Turmeric Curcumin has gained notoriety over the last few years for its amazing health benefits, but is this Golden Superfood worth all the hype?
People across the globe have fallen in love with turmeric for its numerous health benefits. You’ve probably seen or heard of this incredible “spice of life” in health food stores, articles, podcasts, and some of your favorite Indian dishes.
But what’s the deal with turmeric, and why does it seem to continue growing in popularity?
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a flowering plant from the ginger family that has been used for thousands of years in ancient Asian medicinal remedies and in dishes all across the region. Believe it or not, turmeric is still a large part of Ayurveda, Siddha, and traditional Chinese healing practices today.
Similar in appearance to ginger (but with a distinctive vivid orange color), turmeric has often been called one of the world’s healthiest superfoods, as well as possibly being one of the most effective nutritional supplements known to man.
Often nicknamed the “Golden Root,” it gives some of your favorite dishes their signature look and smell. Dishes such as curry get their rich orange color from turmeric, and it gives yellow mustard namesake yellow hue. It can be purchased fresh, dried, powdered, or in supplement form. It’s earthy, pepper-like flavor is milder and less pungent than ginger.
Turmeric is also packed with an impressive amount of nutrients and phytonutrients such as iron, manganese, potassium, copper, vitamin B6, fiber, tumerones, and tumenorols.
Whichever way you look at it, it’s safe to say that turmeric is not going out of style anytime soon. In fact, more and more studies continue to take place as researchers seek to understand the true healing potential of turmeric.
If you’re new to the world of turmeric, there’s one important fact you should know… When it comes to reaping the health rewards of turmeric, it’s all about the curcumin!
What is curcumin?
Curcumin is the main active compound found in turmeric, and it’s where this rhizome (a subterranean plant stem) gets its superpowers. In fact, most of turmeric’s amazing therapeutic benefits are actually a result of its curcumin content.
Curcumin is just one of many curcuminoids, a family of active compounds, found within turmeric. Although curcumin is just one of these curcuminoids, and a small part of turmeric, it’s by far the most widely studied and important element.
Why is this? Because curcumin creates the medicinal benefits that turmeric has become so hugely famous for. Curcumin actually makes up approximately 77% of the curcuminoid content in turmeric, making it the most prominent and most beneficial to study.
And although turmeric has been used for centuries, it hasn’t actually been deeply researched in Western medicine until the past decade or so. As research continues, we can expect to continue uncovering the true potential of curcumin, it’s likely we will find more uses and benefits of this wondrous “super spice.”
Some of the benefits of curcumin include:
Promoting healthy inflammation responses and better joint health
Curcumin’s powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties have been shown in many studies to help promote healthy inflammatory responses in the body. Since most major Western illnesses are believed to be caused by chronic inflammation, maintaining healthy inflammatory responses is incredibly important to longevity, joint mobility, and good health.
Supporting a healthy heart
In one study, volunteers taking 500mg of curcumin per day found that their total cholesterol dropped by 11.63 % and their HDL ( “good” cholesterol”) went up 29% in only seven days. This makes curcumin a positive addition to any heart-healthy lifestyle.
Boosting stress tolerance
The adaptogens found in curcumin may help your body handle stress more efficiently. In one 2011 study, researchers in India found that curcumin had many adaptogenic abilities that could help maintain healthy stress hormone levels and improve mood, memory, and focus.
Supporting digestion and metabolism
Some studies suggest that curcumin may help support healthy digestion, therefore also making it beneficial for healthy metabolism and overall fitness as well. Although more research is needed, curcumin seems to be a great addition to any healthy, active lifestyle.
In one 2014 study, 60 people diagnosed with depression were given Prozac, curcumin, or a combination of both. At the conclusion of the study, depressed patients ingesting only curcumin reported increases in their mood that rivaled the popular drug Prozac. In other words, adding a curcumin supplement to your routine may help you feel more positive and upbeat!
Enhancing cognitive performance and brain health
Curcumin may have a protective effect on brain health, causing you to think more clearly, make better decisions, and recall memories more efficiently. Some studies are looking at curcumin’s ability to boost BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), which plays a vital role in preventing age-related cognitive decline.
The challenge of bioavailability
The biggest challenge when it comes to taking advantage of curcumin’s natural health benefits is that it has low bioavailability, a high metabolizing rate, and is not easily absorbed by the body. These factors make it difficult to reach the levels required for experiencing these therapeutic effects.
Moreover, since generic turmeric generally only contains about 2-5% curcumin, you would have to eat an unrealistically large amount of turmeric each day to reap the full rewards.
Luckily, as curcumin’s research and popularity expand, there are new solutions being introduced to overcome these absorption challenges.
Certain black pepper extracts, for example, such as the patented ingredient BioPerine® in some turmeric-curcumin supplements, can now help increase curcumin absorption in your body by up to 2000%.
Why turmeric-curcumin supplements
These new bioavailability innovations found in many turmeric-curcumin supplements are amongst the top reasons why many experts recommend taking a concentrated supplement formula with a high amount of curcumin as the best consumption method for health support.
High-quality supplements also tend to be more potent and undergo stricter safety testing and quality control to ensure maximum absorption and ensure premium sourcing that is free from any heavy metal traces or contaminants.
All in all, a high-quality turmeric-curcumin supplement will be highly concentrated and targeted specifically for its potent antioxidant abilities by using high amounts of curcumin extract and piperine (found in black pepper) to improve absorption and bioavailability.
How to choose a turmeric-curcumin supplement
With so many turmeric supplements available on the market today, it can quickly become very overwhelming trying to find a high-quality option that features the right amounts of daily curcumin.
And since curcumin is not easily absorbed into the bloodstream, it makes it very easy to waste money on low-quality, poor efficacy products that provide little to no real benefits.
With the right knowledge, you can choose the right high-quality turmeric-curcumin supplement for maximum benefits and wellness support.
Here are the top tips to keep in mind when choosing your turmeric-curcumin supplement:
Don’t expect drastic improvements overnight. Consistency is key when it comes to getting the most of any supplement, and results can take time.
Start early in the day! Try to take your turmeric-curcumin supplement in the AM on an empty stomach or with a light meal for maximum effectiveness.
Look for BioPerine®. Make sure your supplement contains a premium black pepper extract like BioPerine®. Also known as piperine, this extract is obtained from black pepper fruits and has been found to enhance the absorption of nutrients by 30% or more. It helps boost the bioavailability of turmeric and is a key factor for improving bioavailability and absorption of curcumin.
Avoid cheap products. But be sure to watch out for cheap turmeric supplements with questionable ingredient sourcing. A good label should always be completely transparent and contain all the key information you need to know.
Look for Turmeric EXTRACT on the label. This step is crucial! Clinical studies on the health benefits of turmeric are almost exclusively conducted using concentrated turmeric extracts standardized to include large amounts of curcumin.
Avoid turmeric-curcumin supplements with misleading labels or outlandish claims. As much as we wish there was a magic supplement that could restore perfect health overnight, we should be wary of any products that make any such promises.
Avoid products lacking strict third party testing. Testing is incredibly important for turmeric-curcumin supplements since poorly sourced turmeric could have traces of heavy metals or other contaminants. In other words, not all turmeric supplements are created equally when it comes to safety and purity. Look for third-party lab-tested products.
Look for maximum potency. Make sure your turmeric supplement lists how many milligrams (mg) of turmeric powder AND extract are included per serving. Ideally, look for products with powerful potency that are standardized to 95% curcuminoids and contain an ideal serving of 400mg of turmeric extract.
Check-in with your doctor. If you suffer from a preexisting condition or take prescription medications regularly, it’s always best to check with your personal physician before starting a new supplement routine to make sure that turmeric-curcumin supplements are the right choice for you.
With new clinical studies and promising results surfacing often, there’s so doubt that it’s an exciting time to experience the incredible health benefits of turmeric.
Whether it’s the potent antioxidant abilities or the full body-supporting benefits of better heart, cognitive, and digestive health, the curcumin in turmeric is one supplement not to be overlooked in your wellness routine.
Have you tried adding curcumin supplementation to your life yet? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. If want to learn more about turmeric, check out the Health and Wellness section of our site for more great articles, or read our 2020 Turmeric Supplement Buying Guide here. Or check out this article to learn all about turmeric.
To stay up-to-date on all things health & wellness, make sure to check out the other great articles on Smarter Choices, and leave a comment below! Or read up on Sadhguru on the healing properties of turmeric.