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Food for Life - Caribbean - Turmeric

Like many spices, turmeric (Curcuma longa) has a long history of use in traditional medicine. This flavor-filled spice is primarily cultivated from the rhizomes, or roots, of a flowering plant in India and other parts of Southeast Asia, and aside from giving curry its vibrant yellow color, turmeric is also known for having potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, according to a past review.

The primary active component of turmeric — and the one that gives the spice its characteristic yellow color — is curcumin.

Unfortunately, turmeric (and curcumin on its own) doesn’t absorb well into the bloodstream, and having it in curry once a month is unlikely to give you the desired anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits, says Dana Angelo White, RD, owner of Dana White Nutrition. To reach the amounts of turmeric and curcumin shown to offer benefits in research studies, you’ll have to turn to supplements.

Still, you may be able to reap benefits by adding black pepper anytime you use turmeric, and/or taking a turmeric supplement that incorporates black pepper. “There is a compound in black pepper called piperine that actually helps to make turmeric more bioavailable,” White explains. Bioavailability refers to the amount of a substance that’s absorbed or able to be used by the body. For instance, a past study found that consuming 20 milligrams (mg) of piperine along with 2 grams (g) of curcumin increased bioavailability by 2,000 percent.

1. Curcumin Is an Anti-Inflammatory
One of turmeric’s main claims to fame is that it’s commonly used to fight inflammation, and the bulk of turmeric’s inflammation-fighting powers can be credited to curcumin.

2. Curcumin May Protect Against Heart Disease
A past study shows that curcumin may improve endothelial function, or the health of the thin membrane that covers the inside of the heart and blood vessels. This membrane plays a key role in regulating blood pressure.

3. Curcumin May Prevent (and Possibly Help Treat) Cancer
As inflammation is linked to tumor growth, anti-inflammatory compounds such as curcumin may play a role in treating and preventing a variety of cancer types, including colorectal, pancreatic, prostate, breast, and gastric cancers.

4. Curcumin May Help Ease Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
Thanks to its potent anti-inflammatory properties, curcumin may be a safe and effective long-term treatment option for people with osteoarthritis (OA). In a past study, people with osteoarthritis who took 1,000 mg/day of Meriva experienced significant improvements in stiffness and physical function after eight months, whereas the control group saw no improvements.

5. Curcumin May Help Treat or Prevent Diabetes
According to a past review of studies, curcumin may help treat and prevent diabetes, as well as associated disorders like diabetic nephropathy (also called diabetic kidney disease), which affects people with type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. (16,17) One drawback: Many of the studies have been done only in animals, not humans.

6. Turmeric May Help Delay or Reverse Alzheimer’s Disease
Turmeric may even protect your brain against common degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. How? By increasing levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein found in the brain and spinal cord that plays a key role in keeping nerve cells (neurons) healthy, as well as regulating communication between nerve cells, which is critical for learning and memory.

7. Turmeric May Play a Role in Treating Depression
Like Alzheimer’s, depression is also associated with lower levels of BDNF. Thanks to turmeric’s ability to boost levels of BDNF, the spice shows promise as an effective antidepressant. In fact, one study found that injecting rats with 50, 100, or 200 mg/kg of curcumin for 10 days led to a dose-dependent increase in BDNF, with the higher dose of 200 mg/kg showing greater antidepressant effects.

8. Curcumin May Play a Role in Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Curcumin shows promise as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a chronic inflammatory disorder that commonly affects the joints but may spread to other areas, such as the eyes, lungs, skin, heart, and blood vessels. RA causes a painful swelling of the joints that can cause the bones to erode over time and ultimately lead to deformities and physical disabilities.

9. Turmeric May Improve Skin Health
Thanks to its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties, turmeric may be an effective treatment for a variety of skin conditions, including acne, eczema (atopic dermatitis), photoaging, and psoriasis.

10. Turmeric Protects Your Body From Free Radicals
Antioxidants help protect your body against damage caused by free radicals, a class of highly reactive atoms that are generated in our bodies, as well as in environmental pollutants like cigarette smoke and industrial chemicals.

11. Turmeric May Work As an Anti-Aging Supplement
Currently, there’s no evidence that turmeric or curcumin directly influence longevity, but thanks to their ability to fight inflammation, protect your body against free radicals, and potentially delay brain degeneration and other age-related diseases, turmeric and curcumin may be effective anti-aging supplements, according to past research.

12. Curcumin May Prevent Eye Degeneration
Glaucoma, a group of eye conditions, is one of the leading causes of blindness in people over age 60. And, unfortunately, once your vision is gone, it can’t be restored.

But preliminary research published July 2018 in Scientific Reports shows topical curcumin treatments may help protect the eyes against degeneration. Researchers applied a proprietary curcumin eye drop solution to rats two times per day for three weeks. By the end of the study, the untreated rats experienced a 23 percent reduction in retinal cells compared with the treatment group, suggesting that loss was prevented by the curcumin treatment. The study findings sound impressive, but more studies are needed to determine if curcumin is effective in preventing eye degeneration in humans.

Information sourced from www.everydayhealth.com

 

 



 
 
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