Turmeric: A powerful Antioxidant?
New research shows that there is much more to turmeric than spicing up your curry. Scientists have discovered it is also a powerful antioxidant, an anti-inflammatory, and may stop the onset of Alzheimer's and dementia.Content information
- May 24, 2017
This is old news for India and Sri Lanka who have been using turmeric for more than 4000 years as a medicinal food. Derived from the rhizomes of the plant Curcuma longa, a close relative of the ginger family; it is the active compound curcumin that is found in turmeric that is responsible for its many health benefits and gives curry its vibrant yellow colour.
There are hundreds of studies looking into the wide range of pharmacological and clinical benefits of eating turmeric. Here are five of the best:
1. Prevent Alzheimer’s disease
Scientists believe that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin may be strong enough to rid the body of a protein called beta amyloid that is located within the part of the brain that is associated with memory and learning. If people have too much beta amyloid in their brain, they are more likely to get Alzheimer’s disease, in the same way that cholesterol affects heart disease.
2. Curcumin may stop cancer cells regenerating
A number of laboratory studies have shown that curcumin does seem to be able to kill cancer cells and prevent more from growing. It has the best effects on breast cancer, bowel cancer, stomach cancer and skin cancer cells. These are preliminary studies, and although they look promising, more clinical trials in humans need to be undertaken.
3. Anti-inflammatory for arthritis
Turmeric has been traditionally used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine to treat arthritis and is believed to reduce pain, inflammation and stiffness. Recent studies have shown that curcumin has anti-inflammatory properties and can affect immune system responses. One study showed that it was more effective at preventing joint inflammation than reducing joint inflammation.
4. Fights Colds and Flu’s
With most of us now in the midst of the cold and flu season adding turmeric to meals may offer some relief. Early studies show that curcumin may reduce the severity of bacterial and viral infections.
5. Helps Indigestion
A study has found that turmeric can reduce the symptoms of bloating and gas in people suffering from indigestion. It is believed that curcumin stimulates the gallbladder to produce bile, which people think may help improve digestion.
Fresh Vs. Dried
Around 80 per cent of the worlds dried turmeric comes from India and as a result most of us have only been exposed to the dried yellow powder found in the supermarket. But Far North Queensland has the ideal growing conditions for turmeric and a small industry has been established. The benefits of seeking out fresh, locally grown turmeric are well worth the effort, as Guy Tilbury, owner of Australian fresh turmeric company Tilbury’s Tonics explains:
“Most of the country is still buying turmeric it from India and Sri Lanka, but this means that you have no idea of the environment, it has been grown in, the chemicals and fertilisers that have been used, or any of the processes behind it. The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) is so aware of this that when dried turmeric is brought into Australia it has to undergo a process of ionized radiation in order to increase shelf life and kill any possible bacteria. This means most of the medicinal qualities, essential oils and phytonutrients of the turmeric are lost.”
Every week Tilbury’s receives fresh turmeric from Queensland farmers that Guy makes into natural pastes and tonics. The process does not affect the nutritional value of the turmeric, and the only ingredients that Guy adds are black pepper and high quality coconut oil, which helps the body absorb the curcumin more easily. Using a paste also helps cooks avoid the yellow stained fingers and chopping boards that fresh turmeric is infamous for.