Turmeric is a bright yellow spice coming from a plant called Curcuma longa. This plant is a part of the ginger family, native to Southeast Asia and India. It is a popular spice across the world and for its medicinal properties.
Turmeric adds lots of flavour and aroma to food dishes. Its health benefits make it a natural for herbal remedies and alternative treatments. It has a bright yellow colour and a bitter taste making it perfect for curries, mustard, and butter.
Most of the health benefits of turmeric are due to its curcuminoid content. Commercial turmeric extracts contain around 70%–75% curcumin.
Curcumin is a polyphenol in the turmeric root acting as an antioxidant in the body and reducing inflammation.
Turmeric root can help to reduce the severity and symptoms of arthritis, obesity, diabetes, and high levels of fat in the blood. As a result, everybody can benefit from the root, regardless of health status. It may reduce muscle soreness after a tough workout and improve exercise performance.
Curcumin is responsible for turmeric’s medicinal benefits. This polyphenol targets molecules that can lead to anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial effects.
Curcumin itself has low bioavailability, meaning it’s difficult for the body to absorb it once ingested. Animal studies show 90% of curcumin moves right through the body. However, there are certain things that can increase the absorption rate of curcumin, such as black pepper extracts.
Many turmeric supplements in the UK combine multiple plant extracts.
9 Reasons to Take Turmeric
So, we have gone through the question of ‘what is turmeric’ and we’ve covered a bit about curcumin but why is turmeric good for you?
1. Anti-Inflammatory Properties
One of the first health benefits of turmeric is its anti-inflammatory properties. As a result, it may be beneficial for both short term and long term inflammation by lowering the levels of inflammatory proteins called cytokines.
There is a range of health conditions that are associated with long-term inflammation, including:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease
- Digestive disorders, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Skin conditions, including acne, psoriasis, and eczema
By supplementing with turmeric root, your risk of developing these conditions may be lowered. Curcumin may help to reduce congestion, a runny nose, sneezing, and itching due to its anti-inflammatory effects too.
2. Turmeric Bioactive Compounds
Turmeric is packed full of hundreds of micronutrients and bioactive compounds. The nutritional composition of turmeric is approximately 70% carbs, 13% water, 6% protein, 5% fat, 3% minerals, 5% curcuminoids, and trace amounts of vitamins B1, B2, B3, and C.
The most beneficial of the bioactive compounds is curcumin, which provides a range of protective properties in the body.
Curcumin has known anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-cancer, anti-microbial, and neuroprotective effects. Most turmeric supplements in the UK contain predominantly curcumin for this reason. Alternatively, you can get supplements that contain only curcumin if you really want to isolate these compounds.
Because curcumin is poorly absorbed, you should always search for a curcumin supplement in the UK that contains additional substances that can increase its bioavailability.
We mentioned the combined turmeric and black pepper benefits above. These two substances are great in combination because the piperine in black pepper is known to increase curcumin absorption by 2000%. This means that you can get more ‘bang for your buck’.
If you want to further enhance the bioavailability of curcumin, try taking it with a meal that is high in fats. Curcumin is a fat-soluble substance. As a result, it will be broken down and dissolved more easily in the digestive tract when taken alongside something high in fat.
We recommend going for a meal that has lots of unsaturated fats, such as dishes with oily fish, avocados, or olive oil.
3. Antioxidant Properties
The curcumin found in turmeric root is known to have antioxidant properties. So, it protects your cells against oxidative damage. When your cells undergo their usual metabolic processes, oxygen free radical are produced. These free radicals can interact with the DNA or proteins in your cells, causing damage.
Curcumin contains functional antioxidant groups that can neutralise these free radicals so that they don’t damage your DNA and proteins. This can reduce cellular stress and may even slow down ageing.
Some studies suggest that curcumin can also enhance the effects of other antioxidants. It may also increase the breakdown of potent oxygen free radicals.
4. Reduced Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death across the world. There is a range of factors that contribute to your risk of heart disease, including your genetics and your lifestyle. It is multi-factorial and there is no one cure for it.
However, there are certain things that can lower your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. One of these things is buying one of the high-quality turmeric supplements in the UK and taking it on a daily basis!
This is because curcumin may reduce some of the steps that are involved in the process of heart disease development. They may improve the health and function of the smooth muscle in your blood vessels, making them stronger and more resilient.
Weakening of the endothelial (smooth muscle) lining of the blood vessels is a major contributor to the development of heart disease. When these muscles are weak, they are less able to deal with increases in blood pressure and this can put extra strain on your heart.
It can increase your risk of chronic hypertension (high blood pressure), blood clots, and heart failure. One study showed that curcumin decreased the risk of heart attack by 65% in hospital patients.
The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of curcumin that we discussed above also play a role in the protective effects of the compound for your heart.
Alongside this, curcumin has been shown to lower the levels of lipids and low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) in the blood, both of which can contribute to heart disease when in high plasma concentrations
5. Anti-Cancer Properties
Cancer refers to a group of diseases with uncontrollable cell growth. Inflammation is thought to be an underlying cause of cancer as well as high levels of oxidative stress.
Curcumin has shown promising results as part of cancer treatment and may reduce cancer cell growth and development. More specifically, curcumin may increase cancer cell death, reduce angiogenesis (the growth of new blood vessels to feed tumour cells), and reduce metastasis (the movement of a tumour mass from one place to another in the body).
Some research suggests that turmeric and black pepper benefits the reduction in cancer cell growth more than turmeric alone. So, take your turmeric supplements alongside black pepper extract to ensure that you are getting lots of piperine to increase the absorption of curcumin.
Curcumin can target different cell signalling pathways that are key to cancer cell growth, including:
- Growth factors
- Transcription factors
- Genes that modulate the cell cycle (cell division and growth) and apoptosis (cell death)
Studies have shown that supplementation with turmeric root or isolated curcumin can downregulate breast cancer growth and reduce the survival o lung adenocarcinoma cells. Other cancers that curcumin may protect against include stomach, colorectal, pancreatic, and hepatic.
Curcumin can also interfere with the cell signaling pathway of receptors associated with the migration of cancer cells.
6. Neuroprotective Effects
Another one of the amazing health benefits of turmeric is its ability to increase something known as a brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is often referred to as ‘miracle grow’ for the brain.
BDNF can help to create new connections between the neurons in your brain and may extend their lifespan. It’s a protein playing a key role in memory and learning.
Animal studies show that curcumin may increase the levels of BDNF in the brain, delaying neurodegeneration and improving brain function.
Because of these effects, curcumin may reduce the risk of dementia, mainly Alzheimer’s disease. Curcumin may help to reduce the rate of degeneration.
Curcumin can lower the amount of inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain, which may slow down the rate of plaque formation in the brain. Built-up plaques are a key characteristic and driver of Alzheimer’s disease.
7. Lowered Risk of Diabetes
Many studies have confirmed the benefits of curcumin supplements in the treatment of diabetes. It may improve regulation and fat metabolism, while also reducing glycaemic parameters.
Curcumin was shown to lower the risk of diabetes in a study of 240 adults. A supplement of 10 μm/L of curcumin improved insulin secretion by activating certain proteins.
Supplementation with curcumin reduced cellular stress and enhance mitochondrial survival in the beta cells, improving their overall function.
8. Reduced Risk of Infection
Curcumin has antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal effects.
Curcumin can treat Giardia, a parasitic bowel infection). It can decrease fecal cyst and intestinal issues, slowing the spread of the parasites in the digestive tract.
Additionally, it can stimulate the death of Escherichia coli (E. Coli) bacteria and inhibit the growth parasitic infections.
9. Reduced Risk of Depression
Regularly taking turmeric supplements may reduce the symptoms of depression as shown in a variety of studies. Curcumin showed similar benefits in reducing depression as anti-depressant medication in a six-week-long study.
The effects of curcumin may be due to its ability to increase BDNF, which can be lower in those with depression.
Curcumin may also help to reverse the shrinkage of the hippocampus, a sign of depression.so, this part of the brain which involves learning and memory.
Turmeric root extract can also boost the levels of serotonin and dopamine, two neurotransmitters that are responsible for feelings of happiness and motivation.
Turmeric Final Thoughts
It’s clear that the health benefits of turmeric go far beyond providing you with a few extra micronutrients. This incredible root contains hundreds of bioactive compounds that can benefit cells across your whole body, from your brain to your heart. So, every cell can benefit from the antioxidant and anti-cancer properties of curcumin.