Avni Kaul, Nutritionist & Wellness Coach, Founder Of Nutri Activania Talks On The Benefits & Uses Of Turmeric
Turmeric is one of the most famous spices from India that has been embraced globally. Starbucks uses it to make Turmeric Latte, which our grandmothers used to make as simple haldi wala doodh. Gordon Ramsay has started using a lot of turmeric to flavor his seafood gourmet preparations. This is not just for the flavor and its gorgeous golden colour, but also the myriad health benefits it offers, especially now – when the weather is changing and pollution-related illnesses, allergies etc are at an all-time high.
Turmeric is indeed an all-weather spice that can enhance wellness all through the year. Of all the nutritional supplements in existence, it maybe on top of the list because of the numerous health benefits it offers. The spice contains bioactive compounds with powerful medicinal properties called curcuminoids, of which curcumin , which is the main active ingredient in it, has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and it is also a strong anti-oxidant.
Inflammation helps the body fight foreign attackers and repairs damage. However, when inflammation becomes long term, then it starts attacking the body’s own tissues. Chronic low level of inflammation may cause heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s and various degenerative conditions. Curcumin, found in turmeric blocks NF-KB, a molecule that travels into the nuclei of cells and turns on genes related to inflammation.
Curcumin , found in turmeric, increases the anti-oxidant capacity of the body by neutralizing free radicals which react with fatty acids, proteins or DNA. It also boosts the body’s own anti- oxidant enzymes.
Here are some more health benefits that turmeric offers:
- Curcumin stimulates levels of the brain hormone BDNF(Brain derived Neurotrophic Factor), which helps in increasing the growth of the new neurons. It also helps in delaying or sometimes even reversing many degenerative processes in the brain.
- Curcumin helps in improving the function of endothelium, which is the lining of the blood vessels, and which regulates blood pressure, blood clotting and generally keeps the heart healthy. By being anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant , it lowers the risk of heart disease.
- It has been found through several studies that curcumin can reduce angiogenesis (growth of new blood vessels in tumors), metastasis (spread of cancer) and may even kill the cancerous cells.
- Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease for which no cure is available yet. Curcumin is able to cross the blood -brain barrier and also prevent inflammation and oxidative damage. It can also clear the build up of protein tangles called Amyloid plaques thereby preventing or at least slowing down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Joint inflammation in arthritis has been found to be cured by curcumin found in it which works as a natural pain killer.
- Curcumin boosts BNDF levels, potentially reversing symptoms of depression which is linked to reduced levels of brain derived neurotrophic factor and a shrinking hippocampus which helps in learning and memorizing
- Curcumin may delay ageing, fight age related chronic diseases and bring about longevity
- It is also effective in treating gastro intestinal issues linked to irritable bowel syndrome which is caused due to inflammation
- Curcumin has also been found to lower the glucose levels in the blood thereby preventing diabetes
- It has excellent anti-bacterial properties and therefore it works as a natural anti-septic
- Curcumin stimulates bile production by the gall bladder. This bile detoxifies the liver by flushing out toxins. Curcumin is also used to treat mercury intoxication
- Curcumin has been found to reduce the severity of PMS symptoms thereby reducing menstrual pain.
- Turmeric aids in fat loss improving metabolism and lowering levels of certainproteins that contributes to fat production.Its paste can be used to treat acne, which is inflammation caused by pimples and psoriasis which are caused by inflammatory enzymes.
- It prevents formation of wrinkles and melanin. Reduction in skin elasticity caused by chronic UVB exposure is also prevented by turmeric.
- Curcumin penetrates the cell membranes altering its physical properties that is how it lightens the stretch marks and scars making them disappear in time.
- It has anti-inflammatory and anti-septic properties which help soothe burns. Its astringent and anti-oxidant properties help heal wounds and reduce scars.
- It has bleaching properties which help treat skin pigmentation thereby reducing tan. It also keeps skin free from infection.
- Hormonal imbalances that cause hirsutism, where facial hair gets excessive , can be cured with turmeric.
- Cracked feet can be cured by applying a paste of turmeric mixed with castor oil and coconut oil
- Adding turmeric to a scrub before exfoliation makes skin glow.
- Curcuminoidsin turmeric prevent hair loss. For eliminating dandruff and better scalp health, a mixture of turmeric and olive oil can be used.
Turmeric should always be bought after ascertaining its quality. Organic turmeric should be preferred because it does not contain additives. Turmeric powder should be kept in a tightly sealed container and stored in a cool, dry place, protected from light. Fresh turmeric rhizome should be kept in refrigerator. Exposure to air , heat or humidity will cause loss of aroma, color and flavor. Turmeric can be added to all kinds of food, salad dressings etc. to enhance its flavor and health quotient . It is a super food and should be consumed regularly for a balanced nutritious diet.