Turmeric has been revered in the traditional medical systems of China and India for thousands of years for its anti-inflammatory properties. Because of its benefits for a wide variety of health conditions, turmeric has recently gained popularity in the West as a potent herbal medicine, too.
The reported health benefits of turmeric are seemingly endless, primarily because it is a potent anti-inflammatory herb. Since a large proportion of many modern diseases have inflammation as part of their root cause, turmeric can serve as a powerful herbal ally.
1. Fights inflammation
The primary anti-inflammatory component of turmeric is curcumin. Numerous studies have shown that curcumin’s ability to combat inflammation is comparable to that of anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen. However, unlike pharmaceutical drugs, curcumin does not produce the same toxic effects, such as intestinal bleeding.
Because of turmeric’s anti-inflammatory effects, it also may offer some hope for inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
2. Provides antioxidants
Turmeric contains powerful antioxidants that neutralize free radicals, which are known to cause damage to the body’s cells.
These powerful antioxidants make turmeric particularly useful for providing relief to those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, where free radicals cause inflammation in the joints and can eventually lead to joint damage.
3. Helps prevent cancer
The antioxidant properties of turmeric help to protect cells from DNA damage from free radicals. Curcumin also is believed to be capable of destroying cancer cells and stopping their spread. This is said to be a result of the herb enhancing liver function, inhibiting a protein needed for tumor formation, and reducing the blood supply to cancer cells.
By combining turmeric with other cancer-preventative foods such as cruciferous vegetables and onions, the anti-cancer potency of turmeric is multiplied.
4. Supports a healthy cardiovascular system
Due to curcumin’s antioxidant properties, it may help to prevent the oxidation of cholesterol in the body. This is especially important in supporting cardiovascular health, as oxidized cholesterol is responsible for damage to blood vessels and the formation of arterial plaque that leads to heart attack and stroke.
Turmeric is a source of vitamin B6, which helps to prevent homocysteine levels from increasing to dangerous levels in the body. Turmeric also helps the liver to clear away excess LDL cholesterol from the body.
5. Fights Alzheimer’s
Turmeric may help to prevent or block the progression of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
- Curcumin blocks the production of a protein that destroys the myelin sheath around nerve cells.
- Curcumin’s antioxidant properties protect the brain and nerves from oxidation in the body that can lead to neurologic conditions such as Alzheimer’s.
- Curcumin binds to amyloid-B protein fragments in the brain and prevents them from clumping together to form the amyloid plaques that lead to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Curcumin boosts the immune system and helps it to destroy amyloid plaques. In Alzheimer’s patients, such immune activity is suppressed, whereas the immune cells in a healthy person work to destroy the abnormal cells.
How to Consume Turmeric
The following are just a few suggestions for how to consume turmeric and incorporate it into your diet:
- Add to egg salad.
- Add to lentil dishes.
- Add to brown rice, along with raisins and cashews, cumin and coriander.
- Add a pinch to salad dressings.
- Use in curries, on sautéed apples, steamed cauliflower, green beans and onions.
- Add a pinch of turmeric powder and dried onion to plain yogurt to use as a veggie dip.
- Add to sautéed cruciferous vegetables and onions (that have been sautéed with a healthy oil such as olive oil or virgin coconut oil) as part of a cancer prevention lifestyle and diet.
With its many health benefits, it just makes sense to incorporate turmeric into your daily diet and lifestyle. Having a good supply of this healthy spice will ensure that you and your family can enjoy its benefits for a long time to come.
If you are ambitious enough, you can also grow your own turmeric from a fresh root.