3 Power-Packed Health Benefits of Turmeric
It’s been described as an “enigma,” the “Indian solid gold,” and an ideal “Spice for Life.” 1,2 This golden spice has continued to climb the ladder of popularity, consistently finding its place on lists of superfoods and food trends (Golden Milk, anyone?), and as a dietary supplement. Over the last several years, it has become a mainstay at or near the top—showing no signs of stopping. Of course, I’m talking about turmeric.
So many people are jumping on the bandwagon due to the many power-packed health benefits of turmeric, which we’ll dig into below. Let’s dive in!
Health Benefits of Turmeric
Turmeric (Curcuma longa L.) is the most popular spice in Indian cuisine and a primary ingredient in curry powder.3 If you’ve ever seen the turmeric root, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that it belongs to the ginger (Zingiberaceae) family.
Besides its culinary use in cooking to add color and as a preservative, turmeric has a long history of use in the Indian system of holistic medicine known as Ayurveda, which uses mainly plant-based ingredients to promote health and wellness.
The yellow-pigmented fraction of turmeric contains curcuminoids, a group of compounds that are chemically related to its main ingredient, curcumin. Curcumin is the most abundant of the curcuminoids group (77% of the total weight), and the curcuminoids constitute around 3 – 5% of turmeric. 3,4
While there is a laundry list of health benefits of turmeric, most of them can be attributed to curcumin, a powerful polyphenol that gives turmeric its yellow pigment.
With over 3,000 preclinical investigations, curcumin is one of the best investigated botanical constituents in the biomedical literature. 1 These studies have revealed that curcumin has a wide range of biological effects, which contribute to providing support for an array of full-body health benefits of turmeric, including: 2,5
- Antioxidant support
- Healthy inflammation
- Detoxification support
Let’s take a look at these health benefits of turmeric (or should I say curcumin?) in more depth.
1. Turmeric and Antioxidant Support
Curcumin is dual-sided when it comes to providing antioxidant support. In fact, it exerts antioxidant activity in both direct and indirect ways by scavenging reactive oxygen species (i.e., free radicals) and promoting the body’s natural antioxidant pathways, respectively. 6 For example, curcumin has been shown to promote the release of nuclear factor erythroid-derived 2 (Nrf2), which is considered the “master regulator of antioxidant response.” 7
Yes, that’s a lot of scientific mumbo-jumbo, but the take-home point is that curcumin is one powerful polyphenol when it comes to supporting a healthy redox status, which is important for maintaining the balancing act between pro-oxidants and antioxidants, and ultimately, mitigating excessive oxidative stress. 8 This is oh-so-important when it comes to the health benefits of turmeric because excess oxidative stress plays a central role in aging and various health-related issues. 9,10
2. Turmeric Supports Healthy Inflammation Levels
Curcumin is perhaps most highly regarded for its capacity to promote a healthy inflammatory response. Indeed, curcumin has been shown to target several key biomarkers associated with inflammation. This has led some to conclude that “curcumin acts as a master switch of inflammation.” 11
Along these lines, curcumin has been shown to target several pro-inflammatory mediators, including enzymes, transcription factors, cytokines, signal transducers, and more. While curcumin has been shown to act on many molecular targets, extensive research within the past two decades has shown that curcumin mediates its anti-inflammatory effects by downregulation of: 1
- Nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kB)
- Cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2)
- 5 lipoxygenase (5-LOX)
- Tumor necrosis factor (TNF)
- Interleukin 1 (IL-1)
- Interleukin 6 (IL-6)
- Prostate specific antigen (PSA)
- C-reactive protein (CRP)
Again, that’s a lot of scientific jargon, but you don’t need to remember the alphabet soup… Just recognize that curcumin, described by some as “an enigma,” has a wide-ranging, far-reaching capacity to help promote a healthy inflammatory response. These days, I think it’s safe to say that persistent, unhealthy levels of inflammation are either associated with or involved in nearly every non-communicable health problem.
Before moving on, one quick, yet very important point: The health benefits of turmeric shouldn’t be taken out of context. Food-derived compounds like curcumin may hold tremendous promise, but we have to be careful not to get overly myopic. In other words, the beneficial effects of food-based components may be profoundly influenced (e.g., amplified or muted) by their place in one’s overall dietary and lifestyle patterns.
Okay, off my soapbox…
3. Turmeric and Detoxification
I don’t point out this health benefit of turmeric lightly. What I mean by that is there’s a lot of hype out there on the topic of detoxification (such as detox diets and juice cleanses), much of which remains unsubstantiated, if not downright outrageous.
You see, metabolic detoxification is an ongoing process. Every day, the body’s detoxification organs (such as the liver, kidneys, large intestine, lymphatic glands, and sweat glands) are working to eliminate contaminants that come in from toxic bacteria, pollutants, plasticizers, heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, chemicals found in clothing, furniture, paint, personal hygiene products, water, and more.
While the body is equipped to naturally eliminate toxins, there are various food-based components that can favorably balance metabolic pathways to assist with toxin conversion and subsequent elimination. In other words, there are certain whole foods that can support the body’s natural detoxification pathways, and turmeric is one such food. 12
Turmeric, and perhaps more specifically, curcumin, supports balanced activation of phase I detox systems, phase II glucuronidation, and activation of Nrf2, which is key to regulating the body’s detox and antioxidant systems. Without getting too thick into the weeds, there are three main phases (phase I, phase II, and elimination) of the body’s natural detoxification process. Essentially, they involve transforming toxins into non-toxic compounds to prepare them for elimination. 12
Of course, these are just three health benefits of curcumin. However, it’s these three that really serve as the foundation for myriad other power-packed health benefits of turmeric—often the “why” behind reaching for a turmeric supplement. These include:
- Joint health
- Skin health
- Brain health and cognitive function
- Heart and circulatory health
- Healthy aging and quality of life
- Digestive health
- Glycemic control
- Athletic performance and recovery from exercise
The Downside of Turmeric Supplements
As awesome as curcumin is and as numerous as the health benefits of turmeric are, there’s one BIG PROBLEM. According to a study published in the Nutrition Journal, “The potential health benefits of curcumin are limited by its poor solubility, low absorption from the gut, rapid metabolism, and rapid systemic elimination.” 13
The good news, however, is that curcumin’s poor bioavailability is nothing new. Scientists have known about this downfall since the 1970s. Ever since, researchers have avidly sought out enhancement strategies to unlock all the powerful benefits packaged in this ancient spice.
While there have been multiple promising attempts to support the myriad health benefits of turmeric by boosting the absorption of curcumin (e.g., addition of black pepper, phytosomes, and liposomes), the most recent research suggests there may be an even better way…
Here’s the Good News
The key lies in the novel, powerful UltraSOL Nutrient Delivery System. This patented technology combines a pristine turmeric extract (providing all the curcuminoids and beneficial compounds of this ancient herb precisely as Mother Nature intended) with natural antioxidants in a water-soluble carrier.
You see, powders like turmeric extracts typically “agglomerate” or “clump” when they’re combined with liquids, especially water. (And as you probably remember from high-school biology, your body is 60% water.) This “clumping” reduces functionality and reduces your ability to tap into all the amazing compounds in turmeric.
UltraSOL was specifically geared to address this problem—and more importantly to you, the difficult absorption with curcumin—by actually increasing the dispersibility of curcuminoids (which also tend to form aggregates when dried) allowing for enhanced bioavailability.
In simple terms, the UltraSOL curcumin enhancement system solves the big absorption problem by significantly increasing solubility, preserving curcumins’ actions in the body. And that leads to vastly greater absorption that other curcumin formulations.
How much of a difference in absorption? Glad you asked…
In a study published in the Nutrition Journal, researchers set out to compare the bioavailability of four different curcumin formulations in a randomized, double-blind, crossover fashion involving healthy human volunteers.13
The researchers found that the UltraSOL Nutrient Delivery System resulted in 46 TIMES greater absorption compared to standard curcumin and significantly greater absorption than other enhanced preparations of curcumin. This graph tells the story better than words:
Want to know something else? Not only did UltraSOL lead to greater absorption, it also resulted in levels of curcuminoids remaining elevated for longer periods of time compared to the other preparations. In other words, UltraSOL also resulted in longer lasting action.
Considering the dramatic difference the UltraSOL Nutrient Delivery System makes in bioavailability, it’s only fitting that this breakthrough curcumin formulation be called CurcuWIN®.
Simply put, when it comes to supplementing with curcumin to provide nutritional support that promotes the long list of health benefits of turmeric, CurcuWIN is my go-to recommendation and the product I use daily myself.