The Major Benefits of Turmeric
Turmeric has been used as a traditional spice in Asia for thousands of years. It was initially known for its potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that made it popular amongst physicians.
In the past few years, turmeric has gained enormous popularity because of recent scientific evidence that reported the health benefit of using this extract; in particular, most of the positive effects of turmeric were attributed to curcumin, which is the active compound found in turmeric.
In this article, we will discuss the major health benefits of turmeric and how it can improve your health.
Some of the major benefits of turmeric:
In a 2018 paper, researchers analyzed the studies published about the analgesic effect of turmeric, and they found that curcumin has potent anti-inflammatory properties that could temper down chronic pain.
Researchers concluded that “Although the mechanisms of pain mitigating effects are not very clear, there is compelling evidence proved that curcumin plays an essential role.”
Optimizes immune function
Turmeric showed some immune-modulating effects that may boost your ability to fight off infections.
One thing our grandmas always did was to run quickly to turmeric and ginger beverages to treat viral infections.
Multiple studies found that turmeric maintains the balance between pro-inflammatory compounds and anti-inflammatory substances, which optimizes the function of the immune system.
Reduces oxidative stress
Usually, the body keeps a strict balance between reactive oxygen species (a.k.a. free radicals) and antioxidants inside the cell.
Reactive oxygen species’ (ROS) main purpose is to destroy foreign pathogens that try to disrupt the normal functioning of the cells. However, these compounds are not equipped with targeting abilities, hence the non-specific destruction of everything in their way.
To counter this effect, the cell recruits antioxidants that are both endogenously produced and gathered through food.
Whenever this balance is disrupted, and the number of ROS exceeds the available antioxidants, we reach a state referred to as “oxidative stress”.
The medical literature is full of information about the destructive effects of this state and its implementation in numerous medical conditions, such as coronary artery disease, diabetes mellitus, blood hypertension, and some types of cancer.
As a result, scientists are always on the look for natural substances with potent antioxidative properties, and that’s where turmeric comes in.
Throughout the years, turmeric was excessively researched for its antioxidative effects, and the results always came back positive; turmeric is a powerful antioxidant that can neutralize free radicals inside the cell.
Moreover, turmeric has the ability to boost the function of other naturally-occurring antioxidant enzymes.
Curcumin increases the levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is implicated in the neurogenesis of the central nervous system.
Up until recently, scientists believed that the neuronal cells are not able to multiply nor regenerate after childhood; however, new research proves this statement to be false.
One of the major hormones involved in this process is BDNF.
In other words, BDNF is like the human growth factor (HGF) that stimulates muscle growth, but in this case, it stimulates the cognitive functions of the brain.
Research found that this hormone is significantly deficient in patients diagnosed with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Additionally, patients dealing with major depressive disorder (MDD) who are not receiving any antidepressant medications also had low serum levels of BDNF.
By reducing inflammation in the body, turmeric prevents and cures joint pain and other musculoskeletal injuries.
This is particularly beneficial for athletes who often perform high-intensity exercises that may damage the articular structures (e.g. tendons, ligaments).
Curcumin can regulate normal metabolic pathways inside the cell to increase the efficiency of this process. In fact, curcumin has been linked to reduced blood sugar levels and improved insulin sensitivity.
By improving metabolism, curcumin promotes muscle growth and increases endurance.
Improved cardiovascular health
Turmeric promotes a healthier cardiovascular system by reducing the systemic inflammation of the body.
It also exerts its function by improving the health of the blood vessels, especially the endothelial layer –the innermost layer of the blood vessel–.
Many professional athletes swear by the efficacy of turmeric for better performance; one of those athletes is the American Cross-country skier Andy Newell who said that “It helps me bounce back quicker after hard sessions.”
To then add that “There have been times when I’ve forgotten to take it, and, when that happens, I feel the fatigue more in my joints. We do four-hour mountain runs, and that’s a lot on your knees and ankles. If I do take it, I feel it less in my knees and ankles.”
Benefits of turmeric tea
The benefits of turmeric tea are identical to those of turmeric (what a shocker!); however, you can add some ingredients to this tea to improve its taste and boost your health further.
Mixtures that involve turmeric and ginger offer the most benefits since both substances have powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties.
Adverse effects of turmeric
Turmeric is considered a safe compound with little to no side effects.
Nevertheless, research found that extremely high doses of turmeric can cause side effects, such as skin rashes, diarrhea, and headaches.
Note that these side effects are caused by curcumin, which only comprises 3% of the naturally-occurring turmeric.
Turmeric is a fantastic compound that houses a myriad of benefits.
Unfortunately, most people do not get to reap the positive health effects of turmeric since they do not include it in their diets.
However, turmeric supplements are widely available today, and you can get large amounts for a low price. Just make sure to choose a reputable source for the highest quality.
If you have any questions about turmeric, feel free to ask in the comment section below.