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The anti-inflammatory spice of life
You are probably most familiar with turmeric as a spice used in Indian cuisine for flavor and color. However, turmeric can also be used medicinally. The most powerful use for it is as an anti-inflammatory.
Turmeric is filled with compounds known as curcuminoids, the most important being curcumin. Curcumin is the active compound in turmeric that gives it anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. In fact, it is believed to be better at reducing swelling than most pharmaceutical medications. Due to this, turmeric is can be effective at reducing joint pain and arthritis discomfort.
Along with reducing inflammation, turmeric may also prevent cancer. Laboratory studies have shown curcumin to reduce the growth of cancerous cells and inhibit the growth of tumors in test animals. Since curcumin also has antioxidant properties, it is also effective at destroying free radicals in your body. It has also been shown to
stimualate your body's own antioxidant enzymes so that, they too, will decrease free radicals.
Due to curcumin's antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
properties, it may also reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
Both oxidative and inflammation have been shown to play
a role in the development of this disease. Turmeric
supplementation has been shown to reduce both of these
factors, therefore it is believed to prevent or reduce the
rick of Alzheimer's. Studies have also shown that curcumin
can cross the blood-brain barrier and also reduce the amount of plaques
that build up, which are a key factor in Alzheimer's disease.
Now, before you go and start adding turmeric to all your meals, there's some quick things to know. The active compound in turmeric is curcumin; however turmeric only contains about 5% curcumin, by weight. Therefore, buying a curcumin supplement may be a better option, especially if the spicy taste of turmeric is not for you. Another thing is that curcumin is very unabsorbable in our bodies. Black pepper, however contains a molecule that greatly increases the absorption of curcumin, as much as 2000%. Curcumin is also a fat soluble compound, so consuming it with a fat-rich meal may be ideal.