Benefits of Turmeric: How Turmeric Can Transform Your Health

Photo Courtesy of New Falkanz Home Remedies (5)

Photo Courtesy of New Falkanz Home Remedies (5)

Known as the ‘golden spice’ of Southeast Asia, the powerful health benefits of turmeric have recently captured the attention of health enthusiasts and the medical field worldwide.

This yellow ginger, popularly used in curry dishes, contains a healing chemical compound called curcumin. This compound is proven to have anti-inflammatory properties, contain very strong antioxidants, and even have anti-cancer qualities.

Proven Health and Beauty Benefits of Turmeric

Recent studies revealed that the health benefits of using turmeric are far more extensive than what was previously known. Aside from optimizing bodily functions and reversing diseases, turmeric can also improve your mental health and enhance the beauty of your hair and skin.

Anti-inflammatory Properties

Inflammation is an important body reaction in order to fight off bacteria that could easily enter our bodies; however, chronic or long-term inflammation can work against your body and allow bacteria to enter your body’s tissues. The curcumin in turmeric is a very strong anti-inflammatory agent that targets inflammation at a molecular level.

Antioxidant

Oxidative damage is one of the major causes of diseases and rapid aging. Curcumin is a potent antioxidant that helps neutralize free radicals and helps stimulate your body’s own production of antioxidants

Brain Disease Prevention

The Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) is an important hormone in your brain that helps with creating new connections between neurons. A decreased level BDNF could lead to brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Curcumin increases the levels of BDNF in the brain and helps fight brain degeneration.

Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Curcumin is found to help optimize the function of endothelium, the lining in the blood vessel that is important for regulation of blood pressure and normal blood clotting.

Cancer Prevention

There are many different types of cancer, but recent studies have shown that the majority of cancers react positively to the properties found in turmeric. Curcumin has been shown to help delay the spread of cancer, prevent tumor growth, and even kill some cancerous cells.

Hair and Skin Benefits

Hair

Turmeric has been used for many years in beauty recipes to help prevent hair loss, stop dandruff, and slow the growth of facial hair.

Skin

Turmeric can be included in many skin improvement recipes to help improve your skin’s elasticity, lighten pigmentation, control oily skin, cure acne, lighten stretch marks, and heal cracked and dry skin.

Photo Courtesy of Healthy Food House (  4)

Photo Courtesy of Healthy Food House (4)

Health Benefits of Turmeric for Weight Loss

Consuming turmeric supplements alone is not a sure guarantee for weight loss. Turmeric supplements should be complemented with proper diet and exercise.

Turmeric, as we learned above, is effective at reducing inflammatory messaging in your body’s cells. This in turn can help improve:

  • Metabolism

  • Management of blood sugar levels

  • Control cholesterol levels

  • Insulin resistance

All of these factors are closely associated with obesity.

How to Take your Turmeric

In order for you to get the full health benefits of turmeric, health experts recommend taking it with black pepper. The combination enhances the body’s absorption of the curcumin in turmeric by 2,000 percent, as published in a 1998 PubMed article in the US National Library of Medicine.

You can buy your turmeric in its original ginger form, in powdered form, or in capsules as a supplement. You can take your turmeric by cooking a lot of curry dishes such as:

  • Chicken Curry

  • Lamb Tagine

  • Mediterranean stew

  • Curried Winter Soup

It can be included in almost any meat and vegetable dish, or you can simply sprinkle it in your fried rice and add fine ground pepper. Others prefer to take it as a supplement in capsule form, but be sure to ingest a few whole peppercorns together with it for maximum benefit.

Special Considerations when Consuming Turmeric during Pregnancy

The health benefits of turmeric are also available for pregnant women. Turmeric is generally safe to be consumed when used as a spice in food, and the mother can still gain its full health benefits.

However, doctors do not advise taking turmeric as a supplement during pregnancy. Excessive intake of turmeric can stimulate the fetus, leading to premature childbirth or miscarriage.


The Key Takeaway: Turmeric can be a Great & Healthy Addition to your Diet

As you have read above, turmeric can have a plethora of health benefits. I suggest you follow the guidelines here for consumption, and consult a doctor if you have special circumstances (i.e. you are pregnant).

If you want to check out new healthy additions that you can make to your daily life, be sure to sign up for the Rebounder Zone newsletter here!

About the Author

photo via rebounderzone.come

photo via rebounderzone.come

Leonard Parker is a health blogger and owner of the eCommerce store, Rebounder Zone.  Through Rebounder Zone, Leonard’s team specializes in rebounder trampolines, health equipment, and useful health information for mature adults.

Leonard is a graduate of Stanford University and has worked in various roles as a digital marketing specialist and technology consultant.  Rebounder Zone was started because  Leonard saw first hand how health living with regular exercise can change lives, and he wants to help others experience this incredible feeling, too.  For any questions about rebounding or information mentioned in this article, please contact Leonard at leonard@rebounderzone.com.

Sources:

1. Ying Xu, et. al. (2006, November 29) Curcumin reduces the effects of chronic stress in behavior, the HPA axis, BDNF expression and phosphorylation of CREB. Retreived from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006899306027144

2. Ravindran J., et. al. (2009 September) Curcumin and Cancer Cells: How Many Ways Can Curry Kill Tumor Cells Selectively? Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2758121/

3. Shoba G, et. al. (1998 May) Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9619120

4. Turmeric - Spice With Amazing Health Benefits. (2013). Retrieved August 16, 2016, from http://www.healthyfoodhouse.com/turmeric-spice-with-amazing-health-benefits/

5. Home Remedies. (n.d.). Retrieved August 16, 2016, from https://nawfalkanz.blogspot.com/2014/08/benefits-of-turmeric-for-beauty-skin.html

6. K., V. (2015, October 25). 8 Health Benefits of Turmeric. Retrieved August 16, 2016, from http://www.urbanmali.com/8-health-benefits-of-turmeric/

 

Does Food Quality Matter?

Food quality is a hot topic right now.

Retrieved from Pranzo UK (6)

Retrieved from Pranzo UK (6)

Well, well, well.  We meet this subject again.  

If you've been following my Instagram, Facebook, or this website for any length of time now then you're already acquainted with my strong bias in support of producing food at only the highest sustainable quality.  

However, I will do my best to push that aside and do an objective report on how the food in Italy has affected my body over the past 7 weeks.  

This is usually referred to as an "n=1 study," since I am only testing it on myself.  

These are usually super effective for people trying to figure things out for themselves and their health, because I am in my body and only I am in tune with that enough to feel what it feels and see how it is being affected: by clothes fitting a certain way or how heavily I'm breathing after certain activities.  

So that being established, this is going to be a compilation of how I've felt with this drastic diet change while in Florence for the summer.  

What is different in Italy?

The diet change I'm referring to is this: at home, I eat primal (no legumes, only rice sometimes if grains are consumed, no processed sugar, moderate dairy, LOTS of veggies, high protein, a little bit of fruit, lots of healthy fats).  

Here, I've pretty much only stayed away from gluten and soy because they really bother me.  

Pizza and pasta and gelato and milk chocolate that exists without soy lechitin as an emulsifier here have been very present in my body.  

I will place here that there are also other variables.  

One is that I've walked at least 5 miles a day, usually more.  

My workout routine went from lifting 5-6 days a week plus at least 4 cardio sessions on top of that to 3-5 HIIT & body weight workout sessions per week, not lasting longer than 45 minutes.  

So, I will do my best to explain what happened as a result of that.  But first, I think a little Italian food history is in order.  

Italian food quality

In the Italian cooking class I took the first week I was here, the chef got on his soapbox for a few minutes.  

He talked about how when the US really started pumping GMOs and hormones into their food, Italy went the opposite route.  

He explained the laws here are really in favor of organic produce, grass-fed and free-range meats, and full-fat foods without the sugar added to reduce it.  

I decided to do a little poking around on the interwebs and found some cool stuff in these regards. 

For instance, Italy not only rejected the idea of GMOs when they first became popular in the US, they still stringently fight against them.  

As recently as 2015, the country opted to reject 8 strands of GMOs that the EU was promoting for its countries (1).  

In 1993, the year before the first GMOs hit grocery stores in the US (2), Italy was not super focused on organic farming, either.  

They were pretty exclusive to small northern markets near the farms that produced them.  

However, as the "organic" title began implying the meaning that a product was also "non-GMO," it seems that my chef was right about Italians' push back against GMOs.  

Production of organic produce increased 200% between 1997-1999, with production still increasing yearly, though not necessarily at that high a rate each year (3). 

But don't they love their sugar?

After hearing the chef & reading those things about Italy's unique perspective on food production, I was more confused about this place than ever.  

If you've ever been to Italy, you know they love their sugar.  

Gelato or a granite (basically a slush) for breakfast is the thing to do in Sicily, and up north it's not much better with sugared tarts or croissants paired with your sugared-down cappuccino first thing in the morning.  

Pizza or a bread-heavy sandwich for lunch.  

Gelato as a cool afternoon snack, followed by a 3-course dinner of pasta, meat & veggies, and dessert.  Oh, and always wine.  

The realization that the people are very concerned about food quality & sourcing here was interesting to me.  

I've crusaded against processed sugar for the past 2 years and haven't consumed any other than the tiny bit in dark chocolate back home.  

So the fact that the sugar capital of the world cares about quality means maybe our idea of "quality" is skewed.

I was even more interested to see if the fact that even though there is a lot of white cane sugar in Italian food, high fructose corn syrup is rarely used.  

In fact, the population in Italy consumes less than 1 pound of it per person per year (4).  Compare that to the 35 pounds per year the average American takes in (5)! 

Okay, enough of the research.  

What did my time here teach me?

Retrieved from Gelato Giuliana(7)

The first week, I was in full "vacation mode."  Eating out for almost every meal, gelato at least once a day, and skipping breakfast.  

I didn't work out because at that point I was allowing a week off since my training was vigorous for a solid 4 months leading up to coming here.  

Plus, I wasn't sure if I was going to join the local gym or not and wanted to check it out before "settling" for using the staircase in the hallway to our apartment.  It's 98 steps, by the way.

The second week, I could feel it.  

My normally-low-carb body was in full revolt with bloating and breakouts galore.  

The reintroduction of excessive white sugar was definitely the culprit, in my opinion.  

Because of these crappy feelings, I began inventing HIIT workouts on the stairs and turning it into my little gym.  

I went to the local market and got fresh, preservative-free cheeses & meats and lots of produce.  

Another great thing on the produce: Italians are snobs about eating in-season.  

So a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of peaches was €2 since they're a summer fruit, whereas apples were closer to €5 per kilogram.  

Still way cheaper than America for ANYTHING organic, in-season or not.  But it's cool to see that most farmers refuse to even sell things that aren't in-season.

Cooking the freshest in-season produce

Cooking for myself definitely helped.  

I made sure to remember probiotics and prebiotics daily, only discoverable here in the form of full-fat yogurt and the tub of Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides I brought along with me (thanks, Sarah!).  

I still ate out plenty of times, mind you.  

Lots of GF pizza.  And gelato was still a very regular occurrence. 

But here's the interesting part: those HIIT sessions invigorated me.  Walking everywhere rarely felt like a chore.  I began loving the constant movement.  

I ate until I was full, and then some.  

If I was exhausted from visiting 2 museums and rehearsing Shakespeare and writing too much all in one day, I let myself not worry about missing a workout.  

This resulted in the 3-5 times a week exercise schedule.  

Sure, I lost some muscle since I wasn't lifting weights like back home.  

But my core is much stronger now from the functional nature of the workouts I've been doing.  My acne went away and the bloating reduced.  

My clothes still fit, so I haven't gained that much weight, if any.  

I'm actually scared the number went down because of muscle loss... I was very hypertrophic from over-training when I got here.  

My abs are hiding a little more than my first week, but honestly not as much as I'd expected.  

And you know what?  

My mental state is better than ever.  

I love the routine I've got at home: I kick ass on a primal diet there.  But I needed this break more than I knew.  

Italy taught me how to enjoy dessert again without guilt.  

Final thoughts

But I strongly feel that the simplicity, care, and quality put into food production in this country made all the difference between how I do feel and how crappy I would be feeling if I ate like this regularly at home.  

I've eaten like this before in the States.  

It's called the no-diet plan.  

Or if you're on one, IIFYM.  

And I was always depleted, constantly had cravings, and got irritable very easily.  My brain got foggy.  

Maybe because I was eating pounds of HFCS without meaning to.  Maybe because I wasn't exercising for stimulation and health.  

But whatever it was, I've never felt this good on a lifestyle considered so "unhealthy" back home.  

Here, I've filled a journal and written more than 30 letters just on this trip.  

Again, I credit the food quality and lack of hormones, GMOs, and preservatives.  

I'm luckily very in tune with my body and am a hippie snob with chemicals as a result.  

But you can take from my n=1 experience what you will. :)

Sources

(1) Tropia, C.  (September 28, 2015).  "No a 8 produtti ogm, l'Italia contro l'Ue."  il Salvagente Test.  Retrieved from https://www.testmagazine.it/2015/09/18/no-a-8-prodotti-ogm-litalia-contro-lue/2714/?v=cd32106bcb6d

(2) Shireen.  (March 10, 2013).  "GMO timeline: a history of genetically-modified foods." GMO Inside Blog.  Retrieved from http://gmoinside.org/gmo-timeline-a-history-genetically-modified-foods/

(3) n.a. n.d. "Italy."  FAO Corporate Document Repository.  Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/docrep/004/y1669e/y1669e0a.htm

(4) n.a. (December 4, 2012).  "Countries with the greatest use of high-fructose corn syrup also have more diabetes."  Yahoo! News.  Retrieved from https://www.yahoo.com/news/countries-greatest-high-fructose-corn-syrup-more-diabetes-182823674.html?ref=gs

(5) Gucciardi, A.  (June 2, 2012).  "Americans eat 35 lbs of 'stupidity' linked high fructose corn syrup on average."  Natural Society.  Retrieved from http://naturalsociety.com/americans-eat-35-lbs-high-fructose-corn-syrup-average/

(6) n.a. n.d. "home."  Pranzo Fresh Italian Food to go.  Retrieved from http://www.pranzo.uk

(7) n.a. (2016).  "Our passion."  Gelato Giuliana.  Retrieved from http://www.gelatogiuliana.com