There has been a lot of talk in the press and on various health and wellness sites lately about how amazing turmeric and its active ingredient curcumin are, and how they can benefits the entire body. It’s hard to know sometimes what is fact and what is fiction. Below are five evidence-based claims about the health benefits of this spice.
Turmeric Contains Powerful Bioactive Compounds
Turmeric, the deep golden spice which gives so many curries their distinctive color, has been used in Indian cooking and medicine for thousands of year, particularly in the holistic approach to health known as Ayurveda. Is only fairly recently, though, that the West has discovered for itself that turmeric contains several compounds that are biologically very potent. The most potent of these is a compound called curcumin. Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound; however, it only makes up about 3% of turmeric by weight, so getting enough curcumin into your system just through diet would be difficult; that is why turmeric supplements have become so popular.
Curcumin is a Potent Natural Anti-Inflammatory
Chronic inflammation, which can be a product of stress, poor diet and other lifestyle factors, is a major problem. Many health professionals now believe that this chronic inflammation is partly responsible for many serious conditions, including cancer, cardiac disease, metabolic syndrome and degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. Curcumin can help be greatly reducing this chronic inflammation throughout the body.
Curcumin has Powerful Antioxidant Properties
Apart from chronic inflammation, another factor which has been implicated in many disease is the oxidative damage caused by free radicals in the body. These free radicals tend to interact with – and do harm to – important components of the body like DNA. Curcumin’s anti-oxidant power, however, can reduce this damage and lead to a reduced risk for serious long-term conditions like cancer.
Curcumin Supports Healthy Brain Function
Turmeric is being investigated as a possible natural therapy to treat serious neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. It is believed that turmeric is a good therapy for this since curcumin has been shown to increase the levels of a hormone called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) in the body. Adequate BDNF levels are necessary for healthy brain function, and have been shown to be decreased in Alzheimer’s patients. While more research is needed, this is certainly a promising development.
Curcumin Also Promotes Cardiac Health
Heart disease remains the leading killer in the United States, so coming up with natural, healthy treatment alternatives remains more important than ever. Curcumin has been shown to protect the endothelium, the delicate and easily-damaged inner lining of the cardiac blood vessels. It also has been shown to reduce inflammation and oxidation of the heart tissues. All three properties lead it to being a great tonic for the heart.
So consider adding turmeric to your regimen of supplements (provided you have talked to your doctor first about the change). Turmeric and its active ingredient curcumin work hard to keep the brain, heart and body in general healthy and functional and better yet, they do this naturally.
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