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Turmeric to Spice Up Your Health

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Various traditional cultures have always known that food can be medicine if used wisely. Chinese and East Indian cuisine, for example, is full of heavenly spices that not only taste good, but are also good for many common diseases. In addition, science now suggests that these very spices can prevent many chronic diseases, as well as possibly some types of cancer.

Turmeric, also known as cumerin, has a long history of use in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. Used for centuries to treat inflammation and swelling, it was incorporated into East Indian cuisine as a key ingredient in local curries and spices. With a fairly strong, pungent, peppery flavor, it’s still popular in Western cultures today. Western medicine has only recently begun to study this yellow spice.

Turmeric and Arthritis

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Turmeric contains curcumin and curcuminoids, which are powerful anti-inflammatory phytochemicals that act as natural cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitors in the body, inhibiting production of the prostaglandins that cause inflammation and swelling. Indian researchers found that turmeric reduced joint pain and swelling in people with arthritis as well as prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) without side effects such as abdominal bleeding or stomach upset. Unlike the drugs, which are associated with significant toxic effects (ulcer formation, decreased white blood cell count, intestinal bleeding), curcumin does not produce toxicity.

Clinical studies have shown that curcumin also exerts very powerful antioxidant effects. As an antioxidant, curcumin is able to neutralize free radicals, chemicals that travel through the body and can severely damage healthy cells and cell membranes. This is important in many diseases, such as arthritis, where free radicals are responsible for painful joint inflammation and eventual joint damage. Turmeric’s combination of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects explains why many people with joint disorders find relief with regular use of the spice. In a recent study in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, curcumin was compared to phenylbutazone and resulted in comparable improvements in reduced duration of morning stiffness, increased walking time, and reduced joint swelling.

Turmeric and Cholesterol

Curcumin may prevent the oxidation of cholesterol in the body. Because oxidized cholesterol damages blood vessels and builds up in the plaques, which can lead to heart attack or stroke, preventing new cholesterol from oxidizing can help reduce the progression of atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease. In addition, turmeric is a good source of vitamin B6, which is needed to prevent homocysteine ​​levels from getting too high. Homocysteine, an intermediate of an important cellular process called methylation, directly damages blood vessel walls. High homocysteine ​​levels are considered a significant risk factor for blood vessel damage, atherosclerotic plaque formation and heart disease; while a high intake of vitamin B6 is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.

In a study published in the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, 10 healthy volunteers who consumed 500 mg of curcumin per day for 7 days not only reduced their blood levels of oxidized cholesterol by 33%, but also their total cholesterol by 11.63% Your HDL (good cholesterol) increased by 29%! (Soni KB, Kuttan R).

Turmeric and neurodegenerative diseases

A growing body of evidence suggests that turmeric may offer protection against neurodegenerative diseases. Epidemiological studies show that among older Indian populations, where turmeric is a common spice in their diet, the incidence of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s is very low. At the same time, recent experimental research found that curcumin appears to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in mice. Preliminary studies in mice also suggest that curcumin may block the progression of multiple sclerosis. While it’s still unclear how it may provide protection against this degenerative condition, one theory is that it might disrupt production of IL-2, a protein that may play a key role in destroying myelin, the covering that protects most used to protect nerves in the body.

Turmeric and Cancer

Epidemiological studies have linked frequent use of turmeric to lower rates of breast, prostate, lung, and colon cancer; Laboratory experiments have shown that curcumin can prevent tumors from making; and research conducted at the University of Texas suggests that even when breast cancer is already present, curcumin may help slow the spread of breast cancer cells to the lungs of mice.

Curcumin, a phytonutrient found in the curry spice turmeric, and quercitin, an antioxidant found in onions, reduce both the size and number of precancerous lesions in the human intestinal tract, according to a study published in the August 2006 issue of Clinical Gasteroenterology and Hepatology .

Previous observational studies in populations that consume large amounts of curry, as well as animal studies, have strongly suggested that curcumin, a key ingredient in Asian curries, may be effective in preventing and/or treating cancer of the lower intestine. Similarly, quercetin, an antioxidant flavonoid found in a variety of foods such as onions, green tea and red wine, has been shown to inhibit the growth of colon cancer cell lines in humans and abnormal colorectal cells in animals.

Prostate cancer — the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, with 500,000 new cases each year — is a rare occurrence in men in India whose low risk is attributed to a diet rich in vegetables of the cabbage family and the curry spice turmeric. There is even evidence that a diet rich in turmeric may reduce the risk of childhood leukemia.

While simply consuming curry, broccoli, cauliflower, and onions may not be for everyone, you can now reap the benefits of turmeric by taking it as a dietary supplement. Since it is a spice, it is safe to consume in supplement form.

This condiment is delicious with healthy sautéed apples and healthy steamed cauliflower and/or green beans and onions. Or add some turmeric and dried onions to creamy yogurt for a flavorful, low-calorie dip.

Whether you take turmeric as a dietary supplement or as a dietary supplement, spice up your life and improve your health!

Thanks to Pamela Avery

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