You have probably seen turmeric lattes, turmeric tea, and turmeric elixirs popping up on your Instagram feed constantly lately. Or maybe you went to your local market last week and noticed that they are now carrying fresh turmeric root. Whatever the case, if you are seeing this root and its unmistakable bright yellow color all over the place, it’s for good reason. Though it may taste funny it surely offers flavourful health benefits that you can’t resist. Here are 9 benefits of turmeric, and why you should be adding it to your daily routine.
9 Health Benefits of Turmeric:
Perhaps the most well-known benefit of turmeric is its anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is a natural process within the body that is elicited to help fight infection, remove pathogens and help repair damage throughout the body caused by injury or overuse. This low-grade acute inflammation is beneficial and helps the body ensure it is engaging in regular repair and recovery activities of the cells and systems.
When this inflammation lingers, however, becoming long-term chronic inflammation, it can become a major problem for the body and is believed to be at the root of several diseases such as heart disease, arthritis, leaky gut syndrome, and other digestion and immune issues. Over the last few years, many people have added this powerful root to their diet in an effort to fight inflammation and reduce the risk and occurrence of chronic inflammation.
The ability for turmeric to fight inflammation comes from the naturally occurring content of curcumin within the root. Curcumin targets inflammation at several points along the inflammation pathway, and in many cases can inhibit the development of further inflammation throughout the body.
You may be familiar with the concept of antioxidants, and the fact that they occur in brightly colored foods that elicit vibrant colors. It would make sense then, given the bright, vivid yellow of turmeric, that it would be an antioxidant powerhouse. And it definitely is! Antioxidants are used to fight free radicals in the body. Free radicals occur from our environment, the food we eat, toxins we are exposed to and are even produced naturally in the body, as a byproduct of certain bodily processes.
The accumulation of free radicals has been linked to a higher incidence of cancer and disease, and hence it is important to eradicate them. This is done via antioxidants. When we consume antioxidants through our food, in things like turmeric, the antioxidants target the free radicals, eliminating them from the body and thus reducing our risk of free radical damage and negative consequences.
3. Liver health
The liver is the main detoxifier of the body. It is responsible for breaking down and metabolizing fat in association with the gallbladder. It metabolizes drugs, detoxifies food and drink, metabolizes alcohol and has several other important and critical tasks. A compensated liver has a negative effect on several areas of function within the body, including digestion and elimination, immunity, blood sugar regulation, kidney function and many more.
One of the risks of poor liver health is the ability of fatty liver disease, where the liver begins to carry several fatty deposits, which inhibit its function.
Consuming turmeric – and more specifically curcumin – regularly, helps reduce the amount of cholesterol in the blood and hence the amount that is available to be deposited on the liver causing fatty liver disease. While scientists aren’t 100% sure of the mechanisms behind this, many believe it is due to turmeric’s ability to fight oxidative stress.
4. Heart health
Recognized as one of the biggest killers in the world, heart disease affects 4.2 million Australians and kills one Australian every 12 minutes. While it can take on many forms, including stroke, heart attack, and blood vessel diseases, one of the common denominators among those affected is that the endothelium is compromised. The endothelium is the lining of the blood vessels, and it can be affected by overuse, underuse, build up of things like cholesterol or plaque, or simply blood clots, blocking proper flow of blood along the epithelial tissue.
Research has shown, that turmeric, and more specifically the curcumin within the popular root can help boost the health of the endothelial tissue, hence improving endothelial function and reducing the incidence of heart disease. Combined with the anti-inflammatory function of curcumin, it can clearly play a beneficial role in helping reduce heart-related issues.
5. Brain benefits
Turmeric, and its powerful ingredient curcumin, has been shown to boost levels of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which is a type of growth hormone that promotes the growth and repair of neurons. Neurons are at the root of all brain function, and govern important processes in the brain including our ability to think and reason, react and make decisions and our overall day-to-day brain function.
When we are not producing healthy neurons, the neurons are being killed off due to things such as drugs and alcohol, or we are not nourishing our neurons properly through a healthy diet and essential fats, some of these brain processed may be compromised. In many cases, individuals will say they have difficulty concentrating or feel like they are in a brain fog and can’t think clearly. The regular consumption of turmeric can help reduce all of these symptoms and promote healthy neuron growth and function.
6. Digestion and gut health
A key area of current research is the relationship between the gut and several other inflictions such as mental health, brain function, energy production and mood. The gut is a very delicate biome, which functions optimally with a specific balance of good and bad bacteria. The production of said bacteria is reliant on a healthy gut lining, which secretes enzymes that help digest and absorbs food and allows the maintenance of the bacteria balance.
When the gut lining is inflamed, however, due to things such as poor food choices, allergies, or overconsumption of processed foods, it is not able to produce proper enzymes or proper mucosal lining for digestion, leading to inadequate nutrient absorption and an imbalance in gut bacteria. It is this imbalance that is at the root of issues such as leaky gut syndrome, small bacterial overgrowth, the development of allergies and even IBS and Crohn’s Disease.
With the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric, consuming this regularly can help reduce gut inflammation, encouraging proper enzyme production for digestion and helping to maintain proper balance within the gut.
Alzheimer’s is the most common neurodegenerative disease in the world, leaving its victims with memory loss, compromised motor function, and eventually significant loss of brain function. While no specific cure has been found, research has shown that inflammation and oxidative damage play a role in the disease.
Given that turmeric helps in both of these areas, increasing research has shown the benefits of turmeric in fighting the effects and progression of Alzheimer’s. Of particular interest, is that curcumin is able to cross the blood-brain barrier. Not many substances are able to cross the barrier, in an effort to protect the delicate brain tissue. By being able to cross, however, curcumin is able to elicit its powerful anti-inflammatory effects directly in the brain, promoting more precise targeting of Alzheimer’s compromised tissues.
8.Improves glucose control
Every food we eat is metabolised and turned into energy. The most usable form of energy for the body is glucose, found in all carbohydrate foods. The body requires glucose for many bodily processes and for healthy brain function. But with respect to the amount, it is very closely controlled to prevent excess glucose from entering the bloodstream.
This control is elicited by the secretion of insulin from the pancreas, which helps monitor the amount of glucose released into the bloodstream. For diabetes sufferers, the ability to control glucose is compromised, due to inadequate insulin activity.
Consuming turmeric has been shown to have a positive effect on improving glucose control. Not only this is good news for diabetics, but also for those looking to lose weigh. Controlling glucose levels helps control food cravings, hence helping to reduce binge eating or overeating and encourage weight loss.
9. Boosts immunity
The immune system is the main player responsible for fighting off colds and flu, and can be dramatically influenced by the presence of free radicals within the body. These free radicals target immune cells, compromising their function, and hence preventing the immune system from doing its job and being able to prevent us from getting sick.
Consuming turmeric, and getting a regular intake of antioxidants through superfoods and a proper diet gives the body the tools it needs to reduce the build-up of free radicals and limit oxidative stress on the cells hence encouraging better immune cell function and promoting better immunity.
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