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19 turmeric health benefits: complete guide to turmeric root

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Health & Weight Loss

19 turmeric health benefits: complete guide to turmeric root

19 turmeric health benefits: complete guide to turmeric root

The turmeric health benefits, commonly known as Curcuma longa, are numerous and could address most common health problems we have today. This yellow spice has proven its value as an essential ingredient in curry as well as its medicinal properties. Despite the fact that turmeric has been around for centuries, few people are aware of the health benefits. In fact, some are even unfamiliar with the name. Despite the lack of awareness about this miraculous root, turmeric can provide the following major health benefits:

  • Anti-carcinogenic
  • Cardiovascular protection
  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Anti-oxidant properties

Other turmeric health benefits include:

  • Prevents atherosclerosis
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Improves energy levels
  • Heals wounds
  • Improves gastrointestinal system
  • Protects against hepatic disorders
  • Help treat arthritis
  • Reliefs irritable bowel syndrome
  • Protects the nervous system
  • Treats burns
  • Prevents heartburn

Let’s cover the following aspects of turmeric: the history of turmeric, health benefits, side-effects, recipe ideas, and supplements that yield the most benefits.

History of turmeric

The history of turmeric goes back to thousands of years in Asia. Today, turmeric can act as a food coloring agent and a flavor enhancer for many different types of cuisines. From the Asiatic continents, the use of the spice spread over to North Africa and subsequently throughout the world. Although turmeric is gaining popularity, few are aware of the health benefits of turmeric.

Turmeric health benefits 

The health benefits of turmeric were discovered many centuries ago. The spice extract can act as a home remedy to cure many diseases. In fact, turmeric is responsible for the following health and disease prevention benefits:

Anti-carcinogenic

One of the most important turmeric health benefits is its anti-carcinogenic properties. Turmeric is effective against many types of cancer by fighting the cancer cell’s resistivity to cell death. In fact, turmeric induces cancer cells through apoptosis, a type of cell death. Turmeric helps with the induction of apoptosis, which plays an important role in its anti-carcinogenic effect. In addition to inducing apoptosis, Turmeric also inhibits cancer cell-cycle progression, both of which are essential in preventing cancerous cell growth.

  • Kills cancer cells: This is particularly useful in cancer treatment because cancer cells are frequently able to avoid death in the body by avoiding apoptosis completely. Thus, an anti-carcinogenic substance, such as turmeric, would help undermine cancer cells’ efforts to avoid death.
  • Works against lymphatic cancer: Turmeric can also be effective in limiting the growth of lymphatic cancer cells as well. One study states that “Turmeric…was cytotoxic to lymphocytes and Dalton’s lymphoma cells.” Curcumin, an active chemical component in turmeric, leads to the growth impediment of the malignant lymphocytes.
  • Works against other types of cancer: Tumeric’s anti-cancer properties prove beneficial against cancer in the skin, stomach, liver, colon, and oral disease as well. Additionally, “Turmeric increases detoxifying enzymes, prevent DNA damage, improve DNA repair, decrease mutations, decrease tumor formation, and exhibit anti-oxidative potential in animals.”
  • Treats pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer: Curcumin longa increases plasma secretion and bicarbonate levels. Curcumin also increases the activity of pancreatic enzymes such as lipase, amylase, trypsin and chymotrypsin. Turmeric contains antioxidants that fight free radicals and prevent oxidative stress, therefore, helping with the prevention and treatment of pancreatitis and even pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer can be the most lethal type of cancers. However, turmeric can also prevent and even help treat pancreatic cancer. Curcumin can have biological activity in some patients with pancreatic cancer, according to studies.

Cardiovascular protection

Another turmeric health benefit is cardiovascular protection. Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of premature death in America. In fact, heart disease is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined. Heart disease kills more people annually than car crashes, terrorist attacks, homicides combined, and multiplied eightfold. Therefore, cardiovascular health is something that every individual should strongly seek to maintain and preserve.

  • Shields and protects your heart: Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and anti-thrombotic health benefits all have cardiovascular protective effects. Curcumin, active chemical component of turmeric, also decreases serum cholesterol level, according to studies, which can elevate the risk factors for heart disease, stroke, and peripheral artery disease.
  • Prevents atherosclerosis: Turmeric’s antioxidant properties are largely responsible for its efficacy in improving cardiovascular health. These antioxidant properties disrupt the creation fat in the arteries. As a result, this helps the prevention of atherosclerosis, which is the hardening of the arteries. Atherosclerosis is another cause for heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular diseases. Therefore, increasing the consumption of Turmeric can offer substantial cardiovascular benefits. Additionally, turmeric protects from damage caused by myocardial infarction by improving the calcium transport and its slippage from the cardiac muscle. In turn, helping regulate cardiac muscles contraction, according to studies.
  • Lowers cholesterol level: Turmeric can lower cholesterol. A recent study showed that Turmeric could do this through the oxidation of the body’s LDLs, otherwise known as low-density lipoproteins. The study involved the use of rabbits as its subjects. The rabbits in the study were artificially fed a high cholesterol diet. Afterward, only a portion of the rabbits received the Turmeric extract, while the others did not. The ones that did receive the Turmeric extract exhibited lower cholesterol levels overall than the control group of rabbits. Scientists have extrapolated from this study and others that Turmeric is useful in lowering cholesterol in humans.
  • Reduces the bad cholesterol: Curcumin reduces low-density lipoprotein and very low-density lipoprotein significantly in plasma and total cholesterol level in liver. The study shows that curcumin may increase the bioavailability of vitamin E and decrease cholesterol levels.
  • Improves energy levels: Turmeric even provides a tertiary cardiovascular benefit by increasing the amount of energy that one has after consumption. As a result, this can lead to a higher activity level which works against obesity, one of the primary factors aiding in cardiac issues.

Anti-inflammatory properties

  • Reduced inflammation: Curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory helping the body by reducing swelling, bruising, general inflammation, and providing pain relief. The anti-rheumatic activity of curcumin shows significant improvement of symptoms after administration of curcumin.
  • Heals wounds: The anti-inflammatory property in curcumin also enhances wound-healing in diabetic induced damage in human keratinocytes and fibroblasts.
  • Improves gastrointestinal system: Turmeric can also improve gastrointestinal system due to its anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, a study shows that turmeric powder is the beneficial effect for the stomach. It increases mucin secretion and may thus act as gastro protectant against irritants. Curcumin has some benefits on the intestine also. Curcumin, the chemically active component of turmeric, enhances intestinal lipase, sucrase and maltase activity.
  • Protects against hepatic disorders: Study also shows that curcumin and its analogs have protective activity in hepatocytes against chemical that induce toxicity. Curcumin also protects against hepatic disorders by increasing bile production.
  • Help treats Arthritis: Turmeric can also aid in treating arthritis. A study took a unique approach to aggregate and analyzed in-depth Turmeric’s effect on arthritis. After reviewing the results, the authors concluded that turmeric treats arthritis by reducing the amount of pain that patients feel. Another study noted that turmeric is effective in arthritis treatment if taken before the onset of certain symptoms. This can most likely be attributed to its anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Relieves Irritable bowel syndrome: Unsurprisingly, turmeric helps relieve the symptoms and underlying root causes of irritable bowel syndrome. Scientists are testing this hypothesis because they theorize turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties lead to increased bile flow in individuals afflicted with irritable bowel syndrome, subsequently resulting in the prevention of the fermentation which creates painful symptoms in IBS sufferers.

As a result, the turmeric extract can benefit for those who are merely suffering from symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, but not the disease itself. One study found that turmeric significantly decreased the irritable bowel syndrome symptom.

These studies make sense when considering the fact that turmeric has been used for centuries to manage abdominal pain and other stomach problems. As if any additional confirmation were needed, another group of researchers tested over 200 patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and found that the administration of Turmeric led to ‘significant improvements based on symptoms and quality of life.’

Anti-oxidant properties

Turmeric is also well-known for it anti-oxidant health beneftis.

  • Eliminates free radicals: Study shows that turmeric acts as a scavenger of oxygen free radicals thus protecting hemoglobin from oxidation.
  • Protects the nervous system: Curcumin and manganese complex of curcumin offer protective action against vascular dementia by exerting antioxidant activity, according to studies.
  • Treats burns: As mentioned earlier, ancient cultures not only used Turmeric to treat ailments within the body but outside as well. Evidence suggests that Turmeric may also be useful in the treatment of burns. An experiment administered the turmeric extract at various scheduled time intervals. After three days of treatment, the researchers found that curcumin led to a reduction in the residual impact of burn wounds. The researchers also found that turmeric’s antioxidant and antiapoptotic effects played an important role in this result.
  • Prevents heartburn: Also, turmeric helps prevent heart burn as well. Heartburn happens when the stomach acid in the esophagus – induces an unpleasant feeling in the throat and chest area of its victims. A recent study suggests that inflammation and oxidative stress may cause heartburn. This would bolster the claim that Turmeric assists in relieving this ailment. Another similarly framed study found that Curcumin, “…prevented the expression of inflammatory cytokines in human esophageal tissue.”
  • Side-Effects of turmeric

The consensus in the academic and medical communities concludes that turmeric (curcumin) is relatively safe when consumed at reasonable levels. The spice extract is approved by the Federal Drug Agency (FDA) to be administered in a health context.

However, the excessive consumption of turmeric can lead to adverse effects, but there is no consensus yet on the specific amount constitutes ‘too much.’ To some extent, one’s body weight and other relevant factors may play a role in this number. But even those estimates are speculative for the most part at this point.

Recipe ideas

Since Turmeric is infused with most curry spices, it is easily applicable to a wide range of dishes in the same way you would use pepper or salt. Examples include eggs, fish, wings, grits, or anything else you think the spice would enhance.

Given its popularity in the Asiatic continents and India in particular, just about any Indian dish, you could incorporate curry well.

One popular item that you can make that is delicious is samosas. Since samosas typically include the addition of spiced potatoes within the crust of its bread, a great place to add the curry would be on the potatoes themselves.

Another dish that would great for incorporating curry is momos. For those unfamiliar, momos is the Indian version of dumplings, and they are delicious!

To cook momos, they require an about a ½ teaspoon of black pepper powder.

Instead of adding a ½ teaspoon of black pepper powder like the recipe suggests, you could easily substitute it with curry in its place when preparing the dish.

For the most part, the incorporation of curry is largely an intuitive task. If you find yourself troubled or lost for ideas, try replacing the spice you would normally use on your favorite meal with curry instead.

Recommended supplements

With so much talk about the benefits of Turmeric, you’re probably ready to obtain some directly. A few times in this guide there was mention of Turmeric supplements. This option presents itself as a viable alternative for those that are not a fan of cooking or don’t like curry spice for whatever reason.

However, it is an inferior method to some extent because the body has a hard time absorbing it in its pill form because Turmeric isn’t soluble. It’s usually so effective when adding it to food because of fat aids in the absorption of the spice.  Even less effective appears to be supplements that contain just its constituent component of Curcumin.

But don’t believe that your money is wasted if you do decide to opt for Turmeric capsules! They can mostly be found at your local drug stores.

What are the best turmeric supplements?

That’s an excellent question. Time Magazine ran a piece in 2015, on whether one should take Turmeric supplements and suggested that the supplements ‘Meriva’ and ‘Longvida’ were the best ones available.

Another publication advocated for the use of ‘Meriva’ as well, suggesting that it would be complementary with the ingestion of Curcumin because of its ability to enhance the absorption rate of the substance.

Incorporating turmeric into your daily diet 

The turmeric health benefits are undeniable. This spice is readily available as a supplement and can virtually be part of any dish. It’s up to you to take the first step to incorporate this “miracle” root into your daily diet.

We hope the health benefits of turmeric will motivate you to consume this spice more often. The regular consumption of turmeric will most definitely result in health benefits that will help prevent as well as mitigate already existing conditions. Remember to always consult your doctor, if you have any pre-existing medical condition to ensure you are consuming a safe dose of turmeric.

All you health nuts out there – go ahead and start consuming turmeric immediately for a healthier self.

Bruno earned his B.S. in Exercise Science and Human Nutrition from the University of Houston. Bruno is fully committed to applying concepts of exercise science and human nutrition to help others live a healthier lifestyle.

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