For over generations now, turmeric has been the most popular herbal remedy for many an ailment. That includes toothaches and minor bruises to colic. One of the major ingredients in Asian cooking, this yellow coloured spice gives a special flavour to meals. Rightly called the ‘Queen of Spices’, turmeric not only helps prevent spoilage of food but also helps destroy organisms in raw food. It moreover protects the nutritive value of food items. While adding good taste and zero calories to the diet it is a very promising disease preventive agent.
Turmeric– A Potential Drug Alternative
With anti inflammatory properties ranging from increasing immunity to being antioxidant, turmeric is seen as a potential drug alternative. Unlike most other pain killers, turmeric comes with no side effects at all.
Curcumin, the compound present in turmeric is what gives turmeric its anti inflammatory properties. Curcumin is very popular now and needs no introduction to a health enthusiast.
Inflammation is the body’s response to an infection. It occurs as self protection in response to foreign invaders like bacteria and virus. Inflammation leads to redness/ rashes or swelling in the affected area along with irritation and pain. However, when body’s immune system triggers an inflammatory response in the absence of foreign substances it leads to excess inflammation in the body. This results in diseases like asthma, arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, tendonitis and more.
The compound has been shown to influence more than 700 genes.
The anti oxidant properties of turmeric is five to eight times stronger than vitamins C and E.
In our body, cells continuously grow and die. During different cellular functions, a few of these cells get damaged and turn into free radicals. Free radicals refer to the damaged cells that have lost a molecule and can be very problematic since they start pairing up randomly with other molecules. This affects the DNA of the cell because of which it grows abnormally leading to many chronic diseases. So we must include more antioxidants in our diet to offset the negative impacts.
Turmeric- An Anti-Cancer agent
Interestingly, many studies have now shown that turmeric also has anti-cancer properties. Cancer is one of the leading causes of death.It is thought that Curcumin may help prevent cancer by interfering with aspects of cellular signaling. It has the ability to alter genetic activity and expression. It not only destroys but also promotes healthy cell function. The mutated cancer cells are destroyed because of Curcumin thereby preventing further spread.
An American study performed in 2007 showed that combined treatment of Curcumin with chemotherapy to treat bowel cancer cells was more effective than chemotherapy alone.
Human studies of Curcumin in cancer prevention and treatment is still in its early stage. Of the different cancers, turmeric is said to be most effective against bowel cancer, breast cancer, skin cancer and stomach cancer cells.
And, now of course, we don’t need more reasons not to include more curried dishes in our meals. Adding turmeric to our diet is one of the simplest ways toward optimal health one can make. You can experiment different ways in which you can use a pinch of this spice in your daily diet. Maybe adding a dash of it to scrambled eggs or sprinkling it on roasted cauliflower/potatoes or adding it to your salad dressing. This golden spice is actually worth its weight in gold.