Turmeric has been used in Indian cooking for hundreds of years. It’s a spice that gives curry powder its bright yellow colour, but it’s also much more than just a flavouring agent. Turmeric powder is thought to have many health benefits, including antioxidant activity and anti-inflammatory effects. However, not all studies on turmeric have found benefits for specific conditions or diseases; some even suggest that consuming high doses of turmeric can be problematic for your health! So what exactly does science say about this ancient spice?
Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric that gives it its distinctive aroma and flavour. It’s also a powerful antioxidant, which can help protect your body from oxidative stress—the kind of damage caused by free radicals.
Curcumin has been shown to reduce inflammation and prevent/treat arthritis, cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Curcumin may even help you lose weight if taken with black pepper (and not if taken on an empty stomach). However, there are side effects, such as diarrhea or nausea, if taking large doses of curcumin. So you should start with small doses until you know how much works for your body before increasing the amount.
Antioxidants are thought to help prevent cancer and heart disease. Antioxidants are also thought to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, cataracts, and other diseases of aging. In addition, antioxidants may fight inflammation.
There are many different kinds of antioxidants. The main types include carotenoids (beta-carotene), flavonoids (quercetin), vitamin C (ascorbic acid), vitamin E (tocopherols), selenium and zinc.
Inflammation is a normal immune response to injury, infection, or other physical causes. But it can also be caused by stress, certain foods, and too much exercise. Too much inflammation in your body is the root cause of many diseases like arthritis and heart disease.
Turmeric powder has anti-inflammatory effects due to its active ingredient, curcumin which inhibits inflammatory enzymes like COX-1 and COX-2. These enzymes are responsible for causing pain from inflammation in your joints or muscles.
Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition that causes your joints to deteriorate over time due to wear and tear on your cartilage, the slippery tissue that cushions your bones. Osteoarthritis can affect any joint in the body, but it most commonly affects the knees, hips, lower back and neck.
Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties that can help ease pain caused by inflammation in the body—and we know from studies that curcumin reduces inflammation in animals by inhibiting enzymes involved in producing pro-inflammatory molecules called cytokines. Some research has shown that curcumin supplements significantly improved symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) compared with placebo pills when taken for six months or longer.
Other possible benefits include the following:
- Anti-aging. Turmeric has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help fight the signs of aging and slow down the visible effects of getting older.
- Digestive health. The ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, may help relieve symptoms of indigestion and other stomach issues like acid reflux. It can also boost your body’s ability to absorb nutrients from food, so you get more out of what you eat.
- Weight loss. Studies suggest that consuming a diet rich in antioxidants like those found in turmeric may help prevent obesity by reducing cravings for unhealthy foods and making it easier for your body to burn fat as fuel instead of storing it away for later use (which is how most people end up gaining weight).
There’s no doubt that turmeric is a potent plant. It has been used for centuries to treat various health problems in many cultures worldwide, and recent research suggests there may be some scientific backing for its use. If you have any inflammation or arthritis symptoms, it might be worth giving this spice a try.