Multiple ways that curcumin can help you stay healthy
Curcumin is perhaps one of the most omnipotent natural health ingredient there is and its widespread benefits are well-documented.
The polyphenol curcumin is a yellowish naturally occurring pigment extracted from the root of turmeric, a plant in the ginger family. The most beneficial compounds in turmeric are curcuminoids, including curcumin and related compounds.
It has been in use in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years, and that is for a good reason. In fact, the health benefits of this natural ingredient are so numerous that it ought to be a part of any serious supplementation program!
We have collected many of the anti-aging advantages of this superfood:
Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant
Fighting off free radicals is crucial to good health.
Free radicals molecules are missing an electron from their outer shell. That makes them unstable, so they go and steal an electron from the molecules in your skin cells, or from your blood cells, or from wherever they can.
The body generates free radicals in response to environmental insults, such as tobacco smoke, ultraviolet rays, and air pollution, but they are also a natural byproduct of normal processes in cells.
Over time, our cells will inadvertently be affected by free radicals, and too many free radicals create oxidative stress — cells get damaged and even die. When your body is experiencing oxidative stress, we find signs of aging and disease.
In other words; if free radicals are left to roam freely in the body they can contribute to chronic inflammation, aging acceleration, and more.
So, to not let free radicals go wild, we need antioxidants to keep them in check. An antioxidant is a general term for any compound that can counteract these unstable free radical molecules that damage DNA, cell membranes, and other parts of cells.
Numerous antioxidants have been associated with protection against many afflictions that commonly accompany aging, such as muscle loss, cataracts, and memory impairment.
Studies show that the antioxidant quality of curcumin can inhibit the impact of free radicals by scavenging the body for free radicals and neutralizing them. (1)
Curcumin can help protect your brain
There are many factors that cause the brain to age.
These include cumulative effects of oxidative stress, environmental toxins, inflammation, build up of toxic proteins and gradual damage of genes in individual cells.
Curcumin may, however, help to protect against these factors in the brain. There are indications that curcumin can (2-6):
- Turn on genes responsible for triggering the emergence of new neurons (excitable brain cells)
- Improve performance on memory tests
- Reduce neuroinflammation
- Protect against memory loss
Curcumin is good for your cardiovascular system
There is no doubt that exercise is good for the heart.
Curcumin is benefitial for the heart because it helps improve endothelial function – the functioning of the inner lining of blood vessels. Researchers have compared exercise to curcumin supplementation and found that it was just as good at improving endothelial function as regular exercise. (7)
Morover, it's shown to help normalize blood lipid profiles. One study of young, obese men found that curcumin-galactomannan improved cardiovascular risk factors. There was a 34% increase in HDL (“good”) cholesterol and a 29% reduction in harmful levels of homocysteine, an amino acid linked to development of heart disease. (8)
In two other studies, there was also significant improvement in measures of arterial stiffness, a risk factor for cardiovascular mortality. (9,10)
Curcumin can promote your immune system
Curcumin can help enhance the body’s immune system in general.
Numerous preclinical studies indicate curcumin may activate antiviral immunity, and it has demonstrated antiviral effects against a range of respiratory viruses.
Curcumin also helps mitigate inflammation associated with the immune response to infection. (11-15)
Curcumin can help supress inflammation
In short, chronic inflammation is an age-accelerating process.
Morover, inflammation is associated with conditions such as arthritis/osteoarthritis, obesity, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, glucose intolerance, lipid, high blood pressure (hypertension), gastrointestinal disorders disturbances, and more. Together, these factors also contribute to chronic inflammation.
In other words; suppressing inflammatory changes is a very good way to protect your health!
In a 2015 randomized controlled trial, subjects with metabolic syndrome took either a placebo or one gram a day of curcumin formulated with bioperine, a natural compound added to improve absorption. After 8 weeks, those taking the curcumin experienced significant reductions in markers of chemical stress while boosting natural protective enzyme systems. The end result was a reduction in overall levels of inflammation. (16)
Other recent studies have confirmed that taking one gram a day of curcumin (with enhanced bioavailability) may lead to significant reductions in levels of numerous inflammatory cytokines (signaling molecules) that mediate the myriad destructive effects of chronic inflammation. (17,18)
More great anti-aging properties of curcumin
Researchers are discovering that curcumin has even more anti-aging properties that can combat several key factors of aging.
This superfood can help protect your genes in two ways. Because curcumin is an antioxidant it prevents free radicals from inflicting damage on your DNA-strands. Simultaneously, it can also help to upregulate specific genes that help destroy cells with certain types of mutations.
All the above mantioned health benefits are of anti-aging, but this list is far from complete! Studies show that curcumin can also help:
Eliminate senescent cells: As cells age, some become senescent (dysfunctional). Curcumin has shown senolytic activity, which means it has the potential to reduce the number of senescent cells in tissues. (19-21)
Increase telomere length: Every strand of DNA in our body has protective end caps, called telomeres, that help maintain the stability and function of the genetic material. As we age, these telomeres shorten. Curcumin can help increase telomere length. (22,23)
Fighting glycation: Glycation occurs when sugars attach to proteins, fats, or nucleic acids, causing harmful changes. This process even occurs in people with normal blood glucose. Preclinical studies have shown that curcumin protects from the damage caused by glycation. (24-28)
AMPK-activation: AMPK is an enzyme (protein) found in every cell supporting healthy metabolism. Curumin is shown to boost the activity of AMPK. (29-31)
Autophagy: Curcumin can help activate autophagy, a form of cellular “house-keeping”. This means rejuvenating cells and keeping them functioning optimally. (32)
Anti-glycemic effects: Curcumin is shown to reduce the impact of high glucose and enhancing control of blood sugar levels in metabolic syndrome and diabetes. (33,34)
Mitochondria: Mitochondrial dysfunction is a primary cause of age-related decline and loss of energy. Curcumin is shown to lessen damage and support healthy mitochondrial function. (35)
Anti-cancer: In addition to reducing chronic inflammation and oxidative damage caused by free radicals, both of which contribute to the development of cancer, curcumin has been shown to have anti-cancer effects. It may help prevent the formation of tumors, induce cell death in existing cancer cells, and block their spread in the body. (36-37)
Regulating vital proteins: Maladaptive activity of various essential structural and functional proteins in cells has been tied to accelerated aging, metabolic abnormalities, and chronic inflammation. Curcumin can modulate their activity in ways that reverse age-related changes and protect cells against age-related damage. This positively affects every one of the following targets and can (38-42):
- Inhibit nuclear factor-kappa B/NF-kB (a protein complex associated with chronic inflammation)
- Reduce activity of mTOR (a protein linked to rapid aging and metabolic abnormalities that contribute to chronic disease)
- Boost activity of AMPK (look above)
- Enhance function of sirtuins (proteins critical for maintaining health and longevity)
- Support activity of Nrf2 (a protein that regulates the body’s defenses against oxidative stress)
- Suppress STAT3, a protein associated with chronic inflammation and some cancers
Moreover, in one animal study, curcumin extended average lifespan by 26%. (43) The accumulating evidence indicates that curcumin helps stave off the aging process. (32,44)
The solution for curcumin's poor oral bioavailability
The health benefits of this ingredient cannot be overstated.
Curcumin has one drawback — poor oral bioavailability. Relatively little of ingested curcumin finds its way into the bloodstream.
Scientists have discovered a way, a new method, around this problem. By combining curcumin with a fiber called galactomannans, from the spice fenugreek, the curcumin is protected in the gut and resists metabolism.
Blood levels in people who received this curcumin encased in fenugreek fiber were 45 times greater than in those who took unformulated curcumin. (45,46)
The Life Extension's Curcumin Elite™ Turmeric Extract formula can preserve curcuminoids’ bioavailability, so you get the maximum possible benefit — 45,5 times more bioavailable free curcuminoids as well as 270 times better absorption of curcuminoids than standard curcumin.
The much higher bioavailability and absorption rates can enhance the many health benefits of curcumin supplementation.
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