In India, turmeric has been used as an Ayurvedic medicine since ancient times. It is a staple ingredient in Indian cuisine and is used to make a wide variety of dishes. This auspicious spice is also associated with good luck and applied on the skin of a couple before their marriage to ensure their skin remains healthy and give it a radiant glow.
The constituent compound which gives turmeric its bright yellow color is called curcumin. It has strong antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties which provide a host of health benefits. Curcumin is not readily absorbed into the bloodstream. In order to increase the efficiency of absorption, consider taking turmeric with fatty meals and curcumin is fat-soluble.
Also, consuming black pepper with it can increase the rate of absorption by an astounding 2000%. This is because black pepper contains an alkaloid called piperine.
Here are some health benefits that are associated with turmeric –
1. It is a natural anti-inflammatory – Acute of short-term inflammation is beneficial as it protects your body from foreign invaders like bacteria. However, chronic inflammation is bad and has been linked to a number of diseases like obesity, various heart disease, metabolic syndrome, cancer, Alzheimer’s and various degenerative conditions.
Chronic inflammation can occur if your diet is focused on processed food and sugar. In order to counter this, you should also include unprocessed fruits and vegetables like turmeric in your diet that are known to fight inflammation.
Studies show that curcumin blocks the molecule known as NF-kB which is responsible for triggering chronic inflammation. Its effectiveness can be compared with powerful anti-inflammatory drugs.
2. It improves brain health – Eating turmeric can increase the levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in our brain. This is the hormone which facilitates new neuron connections and helps it to grow or multiply in numbers. It also helps to maintain important neurotransmitters in our body like dopamine and serotonin.
People with low levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in their brain are prone to depression and may even become the victim of degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Consuming turmeric can delay the onset of mental problems or a decrease in brain function related to old age.
3. It protects your body cells from free radicals – Free radicals in our body can cause oxidative damage which destroys the health of the cells in our body. This can lead to various illnesses, neurodegenerative diseases, and even cancer.
Turmeric has strong antioxidant properties which can zap free radicals completely neutralize them from doing any harm to our body.
In fact, consuming turmeric regularly can help you to boost the natural antioxidant enzymes present in your body. Thus, it is very effective in fighting free radicals that are present in your body.
4. It may reduce the risk of cancer – Uncontrollable cell growth in the body can cause cancer. Turmeric contains a compound which can prevent and even stop the spread of cancer.
In fact, various studies have found that consuming turmeric can prevent the growth of new blood vessels in tumors(angiogenesis) and prevent the spread of cancer(metastasis).
It has also been found that turmeric is most beneficial in people who suffer from bowel, breast, stomach or skin cancer. It can also increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy and combat chemo-resistance.
5. It is beneficial for our hearts – An inefficient cardiovascular system can cause heart attacks or strokes. Heart diseases in extremely complicated and there are several factors that can lead to having a bad heart. One of them is chronic inflammation.
Since turmeric is an anti-inflammatory, it can help you to keep your heart healthy.
Another major cause of common heart problems is endothelial dysfunction. The thin lining of cells present in our blood vessels and lymphatic vessels are known as the endothelium.
This membrane releases enzymes which control vascular relaxation and contraction. Thus, they help to control our blood pressure. They also maintain the platelet count which controls blood clotting.
It has been found that turmeric helps to improve endothelial function.
6. It can keep your joints healthy – There are several types of joint diseases and most of them involve inflammation in the joints. The anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric can keep your joints healthy and ease your pain if you suffer from a condition like arthritis.
In a study, it has been found 500 mg of turmeric was more effective in easing the pain of patients that suffered from rheumatoid arthritis than prescription drugs like diclofenac.
7. It can improve your mood – As discussed earlier, turmeric can boost the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in our brain. BDNF helps to maintain important neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin which are considered the two ‘happy chemicals’ in our brain.
Thus, it acts as a powerful antidepressant.
Studies have found that a compound present in turmeric called curcumin is as powerful as an antidepressant called Prozac in curing depression and improving our mood.
8. It can keep your skin healthy – Turmeric is well known for its skin benefits. Applying turmeric on your skin can keep your skin healthy and help you fight the signs of aging. With regular use, you will have a more radiant skin that will be free of blemishes of dark spots.
If you ingest it, the antioxidant and inflammatory properties will promote healthy cell growth and improve the overall look of your skin.
9. It helps to maintain normal blood sugar levels in the body – The use of turmeric has been well documented in Ayurveda and Chinese traditional medicine for the treatment of diabetes. In a study that was conducted over 100 overweight people with type 2 diabetes, it was found that consuming 300 mg curcumin was able to significantly lower the fasting blood glucose levels in their body.
Thus, turmeric can help you stabilize glucose levels in our blood and avoid complications related to diabetes.
10. It can help you to manage stress – Chronic stress can affect your mood in a bad way and also trigger a number of health problems. Turmeric is an adaptogen which helps to maintain the secretion of stress hormones from our adrenal glands.
By decreasing the over secretion of the stress hormone, it helps us to build our tolerance to stress and helps us to become more resilient.