TURMERIC: ANCIENT SUPERFOOD?
Turmeric is an ancient spice that is a native of South East Asia where it has been used for thousands of years. It is harvested primarily in China, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Bengal, Java, Australia, Peru, and the West Indies. Turmeric is used as a powerful anti-inflammatory in both the Chinese and Indian systems of medicine. Its anti- inflammatory properties are the reason for the lack of many diseases in rural Asia that we here in America suffer with everyday. The only setback would probably be the yellowing of teeth, which is preventable through a good cleaning agent.
There is a phytonutrient in Turmeric called Curcumin which shows promise against cystic fibrosis, colon cancer, arthritis and Alzheimer's disease. Mehmet Oz recommends incorporating turmeric into the daily diet. It has begun to build quite a reputation: antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and anticancer agent. Curcumin offers benefits in arthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and other disorders directly caused by inflammation. There is much more research to be done. Even with the evidence already being presented, the medical world is stubborn to give this spice credit as it would cut into the profits of many big pharmacy businesses.
Turmeric is an orange-yellow spice that's commonly used to make curries. Its active ingredient is called curcumin. Scientists tested turmeric, a concentrated source of the phytonutrient curcumin, along with phenethyl isothiocyanates, a phytochemical abundant in cruciferous vegetables including cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale and turnips. Dr. Mehmet Oz says the secret to good mental health may be a heavy dose of Curry in your meals daily. "The reason we think they(people of India) have a lower instance of Alzheimer's is they use a lot of turmeric in their food," he says. Using a pharmaceutical grade turmeric found in capsules at your local health food store will allow you to ingest more Turmeric throughout the day without having to add it to your food. Not everyone is a fan of the taste of turmeric or for that matter Curry but everyone can benefit from the medicinal properties.
Vegetable foods high in isothiocyanates including wasabi, horseradish, cabbage, mustard, radish, Brussels sprouts, watercress and capers are great cancer fighters.
When tested separately, both isothiocyanate and curcumin greatly slowed the growth of human prostate cancer cells implanted in immune-deficient mice. In mice with well-established prostate cancer tumors, neither phenethyl isothiocyanate nor curcumin alone had a protective effect, but when combined, they greatly reduced both tumor growth and the ability of the prostate cancer cells to spread (metastasize) in the test animals. Evidence is slowly mounting with human subjects but not fast enough to get the media coverage that Turmeric deserves.
Curcumin has been found to possibly prevent the oxidation of cholesterol in the body. Since oxidized cholesterol is what damages blood vessels and builds up in the plaques that can lead to heart attack or stroke, preventing the oxidation of new cholesterol may help to reduce the progression of harden arteries and diabetic heart disease. In addition, turmeric is a good source of vitamin B6, which is needed to keep homocysteine levels from getting too high. Homocysteine is directly damaging to blood vessel walls. High levels of homocysteine are considered a significant risk factor for blood vessel damage, atherosclerotic plaque build-up, and heart disease; while eating a diet high in vitamin B6 is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.
In India, Alzheimer's is significantly lower than most of the world. Turmeric is an essential part of the Indian diet and has very important properties that have been linked with Alzheimer's prevention. Turmeric is an antioxidant and seems to protect the brain from the build up of the plaques that are believed to cause the disease. In research published in the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, when 10 healthy volunteers consumed 500 mg of curcumin per day for 7 days, not only did their blood levels of oxidized cholesterol drop by 33%, but their total cholesterol dropped 11.63% , and their HDL (good cholesterol) increased by 29%!