For thousands of years, turmeric has been a staple of Ayurvedic medicine. Revered for its potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial effects, “the golden spice” is used to treat everything from congestion and skin conditions, to sprains and wounds.
In the last few years, you’ve probably seen turmeric popping up everywhere in the nutrition world. That’s because growing scientific research is proving what Ayurvedic practitioners have always known: turmeric really does have powerful health and medicinal properties.
The health benefits of turmeric
Before we go into the benefits, keep in mind that many of them are thanks to curcumin, a specific compound of turmeric. Curcumin is often extracted and used to make high-dose supplements, increasing the potency and potential benefits of the supplement.
Inflammation is an important part of your body’s immune and healing responses. However, when it becomes chronic (sustained over the long term), inflammation can cause serious health problems.
Chronic inflammation can cause your immune system to attack and damage its own tissues. This is linked to chronic pain and major conditions like:
- Heart disease
- Metabolic disease
Countless studies have shown that curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent, tackling inflammation at a cellular level. In fact, some studies even found curcumin to be just as effective as steroidal and anti-inflammatory drugs in relieving inflammation (minus the side effects – bonus!). It’s proven particularly helpful for people suffering from arthritis, who often experience pain due to inflammation in the joints.
Fights oxidative damage
Free radicals are by-products of chemical reactions in your body. They’re highly unstable and will react to many other substances they encounter, including DNA, proteins and acids. This can cause what’s known as oxidative damage, leaving the substances unable to perform their essential roles.
In a healthy, well-nourished body, antioxidants neutralize the free radicals and prevent oxidative damage. However, if you’re not producing enough antioxidants or getting them from your diet, oxidative damage goes unchecked. This is linked to premature ageing and chronic illness.
Thankfully, curcumin is a potent antioxidant that can easily neutralise free radicals. It may also power up the body’s own natural antioxidant supply for even more protection.
May delay ageing
Inflammation and oxidative stress are both linked to premature ageing and age-related disease. Given that curcumin has both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant powers, it stands to reason that it could help in the fight against ageing. It won’t stop the clock, of course, but research suggests that it can help to slow down the ageing process and keep you in good health for longer.
May keep the brain healthy
Researchers are especially interested in the effect of curcumin on Alzheimer’s disease. As well as fighting inflammation and oxidative damage – two major risk factors for Alzheimer’s — curcumin also seems to clear the build-up of “plaques” that form in the brains of sufferers. Research is ongoing, but as there’s currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, it’s definitely promising news.
Alzheimer’s is also linked to decreased levels of a certain hormone in the brain. Known as BDNF, this hormone is essential for the growth, survival and health of your neurons. Curcumin has been shown to increase BDNF levels, which can possibly help to delay or even reverse age-related neurological decline.
May help to fight depression
By boosting BDNF levels, it’s thought that curcumin can also help to fight depression. It’s also known to boost levels of serotonin and dopamine, two neurotransmitters involved in regulating your mood. In one study, curcumin was found to be just as effective as leading medication Prozac in treating depression.
Lowers heart disease risk
Heart disease is the world’s biggest killer and, unsurprisingly, it’s also linked to inflammation and oxidative stress. In addition to fighting these two common culprits, curcumin is thought to protect against heart disease by improving the health of your blood vessels.
When your blood vessels aren’t functioning as they should, it can lead to high blood pressure, blockages, clotting issues and other major heart disease risk factors. Curcumin was found to be as effective as exercise and a leading statin drug in supporting healthy blood vessel function. In another study of people undergoing bypass surgery, it was shown to reduce the risk of a heart attack by an impressive 65%.
Can I just eat more turmeric?
So there are lots of reasons to consider upping your turmeric intake. But do you need to buy a supplement, or can you just simply eat more turmeric?
Well, there’s no doubt that adding turmeric to your diet is a great idea. The problem is that the benefits come from curcumin specifically, and curcumin only makes up about 3% of turmeric’s weight. That means you’d have to eat tons of turmeric every day to get the kind of curcumin dose that leads to measurable results.
If you’re just looking for a more nutritious diet, then you’ll benefit from adding turmeric to your dishes or having a turmeric latte every morning. However, if you want to see significant, noticeable benefits – you’re looking to relieve joint pain, for example – then a supplement could be a better idea.
Our Ashwagandha with Curcumin is made with high concentrations of extracted compounds of curcumin. You get a much, much higher dose of beneficial compounds at levels clinically proven to deliver results — without having to eat mountains of turmeric every day! Check it out in our online store now.
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