7 Health Benefits of Turmeric

Turmeric is a potent spice that has received a lot of attention from health researchers for its natural health benefits. Turmeric is rich in active phytochemicals, including curcumin, the compound that provides its golden color, as well as many of its benefits. Here are the top 7 benefits of turmeric.

1. Supports a Healthy Inflammation Response

Acute inflammation can be beneficial for repairing damaged tissues and fighting off infection. For example, the tissue surrounding a small injury will become swollen, showing that inflammation is doing its work to help with healing.

Chronic inflammation, or the other hand, is very damaging to the body. The effect that it has on your internal systems and cellular structure can lead to damage to the joints, heart, brain and much more.

Many things can contribute to inflammation in the body, including processed foods, toxins, smoking, and stress. Research suggests that turmeric can help the body manage inflammation levels.

One of the reasons turmeric works is because it interrupts a protein (NF-kB) that leads to inflammation. In other words, it works at the molecular level to help keep inflammation in check.1

2. Supports Liver Health

Your liver is responsible for detoxifying the body. We are constantly exposed to a variety of toxins, including environmental, processed foods, pesticides, and heavy metals. All of this places a lot of stress on the liver.

Turmeric is a powerful antioxidant that can help protect against liver damage from oxidative stress.2

3. Turmeric Is a Strong Antioxidant

Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that accumulate in the body over time and can damage our DNA and our cells, contributing to cellular aging. Many environmental factors can increase free radicals, including air pollution, fried foods, tobacco smoke, and pesticides. 

Antioxidants provide the antidote for free radicals. You can find them in fruits and vegetables. This is one of the primary reasons why people who include more fruits and vegetables in their diet live longer, healthier lives.

Curcumin is said to be one of the best antioxidants you can find3. It does more than act as an antioxidant, studies have shown that it can help to boost your body's natural antioxidant enzymes4.

4. Turmeric Supports Brain Health

One of the components necessary for brain health is a protein known as a brain-derived neuropathic factor (BDNF)5. Animal studies have shown that this protein can help with the regeneration of nerve cells. BDNF is also found to be in lower levels when a person has Alzheimer's and depression6.

You can increase your BDNF levels by exercising. You can also do so by adding curcumin to your diet. Studies on animals have shown that the brain's BDNF levels7 increase when curcumin is added to the diet. 

5. Turmeric Supports Heart Health

Living an active lifestyle, eating a proper diet, and reducing your stress levels can help keep your heart healthy. Curcumin can also help support your heart health.

Curcumin has been shown to support the function of the endothelium, which lines the blood vessels. A dysfunction with endothelium can affect your blood clotting, blood pressure, and more.

Exercise provides benefits for vascular endothelium function. At least one study8 has also shown that curcumin can produce those same benefits as exercise.

6. Turmeric Supports Digestion

Turmeric has traditionally been used to support healthy digestion.  The German Commission E, which governs herbal use in Germany, has even approved turmeric used for digestive issues.

Turmeric's antioxidant properties and benefits for inflammation may help to reduce inflammation in the gut, which is associated with discomfort and poor digestive function.9  Turmeric also helps by supporting the liver, which produces bile to help digest fat.

7. Turmeric Helps with Achy Joints

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that some 63 million people in the United States suffer from daily joint pain, stiffness, and achiness. Chronic inflammation is often involved in this type of joint issue.

Turmeric's influence on the inflammation response has been shown to provide relief. A pilot study done on people with rheumatoid arthritis showed that curcumin was beneficial for joint comfort and mobility10.

 

References:

1. https://www.nature.com/articles/1208169, Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents differ in their ability to suppress NF-κB activation, inhibition of expression of cyclooxygenase-2 and cyclin D1, and abrogation of tumor cell proliferation, October 18, 2014
2. Farzaei, Mohammad Hosein et al. “Curcumin in Liver Diseases: A Systematic Review of the Cellular Mechanisms of Oxidative Stress and Clinical Perspective.” Nutrients vol. 10,7 855. 1 Jul. 2018, doi:10.3390/nu10070855
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17569207, Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, 2007;595:105-25
4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15650394, Curcumin induces glutathione biosynthesis and inhibits NF-kappaB activation and interleukin-8 release in alveolar epithelial cells: mechanism of free radical scavenging activity, 2005 Jan-Feb;7(1-2):32-41
5. http://web.stanford.edu/group/hopes/cgi-bin/hopes_test/brain-derived-neurotrophic-factor-bdnf/, Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), June 26, 2010
6. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0896627391902733, BDNF mRNA is decreased in the hippocampus of individuals with Alzheimer's disease, November 1991
7. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006899306027144, Curcumin reverses the effects of chronic stress on behavior, the HPA axis, BDNF expression and phosphorylation of CREB, November 29, 2006
8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23146777, Curcumin ingestion and exercise training improve vascular endothelial function in postmenopausal women, 2012 Oct;32(10):795-9. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2012.09.002. Epub 2012 Oct 15
9. https://badgut.org/information-centre/health-nutrition/many-benefits-turmeric/
10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22407780, A randomized, pilot study to assess the efficacy and safety of curcumin in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis, 2012 Nov;26(11):1719-25. doi: 10.1002/ptr.4639. Epub 2012 Mar 9.