Everyone’s talking about turmeric and curcumin ! Here’s why it’s such a popular topic and incredibly powerful health promoter….
Oxidative stress is a state where there are insufficient antioxidants to neutralise free radicals. Free radicals are a natural by-product of cellular function in the body which, left unchecked, can damage cells or create abnormal cells like cancer. Antioxidants act to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. Some antioxidants are made in the body but most come from the food we eat.
A good balance between free radicals and antioxidants leads to a healthy ‘redox state’ for cells. Too high or too low levels of ‘redox balance’ affects the efficiency of our cells and can lead to problems like premature aging, cell damage and dysfunction, cancer, heart disease, dementia and arthritis.
Antioxidants are our front line protection against cell damage, they improve general health outcomes and boost immune function
Inflammation is often thought to be a totally negative thing but in fact is incredibly important. It helps the body fight foreign invaders and also has a role in repairing damage. Without inflammation, pathogens like bacteria could progress unchecked making us very sick indeed.
Although acute inflammation is beneficial in protecting us such as when we are injured, it can become a major problem when it is chronic and inappropriately affecting our body’s own tissues.
Long term, low level inflammation plays a major role in almost every chronic Western disease. This includes heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s and various conditions such as arthritis, IBS, Crohn’s disease, asthma, dermatitis etc. Sources of antioxidants that help fight chronic inflammation play a vital role in preventing and treating these diseases.
Curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory. Clinical trials have shown that it matches the effectiveness of some anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, has none of the nasty side effects and has the benefit of a number of other health promoting properties.
Curcumin is also a source of antioxidants and not only protects our cells from free radical damage but also boosts our bodies levels of antioxidant enzymes.
Curcumin has beneficial effects on several factors known to play a role in heart disease. It improves the function of the endothelium which has positive impacts on blood pressure and blood clotting reducing risks for cardiovascular events such as stroke and heart disease.
Other important benefits include management and reduction of arthritis symptoms, cancer treatment and prevention (through the modulating of cell damage, division and proliferation), treating depression by increasing BDNF which is vital to the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine
Curcumin is the active beneficial compound found in turmeric. The spice turmeric only provides about 3% curcuma by weight so it’s virtually impossible to receive a therapeutic dose through diet alone.
Curcumin, when taken as a supplement, is most effective when combined with a good quality fat source and pepper. Swallowing a few whole peppercorns when you take your curcumin will hugely increase its absorption.
Others antioxidant supplements include :
Vitamin C and E
Alpha lipoic acid
Carotenoids found in bright coloured fruit and vegetable.
Dietary sources :
Bright and dark fruit and veg – orange fruit and veg, berries, kiwi fruit, dark grapes, dark green leafy vegetables
Tea – black and green
If you’re looking for ways to include more turmeric into your diet why not try this favourite of mine – Tofu and Chickpea Curry
Prevention is better than cure ! Ways to reduce oxidative stress
Eat a low sugar diet
Keep stress at a healthy level
Get enough sleep
Avoid smoking and alcohol
Minimise exposure to toxins – environmental and food sources, drugs