Turmeric -The Golden Spice
Turmeric has been found in all Indian household as a part of the selection of spices. We traditionally use it to make all sorts of delicacies ranging from dals to curries to gravies. Many of us may also have seen our grandparents or mums dab a pinch of turmeric over their cuts or wounds to stop the bleeding and accelerate healing, and then there’s this “Haldi wala dudh”or turmeric milk which we had to obnoxiously gulp down every time we fell sick. Little did we pay attention to the enormous healing properties this powerful herb had to offer.
The main phytochemicals that give turmeric its most impressive and wide-ranging health benefits are “curcuminoids” which also impart the spice its vibrant yellow hue. Curcumin is the principle curcuminoids or the main active ingredient with powerful anti-inflammatory and very strong antioxidant properties. Using of raw turmeric is beneficial as processing reduces some curcumin. However, the curcumin content of turmeric is not that high, ranging about 3% by weight. You can achieve the healing effects by using large quantities of turmeric with dosages of curcumin exceeding 1 gram per day, and you cannot get this high dose solely by adding the spice to your food. It is important to use an extract with significant amounts of curcumin.
Turmeric provides an abundance of antioxidants capable of supporting cellular health. Here are some of the benefits of turmeric.
- Curcumin is a natural Anti Inflammatory compound
Chronic inflammation is a root cause for many western health diseases such as heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer, ulcerative colitis, metabolic syndrome. It turns out that curcumin is strongly anti-inflammatory; it is so powerful that it matches the effectiveness of some anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin & ibuprofen. Curcumin works by inhibiting many molecules known to trigger inflammation in the body.
- Relief from Arthritis
Arthritis is characterised by chronic pain & inflammation of joints. Curcumin acts as a strong antioxidant by neutralising the free radicals produced by the cells responsible for the painful joint inflammation. Turmeric’s combination of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect helps people get relief from pain, stiffness and swelling of joints when used regularly.
- Protect your brain and prevent Alzheimer
Alzheimer is a common neurodegenerative disease occurs with ageing and a leading cause for memory loss. One key factor in development of Alzheimer is build up of amyloid plaques, the protein fragments in the brain cells that disrupt brain function. Curcumin can help clear amyloid plaques by binding to amyloid protein and preventing clump formation thus protecting the brain cells.
- Prevent heart problems
Curcumin prevents oxidation of cholesterol in the body. Oxidized cholesterol damages the blood vessels and blocks the arteries that result in heart attack and strokes. Preventing oxidation of cholesterol helps to reduce occurrence of heart disease. Turmeric is also a good source of Vitamin B6 which helps reduce the levels of homocysteine protein-a by product of cellular process which is a major cause for blood vessel damage and atherosclerosis.
- Prevent and treat Cancer
Cancer is characterized by uncontrolled growth of cells. Research shows that curcumin is a beneficial herb in terms of reducing cancer growth, development and spread at a molecular level. It reduces chances of tumour growth by inhibiting growth of new blood vessels in the cancerous tumour; it also helps to prevent the spread of cancer in the body while causing death of cancer cells. Turmeric helps tremendously in treating cancer. But if you use it on daily basis in good amounts it can help to prevent occurrence of cancer in the first place, especially in digestive system.
- Improved Liver Function
Turmeric helps in better functioning of the liver enzymes by the process of detoxification in addition to its antioxidant properties. Turmeric widely used as a spice can help to neutralize several dietary carcinogens.
- Alleviate depression
Curcumin is an effective anti-depressant, almost as similar as Prozac in reducing symptoms of depression minus the toxic side effects. It also helps to boost brains neurotransmitters- serotonin and dopamine which stabilize mood & reduce anxiety.
To get the benefits of this powerful spice, you need to incorporate it in your regular diet in proper dosage. You can also add it in other foods which helps in better absorption and utilisation of Curcumin in your body. People on certain medicines such as anticoagulants however need to be cautious while using turmeric supplements or while using it in their food.
For further understanding of the benefits of turmeric and its use in diet, please feel free to contact me}