10 Health Benefits of Turmeric for Your Body and Mind
Curcuma Ionga, or more commonly known as turmeric, is a spice that has found its way into recipes in many different cultures throughout the world. Like ginger, turmeric is derived from the root of the plant, and can be bought already ground or fresh for you to grind when needed.
However, this spice has been common in Indian and other South Asian countries for thousands of years, and not just for taste. While turmeric is what gives yellow curry its distinctive coloring, turmeric was first used medicinally over four thousand years ago for digestive health and healing bumps and bruises.
Below are ten great health benefits of incorporating turmeric into your diet.
1. Turmeric May Help Relieve Depression and Other Mental Illnesses
Clinical depression affects over fifteen million adults in the United States every year. Common treatment plans include incorporating talk therapy, antidepressants and exercise for additional endorphins. However, simply including more turmeric into your diet can help to reduce depression and increase the effectiveness of other treatment options. (1)
The active ingredient in turmeric that offers many of its medicinal benefits is curcumin. Curcumin can help manage depression in a couple of different ways. It also helps promote health nerve function. Finally, curcumin regulates neurotransmitters, which, when not working correctly, can affect the levels of serotonin released by the brain, thereby affecting everything from mood to certain behaviors.
2. Turmeric May Help Relieve Inflammation
Inflammation, is not all bad, and can play an important role in the body. It repairs damage and keeps bacteria, viruses, and fungi out of various parts of the body. However, there are definite health concerns surrounding too much inflammation. Diseases including, arthritis, asthma, tuberculosis, Crohn’s disease, and chronic sinusitis, heart disease, and many others are examples of how inflammation can cause a slew of negative effects when it is not properly managed.
Interestingly, curcumin in turmeric is very anti-inflammatory, and can actually do more for certain conditions than anti-inflammatory medications such as naproxen and ibuprofen. While inflammation is a highly complex bodily response, there is evidence that curcumin helps to block certain molecules in the body from causing inflammation. (2)
3. Turmeric May Help Treat Cancer
Cancer is becoming increasingly common across the United States. It is estimated that in 2016, over 1.6 million adults in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer, with some of the most common types being breast, lung, colon, prostate, and skin.
Treatments for cancer can be very harsh on the body and as a result, may cause various side effects that can negatively impact one’s quality of life. Though studies are still in the preliminary stages, there has been evidence that turmeric can stop precancerous cells from becoming cancerous.
Additionally, countries that consume large amounts of turmeric in their diet generally have lower rates of some types of cancer. Recent studies have found that a combination of traditional remedies and at least 100mg of turmeric daily were more effective at treating breast, bowel, stomach and skin cancers. (3)
4. Turmeric May Help Manage Diabetes
Diabetes is a disease that affects the body’s ability to utilize sugar correctly. It is a condition that can be managed, but not fully treated, however recent research has suggested that for the thirty million Americans who suffer from diabetes, turmeric may provide some relief. The curcumin present in turmeric may have properties that help the body to regulate blood sugar in a more efficient way, and may help those who are pre-diabetic reverse their potential diagnosis. (4)
5. Turmeric May Alleviate Digestive Issues
For thousands of years, people who have included plenty of turmeric in their diets have reaped the digestive health benefits of turmeric while the traditional Western diet has led to a variety of ailments related to digestion and excretion. Turmeric has shown to be beneficial in fighting many of these common ailments. (5)
Turmeric can be a great substitute for bismuth subsalicylate for relief of gas and indigestion, while turmeric oral supplements can be taken to help treat and prevent hemorrhoids. Additionally, with the anti-inflammatory benefits of curcumin, those who are suffering from ulcerative colitis may find it flaring up less often.
Those who are suffering from stomach ulcers find relief by taking turmeric, as this spice can help the stomach produce more acid mucus, which helps to coat the lining with more mucus, protecting it from further irritation.
6. Turmeric May Help Regulate Cholesterol
High cholesterol is a condition that plagues many Americans, and when left untreated, may cause arteries to harden, leading to high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. Turmeric can help prevent unhealthy cholesterol from building up in the arteries, but actually goes a step further than most foods. It helps to prevent the liver from producing cholesterol in the first place, as well as blocking the absorption in the intestines. (6)
7. Turmeric May Provide Relief For Those With Cystic Fibrosis
Cystic fibrosis is a devastating disease that often claims the lives of sufferers not too long after they are diagnosed. It is a genetic disease that causes the overproduction of mucus in the lungs, causing cough, shortness of breath, and frequent lung infections. The digestive system can also be impacted, causing constipation, intestinal blockage, and problems gaining weight.
Studies over the past two decades have supported the idea that while current medications for cystic fibrosis may work to combat the symptoms of cystic fibrosis, while turmeric may actually work to fight the underlying genetic abnormality that causes cystic fibrosis. (7) While still in their preliminary stages, studies on how and where to utilize turmeric and curcumin have shown great promise.
8. Turmeric May Help Keep The Liver Healthy
The liver is an incredibly important part of the body, playing a major role in filtering out toxins from the food and drinks we consume. It also helps in sending nutrients to different areas of the body. Because of this, the liver can sustain a lot of damage over the course of one’s life, particularly from alcohol, foods, and even stress.
One very common ailment of this organ is fatty liver disease, which is a result of overconsumption of refined sugars. It has been suggested in recent studies that turmeric can help to reduce the stress hormones which damage the liver, preventing the occurrence of fatty liver disease. (8)
9. Turmeric May Help Keep Your Brain Healthy In Old Age
As we age, it’s only natural for certain parts of the body to deteriorate and the brain is no exception. Many Americans suffer from the debilitating effects of Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke, so any and all natural dietary supplements that can preserve healthy function of the brain are welcome.
Like Vitamin D, turmeric affects new cells and stem cells in particular. For those who are suffering from cognitive diseases, cell regeneration is incredibly important to help prevent the progression of the disease and can even work to reverse some the damage done. Particularly in those with Alzheimer’s, it is suggested that turmeric also works to break up the plaque that builds up the brain which causes the confusion and memory loss that are hallmark symptoms of the disease. (9)
10. Turmeric May Help Keep Your Urinary Tract Healthy
Urinary tract infections are incredibly painful, causing discomfort, painful urination, chills, and fever. If left untreated, UTIs affecting the urethra and bladder can move up to the ureters and the kidneys, which can cause severe problems in the body and often results in strong antibiotics and potential hospitalization. (10)
Turmeric has strong antibacterial properties, and combats E.coli and staph bacteria. These strains are two of the most common causes of urinary tract problems. Turmeric can also help to reduce inflammation, which can also be a source of discomfort for those who are suffering from UTIs.
Who Should Avoid Taking Turmeric?
While there are many benefits to incorporating turmeric into your diet, it is important to talk to your doctor or health care provider to ensure that taking turmeric at therapeutic levels will not cause interactions with medications that you are taking for any condition.
It is particularly important to proceed with caution if you are taking any anti-clotting medication as they may affected by your turmeric intake. These include ibuprofen, aspirin, acetaminophen, and medications to prevent deep vein thrombosis, heart attack, and stroke.
While a healthy diet composed of fruits, vegetables, protein, and complex carbohydrates is a great way to stay healthy, there are other things you can incorporate into your diet to ensure that you stay healthy. Many different spices with specific nutrients can be used to combat and prevent disease. With the right combinations and protocols, you can alleviate symptoms and protect yourself in the long term.
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