We often hear about superfoods but not all of them reach the same level of superpowers as another. Turmeric is one that certainly belongs on the list. It is a golden spice that has received a lot of attention from scientists in recent years. The benefits it provides are proven and form the basis for why many people use it in superfood juices, smoothies, and supplements.
Everybody seems to have something good to say about turmeric. After all, it is a superfood that has many health benefits.
Why is turmeric so important to include in your health regimen? It is because of active phytochemicals, known as curcuminoids, the most well-known of them being curcumin. It is that compound that provides the golden color you see in turmeric.
You can use turmeric to enjoy these 10 scientifically proven health benefits:
1. Turmeric Is Anti-Inflammatory
Acute inflammation can be beneficial for repairing damaged tissues and fighting off infection. For example, the tissue surrounding a small injury will become swollen, showing that inflammation is doing its work to help with healing.
Chronic inflammation, or the other hand, is very damaging to the body. The effect that it has on your internal systems and cellular structure can lead to damage to the joints, heart, brain and much more.
There is a lot involved with the inflammatory process and some of the contributing factors can include processed foods, toxins, smoking, and our stress level. When you use curcumin (turmeric) you can take advantage of the anti-inflammatory properties.
One of the reasons why turmeric works is because it interrupts a protein (NF-kB) that leads to inflammation. In other words, it stops the inflammation at the molecular level.
In 2004, a study was published in the journal Oncogene which showed that curcumin was just as effective as some anti-inflammatory drugs1. Of course, it provided the benefit without negative side effects.
2. Turmeric Helps with Liver Detox
Your liver is responsible for detoxifying the body. Toxins flow through the liver and it acts as a filter.
We are constantly exposed to a variety of toxins, including environmental, processed foods, pesticides, and heavy metals. All of this places a lot of stress on the liver. That is why eating superfoods, such as turmeric, can be beneficial.
The University Of Maryland Medical Center2 said: “curcumin stimulates the gallbladder to produce bile.” Since the liver is responsible for eliminating toxins, turmeric provides an indirect benefit to help the body remove them effectively.
3. Turmeric Is a Strong Antioxidant
You can’t help but deal with free radicals but when they grow in numbers, it can damage our DNA and our cells.
Many environmental factors can increase free radicals, including air pollution, fried foods, tobacco smoke, and pesticides. You can’t avoid it, but there is something you can do about it: eat foods that are rich in antioxidants.
Antioxidants provide the antidote for free radicals. You can find them in fruits and vegetables and it is one of the primary reasons why people who include more fruits and vegetables in their diet live longer lives.
Curcumin is said to be one of the best antioxidants you can find3. It does more than act as an antioxidant, studies have shown that it can help to boost your body’s natural antioxidant enzymes4.
4. Turmeric Helps with Brain Function
Some studies have shown the benefits that turmeric provides for the brain.
One of the components necessary for the health of the brain is a protein known as a brain-derived neuropathic factor (BDNF)5. Animal studies have shown that this protein can help with the regeneration of nerve cells.
BDNF is also found to be in lower levels when a person has Alzheimer’s and depression6.
You can increase your BDNF levels by exercising. You can also do so by adding curcumin to your diet. Studies on animals have shown that the brain’s BDNF levels7 increase when curcumin is added to the diet. Turmeric, therefore, can support the healthy functioning of the brain.
5. Turmeric Is Good for Heart Health
Living an active lifestyle, eating a proper diet and reducing your stress levels can prevent heart disease. Curcumin can also help with your healthy heart.
Curcumin has been shown to support the function of the endothelium, which lines the blood vessels. A dysfunction with endothelium can affect your blood clotting, blood pressure and more.
Exercise provides benefits for vascular endothelium function. At least one study8 has also shown that curcumin can produce those same benefits as exercise.
Since turmeric provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, it helps to support heart health further.
6. Turmeric Helps with Digestion
It is important to have a healthy level of fat in your diet, as long as it is the right type of fat. Essential fatty acids can be found in many foods, including nuts, flax seed, Chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and avocado.
Most diets have the wrong type of fat, such as cooking oil and it causes inflammation in the body. Too much bad fat can also stress the digestive system, leaving the person feeling bloated and ill.
Your body uses bile to process fat and turmeric stimulates bile production.
Studies have shown the benefits of turmeric on the digestion9. The German Commission E (which governs herbal use in Germany) has even approved turmeric used for digestive issues.
7. Turmeric Helps with Achy Joints
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that some 63 million people in the United States suffer from daily joint pain, stiffness, and achiness.
Chronic inflammation is often involved in this type of joint issue. Turmeric provides anti-inflammatory benefits, which is why curcumin has been shown to provide relief.
A pilot study done on people with rheumatoid arthritis showed that curcumin was more beneficial than at least one anti-inflammatory drug10.
8. Turmeric Benefits Those with Depression
Perhaps one of the most interesting and unexpected benefits of turmeric is that it may help with depression symptoms.
A study was conducted of 60 people that were given either curcumin, Prozac or a combination of the two11. After doing this for six weeks, the researchers were able to confirm that the curcumin group experienced benefits that were similar to those taking Prozac.
The group that saw the greatest improvement was the group who was taking both curcumin and Prozac. In other words, turmeric can work along with medication.
9. Turmeric May Help with Prediabetes
Curcumin can offer benefits for those who are prediabetic. Those are the people who have an elevated blood sugar level and are at an increased risk for the development of diabetes.
A double-blind, randomized and placebo-controlled study was published in Diabetes Care12. The study showed that a prediabetic group who received turmeric extract did not develop diabetes after nine months.
The placebo group, on the other hand, saw 16.4% develop diabetes within nine months. It is important to note that nobody in the curcumin group developed diabetes.
The conclusion of the researchers was: “In addition, the curcumin treatment appeared to improve overall function of β-cells, with very minor adverse effects. Therefore, this study demonstrated that the curcumin intervention in a prediabetic population may be beneficial.”
10. Turmeric Can Provide Antiaging Support
Everybody is interested in slowing down the aging process. We want to enjoy the energy, vibrant health and flawless skin associated with youth.
Getting your daily dose of turmeric may help to set the clock back just a little. Since it helps to reduce free radicals and inflammation, which may play a role in aging, turmeric can also be considered an anti-aging superfood.
That is why people will often turn to supplements that contain turmeric to help fight the damage and aging associated with free radical damage.
1. https://www.nature.com/articles/1208169, Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents differ in their ability to suppress NF-κB activation, inhibition of expression of cyclooxygenase-2 and cyclin D1, and abrogation of tumor cell proliferation, October 18, 2014
2. https://www.umms.org/ummc/health/medical/altmed/herb/turmeric, Tumeric Supports Liver Detox
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17569207, Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, 2007;595:105-25
4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15650394, Curcumin induces glutathione biosynthesis and inhibits NF-kappaB activation and interleukin-8 release in alveolar epithelial cells: mechanism of free radical scavenging activity, 2005 Jan-Feb;7(1-2):32-41
5. http://web.stanford.edu/group/hopes/cgi-bin/hopes_test/brain-derived-neurotrophic-factor-bdnf/, Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), June 26, 2010
6. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0896627391902733, BDNF mRNA is decreased in the hippocampus of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, November 1991
7. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006899306027144, Curcumin reverses the effects of chronic stress on behavior, the HPA axis, BDNF expression and phosphorylation of CREB, November 29, 2006
8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23146777, Curcumin ingestion and exercise training improve vascular endothelial function in postmenopausal women, 2012 Oct;32(10):795-9. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2012.09.002. Epub 2012 Oct 15
9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92752/, Chapter 13 Turmeric, the Golden Spice
10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22407780, A randomized, pilot study to assess the efficacy and safety of curcumin in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis, 2012 Nov;26(11):1719-25. doi: 10.1002/ptr.4639. Epub 2012 Mar 9.
11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23832433, Efficacy and safety of curcumin in major depressive disorder: a randomized controlled trial, 2014 Apr;28(4):579-85. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5025. Epub 2013 Jul 6.
12. http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/35/11/2121.full, Curcumin Extract for Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes, 2012 Nov; 35(11): 2121-2127.