Have you noticed lattes, ice cream, and smoothies with a tawny hue? That could be a sign of a not-so-secret ingredient: turmeric. The botanical is omnipresent in health food aisles, in the form of pills and powders.
From spicing up stir-fries and lattes to giving the curries and soups a golden hue- turmeric is literally popping in every household and restaurant out there.
Initially limited to the pantries of Indian homes, turmeric has been long known to people as a flavorful spice with amazing healing properties. Belonging to the ginger family, it has been a part of Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Mix it in milk to calm your mind, apply to the wounds to fight infection, or add it to your meals to keep your heart healthy: Turmeric has a lot of benefits.
This article will help you explore the true benefits of turmeric and how you can maximize them to your advantage!
A Quick Review of Turmeric
Turmeric, a regular spice derived from a plant named Curcuma longa, has a long history of use in conventional medicine. The roots and rhizomes of this plant are dried and crushed to form the yellow powder that you use in your curries and lattes. In addition to making your food tasteful, turmeric is also popular for possessing strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Turmeric consists of a lot of curcuminoids that are responsible for most of its medicinal properties. One of these curcuminoids, called curcumin, is the main active ingredient and seems to contribute a lot to the potential health benefits of this Indian spice.
So what are these so-called benefits of turmeric and is there any research backing them up? Let's find out.
How Can Turmeric Actually Benefit You?
Turmeric can benefit you in multiple ways. They can kill cancer cells, boost your immunity, and help your body fight infections, to name a few. Let's look at these benefits in detail.
#1 - It Is A Strong Anti-Inflammatory Agent
The main claim to fame, as far as turmeric is concerned, is probably its strong anti-inflammatory properties, and most of these properties can be attributed to the presence of curcumin alone. In fact, if you are using turmeric in the right dose, you can even find it as effective as some common inflammation-fighting pills like aspirin and Advil. (1)
Inflammation has been proven as a source of many potentially fatal diseases. So by consuming enough curcumin, you can be preventing many painful problems like arthritis, pancreatitis, and even IBD. (2)
#2 - It Is Heart-Protective
Did you know that every time you add turmeric to your soup to spice it up, you are also protecting your heart? Yes!
Research has shown that curcumin, the active ingredient of turmeric can significantly improve the function of endothelial cells i.e. the cells that make up the inner layer of the heart and all the blood vessels leading up to it. A healthy endothelium can also keep your blood pressure under control and decrease the risk of acquiring heart diseases. (3)
In another study, researchers compared the effects of curcumin supplements with the effects of an aerobic exercise for 8 weeks. The results were shocking as an equal improvement occurred in the function of endothelium in both groups. (4) Simply speaking, if you are not the type of person who can hit the gym every day just for the sake of your heart, taking a curcumin supplement can be beneficial.
#3 - It Can Prevent Cancer
If you don't know it yet, high levels of inflammation are often associated with increased tumor growth. So what do you do to slow down that cancer from spreading? Get rid of the inflammation. And turmeric is one of the best natural remedies to do it!
Curcumin along with several other curcuminoids present in turmeric can all decrease inflammatory levels in the body, considerably slowing down or completely preventing different types of cancers. And these include cancers of the breast, prostate, colorectal, and gastric. Research has even suggested that curcumin in turmeric can even slow down the speed at which a tumor is growing. And that's not all. It can even stop the cancer cells from forming too, by either interrupting their life cycles or making them die early. (5) The research is still going on and scientists are hopeful of exploring many other ways in which turmeric can help the patients prevent and even treat different types of cancer.
#4 - It Can Help Your Joints and Bones
People with osteoarthritis, surprise! We finally have a natural solution to your aching joints- turmeric. And it's completely safe, too! Research has found that taking a curcuminoid mixture in quantities of around 1000mg per day can make your joints less stiff and more mobile in as little as eight months only. (6) So that's all you have to do. No gut-harming medicines, no aspirations. Just a little turmeric every single day and you'll be running like a horse in no time.
Another interesting study found that taking 50 mg of curcumin per kilogram of your body can help with the pain related to osteoarthritis. What's more, it can also slow down the progression of this disease as well. (7)
There is more work to be done to study the effects of turmeric on osteoarthritis in human models, but scientists are really hopeful.
#5 - It Can Help Manage Diabetes Like a Pro
If you think turmeric can only protect your heart and joints, you are wrong, friend! Scientists have a reason to believe that adequate consumption of curcumin can not only help manage diabetes but can even prevent it from occurring in the first place. It is even useful to control many diabetes-induced complications like diabetic nephropathy, a condition in which your kidneys are significantly affected. (8)
For example, tetrahydrocurcumin, the main chemical of curcumin can cause a drastic decrease in blood sugar levels while simultaneously improving the plasma levels of insulin. (9) Another study has found that the active ingredient of turmeric can improve the insulin levels within 16 weeks only. (10)
But how does turmeric help prevent diabetes in the first place? We have its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to thank for that. Turmeric also improves multiple factors in the body which may otherwise lead to sugar spikes and higher insulin resistance.
Maximizing the Benefits of Turmeric: The Role of Piperine
By now, you must be thrilled about how wonderful turmeric can be for your health. As much as you would like to keep gulping it down with every meal, unfortunately the body does not seem to absorb it, especially the curcumin in it, all too well.
So is there anything you can do about it? Definitely! Let me introduce you to piperine, the active ingredient found in black pepper.
Research has found that combining piperine from black pepper with the curcumin coming from turmeric can greatly increase the latter's absorption, sometimes up to 2000 percent. (11) Amazing, isn't it? According to another study, mixing 2 grams of curcumin with 20mg of piperine can do wonders with its absorption. (12)
But how does something as simple as piperine accomplish this? There are two proposed theories.
First, the presence of piperine causes curcumin to pass through the wall of your intestine straight into your bloodstream much more easily than it can on its own. Secondly, it slows down the breakdown process of curcumin in the liver by making it more soluble in water. This means that less curcumin is excreted out by the liver and more of it stays inside the body, making it more available to the body to receive benefits from it. To simplify, if you are looking forward to maximizing the benefits of turmeric, just consider mixing it with some piperine or making sure to use a supplement that contains it.
Combining Turmeric with Piperine
Not sure how you can add piperine to turmeric? Here are some fun ideas to experiment with:
- Sprinkle some turmeric and pepper on your scrambled eggs
- Give some extra flavor to your rice with turmeric and some pepper
- Sprinkle the spices on your roasted or sautéed veggies
- Spice up your soups with turmeric and black pepper
- Enrich your salads with the power of curcumin and piperine
- Blend some of both into your favorite smoothie
- Add a little black pepper to your usual turmeric-containing mustard
Summing It Up
Turmeric, the magical spice originating from the lands of India, indeed holds some thrilling properties to itself. From protecting the bones and heart to preventing cancer and diabetes, there are several ways in which turmeric can revolutionize your life completely.
Because of its natural origin, it is also completely safe to use for as long as you like. If you are looking forward to maximizing the effects of this amazing natural spice, consider combining it with piperine from black pepper. The duo is amazing and is going to help you attain the best results in the shortest possible time.