There is a lot of talk today about turmeric and it's potential health benefits. With every trend, I like to take a step back and go to the science to separate the hype from the facts. I gave turmeric a solid skeptical hippo gaze, and here's what I found out.
What is Turmeric?
Turmeric is a spice that has been used in India for centuries. It gives curry that beautiful yellow color and adds the flavor that is distinctive to many East Asian dishes. It has recently been hailed as an antioxidant that reduces inflammation and provides relief for a whole host of ailments.
What Makes Turmeric Effective?
The active ingredient that provides the benefits is curcumin. Unfortunately, there is only about 3% curcumin in turmeric, making it virtually impossible to get the healing benefits from just turmeric alone. You just couldn't consume enough of it to hit a meaningful therapeutic threshold. Curcumin is also very poorly absorbed in the bloodstream, so you need to combine it with piperine - which is found in black pepper. Once those two get together, their absorption rate can go up as high as 2,000% over just taking curcumin alone. Knowing this, taking turmeric is pretty pointless.
Curcumin Is The Real Hero
Now that we know turmeric won't give us all the benefits the mob is telling us, what is curcumin good for?
1 - It's a proven anti-inflammatory that in some tests proves as potent as a pharmaceutical agent
2 - It increases your anti-oxidant capacity - and getting rid of those free radicals is always a good thing
3 - In your brain, there is a hormone called "Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor" (BDNF) - This hormone helps create the pathways for neural activity - which happens in childhood. Studies show that curcumin can increase your BDNF levels, and put those pathway crews back to work. It can help repair and potentially slow some of the aging processes in the brain. Amazing.
4 - Heart Disease is a killer - and curcumin works to improve the function of the lining of the blood vessels. When the lining isn't functioning properly, the negative impact of heart disease can accelerate rapidly. Combine better function with reduced inflammation and you are on your way to a happier heart.
The list truly goes on and on. When I turned my hippo gaze deeper into my bowl of curry, I found the answer was not turmeric, but curcumin. Remember, curcumin alone is not enough - it needs piperine or you will literally be flushing your supplements down the toilet.
So Here's What You Do...
When the hype tells you to take turmeric, get on some curcumin with piperine - and keep the spices in the kitchen. Hey - don't be sad turmeric - being delicious is a big benefit too....
This blog was created to provide information as it relates to skin, body and food health.