Ingredient Spotlight: The Health Benefits of Turmeric
Turmeric is an organic, effective health solution. Native to Southwest India and Southeast Asia, this spice works with various recipes, from marinades and dressings to teas and curries. Undoubtedly, adding turmeric to your diet will boost your health. This blog discusses the health benefits of this spice, including treating Alzheimer's disease, reducing depressive symptoms, and fighting cancer.
Turmeric is a brightly yellow-orange spice derived from the root of Curcuma longa. It is strongly connected to the ginger family. Due to its color, some cultures refer to it as 'yellow ginger.' Furthermore, turmeric is common in Indian, Southeast Asian, and Middle Eastern cuisine. The little humble root is recognizable in the Buddhist culture. Buddhist monks use it as a natural fabric dye to furnish their robes. That is not all; turmeric is favored in the Hindu culture. Hindus recognize it as the "spice of life," explaining why they use it as a ritual offering in special events, including weddings. In general, turmeric is delicious and an effective health booster. It also has many health benefits, which will be discussed in this article.
Promoting Healthy Cholesterol Levels
Studies show that curcumin, a turmeric chemical ingredient, lowers "bad" cholesterol or LDL cholesterol by regulating cholesterol production in the liver and cholesterol absorption into your bloodstream. Therefore, you are less likely to experience plaque formation in your arteries that can trigger heart problems. While there are several promising studies on how turmeric affects LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, there is a need for further research before labeling the spice as the hope for relief.
Turmeric is an excellent source of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. For this reason, Singletary & Keith (2020) suggested that turmeric can be a safe and effective treatment for arthritis. There is no denying that over-the-counter and prescription pain medications deliver excellent results. However, they have several side effects, including kidney damage and heart problems, because they are inorganic. While studies claim turmeric is a far better option than non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs, it is best to check out with your physician before adding the spice to your toolbox. The jury is still unsure whether it can help relieve joint symptoms.
Keeping Cancer at Bay
Researchers believe curcumin can prevent the free radical damage that triggers cancer. While there are no clinical studies on the effects of turmeric on cancer, the available trial results are promising. What can happen if you take turmeric and chemotherapy drugs simultaneously is also unknown. Due to this, you may want to give up medication when trying the wonder spice to avoid dangerous interactions.
Wards off Alzheimer's Disease
Alzheimer's disease results from chronic inflammation. Because turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties, Thakur et al. (2019) suggested it can help alleviate the condition. Again, there is no solid evidence for these claims. For this reason, if you are interested in trying turmeric for your Alzheimer's disease, consult your doctor for appropriate medical advice.
Improving Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a gastrointestinal disorder that attacks the digestive system. You might experience diarrhea, bloating, constipation, gas, and abdominal cramping when IBS attacks. Furthermore, IBS is believed to be triggered by a sensitive colon or compromised immune system. While most doctors tend to throw pharmaceuticals into place, it is now believed turmeric can also reduce the symptoms of IBS. Common drugs to address IBS include anti-constipation drugs, antibiotics, and tricyclic antidepressants. While researchers believe turmeric can be the hope for people with IBS, they don't explain how the humble spice affects the condition.
Curcumin in turmeric is high in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. According to Varghese (2020), it can treat acne, a common chronic inflammatory skin disease. Turmeric alleviates redness and removes bacteria that clog your pores, causing stubborn pimples. In addition, turmeric is said to help relieve other skin conditions, including psoriasis, photoaging, and eczema. Because these claims are not science-backed, do not get your normal skin treatments off the table.
Reducing Depressive Symptoms
According to Al‐Karawi et al. (2016), turmeric effectively relieves depression. Curcumin in turmeric is said to increase the production and release of feel-good chemicals, including serotonin and dopamine. Higher levels of these hormones positively affect your mood. Unfortunately, turmeric has a long way to go before becoming the go-to depression cure. If it works, it may save people from the side effects of antidepressants, including loss of appetite, agitation, insomnia, and headaches.
Increasing Your Brain-Derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNF) Levels
The BDNF gene helps your body to maintain a healthy range of a protein called a brain-derived neurotropic factor. The BDNF protein promotes the growth, maturation, and maintenance of neurons. Healthy neurons or nerve cells improve your memory and learning.
How to Consume Turmeric
Add It to Your Roasted Vegetables
Turmeric boasts a rich, warm, peppery flavor that can salivate your test buds, especially when matched with roasted cauliflower and root vegetables (think: potatoes, carrots, turnips, onions, or parsnips).
Sprinkle the Golden Spice onto Your Greens
Turmeric works perfectly well with your favorite greens, including cabbage, collards, and kale.
Make Turmeric Tea
Add turmeric to coconut milk and honey. Use moderate heat to prepare a healthy beverage.
Use it in a Smoothie
You may want to try turmeric if you hate the pungent smell of particular smoothies. The powdered spice masks the smell, allowing you to enjoy your smoothie.
Turmeric is available in many forms, including capsules and ground turmeric root. Take one to three 500 mg of turmeric capsules per day. If you like powdered turmeric root, maintain a dosage of 0.5 to 3 grams daily. However, taking too much turmeric can cause several gastrointestinal problems.
Is Turmeric Safe for Everyone?
You may want to steer clear of turmeric if;
You have Bleeding Disorders
Turmeric slows your wound healing process. This can cause excessive bleeding.
Are Pregnant or Breastfeeding
Research shows turmeric may harm your health and that of your child.
You have Kidney Stones
Oxalate in turmeric can react with calcium, worsening your condition.
You Have Diabetes
Turmeric can cause hypoglycemia.
The Bottom Line
Turmeric deserves a place in your healthy diet. Researchers believe it packs many health benefits you cannot afford to miss despite flavoring your food. For example, it promotes healthy cholesterol levels, relieves Irritable Bowel Disease (IBS), and alleviates arthritis. Although turmeric is healthy, it does not work for everyone. You should steer clear of turmeric if you have diabetes, kidney stones, or if you're pregnant or breastfeeding. Trying turmeric if you have certain conditions can do more harm than good. It is also worth noting the health benefits of turmeric are not science-backed. For this reason, don't feel discouraged when the golden spice fails to meet your needs.
Al‐Karawi, D., Al Mamoori, D. A., & Tayyar, Y. (2016). The role of curcumin administration in patients with major depressive disorder: mini meta‐analysis of clinical trials. Phytotherapy Research, 30(2), 175-183.
Singletary, K. (2020). Turmeric: potential health benefits. Nutrition Today, 55(1), 45-56.
Thakur, M., Virk, R., Sangha, P. S., & Saxena, V. (2019). The Effects of turmeric on Alzheimer's patients. Journal of Food Science and Nutrition Research, 2(4), 347-353.
Varghese, A. (2020). Acne vulgaris and antimicrobial resistance: a review. Reviews in Medical Microbiology, 31(3), 150-154.
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