Health benefits of turmeric root or powder

Health Benefits of Turmeric: Nature’s Golden Spice for a Healthy Lifestyle

,Turmeric, the vibrant yellow spice commonly found in curries and other Asian dishes, is much more than just a flavorful ingredient. It is known for its potent medicinal properties, particularly its active compound curcumin. This is the main reason turmeric has health benefits. 

The History of Turmeric

For centuries, turmeric has been an integral part of traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine due to its numerous health benefits. In recent years, scientific research has also highlighted the remarkable potential of turmeric in promoting a healthy lifestyle. Let’s explore how this golden spice can enhance your well-being and overall health. 

The Power of Curcumin: Nature’s Miracle Healer 

Curcumin, the main bioactive compound found in turmeric, is responsible for many of its health benefits. With powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, curcumin has been studied extensively for its potential therapeutic effects. It has shown promise in various conditions, ranging from chronic diseases to mental health. To enhance the benefits and action of turmeric it is best to eat it with black pepper. Black pepper contains piperine. Piperine helps the body to absorb and use the beneficial compounds in turmeric. Try it with ginger too which also increases its effect. 

Antioxidants at Work: Protecting Your Cells 

Turmeric is a powerful antioxidant. It protects our cells from the damage that waste products, called free radicals, cause. These waste products are unfortunately created all day, every day, from necessary body functions such as digestion. They are toxic, think of them like exhaust fumes, which cause many diseases. The waste products are also produced when the body is under stress and from drugs and medication. Chemicals such as preservatives, pesticides and cosmetics also lead to their creation. Turmeric, or rather curcumin, neutralizes these waste products helping to protect the body from disease, pain and damage.  

Due to these anti-inflammatory and antioxidant abilities, curcumin has been shown to prevent cancer, diabetes, stroke and heart disease. Curcumin is also credited with fighting infection and reducing colic in babies, period pain in women, gas, bruising, jaundice, dementia, arthritis, toothache and digestive complaints. 

  

Curcumin and Cancer Prevention 

Inhibiting Tumour Growth: Curcumin’s Potential Weapon 

Curcumin has been found to obstruct the growth of many types of cancer cells. It is particularly effective against breast cancer cells as it alters how cells signal or ‘talk’ to each other. Put simply, if the cancer cells cannot communicate it affects their reproduction. This effectively stops them from spreading. It also kills cancer by prompting cell death.  

Long-term inflammation is something that can lead to cancer. Turmeric reduces the release, and therefore the action, of enzymes that play a role in the development of inflammation. This is one explanation of how turmeric can prevent cancer by stopping it in its tracks from the onset. 

Turmeric is also able to prevent cancer by another action. This is again by interfering with how cells talk to each other. However, in this case, it is linked to our genes. Some genes play a role in the development of cancer. But if these genes are not expressed or activated, they cannot carry out this activity. Curcumin can block the signals between cells that lead to the activation of the genes that cause cancer, hence its anti-cancer properties. On the flip side of the coin, turmeric can activate genes that improve the body’s defence to fight cancer formation in the first place. 

Preventing metastasis – the spread of cancer

Cancerous tumours are reduced in size by taking daily curcumin supplements. This is due to the curcumin preventing tumours from forming their own blood supply. This blood supply is necessary for the tumour to receive the nutrients and oxygen it needs to grow. The ability of tumours to grow this blood supply is also how cancer spreads through the body. So, curcumin not only reduces the size of cancerous tumours but also reduces the risk of secondary cancers. In addition, curcumin from turmeric has also been shown to prevent the growth of secondary cancers. It does this by inhibiting chemicals that increase inflammation and enable the spread of cancer. Turmeric has got it covered from all angles! 

Curcumin is also effective at reducing the function of a substance that is present in women taking hormone replacement therapy. This substance has been found to lead to the development of breast cancer. It is called vascular epithelial growth factor. It also plays a part in the development and growth of the blood supply to the tumour. Blocking the action of this substance means the cancer cells do not have a good enough blood supply so cannot survive or multiply. 

Enhancing Chemotherapy: Supporting Conventional Treatment 

Common cancer treatments such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy reduce tumour size. Unfortunately, they are not always effective at reducing stem cells at the core of the tumour. If the stem cells remain behind after treatment, the tumour can grow back. Once again it is turmeric to the rescue, as it stops the growth of these stem cells. Turmeric also reduces the damaging effect of traditional cancer treatments and medications on healthy cells.  

Studies have explored the synergy between curcumin and chemotherapy drugs, demonstrating that curcumin can enhance the effects of these medications. This could potentially improve treatment outcomes and reduce the side effects of chemotherapy. 

It is important to maintain a healthy, whole-food diet when going through cancer treatment. And don’t forget to include lots of turmeric.  

To have the best chance of beating cancer by using turmeric it is advisable to take it in the form of supplements. Turmeric supplements are specially formulated to make sure that the body can absorb and use the active ingredients in the best way possible.  

 

Combating Inflammation: Curcumin’s Superpower 

Inflammation is a natural response by the body’s immune system. It causes soreness, irritation and infection. However, this is meant to be an acute, or short-term situation. The problems start when they become long-term. It can then lead to diseases, many of which are life-threatening.   

The best way to reduce the soreness and irritation is to do it naturally and this is where turmeric excels. It is as effective as medication and drugs but without the side effects. Drugs also tend to simply work on the symptoms but do not get to the root of the problem. Turmeric works on the root of the problem by reducing the release of chemicals that cause inflammation in the first place. Another way that it works is by blocking inflammatory chemicals from entering cells. 

To make sure that you get the maximum benefit from turmeric or curcumin supplements as much as possible, consume them in between meals. This means it has a clear canvas to work at reducing inflammation. With that said, do not, eat it on an empty stomach as this can cause the gut to become irritated.

 

Weight Management: Turmeric’s Role in Shaping Health

Inflammation can lead to obesity which also causes the risk of developing other illnesses and diseases. However, suffering from long-term inflammation also makes it harder to lose weight. This leads to a vicious circle. As curcumin reduces inflammation it also plays a part in weight loss. It has to be said though, that this is a small part. Curcumin is not a weight loss wonder drug. However, studies have shown that it can reduce both the size of fat cells and the amount deposited in the body. Spices are known to increase something called thermogenesis. Thermogenesis is heat production which burns calories and is created, in part by brown fat. Curcumin plays a part in turning white fat into brown fat. The more brown fat you have the more heat you can generate and the more calories you can burn.  

 

Arthritis Relief: Easing Joint Pain with Turmeric

Arthritis is another disease that is caused by inflammation. Painful joints and muscular pain are linked with arthritis. The anti-inflammatory action of turmeric, already described, makes it very effective in the control of pain and the treatment of arthritis. It does this by attacking the source of inflammation rather than just covering the symptoms. Turmeric also reduces the discomfort of arthritic diseases by reducing stiffness and enabling better mobility. 

Unfortunately, arthritis is a long-term disease. A drawback of taking anti-inflammatory medication long-term is the potential side effects. These are stomach upsets and even bleeding. However, taking a safe level of turmeric gives all the benefits without the side effects. It is best to take medical advice, however, before stopping medication prescribed by your doctor.  

To enhance the benefits of turmeric for arthritic conditions, take it with bromelain capsules. Bromelain is an ingredient found in pineapple which reduces swelling. So why not add turmeric to pineapple juice or add some lovely fresh pineapple to your curry? With plenty of turmeric in, of course. 

 

Digestive Harmony: Soothing the Gut with Turmeric

Turmeric is helpful for the treatment of painful diseases in the large intestine or bowel. These include Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.   Scientific studies have not found out exactly why this is the case. But the curcumin in turmeric reduces soreness of the gut and painful ulcers. It does this by stopping the production of a chemical that specifically irritates the gut.   

The body tolerates turmeric much better than medication. Turmeric also causes fewer side effects and discomfort. Although taking supplements helps reduce digestive diseases just a little bit of turmeric in food has also shown improvement. 

Turmeric can help with indigestion by stimulating the gall bladder in the liver to produce bile. 

Bile helps to digest and absorb fat. It also helps the body to use more fat-soluble vitamins. Without bile, the body would create gas and bloating which causes discomfort. In Germany, turmeric is approved as a natural treatment for digestive problems.  

Easing Gas, Enhancing Gut Health, and Soothing Haemorrhoids

If you do get gas, which can lead to burping and flatulence, then turmeric can also help. It helps movement in the gut which transfers food along. This stops the build-up of gas. Compounds in turmeric also help the food to be absorbed and help the production of healthy bacteria in the gut. Both of which also help prevent gas. The fibre in turmeric is also very useful for gut bacteria. Having healthy gut bacteria has been shown to have lots of positive effects on many body functions. Turmeric has been used for many years to get rid of, and protect against, stomach ulcers.    It does this by increasing the production of mucus which protects the stomach wall by providing a barrier. This reduces the irritation caused by processed foods and medication. For digestive problems either take turmeric capsules or blend a spoonful of turmeric with yoghurt. 

Haemorrhoids, (also known as piles), swollen veins in the anus, can also be treated with turmeric. It helps to reduce the soreness, bulging, pain and itchiness. Mix turmeric, onion juice and mustard oil to form a paste. Then apply it to the haemorrhoid. 

 

Managing Diabetes: Turmeric’s Supportive Effects

Diabetes is caused by the body not being able to control sugar levels in the body. The process is very complex but is linked to inflammation. Cytokines that cause the inflammation are produced by the fat tissues in the body. Therefore, the more fat (or obese) a person is, the more of this chemical that they will produce. This is a hugely simplified explanation as many other processes happen. However, turmeric can reduce the production and function of inflammatory cytokines. It also increases the production of another anti-inflammatory substance called adiponectin. 

Studies have shown that it is safe for those with type 2 diabetes to take turmeric, but it is best not to have more than 3g of fresh or powdered root a day. Turmeric can increase the effect of insulin. It is therefore necessary to talk to a doctor before taking turmeric, especially if injecting insulin. 

 

Brain Boosting: Enhancing Memory and Mood with Turmeric

Scientific researchers have found that the curcumin in turmeric can make your brain work more efficiently. This is due to its effect on a chemical in the brain that makes brain cells grow and multiply. This increases memory and concentration. It also helps to reduce depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. As we get older our brain begins to slow down but if we eat plenty of turmeric we can prevent this. One study even found that taking 400mg improved memory and attention almost immediately. But for the best effect and to improve mood and calmness long term it is advised to eat turmeric regularly. 

 

Fuel for the Brain: Enhancing Memory and Delaying Onset of Dementia 

Inflammation plays a part in the cause of Alzheimer’s. But it is not the death sentence that it was once believed to be. Eating plenty of healthy anti-inflammatory foods can reverse it. One of which is turmeric. Scientists have found that Indian people have fewer cases of Alzheimer’s and dementia. This is thought to be because of their diet which contains, amongst other things, turmeric. The curcumin in turmeric interferes with the production of plaques in the brain that cause dementia and Alzheimer’s. Through another process turmeric also dissolves these plaques. This can prevent or slow down the progression of the disease. 

Nerves have a protective covering called myelin, that provides insulation. This insulation means messages are transmitted along them much quicker. One reason for dementia is damage to this protective covering. This is caused by a protein that breaks down this covering. Turmeric interferes with this process protecting the nerve insulation from damage.  

Turmeric also protects the brain by increasing the ‘cleaning up’ of waste products which cause damage to brain cells. It does this by activating several genes that produce protective substances. This increases the immunity of brain cells. In addition, curcumin further increases the immunity of brain cells. It does this by increasing the activity of special, protective cells that remove damaged proteins. Turmeric tea, made with added ginger, honey and lemon is a very good way to have turmeric for brain health. Turmeric capsules may also be taken. These are easier to take and have added ingredients to make sure that the body can make proper use of them. 

 

Fighting Depression: Mood-Boosting Spice 

Turmeric is a very good, natural treatment for depression. A comparison of a group of people taking either an anti-depressant drug, turmeric or both had promising results. It showed that curcumin was as effective as the drug. The best results occurred when the drug and curcumin were taken together.

Many of the reasons that curcumin helps with depression are the same as for protecting against Alzheimer’s disease. However, people with depression have low levels of chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters. Curcuma, another compound in turmeric, increases these neurotransmitters and improves depression. Studies have demonstrated that consuming one to three teaspoons of turmeric a day improves mood in individuals with depression.

One way to take this is in a creamy drink, known as “golden milk”.

This is how you make it: Golden turmeric milk

Mix half a teaspoon of turmeric powder or grated turmeric root, with a pinch of cayenne pepper, half an inch of grated ginger root and one and a half teaspoons of honey.

Warm a cup of almond or coconut milk.

Using a little of the milk mix the spice mix to a paste until there are no lumps.

Add the remainder of the milk and stir well.

Strain into a mug and drink, three times a day. 

 

Heart Health: Turmeric’s Cardiovascular Benefits

Lowering Cholesterol: Supporting Heart Health 

Cholesterol gets a bad press, but it is very important in the body. However, high levels of cholesterol in the blood are a significant risk factor for heart disease. Curcumin has been shown to lower levels of LDL cholesterol.

It does this by exerting an influence on liver cells. These cells remove ‘bad’ cholesterol from the bloodstream to the liver. The liver then gets rid of the cholesterol from the body. Curcumin also stops a process called oxidation. When cholesterol oxidises, it attaches to the walls of the blood vessels. This causes damage and can also build up, harden, and block the blood vessels completely.  

If bits of these oxidised cholesterol plaques break off and reach the heart or brain, it can cause a stroke or heart attack.  Curcumin helps prevent this dangerous situation from occurring. Curcumin can also increase ‘good’ cholesterol, with one study showing nearly a 30% difference after just a week. The people involved in the study were taking 500mg of curcumin a day. 

Protecting Against Blood Clots: A Natural Blood Thinner 

Curcumin has natural anticoagulant properties, meaning it can help prevent the formation of blood clots. Blood clots can lead to heart attacks and strokes, so the ability of curcumin to inhibit clot formation can greatly benefit cardiovascular health. 

Preserving Cardiovascular Integrity: Turmeric’s Shield for Blood Vessels

Curcumin improves and protects heart and blood vessel function. It does this by protecting the lining of blood vessels from inflammation. This means that the blood vessel can be repaired easily in case of damage. Curcumin is as effective in protecting blood vessels as a drug called atorvastatin. A substance called homocysteine can damage the walls of blood vessels if levels rise too high. Turmeric contains plenty of vitamin B6 which prevents homocysteine levels from rising. This also protects the blood vessels. A study found that people taking 4g of curcumin daily have 65% less chance of having a heart attack. 

 

Anti-Aging: Turmeric’s Fountain of Youth

Aging is a natural process, but your way of life can also increase its effects. These include the food you eat, smoking, and drinking too much alcohol. Air pollution and going out in the sun, without sun cream, can also increase the signs of aging. Eating lots of foods high in antioxidants can fight the effects of these things. And turmeric has lots of antioxidants.  As already mentioned, turmeric prevents oxidation. This causes skin cell damage and then death, leading to the skin losing its structure. Turmeric can, therefore, protect the skin from wrinkles and sagging due to its antioxidant ability.  

Taking turmeric regularly can also protect against UV damage by the sun.  This is due to its anti-inflammatory ability. However, curcumin can also help repair DNA which gets damaged by sunburn. For similar reasons that curcumin can protect against cancer, it can also protect skin against skin cancer caused by overexposure to the sun.  

 

The Culinary Versatility of Turmeric

Turmeric has a warm peppery flavour, with a vibrant golden colour. It is a popular ingredient in Indian foods such as curries. It has many other uses and is increasing in popularity and availability all over the world. This is due to its healing benefits. 

To benefit from the beneficial effects of turmeric it can be added to lots of foods and recipes. It is particularly delicious in meat and fish dishes. These include soups, stews and of course, curries. You can also make it into an energising tea or add it to smoothies and juices. To get plenty of turmeric into your diet and boost your health, you can also sprinkle it on to vegetables, add to dressings and dips or mix with yoghurt or mayonnaise. 

Curcumin as a supplement is the best way to benefit from turmerics healthy compounds

 

When buying turmeric try and get it from a reputable supplier. This is to ensure that it is organic and good quality. Turmeric has many benefits which come from the nutrients and compounds that it contains. A good source of fibre, it also contains manganese, potassium, iron, copper and vitamin B6. 

Turmeric is available as a root, powder and essential oil. You can also purchase it as a supplement.

Precautions and Considerations: Safely  Harnessing Turmeric’s Power

Children shouldn’t take supplements. However, adults can safely take supplements as long as they follow certain guidelines. If taking diabetes medication, seek a doctor’s advice as turmeric reduces blood sugar. Remember to not exceed the stated dose as it can result in stomach upsets, nausea, and diarrhoea. Long-term over-use can also lead to painful stomach ulcers. Turmeric supplements should not be taken by pregnant or nursing mothers. If you are going to have surgery, it is best to avoid taking turmeric supplements.  

As long as you bear this in mind, turmeric is something that you need to include in your diet to help keep you healthy. 

Curcumin Supplements

Get your curcumin supplements from reputable companies that produce their supplements from food and not chemicals. As a nutritionist and practitioner, I recommend Biocare and Cytoplan in the UK. For a 10% discount, please contact me and I will happily pass on the code.

References 

Role of Turmeric and Curcumin in Prevention and Treatment of Chronic Diseases 

 

 

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Telegram
Comments