By now, you’ve probably scrolled through tens or even hundreds of photos featuring sunshine-infused hot drinks, smoothies, and bowls with turmeric in your Instagram feed. Turmeric recipes are popping up in all corners of the internet, and every foodie and health nut seems to be on board.
This bright orange powder has quietly nudged its way to the top of the list in superfood trends. So move over, blueberries, kale, and kombucha (we’re kidding, you guys are here to stay); it’s time for a turmeric latte.
Turmeric is a spice made from a root in the ginger family. It is native to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, and it has been used for thousands of years as a medicinal ingredient in Ayurveda, Siddha medicine, and traditional Chinese medicine.
The active component in turmeric, which promotes this spice to superfood status, is a compound called curcumin. Research shows curcumin has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, antifungal, antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antiviral properties. In other words, this is no ordinary food. This is a food that seeks out and destroys harmful substances in the body.
If you’re not already on board the turmeric train, these 8 secrets about turmeric may just help you get there.
1. Turmeric May Be A More Effective Treatment Than Painkillers
Whatever your painkiller of choice—aspirin, ibuprofen, or paracetamol—that over-the-counter (OTC) drug may be trumped by turmeric in its anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing properties.
Curcumin helps to reduce swelling and inflammation associated with injury or infection. It also helps to speed the healing process by protecting healthy cells and promoting cell regeneration.
Numerous studies were conducted comparing the effects of turmeric supplements against various leading OTC painkillers, and results were astounding. Turmeric was shown to be just as effective in reducing pain and inflammation in cases of knee osteoarthritis, joint arthritis, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and tendonitis. (1)(2)(3)
One huge benefit that turmeric has over popular painkillers is its safeness. When used long-term, OTC painkillers may cause side effects such as gastric issues, kidney problems, allergic reactions, and even stroke. The only adverse effects seen with long-term turmeric use are upset stomach or gastric ulcers at very high doses.
2. Turmeric Treats Arthritis
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), arthritis affects 54.4 million people in the United States. It is the most common chronic condition in the country. (4)
Arthritis is a term for joint inflammation, and there are over 100 different types of arthritis. Rheumatic conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis and gout, not only involve inflammation but also include pain, stiffness, swelling, and aching.
Curcumin is one of the most effective anti-inflammatory compounds out there, so it’s no wonder that this special substance has shown remarkable results with arthritic patients.
Studies show that curcumin can prevent arthritis from developing and treat arthritis once it is already active. (5)
Turmeric helps to reduce inflammation, pain, swelling, and stiffness associated with arthritis, and it may even be more effective than prescription and OTC medications commonly taken to reduce symptoms.
3. It Keeps Your Heart Healthy
Turmeric can lower your risk for heart disease.
Clinical research has shown that turmeric can lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels. People with high cholesterol have twice the risk of developing heart disease as those with normal levels.
Another reason curcumin benefits heart health is its anti-inflammatory properties. Studies show that curcumin may prevent arrhythmias, reduce inflammation in the blood vessels and in the heart, and correct diabetic heart damage.
4. Turmeric Fights Cancer
Turmeric contains super potent antioxidants that fight free radical damage, reduce oxidative stress, and repair damaged cells. These are the prerequisites to cancerous tumors, and curcumin is proven to put a stop to these processes.
Not only can curcumin prevent cancer, but it has also been shown to stop cancer in its tracks, inhibiting tumor growth and initiating cancer cell death. It is most effective in breast cancer, bowel cancer, stomach cancer, and skin cancer cells. (6)(7)
5. Turmeric Will Make You Happy
Turmeric can significantly improve your mood. Research shows that this special substance fights depression, mood swings, and anxiety. (8)
Studies show that curcumin has powerful antidepressant effects due to its specified actions in the brain. It seeks to repair damage to the nerve cells in the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain responsible for memory. In addition, it increases serotonin levels—also known as the “happy hormone.” (9)
It has also been shown to reduce chronic stress, which can elevate stress hormone levels long term, leading to depression and anxiety. (10)
6. It Prevents Neurodegeneration
Recent years have shown an influx of studies on causes of neurodegenerative diseases, such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. All signs point to chronic inflammation due to oxidative stress because of excess free radical damage.
Curumin has shown astounding neuroprotective properties that can slow the progress of neurodegenerative diseases—and maybe even prevent them altogether.
Curcumin won’t just prevent disease, though; it may even have immediate effects of boosting cognition, concentration, and memory. (11)
7. It’ll Boost Your Health
Turmeric contains lipopolysaccharide, which can give your immune system a boost. It possesses natural antifungal, antiviral, antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antiseptic properties. That means that regular consumption of this golden spice can protect you from a cold, the flu, respiratory infections, and other types of infections.
Give your immune system a boost with turmeric supplements, turmeric tea, or an extra shake of turmeric powder in your favorite dish.
8. Turmeric Can Keep You Trim
Turmeric can act as a natural weight-loss aid when there is an accumulation of fat. It helps with weight control because it improves digestion and metabolism, keeping things running smoothly so that your systems don’t get sluggish.
Many people struggle with weight control, but when you eat foods that kick metabolism into high gear, promoting weight loss and reducing weight gain, you’ll find it easier to shed those stubborn pounds.
Studies show that turmeric suppresses inflammatory response in pancreatic, fat, and muscle cells, improves insulin resistance, and boosts metabolism.
With its numerous advantages, there’s really no reason not to partake of turmeric in some form. Health benefits await!