For those who don't know, Turmeric is pretty special stuff.
Known for it's anti inflammatory properties, Turmeric has long been a mainstay in the Ayuvedic medical landscape to support well being. But some new research conducted here in Australia is adding some new benefits on the list, and they have to do with brain function.
Last year, a study at Australia's Swinburne University into the effects of turmeric on brain function yielded some interesting results which were published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.
Professor Andrew Scholey, Director of Swinburne's Centre for Human Psychopharmacology, has been researching the effects of herbs, spices and extracts on the human brain for the last two decades. In his latest study, he has been investigating the affect of Co-Cumin on the brain function, a key component in Turmeric.
What is Co-Cumin?
Curcumin is naturally found in turmeric and has been linked to mental function and wellness. Normal turmeric root is approximately 4% Co-cumin which quite high in respect to other food groups. It has been shown through the study that the ingestion of curcumin has reduced incidence of cognitive decline such as dementia or altzimers disease. Professor Scholey indicated there has been trends at the population level that supported this observation in countries such as India and Singapore. He also indicated that work with rodents that ingested realistic dietary amounts of turmeric saw similar affects.
Why does Curcumin work?
Curcumin has what is called, plaeotropic properties which has multiple affects on the cognitive aging properties. Prof Scholey states "Rather than a single magic bullet single drug affect where you are affecting a single neurotransmitter, some plant extracts have a complement various properties". This means that curcumin is complementary in it's function and has a mutli-faceted effect in the cognitive function area.
What is Bioavailability and why is important with Curcumin?
Bioavailablity means that the body can absorb the maximum benefit from the extracts it ingests. This is no different with curcumin. There are bioavailable version of turmeric that are geared to assisting the absorption process or alternatively, you can add other spices to help the absorption process.
Normal consumption of turmeric has a limited adsorption process so adding other compounds is a good idea when trying to gain maximum benefit.
Perhaps the most effective is black pepper. Black pepper doubles the absorption of curcumin! It is also a major component of any chai that we make for this exact reason!
The wrap up...
In short, the evidence is pretty strong that turmeric is a great additive to your diet if you want to keep sharp in your old age. Not only does it ward of disease with it's anti-inflammatory properties, it helps protect the brain from the ravages of cognitive degeneration.
I know what I'm having in my next chai, turmeric with plenty of black pepper!