Tumeric is an ancient spice that has been used in preparing food and as a medicine for centuries. Western researchers began to investigate it in 1910, and since then it has been the subject of more than 5000 peer-reviewed, scientific studies. The primary active ingredients of tumeric are polyphenols, which are distinctive molecules called curcuminoids. The most powerful of these is curcumin, which comprises approximately five percent of ground tumeric powder.
Curcumin is recognized for eight primary health benefits:
1. Anti-inflammatory Properties: Inflammation is one of the body’s defense mechanisms, and it is necessary to fight pathogens. However, chronic low-grade inflammation is dangerous and leads to chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes. Curcumin fights inflammation in the body.
2. Antioxidant Activity: Molecules that interact with oxygen can form free radicals, which can be damaging to cellular components such as DNA or the cell membrane. Curcumin neutralizes free radicals and reduces oxidative damage.
3. Orthopaedic Disorders: It reduces swelling, inflammation and pain the joints. It has proven effective as a long-term treatment for osteoarthritis, and it helps reduce the pain and swelling of rheumatoid arthritis.
4. Gastrointestinal disorders: It is a natural remedy for inflammatory bowel disease and reduces risk of gastric cancers. It has proven effective in various stages of colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, and others.
5. Anti-carcinogenic Agent: Curcumin inhibits the mechanisms present in the three stages of carcinogenesis: initiation, promotion and progression.
6. Diabetes Management: It reduces hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and improves insulin sensitivity. Researchers believe the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities of curcumin combat free radicals and improve the metabolism of energy, both of which play a role in diabetes.
7. Neurological Disorders: Curcumin inhibits the formation of dangerous protein deposits that typify diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. It improves spatial memory and supports the expression of genes associated with neural development, so that it improves the function of neural pathways. In a 2006 study, rats in a chronically stressed state (used to simulate depression), benefited from curcumin as much as they did from a pharmaceutical anti-depressant medication.
8. Cardiovascular Health: It protects the heart and cardiovascular system and improves vascular endothelial function. Curcumin lowers cholsterol as much as lipitor, a popular statin drug, and it does so without side effects such as diarrhea and upset stomach. It also interferes with the aggregation of platelets, diminishing the likelihood of plaque and clots forming in blood vessels.
A recent article in Life, Health and Food.com suggests you start every day with a cup of tumeric water, and they offer a recipe (originally presented by LaJollaMom.com). The recipe includes lemon water, which detoxifies the body and enhances the taste.
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. of turmeric
1/2 of a lemon
Squeeze 1/2 of a lemon into a cup. Add the turmeric and warm water. Stir well and mix in honey to taste, (optional). The drink will separate, so keep a spoon close by to remix it as you drink.
Ginger and mint can also be added to the recipe.