You’ve probably heard good things about turmeric, the spice that’s widely appropriated around the globe with “superfood” status. But what exactly is it? And does it really have that many health benefits? From relieving chronic joint pain to preventing diseases, and plenty in between, turmeric truly is a food that does it all. We’ll break down each of its major benefits, and how you can easily incorporate it into your diet to maximize its effectiveness.
What is Turmeric?
Turmeric is an orange and sometimes golden-yellow spice, originating from the flowering turmeric plant (Curcuma longa), a member of the ginger family. Primarily grown in India and other parts of Southeast Asia, it's a key ingredient in many cuisines, such as curry powder. It also has a rich history in ancient medicine and Ayurveda, which modern civilizations have recently begun to adapt.
In addition to its unique flavor and color, it’s known to provide significant health benefits when consumed raw, in juice, or as a supplement.
Why is turmeric so good for you?
The key to turmeric’s potency lies in the primary active compound, curcumin. This curcuminoid is responsible for the most well-known benefits, working behind the scenes to power turmeric’s anti-inflammatory & antioxidant properties. But it’s not the only active agent, turmeric is full of compounds that provide a number of health benefits:
- Curcumin – Helps combat chronic inflammation by slowing the activity of inflammatory molecules, reducing pain & associated inflammation in your joints, gastrointestinal (GI) tract, skin, and brain. It also possesses impressive antioxidant effects, neutralizing free radicals and protecting cells from oxidative stress. Between these two properties, curcumin plays a major role in reducing & preventing chronic inflammation associated with heart disease, cancer, premature aging, and metabolic disorders.
- Turmerone – Furthering turmeric’s role as an anti-cancer agent, turmerones increase the body’s ability to defend against abnormal cell growth and fight common diseases & infections.
- Gingerols – Similar to the ginger root, gingerol has been touted as an anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antitumor, and antiemetic agent.
Between its vibrant color, peppery taste, and list of health benefits, it’s no surprise that turmeric’s stock has risen significantly in the last few decades. Millions are using it to manage specific conditions and improve their lifestyles, soaking up every possible benefit of this Indian spice.
10 Health Benefits of Turmeric
1. Lower acute & chronic inflammation
We’ve already touched on the spice’s anti-inflammatory properties at a high level. But for specific cases, turmeric’s power is unmatched. It naturally relieves arthritis-related pain & inflammation, reduces GI inflammation & improves gut health, and may lower oxidative stress, a leading cause of diabetes.
2. Defend against common diseases
As the powerhouse of turmeric, curcumin helps neutralize harmful free radicals, slowing the aging process and preventing chronic diseases that are common in older adults, like heart disease. Given its molecular composition, there’s anecdotal evidence that suggests it may reduce the severity of Alzheimers, a common neurodegenerative condition.
3. Reduce risk of cancer
Studies suggest that turmeric, specifically curcumin, may inhibit cancer development & progression at the molecular level, according to the National Cancer Institute. Even after a positive cancer diagnosis, turmeric consumption is still effective at slowing the disease’s progression. A 2020 scientific review confirms that curcumin reduces the side effects of chemotherapy. This results in a better quality of life, increased survival time, and decreased tumor markers’ level.
4. Improve brain health
Turmeric boosts Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), a type of cognitive growth hormone that helps neurons multiply and regulate synapses. Increased BDNF levels may lead to better memory and stronger learning capabilities. Furthermore, preliminary studies suggest that curcumin may also play a role in reducing the severity of
5. Strengthen heart health
Turmeric strengthens the function of the endothelium, your blood vessel lining, reducing the risk of heart disease, the most common health condition in the United States. Between inflammation and high cholesterol from overly-processed, seed oil-tainted foods, our hearts are under constant stress. Incorporating the spice into your diet, along with a nutritious meal & fitness plan, can strengthen your body’s circulatory system.
6. Relieve chronic & acute pain
Curcumin is known to alleviate both chronic & acute pain, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. Though it’s not a substitute for medical treatment, it has been known to reduce pain levels caused by arthritis, menstrual cramps, and post-workout aches & soreness.
7. Improve gut & digestive health
A steady diet of turmeric has been known to support various digestive organs, from the esophagus (throat) to the bowel. At the beginning of the system, it may help manage symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Towards the end of the process, it’s been known to reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) like Crohn's and ulcerative colitis. It’s theorized that curcumin, the primary bioactive compound, may also help prevent stomach ulcers.
8. Suppress fat tissue growth & support weight loss
Despite being “just a spice,” turmeric can play a multi-dimensional role in your weight loss journey. For starters, curcumin can suppress fat tissue growth and actively reduce high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar, some of the most common conditions associated with obesity.
9. Reduce skin irritation & restore younger-looking skin
Most of the research surrounding turmeric’s relationship to skin quality & health is based on topical application. However, consuming it may still yield positive benefits, specifically in reducing symptoms of psoriasis, acne, and eczema, as well as premature aging.
10. Strengthen immune response
The anti-inflammatory & antioxidant effects of turmeric on the body’s immune system are well documented. But curcumin also possesses antiviral & antibacterial properties, which can limit the severity of allergic reactions, activate immune cells, and combat autoimmune diseases.
How to Use Turmeric for Maximum Effectiveness
Perhaps turmeric’s greatest attribute isn’t the long list of health benefits, but its versatility – you can add it to juices, vegetables, rice dishes, and even purchase curcumin-specific supplements.
Drink Turmeric Juice
Easy to consume and integrate into your busy schedule, turmeric juice is the most effective way to consume more of this superfood on a daily basis. Compared to the spice form, the bioactive compounds are more readily absorbed when ingested in a cold-pressed juice. Our Mini Boss shots are loaded with Fijian-grown turmeric, spicy ginger, lemon, camu camu powder, and a drop of black pepper oil for increased absorption.
Season Your Food with Turmeric
Arguably, the easiest way to consume more turmeric is by cooking with it. A staple ingredient in Indian dishes curry and dhal, this earthy spice pairs nicely with other herbs & spices like cumin, coriander, garlic, and black pepper. Of these pairings, black pepper is the most important – it contains piperine, a compound that enhances the body’s absorption of curcumin.
Don’t know where to start? Try out this easy sweet potato dal recipe, a filling mix of veggies, lentils, and of course, cracked black pepper.
Supplements seem to be all the rage these days, allowing people to get their daily servings of essential micro & macro nutrients in a single scoop. And though curcumin pills & powders continue to fly off the shelves, they aren’t the best way to reap the benefits of turmeric. Without black pepper or piperine as its sidekick, curcumin isn’t as readily absorbed by the body. Supplements should be a last-ditch alternative to juices & whole foods.
Potential Risks and Side Effects
While turmeric is generally safe, consuming large amounts, especially in supplement form, may cause side effects like nausea, diarrhea, or dizziness. High doses may also thin blood, posing a significant risk to those with blood disorders or taking blood thinners.
Is it safe to eat or take turmeric everyday?
Yes, it's generally safe to consume turmeric on a daily basis as part of a balanced diet. However, high doses should only be ingested under proper medical guidance.
How much turmeric is safe daily?
The World Health Organization suggests up to 1.4mg per pound of body weight as a safe daily intake of turmeric. However, this may vary between individuals.
Personally, we’re probably the biggest fans of turmeric on the planet, which is why it's a staple in our Signature Juice Cleanse. The bright, spicy nectar simply boasts too many health benefits to ignore, all of which can support your wellness goals. It lowers inflammation, protects against diseases, and boosts cognitive function, among countless others. And its versatility is unmatched – you can drink it, season food, and supplement with it. If you’re looking to improve your quality of life, turmeric is a good place to start.