Turmeric Nutritional Benefits – The Anti-Inflammatory Spice

Hi everyone,

Following last weeks post on cinnamon I thought I would again delve into looking at another spice that I thoroughly enjoy cooking with and that is also commonly touted for having many health benefits – Tumeric.

Turmeric is a vibrant yellow spice derived from the same plant family as ginger, and native to areas such as India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia, where it has been used for generations in the treatment of illness and disease.

tumeric

Current research has focused on investigating what causes turmeric to be so versatile in healthcare, and it seems as though the answer may lye somewhere in the active components, curcuminoids, which are  responsible for the colour and flavour of turmeric, but also it’s role in medicine.

Todays post is going to be a little more “sciencey” than usual, but I thought it would be valuable to understand just how powerful the effects of this spice are so that you can see the real it can have to offer your body!

Below is a list of 10 reasons to start using Turmeric to spice up your health!

5 nutritional benefits about Curcumin that are actual facts:

  1. Liver detoxification

The liver is a vital organ responsible for maintaining balance in the body through the process of detoxification. Curcumin aids the detox process by inducing Phase II detoxification enzymes, which process harmful substances passing through the liver and turn them into neutral waste products.

  1. Anti-inflammatory effects

Inflammatory conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis may be treated with curcumin, which has been shown to modify certain pro-inflammatory cytokines (signalling proteins), such as TNF-a and cyclooxygenase (COX2). A reduction in the activity of these proteins can decrease the amount of inflammation and pain around joints.

  1. Antioxidant effects

Curcumin works as an antioxidant by inhibiting free radicals and increasing levels of the antioxidant Glutathione (GSH). GSH works by scavenging free radicals and improving liver function which will helps keep the body in balance.

  1. Virus fighter

All viruses have one thing in common – the ability to rapidly multiply and spread throughout the body. Studies have shown that curcumin can inhibit virus replication, either directly at the source, or by affecting signalling pathways. Curcumin has been studied in regards to its role in helping to fight viruses such as hepatitis B and C, herpes, influenza, and the human papilloma virus.

  1. Healing wounds

The process of wound healing involves the removal of pathogens and the formation of collagen and tissue, which act as a growing band-aid over the wound. Studies have shown that collagen synthesis and cell growth were increased with the use of curcumin. Additionally, the antioxidant effects of curcumin accelerate the wound healing time by removing pathogens.

tumeric

There also have been potential benefits researched which still require further studies to possibly prove factual, however I felt they were still worth discussing here, these include:

  1. Protection from Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a condition affecting the brain, characterised by deterioration of cognitive tissue, build up of amyloid plaque, and inflammation of nerve cells. Treatment for Alzheimer’s disease with curcumin may provide protective effects such as helping the immune system destroy amyloid plaque and reducing the production of inflammatory cytokines. The outcome is a reduced deterioration of brain function, which may slow the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

  1. Live a longer life

The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin on the body could possibly reduce the ageing process and onset of degenerative diseases.

  1. May reduce risk of some cancers

Results from several studies suggest that curcumin may reduce tumor promotion, block cell transformation, and minimise the spread of cancer. This is not to say that turmeric is a cure for cancer, but supplementation with curcumin may help to moderate the development of certain types of cancers or tumours.

  1. Anti-bacterial effects

Curcumin may be effective at  working against certain bacterial and microbial strains, such as E. Coli and varying forms of the Staphylococcus bacteria which are the most common causes of food poisoning. Curcumin works by breaking the bacteria cell wall, and effectively killing off the bacteria.

tumeric nutritional benefits - anti-inflammatory spice

tumeric nutritional benefits – anti-inflammatory spice

…And then we have the last, but certainly in my eyes not  the least dot point, dot point number 10 (make sure you write this one down!)

Makes food taste delicious 

Turmeric is traditionally used to add spice and flavour to curries in Indian and Asian cuisine, but it can also be sprinkled over roasted potatoes or made into a paste to season meat. Try experimenting in the kitchen with turmeric, the benefits are clearly totally worth it!

 

So all this information is great, but how do we know how much we actually need to consume in order to really reap the benefits?

 

How to use turmeric for medicinal purposes (note – this is generic advice and you should always consult your medical specialist for personalised dosage recommendations):

  • The dried and ground root of turmeric is the most common form of this spice, and can be found in most supermarkets and fresh food shops. There are certainly health benefits to using the powder form of turmeric in food, and it’s as easy as adding just one teaspoon of turmeric to your food everyday – not hard, right?

However, for more specific health problems, it may be wise to talk to your doctor about supplementation.

  1. Turmeric supplements contain a higher concentration of the active components, curcuminoids, which can help to target more specific health issues as discussed above.
  2. Like with any supplement, it is important to understand the possible side effects and/or precautions that may be associated with its usage. For example, if you are a diabetic, it is advised that you take care and talk to your doctor before taking turmeric supplements. The reasoning behind this is that turmeric has been associated with lowering blood sugar levels, and if taken in combination with diabetic medication it has the potential to cause hypoglycaemia.
  3. Prolonged usage or over-consumption of turmeric supplements has also been shown to sometimes cause stomach upsets, and possibly ulcers (not great!).

tumeric

So there you have it, a whole lot more information on the why and how to utilise turmeric (and its active component curcumin) in your daily diet.

I hope the next time you are scrambling some eggs and can see the turmeric in your spice cabinet that you don’t think twice and just mix it in!

Until next time,

TD x

References

  1. Seyed. F Nabavi, Maria Daglia, Akbar. H Moghaddam, et al, 2014, “Curcumin and liver disease: from chemistry to medicine”, Comprehensive reviews in food science and food safety, vol 13, pp 62-70
  2. Manikandan Panchatcharam, Sumitra Miriyala, et al, 2006, “Curcumin improves wound healing by modulating collagen and decreasing reactive oxygen species”, Molecular and cellular biochem, vol 290, 1-2, pp 87-96
  3. Shrikant Mishra and Kalpana Palanivelu, 2008, “The effect of curcumin (turmeric) on Alzheimer’s disease: An overview”, Ann Indian Acad Neurol, 11, 1, 13-19
  4. Isomaki. P, Punnonen. J, 1997, “Pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines in rheumatoid arthritis”, Ann Med, 29, 6, 499-507
  5. Rupesh. K Basniwal, Harpreet. S Buttar, V. K Jain, and Nidhi Jain, 2011, “Curcumin nanoparticles: Preparation, characterisation, and antimicrobial study”, J. Agric. Food Chem, 59, 5, 2056-2061
  6. Soheil. Z Moghadamtousi, Habsah. A Kadir, Pouya Hassandarvish et al, 2014, “Review article: A review on antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal activity of curcumin”, BioMed Research International, 12 pages
  7. Healthscope Functional Pathology, July/August 2012, “Understanding liver detoxification”, Issue 24
  8. Maya Mouler Rechtman, Ofir Har-Noy, Iddo Bar-Yishay et al, 2010, “Curcumin inhibits hepatitis B virus via down-regulation of the metabolic coactivator PGC-1α”, FEBS letters, 584, 11, pp 2485-2490
  9. The University of Maryland, 2014, Medical Centre, http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/turmeric

About The Author

Kara Landau aka "Travelling Dietitian" is an Australian Accredited Practicing Dietitian based in NYC. She is a world explorer, healthy foodie, social butterfly, barre and HIIT class lover. When she isn't trying new cuisines, researching new product innovations in the health food space, or speaking to the media on behalf of her food industry clients, she can be found quietly conjuring up her next idea on how to make this world a healthier and better place.

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