health benefits of turmerics

Top health benefits of turmeric and why eat them

The health benefits of turmeric fruit are mainly attributed to the presence of the chemical curcumin which has a lot of health benefits. Some common examples of these health benefits include preventing and treating cancers, preventing brain-related diseases, and many others.

Tumeric, what is it?

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a spice that belongs to the ginger family. Originating from India this spice is cultivated from the rhizome (underground stem) of a flowering plant. The main ingredient of this spice is curcumin which is responsible for the spice’s yellow color. 

Curcumin has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant. It has also been approved as a food additive by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Drugs Administration of the United States, and the European parliament. 

Aside from being a spice used in cooking, it is also used for fabric dyeing and cosmetics. The rhizomes are used fresh or boiled in water and dried, after which they are ground into a deep orange-yellow powder commonly used as a coloring agent.  It has a lot of health benefits. Countries like India use turmeric for medicinal purposes. 

A fun fact about turmeric is that it gives curry (a famous Indian dish) its yellow color.

Health benefits of turmeric

1. Turmerics are good for the brain

The main ingredient of turmeric, curcumin, has been studied for its ability to boost brain health. Curcumin supports and increases brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a hormone that plays a key role in long-term cognitive function.

It promotes the growth of new neurons and fights off many degenerative processes and brain-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease (A brain disease that destroys mental functions).

There is a chemical called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which is usually obtained from our diets. The deficiency of DHA in the diets has been linked to some brain disorders including anxiety.

This chemical is known to play a key role in the development and protection of the brain. Curcumin, the main ingredient of turmeric is known to enhance the synthesis of DHA from its precursors. It also increases the levels of the enzymes involved in the synthesis of DHA [1].

This function of curcumin offers a key health benefit to turmerics. Turmerics, therefore, play a key role in brain function, and prevention of cognitive diseases.

2. Turmerics lowers the risk of heart diseases

Curcumin, the chemical ingredient found in turmeric, is very important for the prevention of heart diseases. Due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, it can improve the function of the endothelium (a single layer of squamous endothelial cells that line the interior surface of blood vessels, and lymphatic vessels. These cells form the barrier between vessels and tissue and control the flow of substances and fluid into and out of a tissue).

Lower endothelial function is associated with aging and an increased risk of heart disease and so turmeric reduces your chances of developing heart disease. It also lowers bad cholesterol in the body. 

One of the commonest causes and high-risk factors for developing cardiovascular diseases is being diabetic. Curcumin in turmeric has been found to have the capability of preventing diabetic cardiovascular complications [2].

Curcumin also decreases serum cholesterol levels and this effect may protect an individual from the various pathological changes occurring with atherosclerosis [2].

This chemical present in turmeric fruits has also been studied to have demonstrated an ability to prevent the development of cardiac hypertrophy and heart failure, atrial and ventricular arrhythmias.

3. Tumerics boost the immune system

Turmeric also has a very good immune-boosting ability and this has also been associated with the presence of the polyphenol, curcumin. Curcumin has been found to affect a number of important immune cells. Some of these immune cells include T lymphocytes, B lymphocytes, macrophages, neutrophils, and natural killer cells. By so doing, it results in a decrease in the severity of various diseases [3].

Curcumin also has a way to decrease the levels of chemicals in the body that cause inflammations. Some of these chemicals are called pro-inflammatory cytokines including TNF, IL-1, IL-2, IL-6, IL-8, IL-12, and chemokines.

It is able to decrease their levels by inactivating the process that leads to their synthesis (inactivation of the transcription factor NF-kappaB).

It has also been found to enhance antibody responses and hence has beneficial effects in diseases that affect the immune system like cancers and diabetes [4].

The immune system is a defense mechanism that protects the body from diseases. It is also responsible for warding off attacks from bacteria and viruses that can cause harm to the body (pathogens that can cause disease and infection).

Turmeric is good for boosting the immune system. It has antiviral, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties which help to maintain, protect, and boost the body’s immunity, thus, reducing the risk of falling sick. 

4. Turmerics are good for preventing and treating cancers

The curcumin present in turmerics has been found to have an anti-cancer effect. It, therefore, plays a key role in preventing and treating cancers.

Curcumin prevents the process of normal cells converting to cancerous cells from happening (carcinogenesis) and prevents the generation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis) in cells that are already cancerous thus preventing them from further growth [6].

It also inhibits tumor growth and therefore prevents the progression of the tumor if it has already developed.

Cancer is a disease in which some of the body’s cells grow uncontrollably (abnormal cells) and spread to other parts of the body.

Studies have shown that curcumin can affect cancer growth and development. It kills cancerous cells, reduces the growth of new blood vessels in tumors, and reduces the overall spread of cancer.

Eating turmeric reduces the likelihood of getting cancer.

5. Turmerics are good for joints and helps with joint pains

With its anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric is good for the joints. It helps ease joint pains. Studies have shown good results in the ability of turmeric and curcumin to manage pain and inflammation associated with arthritis (a disease that affects your joints, causing inflammation and swelling to the areas where your bones meet and move).

It is especially helpful to athletes who want to ease soreness or any joint-related pains.

Turmerics and its curcumin-enriched extracts have been used in the treatment of pain of the kneel or pains associated with arthritis. A study published on PubMed found that this effect of turmerics is comparable to that of many of the pain killers (NSAIDs) available on the market [7].

6. Contains a lot of nutrients

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database, one tablespoon (tbsp) of turmeric powder contains

29 calories

0.91 grams (g) of protein

0.31 g of fat

6.31 g of carbohydrates

2.1 g of fiber

0.3 g of sugar

That same 1-tbsp serving provides:

26% of daily manganese needs

16% of daily iron

5%of daily potassium

3% of daily vitamin C

7. It May help prevent diabetes

Since curcumin can help fight inflammation and keep blood sugar levels steady, it could be useful in preventing or treating type 2 diabetes. One study followed 240 adults with prediabetes and found that taking a curcumin supplement over 9 months lowered their odds of developing diabetes.

8. Good for the skin

With its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric is good for fighting acne (pimples). People with pimples can eat turmeric to get rid of them. Cosmetic companies use turmeric for some of their skin-related products. For example, the turmeric skin mask, a mask worn on the face to remove acne. Turmeric is also good for treating eczema (a skin condition that causes patches of itchiness, inflammation, swelling, and cracked skin)

9. Boots your mood

Turmeric is a good antidepressant. Depression is related to lower levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and since turmeric can increase BDNF levels, this spice has the potential of an effective antidepressant. 

In a study in humans that was published in Phytotherapy Research, researchers randomly assigned 60 patients with a major depressive disorder to one of three groups: One group received daily 20 mg of Prozac, another received 1,000 mg of curcumin, and a third received a combination of Prozac and curcumin for a period of 6 weeks. After 6 weeks, curcumin had led to improvements similar to those of Prozac. The group that took both Prozac and curcumin fared best.

According to this small study, curcumin is as effective as an antidepressant.

10. Good for the gut

One health benefit of turmeric is that it is good for digestion. Turmeric is used to treat inflammatory bowel conditions like colitis and irritable bowel syndrome. The spice can contribute to healthy digestion as a result of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Does turmeric have any health-related side effects

While turmeric does provide potential health benefits, it creates some risks that are worth considering before eating large amounts. An example of a side effect of eating too much turmeric is an upset stomach. 

Below are some of the reasons why we should eat turmeric

Reasons why you should eat turmeric

  1. Turmeric is good for people with weak or painful joints. With its anti-inflammatory properties, it helps ease joint pains. 
  1. It improves brain health. It helps to prevent brain-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
  1. Turmeric is also good for the heart. It lowers the levels of bad cholesterol in the body.
  1. It is good for treating skin diseases such as pimples and eczema.
  1. It is an effective antidepressant. For people who feel down or depressed, eating turmeric can help lift your mood.

WRITTEN AND EDITED RESPECTIVELY BY:

Michael Sarfo
Content Creator at Wapomu

Michael Sarfo is a graduate of the University of Ghana, Legon. He is a content creator for enochkabange.com and a writer for Wapomu

Dr. Ehoneah Obed is a registered pharmacist and a member of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana. He has a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and has experience working in a Tertiary hospital as well as various community pharmacies. He is also a software engineer interested in healthcare technologies.

His love for helping others motivates him to create content on an array of topics mostly relating to the health of people and also software engineering content.

He is knowledgeable in digital marketing, content marketing, and a host of other skills that make him versatile enough to uplift any team he joins.

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