By: Brenil Soriano
New Hope Network Staff. (2017). Turmeric Powder Photograph. Retrieved from https://www.newhope.com/products-and-trends/top-categories-where-turmeric-trend-showing
Turmeric is a natural plant that is a common food ingredient in Southeast Asia. It has a really long history of medicinal properties (Prasad & Aggarwal, 2011). It is used as a spice and had some religious importance in India 4000 years ago. After that, it reached China, East Africa, West Africa, and Jamaica in the 18th century (Prasad & Aggarwal, 2011). Today, it is still used as a spice in a lot of cultures and believed to have several health benefits. It can be used as powder, paste, extract, raw, or as turmeric oil.
Turmeric or also known as Curcuma longa L is related to the Zingerberaceae (ginger) family. It is used as a home remedy for various diseases in Unani, Ayurveda, and Siddha medicine (Chattopadhyay et al., 2004). It is well-known for its bright yellow color due to its chemical component called as curcumin. This chemical has been shown to target molecules and used in many different forms because of its health benefits (Hewlings & Kalman, 2017).
The 4 main well-known health benefits of Turmeric are its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-diabetic properties.
Environmental factors, such as pollution and smoke can increase free radicals, which are waste substances produced by cells, in the body. If too many free radicals available that the body cannot process, and less anti-oxidant available, increased production of oxidants in cells can lead to some chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Antioxidants, which are substances that can prevent free radicals from damaging cells, can be found in foods such as turmeric. Curcumin, which is the main component of Turmeric, can gather different forms of free radicals. and neutralizes it (Sahebkar et al., 2015).
Inflammation has been shown to have a relationship with increased oxidant in cells. So, it has been correlated with the development of some chronic conditions and disease (Hewlings & Kalman, 2017). Foods with anti-inflammatory benefits are very important in order to decrease the risk of chronic diseases. According to research, curcumin is shown to block the protein complex, which inhibits gene expression of small proteins called cytokine (Panahi et al., 2016). The protein complex is the main regulator of the signaling protein that is the principle mediator of inflammation. Besides from that, it blocks the production of the inflammatory proteins and down-regulates some enzymes (Panahi et al., 2016). In this case, curcumin may decrease swelling, pain, and acute inflammation in the body.
Cancer is the major cause of mortality in the United States and other countries. One factor in its development is the presence of substances in cells that promotes the formation of cancer cells. Curcumin acts an anticarcinogenic compound by causing cell death, which is important in preventing the growth of cancer cells (Chattopadhyay et al., 2014). Also, it inhibits the initiation, progression, invasion phases of cancer cells (Feng et al., 2017). It has been shown to have an anti-carcinogenic effect on breast, stomach, intestinal, and skin cancer cell (Cancer Research UK, 2018). Consumption of safe amounts of turmeric, which is about 100 mg to 200 mg/day overtime, may lower the risk of certain types cancer in individuals. There has been some promising result that the curcumin in turmeric can treat cancer. However, more clinical trials are needed to be done in order to really know how it works as a treatment (Cancer Research UK, 2018).
The prevalence of diabetes in the United States has been increasing since the last decade. Other complications of the condition, such as blindness, liver disorder, and vascular diseases, are also increasing. Curcumin has been shown to reduce glucose concentration levels by some mechanisms (Zhang et al., 2013). In addition, in research using animal shows that there have been improved insulin sensitivity in test animals with diabetes (Johnson, 2017). Curcumin might also prevent the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus from individual with pre-diabetes. The research showed that curcumin improved the function of the cell that makes insulin, which is located in the pancreas (Chuengsamarn et al., 2012). So, incorporating turmeric in diet may help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
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