Turmeric is used in the kitchens of all South Asian countries, including India and Pakistan. But is turmeric only used for flavor or can it improve our health and prevent cancer? You will find thousands of such articles explaining how turmeric can treat serious ailments like heartburn, indigestion, diabetes, depression, Alzheimer’s. It can even cure cancer. Thousands of studies have been done on turmeric. A compound in it is said to have a medicinal effect, and this component is called curcumin.
Experiments on mice have shown that large amounts of curcumin have been shown to prevent many types of cancer from growing in them. But turmeric contains two to three percent curcumin and when we eat it, our body does not absorb that amount.
However, studies on turmeric have rarely reported a normal amount of turmeric in the diet. So can the constant consumption of a small amount of turmeric improve our health or should we use turmeric supplements or curcumin to keep away from diseases.
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How was the research done?
To find out, we reviewed research in the UK on the health effects of turmeric. We started a study with Newcastle University. The experiment involved 100 volunteers. These people were divided into three groups.
The first group was given a teaspoon of turmeric every day. The other group was given the same amount of turmeric as a supplement. The third group was called turmeric and given something else. We did three tests on his blood sample. The first test looked at how the blood cells of a person eating turmeric resisted inflammation and showed how healthy his immune system was.
This may help determine if turmeric can reduce inflammation enough to affect chronic diseases such as diabetes. The test was developed by PB Bioscience at Newcastle University. This is called the oxidative stress test. In the second round of tests, white blood cells were counted. The results were needed for a DNA test. But its analysis also gives us an idea of the state of the immune system of the people involved in the study.
The third test was developed by University College London. It detected methylation of DNA. This research was done to know the anti-cancer properties of turmeric. The oxidative stress test was developed at Newcastle University. According to him, the levels of oxidative stress are equal in all three groups of people involved in the study.
Climate change affects our immune system. Sunburn increases oxidative stress. In six weeks, all three groups of people saw such a change. White blood cell counts showed a decrease in immune cells in all three groups. It is equally low in all groups.
There was no difference in DNA methylation between those who took turmeric and those who took turmeric supplements. But those who were using turmeric in their diet had different methylation patterns. UCL researchers observed a dramatic change in a gene. And this gene was linked to anxiety, asthma, eczema and cancer risk. The activity of this gene has changed.
What are the results?
It is too early to say whether it has a positive or a negative effect, but turmeric can be beneficial for this mutation in gene activity. But one thing must be mentioned here. The researchers did not analyze the levels of curcumin (and other compounds related to turmeric) in the blood samples of the people involved in the study.
One reason may be that people who used to use turmeric in cooking have changed their diet. This changed the methylation. Although it was not the effect of turmeric.
What is the difference between using turmeric and turmeric supplements in food?
It is believed that the use of turmeric in food preparation determines the level of absorption of curcumin in our body. Curcumin is lipophilic. This means it is bound to grease. So when we use cooking oil, curcumin sticks to the oil and is easily absorbed into our stomach.
Pepper can do just that. A compound called piperine can do just that. It helps our body absorb more curcumin. Therefore, cooking with turmeric, pepper and oil can be a good combination.
There was a lot of excitement about the research because it was done to find out how turmeric is affecting the behavior of our genes and its role in our health. These studies suggest that more research could be done on turmeric as a cancer prevention agent. That is, it may have the potential to stop the growth of cancer.
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Turmeric can be beneficial for health. However, it is difficult to find a way to reduce the risk of developing long-term illnesses, such as cancer (or heart disease). Therefore, any test that gives an accurate early warning of these diseases or is sensitive enough to detect even slight changes in the associated risk. Research has also shown that regular consumption of small amounts of turmeric has a positive effect on our body. This research is still in
its early stages.
But it can be said that turmeric can help protect you from many chronic diseases. So using turmeric in food can improve your health.