You’ve probably admired the vibrant and deep orange-yellow color of a bowl of curry. And we don’t blame you. You can thank turmeric for that! The powder is commonly found in Indian, Iranian, Bangladeshi, and Pakistani cuisine and is often used for dyeing. Turmeric, which comes from the ginger family, can easily be incorporated with any meal, like this scrumptious turmeric roasted cauliflower side dish. And with all its health benefits, it’s no wonder why this potent spice is considered a superfood.
Below we explore 5 proven health benefits of turmeric you need to know today.
Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory properties are so powerful that it’s effectiveness have been compared to some anti-inflammatory drugs. The bioactive substance found in curcumin helps fight inflammation at the molecular level, meaning it targets multiple steps in the inflammatory pathway. A study found that turmeric extract supplements for example worked as well as ibuprofen in patients with knee osteoarthritis. So if you’re looking for a more natural and holistic approach to curbing joint pains and other arthritic-related problems, this spice is the way to go.
2. Antioxidant Powerhouse
Antioxidants help protect our bodies from free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that when they react with cellular components in the body can cause cells to function poorly and sometimes die. Curcumin is a potent antioxidant that neutralizes these free radicals due to the chemical structures while also stimulating the body’s own antioxidant mechanisms. This attribute, along with the anti-inflammatory capabilities, has contributed to as much 65 percent lower chance of heart attack among bypass patients, according to a study from Chiang Mai University.
3. Good for the Brain
Feed your brain with turmeric and you’ll be sure to see some significant results. Curcumin can help to increase brain levels of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). This is a type of growth hormone that functions in the brains and may be effective in delaying or even reversing brain diseases and age-related decreases--such as Alzheimer’s and depression.
A study published in Phytotherapy Research showed that 60 volunteers diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD) responded positively towards the spice and that curcumin was “as effective as Prozac in managing depression.” Authors of the research stated that this is the “first clinical evidence that curcumin may be used as an effective and safe therapy for treatment in patients with Mild Depression.”
4. Lowers Blood Sugar
To reverse insulin resistance and lower your blood sugar, Dr. Axe believes that turmeric is one of the best natural treatments to add to your diet. A study published out of Auburn University explored how turmeric supplementation helped reverse diabetes. Researchers discovered that the curcumin in turmeric is 400 times more potent than Metformin (a common drug that treats diabetes) in activating AMPK. AMPK improves insulin sensitivity thus helping to reverse Type 2 Diabetes.
Curcumin has also been proven to help reverse issues related to insulin resistance and hyperglycemia. One major complication of diabetes is damaged blood vessels which causes blindness. Supplementing with curcumin has been found to delay such a complication again due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, according to studies.
5. Alternative to Steroids
Many people who suffer from chronic pains and diseases, such as lupus and psoriasis, rely on steroids for pain management and treatment. But as we know, these steroids come equipped with more side effects than we care to know. A breakthrough clinical study in 1999 discovered that, “The lack of side effects with curcumin is its great advantage compared with corticosteroids.” This means people who normally take steroids can avoid such side effects as acne, cancer, insomnia, indigestion, etc. (the list goes on) by swapping them with the therapeutic curcumin.
Don’t forget that our bodies are all created differently and you may or may not have an allergic reaction to turmeric. But because there are so many health benefits related to turmeric, it’s easy to say that the spice has proven more beneficial than not...plus it’s more than just a pretty color.