The typical western diet (think lots of processed foods, sugar, and alcohol) leads to what is called “chronic inflammation” in the body. Doctors believe this inflammation is a silent killer, because it sets the body up to be the perfect host for diseases like heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and even obesity.
That’s why you want to do everything you can to bring down inflammation, including eating more unprocessed whole vegetables and fruit along with specific spices (like turmeric) and herbs known to fight inflammatory responses.
One of the main anti-inflammatory components of turmeric is called curcumin, which one scientific study found to be as effective as some over-the-counter drugs in bringing down inflammation in the body. The researchers actually found that aspirin and ibuprofen (active ingredient in Advil) were the LEAST effective out of all of the anti-inflammatory compounds they studied.
2. Healthy Joints
As the curcumin in turmeric is an anti-inflammatory, it can benefit the joints and help keep them from getting inflamed and swollen. This was demonstrated in a scientific study on rheumatoid arthritis patients. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disorder that causes painful swelling in the joints. Researchers found that 500 mg. of daily curcumin was more effective than the prescription drug Diclofenac when given to RA patients.
When it comes to taking turmeric for your joints, it was shown most effective when taken before symptoms kick in, as a preventative measure to keep your joints healthy, pain-free, and mobile. But some studies have demonstrated it can help treat osteoarthritis (a degenerative disease of the joint) as well.
3. Promotes Heart Health
There are several lifestyle factors and conditions in the body that can lead the heart disease – which is the #1 cause of death in the world. As discussed earlier, chronic inflammation plays a major role in heart disease, so taking turmeric as an anti-inflammatory can help prevent heart disease and heart attacks.
One of the most interesting benefits of curcumin is how it can improve the lining of blood vessels (known as the endothelium). When the endothelium isn’t working properly, it can’t properly regulate blood pressure and clotting, which can lead to heart disease.
We’ve all heard that exercise is good for the heart, right? One study showed that taking curcumin is as effective as aerobic exercise at improving vascular endothelial function.
4. Encourages Healthy Cholesterol Levels.
High cholesterol is known to be caused by oxidative stress, brought on to the body by chronic inflammation and high blood sugar. So, again, reducing inflammation in the body supports healthy cholesterol levels.
One study found curcumin comparable to prescription drug Lipitor on endothelial dysfunction in reducing in inflammation and markers of oxidative stress. An earlier animal study showed similar results on the body.
One study of human volunteers found that taking 500 mg. of daily curcumin dropped their total cholesterol by 11.63%, while their HDL (the “good” cholesterol) went up 29% in just 7 days.
5. Boosts Stress Tolerance
If you feel stressed, adaptogens should be your new best friend! In herbal medicine, some botanicals are termed “adaptogens”, which means they have the ability to modulate the release of stress hormones from the adrenal glands. This can help you adapt better to physical and emotional stress and be more resilient to anything that comes your way. They also help to keep your hormones balanced.
The curcumin in turmeric is a known adaptogen that has the ability to decrease the secretion of stress hormones in the body. In 2011, researchers in India found that turmeric had several adaptogenic properties that help with body weight, memory, blood sugar, and moreover that it helps the body maintain healthy stress hormone levels.
6. Supports Weight Loss
Elevated stress can cause sudden weight gain. When stress hormones (cortisol) get out of whack, fat accumulates near the stomach because the cells in the stomach are more sensitive to cortisol, and very effective at storing energy. As turmeric can help you balance your stress hormones, it can help stop that extra spare tire from forming around your waist.
The anti-inflammatory properties in curcumin are able to fight obesity too. One study actually found that taking curcumin can reduce the growth of fat cells!
7. Supports Brain Health
Curcumin has the amazing ability to boost a protein in the brain called BDNF. This important protein – brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) – is responsible for helping the brain grow. It’s been shown to increase neurons and form new connections in the brain – two things we really need as we get older. BDNF builds up the “roadway” in your brain so that neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine can travel more easily where they need to go. Which is why high BDNF levels are linked to better memory and mood… And, when BDNF levels are low, the risk of Alzheimer’s and depression goes up.
8. Turmeric Improves Mood
As the curcumin in turmeric boosts the brain-builder protein BDNF, it may help prevent depression. Curcumin can also give a boost to serotonin and dopamine – two “happy” chemicals in the brain. It shows promise for helping people who already have depression too. In one study, 60 people diagnosed with depression were given either Prozac, curcumin, or a combo of the two. Those who took just the curcumin had improvements in their mood on par with Prozac – while those who took both had the best results during the 6 week study.
9. Reduces Risk of Cancer
The curcumin in turmeric may be able to slow the development and growth of cancer in the body. Animal research indicates that cucurmin has the ability to actually kill tumor cells and inhibit tumor growth. This may prevent cancerous cells from growing in the body.
When it comes to preventing cancer before it starts, one human research study found that taking 4 grams of daily curcumin reduced the number of precancerous lesions in the colon by 40%. The research suggests that curcumin is most beneficial in breast, bowel, stomach, and skin cancer.
Curcumin has been shown to enhance chemotherapy treatments for colon cancer. Another 2017 study found that curcumin enhanced tumor sensitivity to chemotherapy in pancreatic cancer, indicating that it is useful in combating chemo-resistance.
10. Optimizes Vitality
Antioxidants zap free radicals in the body that can lead to cancer, neurodegenerative disease and other disorders. With all of the processed “dead” foods that creep their way into our diets… we can all use more of antioxidants in our life! The curcumin in turmeric is a powerful antioxidant. Even better, curcumin is special in that it’s been shown to boost the antioxidant enzymes in your body, giving you even more benefit!