In recent years, turmeric has gained popularity in the Western world as a dietary supplement and ingredient in many dishes. But in Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia, turmeric is a common cooking ingredient and a medicinal herb used in Ayurvedic practices and Eastern Asian medical systems, such as Chinese traditional medicine.
Turmeric and its active compound, curcumin, may be the most effective natural supplement for the body and brain, with its antioxidant, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory properties. However, curcumin has low bioavailability. This means that the body cannot readily access and absorb the compound. Thus, turmeric supplements, such as turmeric latte mix, are popular because the products have a higher concentration of curcumin, which their bodies can easily absorb.
Understanding turmeric and curcumin
Turmeric is a spice similar to ginger and galangal. Aside from being an ingredient in many dishes, turmeric is promoted today as a dietary supplement for several conditions, such as arthritis, respiratory infections, depression, allergies, digestive disorders, liver disease, and more.
Turmeric contains curcuminoids, with curcumin as the major component that provides the health benefits users claim. Curcumin is rich in antioxidants and contains powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Here are some of its health benefits.
- Contains bioactive compounds
Most people prefer to use turmeric supplements rather than add the spice to their food because turmeric’s curcumin content is only about three percent by weight. Turmeric supplements contain more of the bioactive compounds to avail of the recommended daily dosage. Be sure to buy turmeric supplements containing piperine, a natural substance from black pepper that increases the body’s absorption of curcumin.
2. It is anti-inflammatory
Curcumin contains plenty of polyphenols, which help reduce inflammation, relieving the effects of arthritis, metabolic syndrome, anxiety, and high blood fat levels. Curcumin also increases the level of antioxidants in the body. While there is proof of the anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, the studies conducted by several researchers are still small.
3. It increases the body’s antioxidant capacity
Tissue damage due to oxidation can lead to many diseases and aging. Oxidants are free radicals that react with the body’s DNA, proteins, and fatty acids. Users believe that curcumin is a strong antioxidant that can protect the body against free radicals, making you feel healthier and younger.
4. Curcumin can improve eye health
Although the study sizes are still small, there is an indication that curcumin can help in managing degenerative and inflammatory eye disorders, including glaucoma. Studies show that curcumin can potentially treat some eye diseases and help keep eyes healthy,
5. It can potentially protect against Alzheimer’s disease
Even if the multiple studies are small, results suggest that curcumin has good effects on Alzheimer’s disease. It prevents the formation and promotes the breakup of the rouge proteins that form between the nerve cells in the brain. These rouge proteins prevent the communication of the nerve cells, which causes them to die and irreparably damages a person’s cognition. But, as usual, curcumin needs further and more large-scale research.
Curcumin and turmeric show great potential as a solution for several illnesses and diseases. The small studies by different research groups already show some benefits. But the medical community needs results from large-scale research and clinical trials.
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