28 Jul The benefits of turmeric and curcumin
Used in India for thousands of years as a cooking ingredient and for its health properties, turmeric is the spice that gives your favorite curry its distinctive yellow color, and is now a big deal in the world of wellness.
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WHAT IS CURCUMIN?
With so many herbs and spices listed as having potential health benefits, it’s easy to get confused. Turmeric? Curcumin? Are they the same thing? Yes, and no. The bioactive compounds found within turmeric are called curcuminoids, with the main active ingredient being (you guessed it) curcumin. And as interest in dietary supplements and improved health studies have developed, so has our proof that this extract of the curcuma longa root (part of the ginger family) has can support the body’s natural inflammation response and works as a antioxidant within the body, too. 1
GETTING YOUR DAILY DOSE
Whether you’re into daily exercise, work on your feet, or are simply prone to minor aches and pains, we can certainly all benefit from occasional relief in our lives. Improving your diet is a great way to pack your body with naturally restorative, active compounds, as well as helping to counter overreliance on convenient non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
So that means we should all eat loads of curries, right? Not exactly. The naturally-occurring curcumin content of turmeric is not very high, barely moving the scales at a measly 3%. 2 Many studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of curcumin use extracts that exceed 1 gram per day, leaving you with a curry marathon on your hands in an attempt to reach the desired level. What’s worse is that curcumin is also poorly absorbed into our bloodstream, making it even more difficult to get the amounts we need from food alone. In short, without proper supplementation, it’s difficult to reap the rewards of this super spice.
Inflammation is a natural function of the body, and an incredibly important one. It works to increase blood flow to damaged tissue, from cuts and scrapes to pulled and torn muscle, helping to fight off any bacteria before beginning the body’s natural healing process. Therefore, some acute, short-term inflammation is actually extremely beneficial to your body, and in some cases, it can actually offer improved physical conditioning as muscle fibers tear and are replaced thicker and stronger – think building size and strength in the gym by purposely targeting specific muscle groups. Want to know more about the inflammation process and improving exercise? Click here.
Additionally, the antioxidant properties found within curcumin shouldn’t be ignored.
Free radicals are elements produced during normal metabolic processes within the body, such as converting food into energy. If there is an imbalance between these free radicals and antioxidants, this causes a highly reactive scenario resulting in oxidative stress. This stress causes damage to important substances within the body, including cells, protein and DNA. 6,7
Antioxidants provide natural support against oxidative stress, and curcumin is a potent provider of this specific support, helping to neutralize free radicals through its unique chemical structure.8 In turn, this amazing natural extract helps two-fold – not only helping to restore the balance within the body, but also to stimulate your in-built antioxidant defences.
SUPPLEMENTING WITH CURCUMIN
Now, this is easier said than done. There are many curcumin supplements on the market right now, promising everything from increased bioavailability to high concentrated dosage. As mentioned earlier, the main issue is that curcumin is poorly absorbed into our bloodstream. It is fat-soluble so has a number of issues staying active in the acidic environment of the stomach, before passing through the gut wall and onto the areas of our body it can be effective for. So, even if you’re taking the correct levels of curcumin, it could potentially be having very little positive effect on your health.
One solution is to take black pepper supplements alongside it. Black pepper contains piperine, a natural substance that can naturally enhance the absorption of curcumin by a staggering 2,000%. 9 As a result, many of the best curcumin supplements contain piperine to directly increase bioavailability. However, there is also advanced supplementation technology available such as NovaSOL® – a new form of curcumin developed specifically to deliver high absorption. In a recent clinical trial published in the Molecular Nutrition & Food Research Journal10, NovaSOL® Curcumin was shown to be 185 times better absorbed than standard powdered curcumin and significantly better than any other form, too.
Once you’ve tackled adsorption rates, you can even look to pair this herbal health boost with other natural compounds that work to support your health. One of these includes cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive extract of the cannabis plant, much heralded by the health and wellness community for its benefits in the management of stress, mood, and well-being. CBD works within the body by helping to reduce cytokine production – the chemicals that kick-start the entire inflammation process. Explore the science of inflammation and how CBD works to help naturally reduce it here.
START SUPPORTING YOUR BODY
With the science that’s out there, it’s clear that curcumin is a natural powerhouse when it comes to protecting your body and helping fight soreness and oxidative stress. From understanding your dosage to supplementing correctly, there are a number of hurdles to jump through before it becomes effective, but the natural health benefits to your body are simply there for the taking – don’t miss out!