Turmeric is one of the most commonly used spices in the world. It’s what gives curries their characteristic orange-yellow color.
But did you know that turmeric might just be the world’s most powerful natural supplement?
The active ingredient in turmeric is a natural compound called curcumin. Not only is curcumin chock-full of health-promoting nutrients, it’s also a potent cancer-preventing antioxidant and anti-aging compound (1, 2). Studies have also shown that curcumin can be used as a powerful anti-inflammatory agent (3).
Indian practitioners of Ayurveda have been using this all-natural remedy for thousands of years to treat hundreds of diseases and ailments. After years of denying the power of natural medicine, modern science is finally catching up to this time-tested remedy.
So what, exactly, is so great about turmeric?
1. Promotes Cardiovascular Health
Curcumin may play an overall protective role when it comes to heart health. Studies have shown that curcumin decreases cholesterol levels in the blood, prevents atrial and ventricular arrhythmias, and prevents cardiac hypertrophy, thus minimizing the overall likelihood of heart failure (4).
One study found that among patients undergoing coronary artery bypass, a dose of four grams of curcumin per day both before and after the surgery decreased their risk of experiencing a heart attack during their hospital stay by a whopping 65% (5).
2. Manages Diabetes
Turmeric is a natural way to lower your blood sugar levels after a meal. However, it shouldn’t be taken in combination with diabetes medications as it can strengthen the effects of these drugs and may cause hypoglycemia (6).
Turmeric can also prevent diabetic cardiovascular complications.
3. Improves Brain Health
Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) is a growth hormone found in the brain. Scientists have shown that low levels of this factor are linked to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia and mental illness (7).
Research suggests that curcumin may boost BDNF levels, thereby delaying or preventing brain and age-related cognitive deficits (8, 9, 10). The root also fight stress-related brain damage and mood disorders, including depression.
4. Fights inflammation
Inflammation is one of your body’s main defense mechanisms. When cell damage occurs, inflammation allows your body to heal itself.
But chronic inflammation can quickly become a problem. It plays a role in hundreds of chronic and degenerative diseases, including cancer and cardiovascular disease (11, 12). By fighting inflammation, curcumin protects your body from these health conditions, and more (13).
5. Fights Cancer
Studies show that turmeric’s active compounds can prevent the growth and spread of cancerous cells (14). Some evidence suggests that this antioxidant may also prevent the disease from developing in the first place (15).
6. Relieves Arthritis
As an anti-inflammatory, curcumin has been found to improve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, such as joint swelling, tenderness, and loss of mobility. One study found that it was significantly more effective than an anti-inflammatory drug (16).
7. Improves Digestion
Bile is the main substance involved in breaking down food in the stomach. Curcumin stimulates a tiny organ called the gallbladder to produce bile, reducing the amount of time food spends in the stomach and improving symptoms of indigestion such as gas and bloating. German doctors even prescribed the spice to patients suffering from indigestion.
8. Enhances Liver Function
9. Promotes Longevity
As an anti-oxidant, curcumin protects cells against free radicals to prevent premature aging. This, in turn, may play a role in your overall longevity. Curcumin also protects against age-related diseases such as arthritis and Alzheimer’s (18, 19)
How To Make Warm Turmeric Water
One of the main reasons why most people don’t get enough turmeric is that it isn’t easily absorbed by the body. That’s why it’s important to combine it with black pepper to increase its absorption.
One of the easiest ways to get your daily dose is by drinking a teaspoon of turmeric powder and a pinch of black in a glass of warm water every morning.
If it’s hard to stomach, try sprinkling turmeric and pepper over an avocado and eat it alongside your breakfast or combine the two spices and some oil to make a tangy vinaigrette and pour it over a salad.