What is Turmeric & Curcumin
Turmeric contains compounds that are called curcuminoids, the most notable of which is curcumin. Curcumin is responsible for the distinctive, vivid yellow colour turmeric has. It’s also what makes turmeric so powerful as a herb.
So does that turmeric in your cupboard really provide health benefits? Yes! If you take enough of it. But it's difficult to get enough every day and you'll be left with a yellow tongue!
It's worth noting the research on turmeric benefits almost always refers to curcumin rather than your everyday turmeric.
6 Turmeric Benefits
Turmeric is relatively easy to add to your meals, but as a bright yellow-orange spice best known for its use in curries and other spicy foods, turmeric supplements are a much better way to get a higher dose than you would, even if you love Indian food. So, let’s look at turmeric health benefits.
1. Reduce Inflammation
It is generally considered that any herb, plant, or natural product that contains anti-inflammatory compounds can also help to fight disease. While a certain level of bodily inflammation is necessary in order to maintain the immune system, inflammation over a long period of time can be harmful to the body. In other words, anything that can help to fight long term, chronic inflammation is great. Curcumin has even been shown to be helpful in the inhibition of melanoma, or skin cancer.
2. Ease Effects of Arthritis
Arthritis is an extremely common problem in those over the age of 60, and is primarily caused by inflammation of the joints. As another physical ailment caused by inflammation, arthritis is yet another issue that can potentially be eased through the use of curcumin.
3. Increase Antioxidants
Curcumin boosts the activity of the antioxidant enzymes within the body while also stimulating the body’s antioxidant enzymes. It can neutralise free radicals, which are particles that enter our cells and damage them from the inside, which can lead to disease.
4. Better Brain Function and Mental Health
This is a big claim, but it’s true. Curcumin turmeric can help to increase the brain’s levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (or BDNF). This is a type of hormone that functions in your brain, and it has been found that low levels of BDNF in the brain can be linked to depression, as well as Alzheimer's. Of course, there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease yet, but it may be possible to prevent it from happening in the first place, through the use of turmeric supplements.
5. Supports Your Heart
Heart disease is, unfortunately, the number one cause of death in the world, so it may be interesting to hear that such an innocent looking powder has potent anti-thrombotic and cardiovascular protective effects. Because heart disease has been such a prominent cause of death for so long, it has had a lot of air-time from cardiologists and other doctors. Such studies found that endothelial dysfunction is a major cause of heart disease. Curcumin turmeric improves the body’s endothelial function, and its anti-inflammatory properties reduce the risk of heart disease, too.
6. Slow Negative Effects of Ageing
When we think of the ageing process, we think of Alzheimer’s, arthritis, heart disease and stroke. As something that can potentially prevent, delay or even remedy some of these ailments, curcumin supplements truly are an excellent thing for the elderly to take. One 2010 study described curcumin as a “powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent” that was “possibly capable of improving the health status of the elderly”.
Curcumin is a compound with an impressive resume of physical problems it can remedy or prevent. The countless curcumin benefits are genuinely impressive, with a large number of studies to back up just how effective these compounds can be.
How much turmeric should I take?
If adding turmeric to your diet you should aim for at least 1 teaspoon per day but ideally 2. This should provide over 200mg of curcumin which is reaching the levels used in scientific research (although some studies use much higher levels).
Turmeric is sensitive to heat and moisture so that 6 month old turmeric in your spice cupboard might not be the best place to start!
Should I take turmeric & curcumin supplements?
You can use supplements if you prefer the convenience of taking capsules.
If taking a turmeric supplement it should contain 6 grams of actual turmeric - most turmeric products on popular online marketplaces contain less than 1.5 grams and they are very cheap to produce, hence the very low price.
You can also use turmeric that has been concentrated so that it is very high in curcumin. If choosing a concentrated extract you need to look for a stated dose of curcumin on the label. Aim for a minimum of 100mg per day. Curcumin extracts are much more expensive as they are guaranteed to provide specified amounts of the stuff that makes a difference.
We always recommend looking for an additive-free turmeric supplement.
How can I improve turmeric / curcumin absorption?
Because curcumin is a fat-soluble compound, it is generally recommended that you take your daily turmeric supplements with a fatty meal, for example something that contains healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, avocado, or tofu. Curcumin is typically difficult to absorb into the bloodstream through food alone, which is why it is best taken as a supplement with your meal.
If taking a supplement look out for products that contain piperine, at the right dose it can significantly enhance the absorption of curcumin. Piperine is a compound found in black pepper.
Please note products that just contain black pepper won't provide enough piperine. The black pepper needs to be concentrated to provide enough piperine to have a significant effect.
How long does turmeric/curcumin take to work?
Some research suggests 8 weeks but it usually takes longer, around 12 weeks because fat soluble compounds take a little longer to increase in the body.
There you have the 6 benefits of turmeric and curcumin. Thanks for reading and please do contact our nutritionist if you have any questions.
Disclaimer. This information is not intended to treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Please consult with your doctor before making lifestyle and dietary changes.