5 benefits of Turmeric – DR.VEGAN
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5 benefits of Turmeric

5 benefits of Turmeric

Turmeric is a hugely popular supplement due to the powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits of its active ingredient, Curcumin.  Here we explain the benefits of Curcumin and Turmeric and what to look out for in a supplement.

What is Turmeric?

Turmeric is a yellow spice from the root of the Turmeric plant traditionally used in Asian cooking. It contains 3 active compounds called curcuminoids. These curcuminoids are biologically active in the body and provide a multitude of benefits. Turmeric can be added to foods or drinks and even used topically (applying to your skin).

What is Curcumin?

The most studied and potent of the 3 types of curcuminoids in Turmeric is called curcumin. It is the most common type found in food supplements and research shows it is the most biologically active.

Benefits of Turmeric

The active curcumins are fat soluble and therefore better absorbed if taken with a small amount of fat. Taking black pepper with turmeric also significantly aids the absorption of the active compounds.

Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory

Curcuminoids, and in particular curcumin, reduce inflammation in the body by stopping the body from making inflammatory compounds. Curcumin works on the same pathway as a lot of anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving medicines but without the side effects.

The pathway it targets is called NK-KB which is indicated in many inflammatory and chronic diseases.

Short term inflammation can be beneficial for fighting a disease or healing a wound. Long term inflammation however can have serious health consequences and must be addressed.   

Antioxidant

Turmeric is rich in antioxidants. These are compounds that mop up free radicals which are created by the body, ingested and inhaled.

Oxidative damage plays a role in many diseases and in the ageing process. Free radicals interfere with the proteins and DNA in cells and may affect the way genes express themselves. Additionally, curcumin increases the rate your body produces its own antioxidants, providing further benefits. 

Joint pain

Joint pain can occur for a few reasons, most often due to conditions such as arthritis or an injury. However almost all joint pain will involve some form of inflammation contributing to the pain experienced. Reducing inflammation in the body helps to ease the symptoms of sore joints.

Curcumin has been shown to be helpful to people with rheumatoid arthritis. In fact, some research has shown curcumin to be even more beneficial than anti-inflammatory drugs.

Turmeric and depression

There is research to suggest that in some cases of depression, there is low-grade inflammation in the body. There is a very strong link between mind health and gut heath, as 90% of the happy hormones we make (serotonin) are made in the gut, and then transported into the brain. When there is low-grade inflammation in the gut, not enough serotonin is created which can lead to low moods. 

You may enjoy expert nutritionists' blog: '5 foods to improve your mood'. 

Reducing inflammation in the gut not only helps with gut health, but also with moods and mind health in general.  You may also enjoy 'How your diet can improve your mental health'. 

Curcumin increases a substance in the brain called brain-derived neurotropic factor which is a type of growth hormone for the brain. One of the health conditions linked to low levels of brain-derived neurotropic factor is depression.

Turmeric benefits for skin

Many skin conditions and problems involve inflammation. This could be acute inflammation such as in the case of eczema, allergies and acne, or low-grade inflammation such as in the case of large pores and inflamed looking skin.

You may enjoy 'Best foods and vitamins for healthy skin.'

Reducing inflammation systemically will reduce inflammation on the skin and improve its appearance. Turmeric’s antioxidant benefits are good for the skin. Antioxidants help to protect DNA from damage, and that includes part of the DNA which is responsible for producing collagen. Increased collagen production gives the skin more elasticity and a plumper appearance.

Ginger and Turmeric

Combining ginger and turmeric makes a potent anti-inflammatory pair. Ginger contains the active substance gingerol, which is anti-inflammatory.

Ginger and turmeric can be consumed together, either fresh or dried and can be used in both foods and drinks. Try this golden latte recipe for an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant boost, and discover our fabulous gingerbread recipe.

By Shona Wilkinson, RN, mBANT, CNHC

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References

A randomized, pilot study to assess the efficacy and safety of curcumin in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis

Curcumin induces glutathione biosynthesis and inhibits NF-kappaB activation and interleukin-8 release in alveolar epithelial cells: mechanism of free radical scavenging activity

Alterations of serum levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in depressed patients with or without antidepressants

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents differ in their ability to suppress NF-kappaB activation, inhibition of expression of cyclooxygenase-2 and cyclin D1, and abrogation of tumor cell proliferation

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