Scientific name: Curcuma longa
Turmeric — and especially its most active compound, curcumin — have many scientifically proven health benefits, such as the potential to improve heart health and prevent against Alzheimer’s and cancer.
It’s a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It may also help improve symptoms of depression and arthritis.
While these benefits are possible, they are limited at this time because of curcumin’s scarce bioavailability, and more research is needed.
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury or infection, often causing localized redness, swelling, pain, or heat. It may cause loss of function of the involved tissues. Acute inflammation is typically a protective and localized response to infection or injury. It’s designed to heal the body and restore normal tissue function.
Inflammation of the joints, including stiffness and swelling are common symptoms of arthritis.
If inflammation persists for a prolonged period of time, it becomes chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation can be the result of an infection, autoimmune reaction, or allergy.
Anti-inflammatory foods and spices
Certain foods have been identified as anti-inflammatory. They may help to reduce chronic inflammation and pain. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, certain nuts, and even chocolate have all been acknowledged for their anti-inflammatory properties.
Research into exactly how well these foods reduce inflammation in the body is mixed, but promising. One easy way to incorporate anti-inflammatories into your diet is through the use of spices.
Turmeric can relieve pain Many people, including doctors, cite their own anecdotal experience with turmeric as a pain reliever. The spice is also reputed to relieve arthritis pain. Studies seem to support turmeric's ability to relieve pain, with one noting that it seemed to work as well as ibuprofen (Advil) in people with arthritis in the knees. While dosage recommendations seem to vary, those in the study took 800 mg of turmeric in capsule form each day. Improves liver function Turmeric has also recently gained attention due to its antioxidant capabilities. The antioxidant effect of turmeric appears to be so powerful that it can prevent toxins from damaging your liver. This could be good news for people who take strong medications for diabetes or other health conditions that could damage their liver from long-term use. May help reduce the risk of developing cancer Curcumin shows promise as a cancer treatment. Studies suggest that it has protective effects against pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, and multiple myeloma. It can help your digestion One of the reasons turmeric is in curries is because it adds an element of flavor to the food. But turmeric can also play an important role in the digestion of that food. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric support healthy digestion. It is used in Ayurvedic medicine as a digestive healing agent. Current Western medicine has begun to study how turmeric can help reduce intestinal inflammation and improve intestinal permeability, two measures of digestive efficiency. Turmeric is even currently being studied as a treatment for irritable bowel syndrome.
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