Turmeric Health Benefits
While science has helped debunk many myths about food, it has also helped establish a scientific backbone for many food related beliefs, many of which are rooted in centuries of tradition. For example, science has helped corroborate the several health benefits of turmeric, a yellow spice made from dried root, that is commonly used in India and China, both as food and as medicine.
Indians have long used turmeric in cooking, treating cuts and wounds, reducing pain and swelling, and creating face or body masks. Several studies have shown that curcumin, an active ingredient in turmeric, has potent anti-inflammatory properties. It blocks NF-kB, a molecule that travels into the nuclei of your cells and turns on genes related to inflammation. NF-kB is believed to play a major role in many chronic diseases, making turmeric a perfect supplement for people suffering from joint pain or arthritis. Furthermore, curcumin is also proven to have several anti-cancer effects and is helpful in preventing and possibly treating cancer. Interestingly, curcumin is not easily absorbed by our bodies, however, absorption is significantly improved when turmeric is consumed along with black pepper. No wonder many Indian recipes call for the use of turmeric and black pepper together!
Traditional Chinese medicine has used turmeric as a treatment for depression.
According to this small study, curcumin is as effective as an antidepressant.Depression is also linked to reduced levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BNDF) and a shrinking hippocampus, a brain area with a role in learning and memory. Curcumin boosts BNDF levels, potentially reversing some of these changes.Taking this one step further, studies have shown that turmeric might even be more effective than some of the most common anti-depressant drugs currently on the market. Plus, it does not generate the same unwanted side-effects as some of its synthetic counterparts.
Scientists have found over 600 experimentally confirmed health benefits of turmeric, including the following benefits in addition to ones already discussed above: improved brain function, anti-oxidant effects, prevention and treatment of cancer, stronger immune system, improved digestion, reduced risk of heart disease, reduced risk of diabetes, treatment of heartburn, and prevention and treatment of Alzheimer's disease.