Following on from Is Resveratrol Worth The Hype? comes the mighty Turmeric. Turmeric is a plant from the same family as ginger and grows natively in the India and Southeast Asia region. It looks very similar to the ginger root, with the bright orange colour of turmeric being the main physical difference.
It comes in many forms now – ground up spices, capsules to pop just like pills, shot drinks and many other forms.
So what is it about this strange little orange spice that seems to benefit us humans?
Most of the benefits seem to stem from Curcumin, which is the active compound found in the turmeric root.
- It can provide powerful anti- inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects.
- Chronic inflammation underpins many of today’s chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease.
- Curcumin has been shown to reduce inflammation (1) at the molecular level by blocking NF-kB, which in turn can improve cardiovascular health.
- It has also been shown to improve endothelial function and was found to be as effective as exercise in this regards (2)
- However the curcumin content of turmeric is quite low, around 3%, by weight (3).
- Many of the studies on curcumin use turmeric extracts which are mostly made up of curcumin itself with dosages often exceeding 1 g/ per day.
- As it would be difficult to achieve this intake from using turmeric alone, supplementation has been shown to be effective (4) and can provide a higher dosage in a more convenient format.
- Curcumin is fat soluble so will benefit from consumption alongside other healthy fats.
- It is poorly absorbed so will benefit from consumption with black pepper, which contains piperine that helps boost the absorption rate of curcumin by up to 2000% (5), so don’t forget your black pepper folks.
I like curcumin and turmeric alot, and there seems to be good science to support its many health claims. It makes sense to me as inflammation is a common denominator in many chronic diseases so if curcumin is a strong anti inflammatory agent, it makes sense that many different conditions see improvements from using it therapeutically.
Now I just have to find an easy way to make a teaspoon or 2 or this part of my daily intake.
Yours in health and happiness,