Sometimes the best remedies are the ones that are right under your nose. Turmeric is a great example – this spice has been lending its aroma and golden yellow color to curries and other delicious dishes for millennia. But in recent years, researchers have finally demonstrated the possible benefits of curcumin, the active ingredient found in turmeric, and it’s been catching on with the public ever since. There are tons of benefits of turmeric. Let’s break down a few ways it can help you.
What is turmeric?
Turmeric is a plant from the same family as ginger. It’s native to the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia.
The spice is derived from the roots of this plant which are harvested every year, then boiled and ground to produce the familiar yellow powder that is used to flavor and color food, and for all kinds of other applications across India, Southeast Asia, and China.
Benefits of turmeric
Today we know that the primary active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, a natural phenol responsible for the root’s golden color. Studies at top institutions have shown that this compound has a wide range of benefits.
1. It can help with mobility.
Many people who experience discomfort in their knees, hands, and other joints are living with a chronic inflammatory condition like rheumatoid arthritis. The curcumin in turmeric is a natural, highly effective anti-inflammatory that helps to counteract the inflammation which causes pain and damages cartilage.1 2
2. It is a powerful antioxidant
As an antioxidant, curcumin helps to protect cells from damage by free radicals that are responsible for aging and the genesis of some illnesses.3
3. It helps with your exercise regime
We all know that exercise, along with a balanced diet, is the key to a healthy life. Studies conducted with elite athletes have found that curcumin helps with muscle recovery after intense physical exercise and can reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), helping you to keep training and improve performance over time.4 5
How can I get the most out of turmeric?
These benefits mean that turmeric is more popular than ever. However, the powdered turmeric you can buy at the supermarket is unlikely to be of much use, and not all turmeric supplements are created equal.
Before embarking on your personal turmeric trial, you should consider bioavailability. Put simply, bioavailability is a measure of how easy it is for your body to absorb a particular substance. If something is very bioavailable then it will easily get into your bloodstream, where it can have a pharmacological effect.
Unfortunately curcumin – the active ingredient in turmeric – is not very bioavailable. It already forms just 3% of turmeric by weight, and more than 95% of it is broken down in the digestive system before it can be absorbed and take effect.
To have the best chance of experiencing benefits from curcumin, you really need to focus on the delivery mechanism,’ says Dr. Miriam Ferrer, head of product development at scientific supplement company FutureYou Cambridge.
‘Eating powdered turmeric from the shop simply won’t get enough of the active ingredient into your bloodstream, so a lot of people choose a supplement that uses phytosome technology to increase absorption. With this method, the curcumin is combined with lecithin, which protects it in the digestive system so that it can reach your cells and take effect, making it 30x more absorbable than standard turmeric taken with food.’
Final thoughts on turmeric
Turmeric has become extraordinarily popular in recent years. If you’d like to give it a try, just make sure you are using an easy-to-absorb supplement so that you can get the most out of the golden spice.
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