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Last Updated on January 21, 2021

6 Health Benefits of Turmeric (And How to Take It for Good)

6 Health Benefits of Turmeric (And How to Take It for Good)

Turmeric has been hailed as a superfood, and it’s all thanks to its powerful active ingredient—curcumin. Curcumin is what gives turmeric its yellow color, as well as the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects and health benefits of turmeric.

Numerous scientific studies have shown curcumin to have potent anti-inflammatory properties[1], which are similar to pharmaceutical drugs, such as hydrocortisone but without the harmful side-effects.

Turmeric has even been shown to treat arthritis, metabolic syndrome, pain, and even degenerative eye conditions.[2]

Here’s a breakdown of the many health benefits of turmeric.

1. Potent Anti-Inflammatory Effects

One of the most powerful health benefits of turmeric comes from its ability to reduce inflammation in the body. It works by scavenging different forms of free radicals, including both reactive oxygen and nitrogen species.

Curcumin also helps to modulate the activity of your body’s detoxifying enzymes. This plays a major role in reducing inflammation because inflammatory cells “free up” many reactive species at the site of inflammation. This process leads to oxidative stress and, consequently, inflammation.

Curcumin can also increase your body’s levels of antioxidants, as shown by a recent systematic review of taking turmeric supplements that contained purified curcuminoids. It was concluded that curcumin has a powerful effect on all levels of oxidative stress in the body.

Because inflammation is one of the hallmarks of chronic disease, turmeric has important benefits for many people suffering from painful or inflammatory health conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer.[3]

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2. Antifungal and Antimicrobial

Turmeric may be a helpful treatment for fungal or bacterial infections in the body. Studies have shown that curcumin was able to completely inhibit the growth of Candida albicans, as well as several other fungal strains[4].

Curcumin has even been shown to prevent Candida from adhering to human cells more effectively than the commercial antifungal drug fluconazole[5].

In one study, researchers found that using ascorbic acid alongside curcumin potentiated its antifungal effects by up to 10 times. This suggests that taking vitamin C supplements with curcumin may help kill off fungal infections much more quickly.

Turmeric is even being used as a food-safe antibacterial agent thanks to its ability to invade the cell of a bacterial species and eliminate it from within. Applying turmeric formulas to food preparation surfaces such as chopping boards, knives, and countertops has been found to kill harmful bacteria.

3. Relieves Pain Caused by Inflammation

Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties may be able to relieve the pain of inflammatory conditions, such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Curcumin works by inhibiting NF-KB, a molecule that controls your body’s production of inflammatory proteins called cytokines[6]. This essentially means that curcumin can “turn off” a bunch of inflammatory molecules.

In fact, the corticosteroids that are often prescribed to treat arthritis symptoms work by inhibiting NF-KB. New research shows that turmeric supplements can have a similar effect. Similar research shows that curcumin may also target specific inflammatory cells and block some types of enzymes that cause inflammation.

Studies involving people with osteoarthritis of the knee found that taking a curcuminoid supplement every day for six weeks resulted in significant reductions in pain. The participants’ physical function also improved greatly. Their systemic oxidative stress was also shown to improve.[7]

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The researchers suggested that this was due to Curcuminoids providing potent local anti-inflammatory effects. It appears that taking standardized turmeric extract over several weeks could be enough to reduce arthritis symptoms of pain and inflammation and may even provide similar relief to ibuprofen and diclofenac sodium.

4. Alleviates Symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome

Curcumin has been shown to help treat the issues associated with metabolic syndrome, including insulin sensitivity, fat accumulation, high blood pressure, inflammation, and oxidative stress. The curcuminoids in turmeric extract have also been found to help reduce triglycerides and bad cholesterol while boosting levels of good cholesterol.[8]

Researchers tested the effects of turmeric by giving a group of patients with metabolic syndrome 1g of turmeric extract (with piperine to aid absorption) for 8 weeks. The patients experienced significant improvement, including reduced overall LDL cholesterol and higher HDL cholesterol. They also showed positive changes in serum lipids and glucose levels, as well as reduced inflammation.

The authors concluded that turmeric was a natural, safe, and effective treatment for improving the health of those with metabolic syndrome, mainly by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress, making this one of the most impressive health benefits of turmeric.[9]

5. Improves Cardiovascular Health

Curcumin may help to reverse many factors involved in the progression of heart disease by improving the lining of blood vessels, known as the endothelium. Endothelial dysfunction is a major driver of heart disease as it’s involved in regulating blood pressure and blood clotting.

Several studies have now indicated that curcumin may be highly beneficial to endothelial function. Some evidence suggests that curcumin supplements may provide similar benefits to the drug Atovastin, while other studies show it may be as effective as exercise. Curcumin also appears to reduce both inflammation and oxidation, which are major drivers of heart disease and dysfunction.

A study involving people undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery found that taking curcumin before and after surgery lowered the risk of experiencing another heart attack by 65%.[10]

6. May Slow the Effects of Aging

Although there is no possible way to stop the body aging, it may be possible to slow down its negative effects. Turmeric’s antioxidant properties may be an important means of reducing the lifelong accumulation of molecular damage and oxidation.

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As a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, curcumin may be able to slow down aging. It boosts the level of antioxidant enzymes in your body while also scavenging free radicals that cause oxidative stress.

It also helps prevent these free radicals from causing lipid peroxidation—the oxidation of fats in the cell membrane, which leads to death of the cell.

How to Take Turmeric

Here are ways you can take this helpful spice to maximize the health benefits of turmeric.

1. Golden Milk

Add coconut milk, almond milk, ground turmeric, ground ginger, a cinnamon stick, coconut oil, black pepper, and a pinch of stevia to a small saucepan.

Whisk to combine all ingredients thoroughly, then place over medium heat. Heat until hot to the touch but not boiling, while stirring continually. This should take about four minutes.

Turn off heat and taste. Adjust flavor if necessary with more turmeric or ginger for greater intensity, or more sweetener.

Serve immediately. This recipe should make enough for two glasses. You can store leftovers in the refrigerator for 2-3 days and reheat on the stovetop.

2. In Your Meals

Turmeric is often added to curry powders for flavor, color, and the many health benefits of turmeric. Here are some examples of tasty recipes that include turmeric:

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  • Vegan Low Carb Eggplant Curry[11]
  • Cauliflower Curry[12]
  • Golden Baked Chicken and Leeks[13]

3. Turmeric Tonic

Add turmeric, ginger, lemon juice, and leftover lemon rind, chosen sweetener, black pepper, and filtered water to a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer (don’t boil!) over medium to medium-high heat for about 3 minutes. Turn off heat and pour the tonic through a small strainer into two mugs.

If the tonic is too strong, dilute with more hot or warm water. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days. Reheat on the stovetop until just warm.

4. Turmeric Supplements

If you wish to take turmeric as a supplement, look for a quality product that includes BioPerine. Bioperine is a compound from black pepper that maximizes the bioavailability of curcumin.

It’s also important to choose a supplement that’s standardized to 95% curcuminoids. This means that it will provide a highly concentrated dose of curcuminoids. Watch out for turmeric supplements that claim to be turmeric extract but only contain a tiny amount of it or you won’t receive all of the health benefits of turmeric.

Final Thoughts

There are numerous health benefits of turmeric, and anyone who wants a healthy diet should consider including it in their meal plan. I hope this article helped you know more about the benefits of turmeric and convince you to try it out, along with the various ways you can take it for a healthier body.

More About Turmeric

Featured photo credit: Osha Key via unsplash.com

Reference

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Lisa Richards

Nutritionist, Creator of The Candida Diet, Owner of TheCandidaDiet.com

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Published on June 8, 2021

What is Mental Energy And How To Maintain A High Level of It

What is Mental Energy And How To Maintain A High Level of It

We all understand “energy” in the physical sense, and we mostly experience the feeling of having a lot or a lack of physical energy. But physical energy is very different from mental energy. So, what is mental energy?

Mental energy is a mood and a measure of the willingness to undertake cognitive tasks. When you are experiencing an abundance of mental energy, you will feel motivated, efficient, and focused when dealing with tasks. You may feel like you can take on more and have the capacity to throw yourself into a situation without feeling stress or anxiety.

However, unfortunately in the busyness of modern society, you may relate more to the feeling of having a lack of mental energy. Take yourself back to a situation where you are juggling lots of tasks, work is hard, and home life is emotionally exhausting. This is the feeling of a lack of mental energy. You may have felt like being on the verge of burnout, found yourself procrastinating, and had the feeling of just not having the capacity to take on any more emotional or cognitive tasks.

You must deal with a lack of mental energy before it develops into mental exhaustion. Let us take a look at the symptoms of mental exhaustion and the toll that it can take on you as a person and your life.

Signs of Mental Exhaustion

Here are the mental, physical, and behavioral signs of exhaustion.

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Mental Signs

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of motivation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Anger

Physical Signs

  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Change in appetite
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Increased illness

Behavioral Signs

  • Poor performance at work
  • Social withdrawal
  • Inability to keep to commitments
  • Increased time off sick at work

The signs of mental exhaustion are less than desirable, and you should reiterate the importance of maintaining your mental energy and do not let it be an afterthought.[1]

How to Maintain a High Level of Mental Energy

The maintenance of mental energy is all in the approach. We can not always control our situation or the number of tasks that we have on at a particular moment in time. However, we can control how we manage and maintain our mental health and mental energy at these times. Just as our physical energy can be maintained through various methods, so can our mental energy.

Now, let us take a look at some of the useful methods that can help us to maintain a high level of mental energy starting from today.

1. Get Adequate Sleep

Sleep may sound like the most obvious method to help maintain a high level of mental energy, however, it is very important.

There are two stages of sleep, REM (rapid eye movement) which is the stage of sleep when you dream, and Non-REM. Non-REM can be divided into three stages, the final stage being deep sleep. The deep sleep stage is where scientists believe that your body renews and repairs itself and also the stage that is most important in terms of energy maintenance.

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There are many ways in which you can create good sleep hygiene. These include having time away from devices before sleep, stopping caffeine intake a few hours before you plan to go to sleep, and going to sleep at the same time each evening.

2. Structure Your Day

Structuring your day can apply to either your home or your work life. The key is to prioritize the important tasks so that if you run out of time, you are safe in the knowledge that these have been completed. If you don’t do this, then you are at risk of overworking yourself, staying at work late, or doing household tasks into the evening.

At home, this may be washing first or tidying the house before you sit down to have a relax. At work, you can write down a list of your tasks for the day and then, list them from the highest priority to the lowest. You can tick off each task as you go along. Any uncompleted tasks can then be transferred to the next day. Furthermore, if you are running out of time, you’ll know in advance and can delegate the priority work to ensure that this is completed on time.

3. Eat Well

Eating well is important for both physical and mental health. Eating a well-balanced diet and certain foods can aid memory, concentration, and focus and thus, helping you maintain mental energy.

Let us take a look at some foods that can do this:

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  • Wholegrains – can improve concentration and focus as it provides a steady supply of energy throughout the day.
  • Blueberries – can boost short-term memory as they contain protective compounds called anthocyanins.
  • Blackcurrants – can reduce anxiety and stress as they contain Vitamin C which is widely thought to increase mental agility.
  • Pumpkin seeds – can enhance memory and boost mood as they are rich in magnesium, B vitamins, and tryptophan, which are believed to be important in serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical that has a positive impact on mood.

4. Get Some Fresh Air

Going outdoors can have a restorative effect on mental health. You do not have to undertake a ten-mile walk to reap the benefits. Simply being out in the garden, going for a stroll in the countryside, or doing a brisk walk to the shop can have a positive effect on mental energy. Research has shown that spending time outdoors can relieve anxiety and depression. Furthermore, it promotes relaxation and can improve confidence and self-esteem.[2]

5. Take a Break

Taking a break every so often whether at work or when doing any task can maintain a high level of mental energy and focus when needed. A break can involve something as simple as walking away from your computer and changing your environment for a few minutes by going to make a cup of tea to strolling around the block on your lunch rather than staying in the office.

This change of environment takes your mind off the task at hand, rejuvenates, and reenergizes you. Focus can then be maintained and the task at hand can be done to the best of your abilities without mental fatigue.

6. Exercise Your Brain

Challenging your brain does for your mind what exercise does for your body. Physical exercise can stimulate your physical energy just as exercising your brain can stimulate your mental energy.

There are many ways to exercise your brain including:

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  • Brain training exercises can stimulate the mind and also boost intelligence.
  • Learn something new to create new challenges for your brain.
  • Socializing can stimulate multiple areas of the brain. The array of activities involved in socializing engages different areas of the brain with each activity.

7. Meditate

Studies of meditation have shown to have many benefits to the brain. Such benefits include an improvement in brain function and energy levels.

One such study found that practicing meditation for just 25 minutes a day can provide this boost. This is because meditation has been found to release endorphins and increase blood flow to the brain. When meditating, you focus your attention on your breathing and the aim is to eliminate the busyness of the brain and your thoughts. This provides a much-needed rest for your brain thus increasing your mental energy levels.[3]

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, a lack of mental energy is experienced by many and potentially, it is more commonly felt than the feeling of having a high level of energy. Once you spot the signs of a lack of mental energy, it is time to take action before those feelings worsen and develop into mental exhaustion.

However, the good news is that there are basic steps that you can take to maintain a high level of mental energy, and it is just as important as maintaining a high level of physical energy. These steps can be incorporated into your daily life with minimal effort. Eat well, sleep well, get some fresh air, take a break, challenge your brain, structure your day and meditate—it is as simple as that.

More Tips on Boosting Mental Energy

Featured photo credit: Ben White via unsplash.com

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Reference

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