[dropcap]T[/dropcap]urmeric has a warm peppery flavour, with a vibrant golden colour.
It is a popular ingredient in Indian foods such as curries.
It has many other uses and is increasing in popularity and availability all over the world.
This is due to its amazing healing benefits.
To benefit from the beneficial effects of turmeric it can be added to lots of foods and recipes.
It is particularly delicious in meat and fish dishes.
These include soups, stews and of course, curries.
You can also make it into an energizing tea, or add it to smoothies and juices.
To get plenty of turmeric into your diet and boost your health, you can also sprinkle it on to vegetables, add to dressings and dips or mix with yoghurt or mayonnaise.
Not everyone likes the taste though, and for some, adding it to recipes can be troublesome.
This has led to the popularity of turmeric supplements.
When buying turmeric try and get it from a reputable supplier.
This is to ensure that it is organic and good quality.
Turmeric has many benefits which come from the nutrients and compounds that it contains.
A good source of fibre, it also contains manganese, potassium, iron, copper and vitamin B6.
There is a lot of scientific research that shows turmeric, contains compounds that give it health benefits.
The primary and most effective compound is curcumin.
Turmeric is available as a root, powder and essential oil.
It can also be bought as a supplement.
To enhance the benefits and action of turmeric it is best to eat it with black pepper.
Black pepper contains piperine.
Piperine helps the body to absorb, and use the beneficial compounds in turmeric.
Try it with ginger too which also increases its effect.
Turmeric as an anti-oxidant
Turmeric is a powerful anti-oxidant.
It protects our cells from the damage that waste products, called free radicals, cause.
These waste products are unfortunately created all day, every day, from necessary body functions such as digestion.
They are toxic, think of them like exhaust fumes, which cause many diseases.
The waste products are also produced when the body is under stress and from drugs and medication.
Chemicals such as preservatives, pesticides and cosmetics also lead to their creation.
Turmeric, or rather curcumin, neutralizes these waste products helping to protect the body from disease, pain and damage.
Due to these anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant abilities, curcumin has been shown to prevent cancer, diabetes, stroke and heart disease.
Curcumin is also credited with fighting infection and reducing colic in babies, period pain in women, gas, bruising, jaundice, dementia, arthritis, toothache and digestive complaints.
Health Benefits of turmeric for Cancer Prevention
Curcumin has been found to obstruct the growth of many types of cancer cells.
It is particularly effective against breast cancer cells as it alters how cells signal or ‘talk’ to each other.
Put simply, if the cancer cells cannot talk to each other it affects their reproduction.
This effectively stops them from spreading. It also effectively kills cancer by prompting cell death.
Long term inflammation is something that can lead to cancer.
Turmeric reduces the release, and therefore the action, of enzymes that play a role in the development of inflammation.
This is one explanation of how turmeric can prevent cancer by stopping it in its tracks from the onset.
Turmeric is also able to prevent cancer by another action.
This is again by interfering with how cells talk to each other.
However, in this case it is linked to our genes.
Some genes play a role in the development of cancer.
But if these genes are not expressed or activated they cannot carry out this activity.
Curcumin can block the signals between cells that lead to the activation of the genes that cause cancer, hence its anti-cancer properties.
On the flip side of the coin, turmeric can activate genes that improve the body’s defence to fight cancer formation in the first place.
Tumours in pancreatic cancer have been shown to be reduced in size by taking daily supplements containing curcumin.
This is due to the curcumin preventing tumours forming its own blood supply.
This blood supply is necessary for the tumour to receive the nutrients and oxygen it needs to grow.
The ability of tumours to grow their own blood supply is also how cancer spreads through the body.
So curcumin not only reduces the size of cancerous tumours but also reduces the risk of secondary cancers.
In addition, curcumin from turmeric has also been shown to prevent the growth of secondary cancers.
It does this by inhibiting chemicals that increase inflammation and enable the spread of cancer.
So turmeric has got it covered from all angles!
Curcumin is also effective at reducing the function of a substance that is present in women taking hormone replacement therapy.
This substance has been found to lead to the development of breast cancer.
It is called vascular epithelial growth factor.
It also plays a part in the development and growth of the blood supply to the tumour.
Blocking the action of this substance means the cancer cells do not have a good enough blood supply so cannot survive or multiply.
Common cancer treatments such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy reduce tumour size.
Unfortunately, they are not always effective at reducing stem cells at the core of the tumour.
If the stem cells remain behind after treatment, the tumour is able to grow back.
Once again it is turmeric to the rescue, as it stops the growth of these stem cells.
Turmeric also reduces the damaging effect of traditional cancer treatments and medications on healthy cells.
So it is important to maintain a healthy diet when going through cancer treatment.
And don’t forget to include lots of turmeric.
To have the best chance of beating cancer by using turmeric it is advisable to take it in the form of supplements.
Turmeric supplements are specially formulated to make sure that the body can absorb and use the active ingredients in the best way possible.
The health benefits of Turmeric as an Anti-inflammatory
Inflammation is a natural response by the body’s immune system.
It causes soreness, irritation and infection.
However, this is meant to be an acute, or short term situation.
The problems start when it becomes long term.
It can then lead to diseases, many of which are life threatening.
The best way to reduce the soreness and irritation is to do it naturally and this is where turmeric excels.
It is as effective as medication and drugs but without the side effects.
Drugs also tend to simply work on the symptoms but do not get to the root of the problem.
Turmeric works on the root of the problem by reducing the release of chemicals that cause the inflammation in the first place.
Another way that it works is by blocking entry into cells of the inflammatory chemicals.
To make sure that you get as much benefit from turmeric as possible eat in between meals.
This means it will reduce the soreness instead of working on digesting the food it is being eaten with.
Do not, however, eat it on a completely empty stomach to avoid irritating the gut.
The health benefits of Turmeric for Weight loss
Inflammation can lead to obesity which also causes the risk of developing other illnesses and disease.
However, suffering from long term inflammation also makes it harder to lose weight.
This leads to a vicious circle. As curcumin reduces inflammation it also plays a part in weight loss.
It has to be said though, that this is a small part.
Curcumin is not a weight loss wonder drug.
However, studies have shown that it can reduce both the size of fat cells and the amount deposited in the body.
Spices are known to increase something called thermogenesis.
Thermogenesis is heat production which burns calories and is created, in part by brown fat.
Curcumin plays a part in turning white fat into brown fat.
The more brown fat you have the more heat you can generate and the more calories you can burn.
The health benefits of Turmeric for Arthritis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
Arthritis is another disease that is caused by inflammation.
Painful joints and muscular pain are linked with arthritis.
The anti-inflammatory action of turmeric, already described, makes it very effective in the control of pain and treatment of arthritis.
It does this by attacking the source of inflammation rather than just covering the symptoms.
Turmeric also reduces the discomfort of arthritic diseases by reducing stiffness and enabling better mobility. Unfortunately, arthritis is a long term disease.
A drawback of taking anti-inflammatory medication long term the potential side effects.
These are stomach upsets and even bleeding.
However, taking a safe level of turmeric gives all the benefits without the side effects.
It is best to take medical advice, however, before stopping medication prescribed by your doctor.
To enhance the benefits of turmeric for arthritic conditions, take it with bromelain capsules.
Bromelain is an ingredient found in pineapple which reduces swelling.
So why not add turmeric to pineapple juice or add some lovely fresh pineapple to your curry?
With plenty of turmeric in, of course.
Turmeric is helpful for the treatment of painful diseases in the large intestine or bowel.
These include Chrohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Scientific studies have not found out exactly why this is the case.
But the curcumin in turmeric reduces soreness of the gut and painful ulcers.
It does this by stopping the production of a chemical that specifically causes irritation in the gut.
The body tolerates turmeric much better than medication.
Turmeric also causes less side effects and discomfort.
Although taking supplements helps reduce digestive diseases just a little bit of turmeric in food has also shown improvement.
Turmeric can help with indigestion by making the gall bladder in the liver, produce bile.
Bile helps to digest and absorb fat. It also helps the body to use more fat soluble vitamins.
Without bile the body would create gas and bloating which causes discomfort.
In Germany turmeric is approved as a natural treatment for digestive problems.
If you do get gas, which can lead to burping and flatulence, then turmeric can also help.
It helps movement in the gut which transfers food along.
This stops the build-up of gas.
Ingredients in turmeric also help the food to be absorbed and help production of healthy bacteria in the gut.
Both of which also help prevent gas.
The fibre in turmeric is also very useful for gut bacteria.
Having healthy gut bacteria has been shown to have lots of positive effects on many body functions.
Turmeric has been used for many years to get rid of, and protect against, stomach ulcers.
It does this by increasing the production of mucus which protects the stomach wall by providing a barrier.
This reduces the irritation caused by processed foods and medication.
For digestive problems either take turmeric capsules or blend a spoonful of turmeric with yoghurt.
Haemorrhoids, (also known as piles), swollen veins in the anus, can also be treated with turmeric.
It helps to reduce the soreness, bulging, pain and itchiness.
Mix turmeric, onion juice and mustard oil to form a paste. Then apply to the haemorrhoid.
The health benefits of Turmeric for Diabetes
Diabetes is caused by the body not being able to control sugar levels in the body.
The process is very complex but is linked to inflammation.
The substance that causes the inflammation is produced by the fat tissues in the body.
Therefore the more fat (or obese) a person is, the more of this chemical that they will produce.
This is hugely simplified as there are also many other processes that happen.
However, turmeric can reduce the production and function of this inflammation-causing substance.
It also increases the production of another substance that stops the action of the first.
Studies have shown that it is safe to take turmeric for diabetes but it is best not to have more than 3g of fresh or powdered root a day.
Turmeric can increase the effect of insulin.
It is therefore necessary to talk to a doctor if injecting insulin, before taking turmeric.
Scientific researchers have found that the curcumin in turmeric can make your brain work more efficiently.
This is due to its effect on a chemical in the brain that makes brain cells grow and multiply.
This increases memory and concentration.
It also helps to reduce depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
As we get older our brain begins to slow down but if we eat plenty of turmeric we can prevent this.
One study even found that taking 400mg improved memory and attention almost immediately.
But for the best effect and to improve mood and calmness long term it is advised to eat turmeric on a regular basis.
The health benefits of Turmeric for Alzheimer’s disease
Inflammation plays a part in the cause of Alzheimer’s.
But it is not the death sentence that it was once believe to be.
It can be reversed by eating plenty of healthy anti-inflammatory foods. One of which is turmeric.
Scientists have found that Indian people have many less cases of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Indians have a different diet which contains, amongst other things, turmeric.
The curcumin in turmeric interferes with the production of plaques in the brain that cause dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Through another process turmeric also dissolves these plaques.
This can prevent or slow down the progression of the disease.
Nerves have a protective covering that provides insulation.
This insulation means messages are sent along them much quicker. One reason for dementia is damage to this protective covering.
This is caused by a protein that breaks down this covering.
Turmeric interferes with this process protecting the nerve insulation from damage.
Turmeric also protects the brain by increasing the ‘cleaning up’ of waste products which cause damage to brain cells.
It does this by my activating several genes that produce protective substances.
This increases the immunity of brain cells. In addition curcumin further increases the immunity of brain cells.
It does this by increasing the activity of special, protective cells that remove damaged proteins.
Turmeric tea, made with added ginger, honey and lemon is a very good way to have turmeric for brain health.
Turmeric capsules may also be taken.
These are easier to take and have added ingredients to make sure that the body can make proper use of it.
The health benefits of Turmeric for Depression
Turmeric is a very good, natural treatment for depression.
A comparison of a group of people taking either an anti-depressant drug, turmeric or both had promising results.
It showed that curcumin was as effective as the drug.
The best result was when the drug and curcumin were taken together.
Many of the reasons that curcumin helps with depression are the same as for protecting against Alzheimer’s disease.
However, people with depression have low levels of chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters.
Curcuma, another compound in turmeric has been show to increase these neurotransmitters and improve depression.
One to three teaspoons of turmeric a day has been shown to improve mood in depressed individuals.
One way to take this is in this creamy drink three times a day. This is how you make it.
Mix half a teaspoon of turmeric powder or grated turmeric root, with a pinch of cayenne pepper, half an inch of grated ginger root and one and half teaspoons of honey.
Warm a cup of almond or coconut milk.
Using a little of the milk mix the spice mix to a paste until there are no lumps.
Add the remainder of the milk and stir well.
Strain into a mug and drink.
Curcumin improves and protects heart and blood vessel function.
It does this by protecting the lining of blood vessels from inflammation.
This means that the blood vessel can repair easily in case of damage.
Curcumin has been shown to be as effective in protecting blood vessels as a drug called atorvastatin.
A substance called homocysteine can damage the walls of blood vessel if levels rise too high.
Turmeric contains plenty of vitamin B6 which prevents homocysteine levels rising.
This also protects the blood vessels.
A study found that people taking 4g of curcumin daily has 65% less chance of having a heart attack.
Cholesterol gets a bad press but it is actually very important in the body.
However, if cholesterol levels rise too high it can become a problem.
Curcumin has an effect on cells in the liver.
These cells are then able to remove ‘bad’ cholesterol from the blood stream.
The liver then gets rid of the cholesterol from the body.
Curcumin also stops a process called oxidation.
When cholesterol is oxidised it attaches to the walls of the blood vessels.
This causes damage and can also build up and block the blood vessel completely.
If bits of this oxidised cholesterol break off and reach the heart or brain, it can cause a stroke or heart attack.
Curcumin prevents this dangerous situation occurring.
Curcumin can also increase ‘good’ cholesterol, with one study showing nearly a 30% difference after just a week.
The people involved in the study were taking 500mg of curcumin a day.
Aging is a natural process but the effects can also be increased by your way of life.
These include the food you eat, smoking, and drinking too much alcohol.
Air pollution and going out in the sun, without sun cream, can also increase the signs of aging.
Eating lots of foods high in anti-oxidants can fight the effect of these things.
And turmeric has lots of anti-oxidants.
As already mentioned, turmeric prevents oxidation.
This causes skin cell damage and then death, leading to the skin losing its structure.
Turmeric can, therefore, protect the skin from wrinkles and sagging due to its anti-oxidant ability.
Taking turmeric regularly can also protect against UV damage by the sun.
This is due to its anti-inflammatory ability.
However, curcumin can also help repair DNA which gets damaged by sunburn.
For the reasons that curcumin can protect against cancer, it can also protect skin against skin cancer caused by over exposure to the sun.
It is not advisable for children to take supplements.
However, supplements are considered safe for adults as long as certain guidelines are followed.
If taking diabetes medication, seek a doctor’s advice as turmeric reduces blood sugar.
Remember to not exceed the stated dose as it can result in stomach upsets, nausea, and diarrhea.
Long term over-use can also lead to painful stomach ulcers.
Pregnant or nursing mothers should not turmeric supplements
If you are going to have surgery it is best to avoid taking turmeric supplements.
As long as you bear this in mind, turmeric is something that you really need to include in your diet to help keep you healthy.
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