent of Curcuma longa: a review of preclinical and clinical research. The Journal of Altern Med Rev. 14 (2): 141-153.

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  8. , & Detoxification and antioxidant effects of curcumin in rats experimentally exposed to mercury. Journal of Applied Toxicology.

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  10. , The protective role of curcumin in cardiovascular diseases. Int J Cardiol. 133 (2): 145-51.

  11. & Endothelial cell functions. Relationship to atherogenesis. Basic Research in Cardiology, 94(5), 295-314.

  12. , , , , , & Curcumin ingestion and exercise training improve vascular endothelial function in postmenopausal women. Nutrition Research, 32(10), 795-799.

  13. , & Therapeutic Roles of Curcumin: Lessons Learned from Clinical Trials. The AAPS Journal, 15(1), 195-218.

  14. & A Randomized, Pilot Study to Assess the Efficacy and Safety of Curcumin in Patients with Active Rheumatoid Arthritis. Phytotherapy Research, 26(11), 1719-1725.

  15. Therapeutic potential of curcumin in digestive diseases. World Journal of Gastroenterology, 19(48), 9256.

  16. , , , , , & Curcumin reverses the effects of chronic stress on behavior, the HPA axis, BDNF expression and phosphorylation of CREB. Brain Research, 1122(1), 56-64.

  17. , & Potentials of Curcumin as an Antidepressant. The Scientific World Journal, 9, 1233-1241.

  18. , & Antidepressant activity of curcumin: involvement of serotonin and dopamine system. Psychopharmacology, 201(3), 435-442.

 
 
Our Author - Olivia Slater

Olivia

Olivia Salter has always been an avid health nut. After graduating from the University of Bristol, she began working for a nutritional consultancy where she discovered her passion for all things wellness-related. There, she executed much of the company’s content marketing strategy and found her niche in health writing, publishing articles in Women’s Health, Mind Body Green, Thrive and Psychologies.

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