Turmeric is what gives curry its yellow hue and tang. But it does a lot more than flavor the most popular Indian dish. Turmeric has numerous health benefits. More than 900 published research papers attest to the anti-cancer activity of curcumin, turmeric’s potent extract. And Diabetes Care, a journal of the American diabetes Association, published a study about curcumin’s ability to help pre-diabetic patients from developing full-blown diabetes.
Several studies have found a protective effect of curcumin in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and it’s no surprise. The senior population in rural Indian has one of the lowest rates of Alzheimer’s disease in the world, and scientists believe it is due to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric,1,2 and its ability to inhibit the buildup of amyloid plaque.3
A recent study done by researchers from the University of Melbourne indicated that curcumin might prevent or improve age-related cognitive decline, dementia and mood disorders. The study included 60 adults between 60 and 85 years old. An hour after taking a curcumin supplement (400 mg) the participants experienced a higher attention span and better memory when compared to the participants who took a placebo. After four weeks of taking the supplement, the curcumin group showed improvement in mood, memory, alertness and feelings of well-being. 4
How much to take? You can find dietary supplements in tablet and capsule form at health food stores with curcumin extracts in dosages of 400 to 600 mg. The general advice is to take one dose three times daily or as directed on the product.
How to get more turmeric into your diet?
- One way is to drink turmeric tea, which is popular among Okinawans, who are known for their longevity.
- Bring four cups of water to a boil.
- Add one teaspoon of ground turmeric and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.
- Strain the tea through a fine sieve into a cup, add honey and/or lemon to taste
- Sprinkle it on your food—turmeric is especially good added to braised greens. Saute onion in olive oil, add greens of your choice (kale, spinach, Swiss chard), and add 1 tsp of turmeric and a sprinkle of salt.
- Add turmeric to eggs, soups, potato pancakes, casseroles. You can’t go wrong, and you can’t overdose on turmeric.
Use as a cold, flu and congestion remedy
Turmeric has been used as a natural remedy for centuries to help prevent and cure respiratory illnesses. The next time you get a cold, try adding it to hot water with grated ginger and a teaspoon of honey. It will perk you up and possibly reduce the length of time you are sick. You might also discover that it enhances your memory. 5
- Chin D1, Huebbe P, Pallauf K, Rimbach G. Neuroprotective properties of curcumin in Alzheimer’s disease–merits and limitations. Curr Med Chem. 2013;20(32):3955-85.
- Nahar PP1, Slitt AL, Seeram NP. Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Novel Standardized Solid Lipid Curcumin Formulations. Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Novel Standardized Solid Lipid Curcumin Formulations.
- Endo H1, Nikaido Y1, Nakadate M1, Ise S1, Konno H2. Structure activity relationship study of curcumin analogues toward the amyloid-beta aggregation inhibitor. Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 2014 Dec 15;24(24):5621-6. doi: 10.1016/j.bmcl.2014.10.076. Epub 2014 Oct 30.
- Cox KH1, Pipingas A1, Scholey AB2. Investigation of the effects of solid lipid curcumin on cognition and mood in a healthy older population. Journal of Psychopharmacology 2014 Oct 2. pii: 0269881114552744..
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