Turmeric is an ancient, golden yellow spice that you’ll most likely encounter in your favorite curry dishes. It originated from India and Asia in 2,000 BC and has since then remained one of the most popular spices known to man.
The reason behind its popularity goes beyond its vibrant color, which makes vegetable dishes extra savory and gives them a wonderful golden hue. In many circles, turmeric is considered to be the most potent natural nutritional supplement on earth. Recent studies have thus far backed this claim and have attributed the spice’s medicinal properties to the compounds it contains.
These compounds are known as curcuminoids, and although there are a number of them in turmeric, it is curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, that is the most powerful.
Let’s explore the top 7 proven health benefits of turmeric.
1. Turmeric is a Natural Anti-Inflammatory
Without inflammation, our bodies would easily succumb to the slightest pathogenic infections. Crucial as it is for our immunity, however, inflammation can cause a lot of damage when it becomes rampant and starts attacking tissues instead of foreign organisms.
Scientists have already established that chronic inflammation is linked with almost every chronic disease including cancer, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease. This makes curcumin, turmeric’s active ingredient, and powerful anti-inflammatory, one of the most effective combatants of a wide range of chronic Western diseases.
Curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory as some pharmaceutical drugs but without the side effects. It achieves its anti-inflammatory effect by blocking a molecule known as NF-dB, which activates genes responsible for inflammation in our cells’ nuclei. It fights inflammation at a molecular level, which is what makes it so effective.
2. Turmeric Lowers the Risk of Brain Disorders
Many of the brain disorders known today are caused by low levels of a growth hormone known as a brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF. BDNF drives the multiplication of neurons in the brain, allowing them to form new connections as well as to increase exponentially in number.
Brain disorders like Alzheimer’s and depression are caused by low levels of BDNF. Curcumin can not only prevent, but also reverse these brain disorders because it has been proven to increase BDNF levels in the brain. This subsequently causes an improvement in memory retention.
3. Turmeric Can Prevent and Help Treat Cancer
Researchers have found that curcumin is capable of killing cancerous cells, and even more interestingly, curbing the growth of new blood vessels in cancerous tumors (a process known as angiogenesis).
Tests conducted in the laboratory as well as on the tumors of test animals have indicated that a high dose of curcumin could possibly treat all types of cancer in humans, but the research is still ongoing. However, there is substantial evidence that curcumin can prevent gastrointestinal cancers such as colorectal cancer.
4. Turmeric Lowers the Risk of Heart Disease
When it comes to heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the world, there is understandably little that can be said about what causes it. However, curcumin plays an important role in minimizing the risk of heart disease by improving the function of the lining around the blood vessels, which is known as the endothelium.
Several heart diseases are brought on by endothelial dysfunction and its inability to regulate clotting and blood pressure. By improving the functioning of the endothelium, curcumin can be as effective in reducing heart disease as Atorvastatin (a pharmaceutical drug), according to studies.
5. Turmeric Increases the Body’s Antioxidant Capacity
The damage caused by oxidation is largely attributed to the free radicals that are its end product. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that tend to react with important substances in our bodies, including proteins, DNA, and fatty acids.
Curcumin’s chemical structure makes it capable of neutralizing these harmful free radicals. Furthermore, it promotes the production of the body’s antioxidant enzymes. By doing so, curcumin helps to block the effects of oxidation by getting rid of free radicals and improving the body’s ability to curb the production of free radicals.
6. Turmeric Delays Aging and Fights Chronic Age-Related Dysfunctions
Today, curcumin is the most popular anti-aging supplement. Given that oxidation is what causes our cells to deteriorate and die off, and that inflammation is the main factor in most of the chronic diseases we know today, curcumin becomes a unique and very powerful natural remedy for aging.
Its ability to prevent heart disease, ward off cancerous growth, and keep degenerative mental disorders like Alzheimer’s at bay makes it a key ingredient for aiding longevity.
7. Turmeric Can Help Prevent and Treat Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s disease is aided by oxidative damage as well as inflammation, two problems that curcumin addresses quite effectively. However, that is not the only reason why the compound is effective in the prevention and treatment of the degenerative brain disease.
Alzheimer’s is characteristically known to spur protein tangles in the brain that are called amyloid plaques. Researchers have found that curcumin is one of the few substances that can disperse these tangles. Its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier dramatically improves the pathological process of Alzheimer’s disease.
It should be noted that on its own, curcumin is poorly absorbed by the body. However, a natural compound that is found in black pepper called piperine is known to enhance curcumin absorption into the bloodstream by 2,000 percent. Therefore, to make curcumin more effective, add little black pepper to your turmeric dishes, or go for curcumin supplements with BioPerine to ensure maximum absorption.