Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, fights inflammation and boosts brain and heart health
04/05/2022 / By Rose Lidell / Comments
Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, fights inflammation and boosts brain and heart health

Turmeric is considered a powerhouse among superfoods because it has many health benefits. These beneficial effects are often attributed to curcumin, the main active ingredient in turmeric. Curcumin can protect your body from inflammation and boost your brain and heart health.

While the benefits of curcumin have long been known, researchers have only recently discovered the mechanism in which it reacts with the human body. Many studies have confirmed the benefits of curcumin, and as far as superfoods and natural remedies go, it is one of the most widely backed and supported.

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Here are four of the amazing health benefits of curcumin.

It’s a potent anti-inflammatory

Inflammation can be caused by various factors such as chronic diseases, diets, oxidative stress and UV damage. The body’s inflammatory response includes the production of free radicals. However, free radicals are linked to cell damage.

Free radicals have an uneven number of electrons, so they steal electrons from healthy molecules to stabilize themselves. The healthy molecules then turn into a free radical, and the chain reaction continues.

This harmful process can be stopped with the help of antioxidants, which can neutralize those free radicals. This is where curcumin comes in.

Research has shown that curcumin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities, the latter of which being the compound’s most definitive and well-understood property.

According to a study done on human cells, curcumin can manage inflammation better than anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen.

Curcumin works in the body by helping neutralize free radicals. Experts also believe that curcumin can manage inflammation at the cellular level by blocking nuclear factor kappa (NF-kB), a molecule that can work its way into your cells and turn on genes that cause inflammation.

It supports heart health

Many factors are associated with poor heart health, like genetics and diet. Thankfully, many studies suggest that curcumin can help you manage your cholesterol levels, thus preventing the hardening of your arteries by plaque.

Additionally, studies show that curcumin can support the health of your blood vessels, specifically the cells that compose its lining, or endothelium. When your endothelium isn’t working as it should, you can develop heart conditions.

In a moderately sized, placebo-controlled human study, researchers reported that curcumin, along with moderate aerobic exercise, can support healthy endothelium function.

In a different randomized, placebo-controlled, eight-week human study, researchers also found that curcumin is just as effective as the drug atorvastatin, which is used to manage blood cholesterol levels.

It helps boost brain health

The human brain has neurons, or nerve cells, that can multiply within certain areas of the brain. One major factor behind this is brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a growth hormone.

BDNF is a protein produced by brain cells, and it’s essential to their function and survival. Researchers previously believed that people were born with only a specific number of nerve cells in their brains, and once they die, they don’t grow back. However, recent studies have shown that this is not true.

Instead, the human brain can regenerate and repair itself, and BDNF is essential for this process. According to research findings, curcumin can boost BDNF levels, in turn supporting brain healing and regeneration from injury or trauma.

Cognitive decline is a form of inflammation of the brain tissues. Because curcumin can help reduce inflammation, it could also protect people from cognitive decline.

It helps prevent age-related diseases

Most age-related diseases are inflammation-based. Specifically, curcumin activates the enzyme telomerase, which has a very important job: to lengthen and preserve telomeres.

Telomeres are the caps on the end of DNA strands that help cells do their job and prevent DNA degradation. When telomeres can’t do their job, your DNA gets damaged. In turn, this contributes to premature aging and all the issues associated with it.

By activating telomerase, curcumin can help delay the process of aging and prevents various aging-related conditions. Note that this benefit is more theory-based as researchers continue to study curcumin and better understand its potential benefits.

Things to consider before taking curcumin

While curcumin is considered generally safe for use, here are some things to consider before introducing curcumin to your regular diet.

  • The typical dosing of curcumin is around 500 milligrams (mg) max per day. Taking too much curcumin can cause bleeding and bruising.
  • Curcumin may cause allergic reactions and intolerance, like diarrhea, reflux and stomach upset. These symptoms are extremely rare.
  • Taking doses of 450 mg or higher can cause headaches or nausea in a handful of individuals.
  • Taking 8,000 mg of curcumin or more may cause skin rash, but this symptom is very rare.
  • Curcumin can also interfere with certain drugs, so check with your physician if you are trying the supplement for the first time.

Tips for incorporating curcumin into your regular diet

You can take curcumin supplements in the recommended doses to boost your overall health. Below are seven more ways to incorporate turmeric and curcumin into your regular diet:

  1. Add a pinch of turmeric to scrambled eggs, frittata, or a tofu scramble.
  2. Toss turmeric with some roasted veggies to make a savory side dish. Turmeric’s peppery flavor works best with cauliflower, potatoes and root vegetables.
  3. Sprinkle turmeric into sauteed or braised greens like cabbage, collards or kale.
  4. Make a delicious bowl of vegetable or chicken soup and add some turmeric.
  5. Add a dash of turmeric to plain rice to give it a savory flavor boost.
  6. Simmer turmeric with coconut milk and honey to make “golden milk,” an earthy and comforting beverage.
  7. Give your green smoothies and juices a nutrient boost by adding some turmeric.

Follow a balanced diet and take curcumin supplements or use turmeric in your cooking to boost your heart and brain health.

Sources:

Mindbodygreen.com

FrontiersIn.org

Healthline.com

TheKitchn.com

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