Cat Cunningham explores how this versatile spice can reduce the development of cancer and disease, as well as improve your physical and mental health.
Photo by Karolina Grabowska
Turmeric is a bright yellow spice that has been used for centuries throughout Asia. It has proved useful in cooking, cosmetics, fabric dying and traditional medicine in China and India. In recent years, the West has also started to embrace the spice as a result of its impressive health benefits.
Researchers have found that turmeric and its active component, curcumin, has anti-inflammatory properties and can be helpful in treating a range of different health conditions from Alzheimer’s to Cancer.
Cooking turmeric with oil binds the curcumin with fat, which makes it easier to absorb by the gut. It is thought that daily amounts consumed in this way could be beneficial for your health especially when combined with black pepper it is said that absorption increases by up to 2000% . In addition, it might also be consumed as a beverage in a tea infusion.
As such, here are five of the surprising benefits of this wondrous and versatile spice:
A brief disclaimer: we are not medical professionals, so please consult your doctor before making any significant adjustment to your diet.
1. It helps reduce inflammation
Whilst inflammation is necessary to fight off harmful invaders and to repair damage to the body, long-term inflammation has been implicated in many chronic conditions such as heart disease and cancer. It has now been proven that the curcumin in turmeric has strong anti-inflammatory properties that match the effectiveness of some anti-inflammatory drugs without producing any side-effects. Studies have shown that as a result of these anti-inflammatory properties, curcumin can have a positive impact on people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome and a range of other conditions.
2. Can kill cancer cells in some cancers
Studies on animals have shown that turmeric can stop the growth of tumour cells, in addition to helping detoxifying enzymes work better. Furthermore, evidence has been found to suggest that a substance in turmeric (curcumin), can kill cancer cells in certain cancers in humans and may even prevent cancers from appearing in the first place, especially those that impact the digestive system such as colorectal cancer. However, studies are ongoing to see whether high doses of curcumin could be used as a treatment.
3. It lowers the risk of heart disease
Curcumin can improve the lining of blood vessels, or the endothelium. Endothelium dysfunction, which compromises the body's ability to regulate blood flow and clotting, can put people at greater risk of developing heart disease. Studies have suggested that curcumin improves endothelium function, with one study showing it works as well as exercise and another suggesting it is as effective as some medications such as Atorvastatin.
4. It eases digestion problems
A trial by the University of Nottingham found that curcumin can stimulate the production of bile in the gallbladder, which is needed to break down fat in foods. It can relieve excess gas, bloating and abdominal pain.
5. It can reduce the development of Alzheimer's & depression
Curcumin can work to reduce inflammation and the build-up of protein plaques in the brain, which are found in people suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Another study has shown that curcumin can also be used as an anti-depressant to treating depression.
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