In our modern world we are constantly attacked by the mainstream media about how our health is in a terrible state and needs to be drastically addressed otherwise we’ll all become sedentary individuals with no ability to do anything for ourselves.
We spend too much time looking at screens, our water is toxic and the air we breathe is polluted at dangerous levels. All problems that result from the development and modernisation of our cultures around the globe.
The problem with the way humans are wired is that with the modern problems we have created, we also feel the need to create a modern solution to counter it. Take these drugs, buy this water purifier and inject yourself with this new formula. That sounds great in theory and makes shareholders in these modern companies a lot of money. So win-win for them. But what about you?
The people actually with the problems often find modern solutions to be more of a stopgap or a band-aid for symptoms without dealing with the root cause of their health issue directly.
So what should you do? Wait until the latest pharmacological development in a new and improved formula for a cure-all drug? You may as well wait for clone technology and brain transplants to become cheap enough for the average consumer. What I would suggest instead is to look to the thousands of years of wisdom the human race developed pre the industrial revolution and take a leaf (or in this case a spice) out of their book.
Turmeric has been used as a spice for thousands of years in Eastern Asia, grown primarily in India, and used for both traditional culinary and medicinal uses.¹ As Turmeric comes from a plant in the ginger family it’s flavour is very at home in traditional curries, but it has also received a large amount of interest from those in the medical world as well.
Today most people would assume that Turmeric is something they are more likely to find in their pantry than their medicine cupboard and that’s because it’s not the Turmeric exclusively that has medicinal qualities.
“Turmeric contains curcuminoids, which are bioactive compounds, and curcumin is one of these curcuminoid compounds. While turmeric contains only 2–9% curcuminoids, 75% of these active curcuminoids are curcumin, which is why curcumin is the “star” of turmeric.”²
Curcumin has been shown to have multiple health benefits such as supporting inflammatory conditions, pain and metabolic syndrome.³ However, because Turmeric has such low volumes of curcumin, it is suggested that taking a supplement of an extract will be much more effective in it’s health benefits.
Following this, curcumin is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream and one thing that helps the increase the bioavailability is to take it with black pepper because it contains piperine.⁴
“piperine, a natural substance that enhances the absorption of curcumin by 2,000%.”⁵
This is why you’ll often see supplements that combine both Turmeric/Curcumin with black pepper.⁶
So, once you’ve decided to add a splash of yellow to your life, what benefits can you expect? Read on.
1. Anti-Inflammatory Properties
The bioactive compounds in curcumin have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. As inflammation is being widely accepted as the root cause of many and if not all diseases⁷ we could all do with some natural ways to fight it off.
In one particular study it was discovered that:
“Taking turmeric extract three times daily was comparable to taking a 1,200-milligram dose of ibuprofen daily.”⁸
More research is needed around this but it has been accepted as a treatment for sprains and swelling throughout much of ancient history⁹ and research is now showing it to be a natural treatment for diseases such as osteoarthritis and dealing with the pain associated with similar conditions.
2. Anti-Oxidant Properties
Free radicals are similar to inflammation in that they are liked to a number of diseases and play a large role in making people sick. Not nice. But what are they exactly?
“Free radicals are unstable atoms that can damage cells, causing illness and aging.”¹⁰
Unfortunately, free radicals are naturally created by the body and there are certain lifestyle factors than can further increase this rate of production such as smoking, exposure to chemicals such as pollution, and consumption of alcohol and fried foods.¹⁰
Curcumin has many anti-oxidant properties that are “thought to play a vital role against oxidative-stress-mediated pathological conditions”¹¹ and fights free radicals by neutralizing them (there’s a lot of science to do with electrons but the bottom line is curcumin helps prevent you getting ill!).
3. Brain Food
Although there is still much research needed around this topic, the current evidence suggests that curcumin could have incredible benefits for your brain.
“There is growing evidence that curcumin can cross the blood-brain barrier and may help to protect against Alzheimer’s disease.”¹²
Helping fight Alzheimer’s is partly down to curcumin’s anti-inflammatory properties but is it also suggested that it helps to prevent a build-up of protein plaques in the brain, which is characteristic of people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Keeping your health in check with curcumin can do wonders for both your physical and mental wellbeing.
4. Helps Depression
Research has shown that curcumin reduces the symptoms of depression in people who are already using antidepressants.¹³ A study found that:
“curcumin could help antidepressants work better.”¹⁴
There is also evidence showing curcumin to be a natural treatment option.¹⁴ This is excellent news because the less modern chemicals we put into our bodies the better!
5. Lowers Cholesterol Levels
There are many different products for turmeric extracts, curcumin extracts, a combination with black pepper and so on. This is partly because it is hard to determine which version of the supplement would work best for certain people (and partly because of the usual advertising for competing products).
In relation to helping treat cholesterol levels, the evidence is no more conclusive but it has been proven that turmeric lowers the levels of triglycerides.¹³
“Triglycerides are a combination of three fatty acids or fats (i.e. saturated fat, unsaturated fat or both) combined with glycerol, a form of glucose.”¹⁵
Triglycerides are essential in that we need them for energy but if we overindulge in foods such as red meat and high-fat dairy a build up over time can lead to developing high cholesterol, heart and circulatory diseases.¹⁵
Lifestyle factors are often a big culprit but if you’re turning things around curcumin could be a big help in reducing your cholesterol.
Spices were traded along the silk road in ancient times for thousands of years. For turmeric, it may have been the enticing yellow colour or the ginger taste that invigorated the senses of the Westerners to buy Turmeric in bulk.
For many others, however, it was the medicinal qualities of Turmeric that drew them to this superfood and perhaps it is time for us to look backwards instead of forwards for some solutions to modern health issues.