If you’re like many active adults, you may be adding a turmeric supplement to your daily routine to help soothe tired muscles and achy joints that can occur after overexertion. If so, you’re in good company. After all, it’s a key reason why turmeric has evolved from an ancient therapy into one of today’s most popular dietary supplements. As you enjoy all these comfy benefits, you may be surprised to know that the very same biochemical actions behind turmeric’s ability to help reduce post-exercise soreness also deliver serious benefits for other common health concerns.
Researchers continue to attribute the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions of turmeric to curcumin, although emerging research suggests other turmeric compounds may play a role as well. In an extensive review of pre-clinical and clinical research, university researchers in Spain sum up how curcumin has body benefits that you may be overlooking, including benefits for brain, heart, liver and metabolic health.(1)
Curcumin’s actions are especially beneficial for brain health and optimal cognitive function. Why? The brain consumes 20 percent of the body’s oxygen, making it more susceptible to oxidative stress than other organs. Yet, when curcumin and other antioxidants are in steady supply, the brain has the power to neutralize highly reactive oxygen free radicals that can harm cells. And, maintaining a healthy inflammatory response helps nerve cells function at peak performance.
The ability to maintain a healthy inflammatory response appears to be a key way that curcumin helps promote overall cardiovascular health. In addition, curcumin’s antioxidant action, especially its ability to increase the activity of cardiac antioxidant enzymes, is reported to help combat the production of harmful free radicals. These actions also help maintain the healthy structure and function of blood lipoproteins.
The antioxidant properties of curcumin support the health of mitochondria deep within your liver cells. The mitochondria are often called the energy factories of the cell since they convert food energy into cellular energy (ATP). It’s a 24/7 process that ensures your liver performs at its best, especially in its role of detoxification. After all, a healthy liver can not only jettison normal metabolic waste from the body but process and eliminate pollution, pesticides and other environmental toxins. Your liver can even convert drugs into harmless byproducts that can be eliminated from the body. Pre-clinical research shows that curcumin helps increase oxygen consumption and biochemical activity in liver mitochondria that, in turn, decreases oxidative stress and helps restore ATP content.
By supporting the body’s natural anti-inflammatory response and antioxidant defenses, curcumin may help promote glucose balance, support healthy insulin function, and help maintain healthy lipid metabolism. An optimal intake of curcumin and other antioxidants is especially helpful for people with diabetes to help combat the higher oxidative stress that is common with the disease.
The researchers also describe pre-clinical research indicating that curcumin may offer similar actions for other organs and tissues, making it one of nature’s most versatile plant polyphenols for whole body health. One of the best ways to benefit from curcumin (and other turmeric bioactives) is to include a high-quality supplement that not only delivers a precise amount of curcumin in every serving, but other quality features that your body needs to fully benefit from this simple daily habit with so many body benefits.
1. Pulido-Moran M, Moreno-Fernandez J, Ramirez-Tortosa C, Ramirez-Tortosa M. Curcumin and Health. Molecules. 2016;21(3):264. Review. PMID: 26927041.