Curcumin has been in the spotlight the past few years, and for good reason. It is beneficial for a host of conditions and symptoms. Today we look at this spice in more detail and share all the wonderful benefits you may receive from this healing supplement, which have been backed by many high-quality studies.
What is curcumin
Curcumin is the main active ingredient in the spice turmeric which is an important component in Indian cooking. It is used in India as both a spice and a medicinal herb. Recent studies have started to back up claims of the benefits and shed more light on its medicinal properties.
It would be very difficult to receive the benefits of curcumin by solely adding turmeric to your diet since the amount of curcumin found in turmeric is low at less than 5% by weight.
Therefore, supplementation is popular since the component is extracted and standardised to include large amounts of curcumin. Many studies are based around dosages of 1 gram or more per day, which is not possible to get from using turmeric in the diet alone.
Curcumin as a natural anti-inflammatory
Although short term acute inflammation is important to help fight foreign invaders and in repairing damage to the body. If the inflammation is prolonged and starts to attack the body’s own tissues, it becomes detrimental and can be the cause of many undesirable health conditions.
Some of these include heart disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and auto immune conditions.
Curcumin has been found to fight chronic inflammation which is beneficial in helping to treat and prevent these conditions.
Inflammation is a complex multi-layered condition, so there’s likely not one solution for it. However, studies show that curcumin can play a part in reducing and controlling inflammation in the body. If this is also combined with dietary and lifestyle changes, then this will further improve the condition.
Curcumin may lower risk of heart disease
Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the world. It’s a complicated condition with a variety of factors that contribute to it. There are several ways that curcumin may be of benefit in heart disease.
One of the main benefits is that it helps to improve the function of endothelium, the lining of your blood vessels. Endothelial dysfunction is a large driver of heart disease. This occurs when your endothelium is unable to regulate blood pressure, blood clotting and other factors.
Studies suggest that curcumin can lead to improvements in heart health. This can also be due to its anti-inflammatory properties as mentioned above.
Curcumin as an antioxidant
Free radicals are highly reactive molecules with unpaired electrons. They react with important substances such as proteins, fatty acids, or DNA. This results in oxidative damage which is believed to be one of the mechanisms behind many chronic diseases.
Curcumin is a potent antioxidant, which helps to protect your body from free radicals. It can therefore help to protect you from many degenerative diseases.
Curcumin and arthritis
There are several different types of arthritis, most of which involve inflammation in the joints. It is a common problem in Western countries.
It makes sense due to the potent anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, that it can be helpful in treating arthritis.
Studies have taken place comparing the effectiveness of curcumin to anti-inflammatory drugs, results show that curcumin was more effective in treating symptoms associated with arthritis.
Curcumin and Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, a deterioration in cognitive function beyond what you would expect from the usual progression of biological ageing.
Dementia is currently the seventh leading cause of death among all diseases and one of the major causes of disability and dependency among older people globally.
Some treatments exist for some symptoms, but there is no cure yet. Curcumin has been shown to be able to cross the blood-brain barrier, meaning it can cross from the bloodstream into the brain.
Since inflammation and oxidative damage both play a role in Alzheimer’s disease and curcumin has beneficial effects on both, it could be a promising prevention and treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
One important point to note is that curcumin is not readily absorbed into your bloodstream. The rate at which your body absorbs it needs to be improved to gain the most benefits from this supplement.
One way to improve the bioavailability is by consuming it with black pepper. Black pepper contains a natural substance called piperine that enhances the absorption of curcumin by 2000%. Some curcumin supplements now contain piperine which makes them more effective.
Curcumin is also fat soluble, which means it breaks down and dissolves in fat. That’s why many nutritionists recommend taking curcumin supplements with a meal that’s high in fat, as it helps break it down and be better absorbed.
Curcumin, the active compound of turmeric, is showing great promise in a wide range of degenerative conditions as it seems to have a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects on the body.
More research is needed into the effects and what else it may help to treat, as well as ways in making the compound more bioavailable.
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