Turmeric, a spice that is derived from the Curcuma longa plant, is a potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant herb, with health benefits ranging from reducing joint pain, maintaining healthy blood flow, and even helping to prevent cancer. Curcumin, the active curcuminoid compound in the turmeric root, has been used for centuries in Indian and Eastern cultures as a medicinal herb to treat and prevent a plethora of diseases. When it comes to our culinary practices today, evidence indicates that we should all be adding this “flavor enhancer” to our diet so we can benefit from its nutritional and science-based healing powers. A daily dose of turmeric is good for the body, mind and probably the soul as well.
Curcumin, the therapeutic, bioactive component of turmeric, has long been touted for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. We know that the bioactive agents in turmeric are able to exert effects on a multitude of enzymes, thereby vastly spreading its health benefits among the body systems. To name a few such health benefits: turmeric supplements play an integral role in pain management, wound healing, anti-aging, cognitive function, digestion and cancer prevention.
And to top it off, the miraculous and medicinal qualities of turmeric root and turmeric supplements have been shown in numerous research studies! Recent clinical trials and lots of anecdotal evidence have demonstrated the numerous health benefits of turmeric. In many cases, the health benefits of turmeric have surpassed and been more effective than more conventional pharmaceutical therapies.
So, in essence, all roads seem to lead to turmeric. But when it comes down to it, what are the actual health benefits of consumption of turmeric root and turmeric supplements? How does it actually lead to improved health outcomes? To further convince you that you should include this herb in your life, here are 9 detailed reasons why you should turn up the turmeric heat in your kitchen starting today.
Anti-Inflammation: Turmeric is Nature’s Most Powerful Anti-Inflammatory Food
Quite possibly one of the most touted turmeric health benefits is its powerful anti-inflammatory property. By helping to kick inflammation to the curb, turmeric can do wonders for the skin, joints, gastrointestinal tract and so much more.
While a healthy amount of inflammation is crucial for keeping bad bacteria (i.e., pathogens that cause illness) in check, when inflammation gets out of hand for an extended period of time, this can lead to short and long term health problems. An excessive amount of chronic inflammatory stress associated with a hyperactive immune system can wreak havoc on the body’s systems. Long-term inflammation has been correlated with inflammatory diseases such as psoriasis, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Luckily, turmeric supplements can help to play a significant role in keeping inflammation at bay! At a molecular level, curcumin has been shown to block an important pro-inflammatory nuclear factor known as NF-kB. By thwarting this molecule, curcumin prevents it from traveling into the nuclei of the cells and turning on pro-inflammatory genes. Studies show that this particular property of curcumin might even make it more powerful than well known anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen. This means that supplementing with turmeric can promote faster skin healing in those suffering from psoriasis or chronic acne, faster reduction in joint pain in arthritic individuals, and strengthened intestinal mucosa in patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Better yet, turmeric is all natural and does not have any adverse side effects.
Health Benefit 1: Reduces Joint Pain for Arthritis & Osteoarthritis
Generally speaking, turmeric’s anti-inflammatory capacity helps to reduce mediators of inflammation like interleukins, prostaglandins, and other pro inflammatory cytokines, thereby decreasing the pain sensation. More specifically, supplementing with turmeric can lead to a significant reduction in joint pain for those suffering from arthritis. By protecting bone materials, mediating inflammation, and upregulating antioxidant activity, turmeric can help to relieve the pain associated with arthritis and osteoarthritis. This means turmeric supplements can do a world of good when it comes to bone and joint health.
Health Benefit 2: Anti-Inflammatory Benefits for Skin Health
For everything from helping acne to scar prevention and resolution and even anti-aging: turn to turmeric as your herb of choice for skin health. The antimicrobial properties of the turmeric root help to fend off pathogenic acne-causing bacteria. Turmeric supplements can also promote improved and expedited skin repair and reduction of skin rashes, which is especially pertinent for those suffering from psoriasis, eczema or with skin wounds, scarring, or topical tissue damage. The anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric accelerate wound healing and fend off blemishes and irritation, thereby helping to keep the skin spotless and radiant.
Health Benefit 3: Improved Gut Microbial Health
Turmeric exhibits a multitude of positive effects on the digestive system, beginning with its ability to help maintain a healthful microbial balance. Turmeric selectively extinguishes pathogenic bacteria like H. pylori (a pathogenic bacteria known to cause ulcers) and promotes the growth of health-supportive microbes. By keeping the gut bacteria in check and the digestive process smooth and efficient, turmeric thereby helps to decrease symptoms of gas, bloating, acid reflux, irregular bowel movements and much more. Furthermore, the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric help to soothe ulcers and drive down the chronic inflammation and endothelial irritation characteristic of inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Health Benefit 4: Benefits for Brain Health & Mental Health
Good for the body, but also the mind…
Clinical evidence indicates that supplementation with turmeric may indeed be a therapeutic option for the management of depression and/or bipolar disorder, yet another one of the health benefits of turmeric. But when it comes to brain health, turmeric’s mind-enhancing properties don’t stop there. Future research is focusing on the potential role for turmeric supplements in the treatment and prevention of degenerative neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s, which we know is fundamentally an inflammatory condition. Given turmeric’s powerful anti-inflammatory effects, it may one day be considered a natural healing remedy for serious diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia that affect the brain and memory. So adding a few healthy doses of turmeric to your daily routine may indeed help keep you sharp and alert in the long run.
ANTIOXIDANT: Turmeric Is a Powerful Natural Antioxidant
Aside from its ability to regulate inflammation, perhaps one of the other top turmeric health benefits is its antioxidant potency. Turmeric helps detoxify the body by enhancing liver function and stimulating the lymphatic system, which in turn assists in removal of toxic waste.
When it comes to aging, cancer and a variety of other common Western diseases, the buildup of harmful oxidative compounds in the body is often largely to blame. These compounds, known as free radicals, are highly reactive and can adversely affect a host of important proteins in the body as well as cellular DNA. When curcumin comes into the picture, however, it has the ability to stop free radicals in their tracks. And it doesn’t stop there. The antioxidant property of curcumin is a two-fold “superpower”! Aside from squashing free radicals on its own, turmeric also stimulates the production of the body’s own antioxidant defense mechanisms.
As both an antioxidant itself and an anti-oxidant enhancer, one of the health benefits of turmeric supplements is that curcumin helps to protect against cell damage. This in turn mediates a multitude of positive effects in the body, which includes boosting the immune system, protecting the brain, and keeping the eyes and skin healthy. When it comes to anti-aging and cancer prevention, we cannot overemphasize the center-stage role that antioxidants play.
Health Benefit 5: Cancer Prevention
Since turmeric scavenges free radicals, it has the power to preferentially protect healthy cells from the DNA damage that accompanies carcinogenesis. The anti-cancer capacity of turmeric, however, is multifaceted: coupled with its defense of the body’s healthy, normal cells, turmeric also has the ability to destroy cancer cells by inducing apoptosis (aka, programmed cell death). Additionally, turmeric is able to thwart metastasis (i.e., the spread of cancer). One of the ways it does this is by halting the production of new blood vessels, (aka, angiogenesis). By starving a growing tumor of its blood supply, turmeric helps kick cancer to the curb.
Health Benefit 6: Anti-Aging
By curtailing the accumulation of harmful free radicals, turmeric protects skin cells from DNA damage. To put it simply, turmeric can act as a powerful anti-aging agent by combating wrinkles, sun damage and age-associated pigmentation. As an antioxidant, turmeric keeps your skin smooth, glowing, and utterly ageless- or so we hope!
Health Benefit 7: Strengthens Immune System
Turmeric lends a helping hand in modulation of the immune system. Particularly with regard to autoimmune disorders, the immunoregulatory effects of this medicinal herb help to keep harmful chronic inflammation at bay. Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial characteristics of turmeric supercharge the body’s natural defenses and enhance immunity. Furthermore, studies show that turmeric improves white blood cell count, strength, and communication pathways, thereby giving the immune system a potent boost.
Chronic Health Conditions: Turmeric Helps Control Diabetes and Heart Disease
Health Benefit 8: Blood Sugar Control
The rate at which the incidence of diabetes and prediabetes is rising is nothing short of staggering these days. But when it comes to regulating blood sugar and improving insulin sensitivity, look no further than turmeric.
By simply supplementing with curcumin and adding turmeric to some of your favorite dishes, you can do yourself– and your blood glucose levels– an incredible favor. Insulin is the hormone responsible for mediating the transport of glucose from the blood into the cells, where it is used for a wide variety of purposes. In the case of chronic uncontrolled blood sugars, insulin resistance (or a decreased sensitivity to glucose) can occur, which means glucose remains in the bloodstream and further exacerbates the situation.
But when we incorporate turmeric into the diet, bioactive curcumin plays a role in stimulating the enzyme AMPK, which then signals glucose uptake from the blood into the cells. In this way, turmeric stabilizes blood sugar levels and improves insulin sensitivity. Why does this matter? Blood sugar regulation and insulin sensitivity are essential for diabetes prevention (and in turn protection against heart disease and cholesterol regulation) but also for more general things like appetite control and weight stabilization. So, blood sugar regulation is one of the key turmeric health benefits and absolutely a reason to get on the turmeric train.
Health Benefit 9: Heart Health & Blood Health
Statistics demonstrate that cardiovascular disease is now one of the most fatal diseases affecting populations across the globe. If you’re looking to protect yourself against heart disease, or simply just want to keep your blood pressure in check, you may consider turning to turmeric instead of other medications such as ibuprofen or warfarin to keep your blood flow steady and healthy.
Studies suggest that curcumin supplementation can naturally protect against blood clotting and reduce blood pressure by strengthening the endothelial lining of the blood vessels. By enhancing vascular function in this way, turmeric defends the body against common conditions such as pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis, atherosclerosis and hypertension, many of which are rising in incidence in this country. Widely used to combat these conditions and promote blood health by strengthening the vasculature itself, turmeric is now giving more traditional anticoagulant and antiplatelet therapies a run for their money.
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