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Turmeric: A Spice for Life

The popular Asian cooking spice, turmeric, may help prevent diabetes [1] and help beneficially influence body composition, according to a study slated to appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Endocrinology.

Previous research has suggested that turmeric and its anti-oxidative ingredient, curcumin, can help reduce inflammation, help heal wounds and relieve pain.

For the most recent study, researchers from the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center at Columbia University Medical Center evaluated the use of turmeric on rodent models and found that those treated with the popular curry spice were “less susceptible to developing type 2 diabetes” based on the findings of a blood glucose level test and an assessment of glucose and insulin tolerance.

In addition, the researchers report that obese mice given turmeric exhibited “a small but significant decline in body weight and fat content” and showed “significantly reduced inflammation in fat tissue and liver” when compared to obese mice not given the spice. The inflammation mechanism associated with obesity is due to the production of macrophages, a type of immune cell manufactured in fat tissues. These macrophages are in turn thought to produce cytokine molecules, which are thought to cause inflammation in the heart and pancreas and are also associated with increased insulin resistance in the muscles and liver.

As a result, the researchers hypothesize that by suppressing the activity of these macrophages with turmeric, it may be possible to reduce obesity and some of its related ailments.

Now granted, this all took place in rodent models and it’s not yet clear whether the effects would carry over to humans (and even if they did, whether consuming that amount of the spice would pose other curry-related problems!), the researchers note that the spice “could nicely complement our traditional therapies as a natural and safe treatment.” Even so, a spice that pacts an anti-oxidative punch, may stave off inflammation and has the possibility of altering our body composition for the better… and all for nominal calories? We say it sure beats the heck out of ketchup!

Alastair Bird [2], Carlos Lorenzo [3] Flickr Photos (CC)

Further Reading:

Flame Thrower: Top 10 Natural Ways to Reduce Inflammation [4]

Homemade Condiment Creations [5]

10 Ingredients that Will Make Your Meals Pop [6]

Smart Fuel: Hot Peppers [7]

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