Turmeric has risen to fame over the last year or so, making its way in to lattes, biscuits and even porridge on the health scene. And it’s no wonder people are cramming it in to anything they can because of it’s awesome set of health benefits! Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric and there has been extensive research in to curcumin and it’s actions in preventing and even reversing chronic diseases. One of the most studied areas is its action in the prevention of cancer.
Curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory agent. Inflammation is incredibly important. It helps the body fight foreign invaders and also has a role in repairing damage. Without inflammation, pathogens like bacteria could easily take over our bodies and potentially kill us. Although short-term inflammation is beneficial, it can become a major problem when it becomes chronic.
It is now believed that chronic, low-level inflammation plays a major role in almost every chronic, western disease. This includes , cancer, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s and other degenerative conditions. Therefore, anything that can help fight chronic inflammation is of huge importance in preventing and treating these diseases.
It just so happens that curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory, it is so powerful that it matches the effectiveness of some anti-inflammatory drugs. Curcumin actually targets multiple steps in the inflammatory pathway, at a molecular level. Anyone suffering any sort of inflammation would benefit hugely from taking a curcumin supplements or including it in their diet daily.
So just to be sure….More anti-oxidants = less inflammation = less free radical damage = less chronic disease.
Turmeric has also been studied for its beneficial effects against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease too. Many common brain disorders have been linked to decreased levels of a hormone called Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). This includes depression and Alzheimer’s disease. Interestingly, research has shown that curcumin can increase brain levels of BDNF. By doing this, it may be effective at delaying or even reversing many brain diseases and age-related decreases in brain function. Curcumin also has been shown to boost amyloid plaque clearance in human Alzheimer’s patients.
If that wasn’t enough then it is also really good for cleansing the liver and for boosting your mood. There is evidence that curcumin can boost the brain neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, which in turn will help improve sleep quality!
Turmeric also contains good levels of manganese, iron, vitamin B6, fibre, copper and potassium! So I think it’s safe to say that our good old friend turmeric should be deemed as a superfood and I urge you all to invest in some.
Just remember that in order to increase its absorbability, it is best consumed with black pepper – the piperine helps the curcumin be absorbed better and something fatty such as a teaspoon of olive oil or coconut oil. This is because curcumin is fat soluble therefore better absorbed along with fat to get it inside the cells. My recipe for sweet potato turmeric stew or south indian spiced curry both include fresh turmeric along with black pepper and coconut oil – a perfect way to make sure you are getting all three components for maximum absorption.
Try and include this spice in to your diet every day, and if this is unachievable then investing in a good quality curcumin supplement would be really beneficial.
Wishing you a healthy, happy and inspiring week ahead.