The Health Benefits of Turmeric
A member of the ginger family, Turmeric (Curcuma longa), is the vibrant yellow spice that brightens up the pantries of many homes in India. Native to South Asia, the Curcuma longa plant is primarily cultivated from the rhizomes, or roots which are usually boiled, sun-dried and then ground into a powder for its amber colour and earthy, bitter flavour to satisfy appetites; and has been a staple kitchen-ingredient and colouring agent around South Asia for centuries. Besides giving curry its bright yellow colour, turmeric is also used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years due to its impressive list of health benefits.
Traditionally, turmeric has been used as a treatment for viral infections and stress relief. However, in recent decades, with modern technological advances, Turmeric has found its global popularity due to its strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and therapeutic properties. Turmeric or Curcuma longa contains bioactive compounds called curcuminoids, among which is Curcumin, the most notable and researched due to its numerous healing properties.
What is Curcumin?
Curcumin is the primary active ingredient in turmeric and the one accountable for giving the spice its characteristic vibrant yellow colour. It is a storehouse of natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents. Hence, most of turmeric’s potential health advantages are because of the presence of curcumin in it.
However, the curcumin content of turmeric is only around 3%, by weight making it extremely hard to attain these levels just by incorporating turmeric spice in foods. Therefore, taking supplements that contain significant amounts of curcumin is required to experience the full effects. Additionally, curcumin is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream. Consuming black pepper alongside curcumin is recommended as black pepper contains piperine, a natural substance that enhances the absorption of curcumin by 2,000%. Most curcumin supplements contain piperine as it substantially increases their effectiveness.
Turmeric or Curcuma longa is one of the fastest-growing dietary supplements around the world. This superfood has proven to be highly beneficial to the body and brain. Apart from its great contribution to the culinary world, here are a few of the many proven health benefits of turmeric:-
Acute, short-term inflammation is a natural process, beneficial to the body. However, chronic, long-term inflammation must be controlled as it can be lethal to health as it can result in heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s and various degenerative conditions. The anti-inflammatory properties of Curcumin in Turmeric have proven to be effective in blocking inflammatory molecular actions in the body. As a matter of fact, studies have shown that with the right dose, curcumin may be a more effective anti-inflammatory treatment than common inflammation-fighting medications such as Ibuprofen and aspirin without the side effects. Studies have also shown that curcumin showed positive effects on people suffering from complications like pancreatitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease, amongst others.
The rich antioxidant presence in curcumin proves to be an effective agent in neutralizing free radicals, which are highly active molecules that cause damage to the body’s cells. Free radicals tend to react with vital organic substances, such as proteins, fatty acids or DNA and are one of the means behind ageing and many diseases. Additionally, curcumin boosts the activity of the body’s antioxidant enzymes, delivering a one-two punch against free radicals. It blocks them directly and then stimulates the body’s antioxidant defences. The rich and strong antioxidant properties of curcumin in turmeric are also believed to play a crucial role in preventing and managing cataract, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and heart disease.
It has been proven on numerous studies that the anti-inflammatory compounds of curcumin may play a role in treating and preventing a variety of cancer types, including colorectal, prostate, breast, and gastric cancers. Upon numerous studies conducted on animals, it has been concluded that turmeric’s anti-inflammatory compounds contribute to the death of cancerous cells and reduce angiogenesis (growth of new blood vessels in tumours) and metastasis (spread of cancer) on a molecular level. Turmeric and curcumin may also be effective in preventing the effects of some carcinogens, such as certain additives used in processed food.
Studies have shown that turmeric or Curcuma longa may have a protective power against common degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s by increasing the levels of a brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein found in the brain and spinal cord that plays a crucial role in keeping nerve cells (neurons) healthy, as well as regulating communication between nerve cells, which is critical for learning and memory. Another study of 60 patients also concluded that curcumin is as effective as an anti-depressant in treating depression, by boosting levels of a brain-derived neurotrophic factor (reduced levels of this chemical are associated with depression).
Besides curcumin, turmerone is another active ingredient in turmeric which can be obtained from whole ground turmeric. Although far less known in comparison to curcumin, some studies suggest that turmerone may support cognitive performance due to its neuroprotective properties. However, much of the research has been done in mice and more research is needed to confirm the effectiveness of turmeric in the prevention and treatment of common brain diseases.
Some studies have shown that the potent anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin may help reverse many steps in the heart disease process, such as atherosclerosis and atrial arrhythmias. It is also proven that curcumin also improves the endothelial function (the lining of the blood vessels) which in turn helps to regulate blood pressure, blood clotting and various other heart disease factors. Since a lower endothelial function is also linked with ageing, curcumin’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects may also help protect against age-related loss of function, besides lowering the risk of heart disease. Studies have also found that curcumin is equally effective at improving endothelial function as Lipitor (atorvastatin), a medication commonly prescribed to individuals with type-2 diabetes to lower the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Turmeric has been a staple ingredient in Ayurveda for centuries and the topical use of turmeric for treating skin conditions is a common practice. Recent studies have shown that the anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties of curcumin in turmeric may be an effective treatment for a variety of skin conditions, including acne, eczema, photo-ageing, and psoriasis. Topical curcumin treatments also help in treating skin disorders since curcumin is relatively safe even at high doses.
Turmeric and especially its most active compound curcumin have many scientifically-proven health benefits, from lowering the risk of heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease to preventing cancer, its advantages are endless. That is exactly the reason why most Preserva Wellness products contain curcumin extract in them. They are uniquely created, with a complex formulation of the rich healing power of curcumin along with some of the purest Ayurvedic ingredients to provide the optimal benefits for healthy, happy health.
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