In the recent past, the rest of the world has discovered what India knew all along turmeric contains medicinal properties that everyone should be taking advantage of. For those who may not already know, turmeric is a plant of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae and is native to southern Asia. If you have already had curry, it is likely that you have already gotten acquainted to turmeric, for it is the spice that gives curry its yellow color. Here are amazing health benefits of curcumin.
Wonderful Health Benefits of Curcumin and Turmeric for the Body
Turmeric contains various compounds, the most important of which is curcumin. Curcumin is the main active ingredient and it has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. But here’s the thing, in naturally occurring turmeric, the curcumin content is not high.
It is about 3 percent, which for medicinal purposes is not a percentage you can write home about. For health benefits of curcumin, curcumins is usually extracted to give turmeric extracts that have a higher percentage of the active ingredient.
Now that the background information is out of the way, let’s dive right into the health benefits of turmeric and curcumin:
1Curcumin is an anti-inflammatory compound
Inflammation is important for the human body. It means that pathogens cannot get into the body without being noticed. It raises alarm that something is wrong with the body; that something is somewhere it ought not to be.
However, long term or chronic inflammation runs the risk of exposing the body to diseases such as cancer and even heart disease. Curcumins is so strongly inflammatory that it matches the effectiveness of some anti-inflammatory drugs.
2Turmeric increases the antioxidant capacity of the body
Scientists believe that oxidative damage is one of the causes of aging and disease in the body. Oxidative damage occurs where free radicals in the body react with organic substances in the body such as fatty acids. Antioxidants are important for the body because they protect the body against these free radicals.
Turmeric is an antioxidant and does exactly that. Not only does curcumin block these free radicals, it also boosts the body’s antioxidant enzymes thus delivering two powerful punches against free radicals and associated diseases.
3Curcumin boosts brain function and lowers risk of brain disease
Not too long ago, it was believed that neurons weren’t able to divide and multiply after childhood. Scientific advancements have shown that this actually does happen and in the brain, the process is driven by the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF is a type of growth hormone that functions in the brain.
Many common brain disorders have been linked to low levels of this hormone. These include depression and Alzheimer’s. Curcumin is capable of boosting the levels of this hormone, and in effect delaying or reversing the onset of various brain diseases.
4Curcumin lowers the risk of heart disease
Heart disease is the biggest killer in the world, with endothelial dysfunction being a major driver of heart disease. The endothelium is the lining of the blood vessels, which plays a key role in regulating blood pressure and blood clotting. Not only does curcumin improve endothelial function, it also reduces inflammation and oxidation, which health benefits of curcumin to prevent heart disease.
5Turmeric can prevent cancer
While there are different types of cancer, it has been shown that some of their commonalities can be affected by curcumin. Studies conducted to investigate the effectiveness of curcumin against cancer have shown that curcumin can stop the spread of cancer, otherwise known as metastasis. It can also reduce the growth of new blood cells in tumors and contribute to the death of cancerous cells.
Exhaustive studies on this have yet to be done, but there is evidence to suggest that consuming curcumin might actually prevent certain cancers such as cancers of the digestive system from occurring in the first place.
6Curcumin may prevent and even treat Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s is the most common neurodegenerative disease in the world, and a treatment for it is yet to be found. The good news is that curcumin has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier. What this means is that curcumin is capable of combating the inflammation and oxidative damage which play a major role in the development of Alzheimer’s.
In addition, studies have shown that curcumin is capable of clearing the Amyloid plaques which are a key feature of Alzheimer’s. Amyloid plaques are a buildup of protein tangles.
7Health benefits of curcumin to arthritis
Arthritis is a common condition in the Western world. While there are several types of arthritis, all of them involve some sort of inflammation of the joints. As has already been mentioned, curcumin is a key ingredient in the fight against inflammation.
8Curcumin is important in the fight against depression
Depression is linked to low levels of BDNF, the growth hormone mentioned earlier in this post. Seeing that curcumin boosts the levels of BDNF, it translates in being able to fight depression. Some evidence also suggests that curcumin boosts the brain neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. These are the feel-good hormones that are otherwise known as happiness hormones.
Seeing that health benefits of curcumin when it comes to combating disease, it goes without saying that supplementing your diet with curcumin will likely translate into longevity of your life. For this reason, curcumin is a popular ingredient for many anti-aging supplements.
It is important to keep in mind that curcumin is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream. As such, you need to take it together with black pepper which contains piperine, which boosts the absorption of curcumin by 2000%. Some people opt to swallow their curcumin supplements together with a few peppercorns in order to boost absorption for health benefits of curcumin.
It is easy to see that turmeric and curcumin are ingredients that every household needs to have. There are various ways to consume this, which makes it so much easier to get the turmeric supplements you require. You can never really get bored with turmeric, especially when you think about all the wonderful benefits of curcumin you stand to gain. If you weren’t in on the secret before, now you know-it’s time to stock up on that turmeric!
Maggie Martin is Ph.D. in Cell Biology graduate. She is very passionate about healthy living and has been writing about Food and Healthy Lifestyles. When she is not busy, she takes interest in a variety of things such as lifestyle, food, health, herbal medicine, and the benefits of turmeric. Follow her on Twitter @Maggiemartink