Fight the effects that aging has had on your brain & body

The Ultimate Anti-Aging Spice?


Walk in to any health food shop or even grocery store these days and you'll bottles upon bottles of herbal pills, ranging from the familiar-sounding ones all the way to the exotic and bizarre.

Which ones are good, which ones do I need to take, should I be taking ALL of these, or do I need any at all?

While we won't get into the complex and highly debatable area of herbal medicine in this article, there is one very popular and time-honored food-based spice (that also happens to taste incredibly great) that just might qualify as the ultimate brain, health & anti-aging spice one can think of.

And if you're already a fan of Indian cuisine, you've probably already been enjoying it's wonderful distinctive flavor, scent and color; but did you know that you were also ingesting a food which has been shown to do everything from helping prevent Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia to serving as a potent anti-inflammatory to helping prevent colon and other cancers to helping prevent and treat arthritis, and muchmore?

Ah, Turmeric: with its biologically active constituent curcumin, just may take the cake as the ultimate health spice, in addition to its already top billing as a staple of Indian and some Chinese cuisines. And the best news is: you don't need to buy expensive herbal pills to get it, as you can enjoy it in its fresh, full splendor as part of your daily diet, right along with your existing foods such as your salads, vegetables, meat & seafoods, or just straight as-is. And fresh (either dried as a powder or in vegetable-like root form) Turmeric is available almost everywhere these days, so there's little excuse to not consider adding it to your daily regimen.

So why Turmeric? Turmeric is native to India and Indonesia, where it has been consumed and revered as both a medicine and dietary staple for over 5,000 years. Only comparatively recently has the West learned of the wide-ranging health properties of this tasty spice, largely thanks to the growing body of scientific research studies confirming and illustrating some of these specific health benefits.

Among some of the most interesting health benefits and their recent scientific findings:

- Alzheimer's and Dementia Prevention: The 2003 study in Italy as published in the Italian Journal of Biochemistry showed that Turmeric protects against Alzheimer's disease by 'activating' a gene that codes for the production of the antioxidant protein bilirubin, which protects the brain against injury from free radicals which are thought to be a responsible for neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer's AND Dementia. Another study conducted at UCLA and published in the December 2004 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, which has been confirmed by further research published online April 20, 2006, in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, provides further insight as to how Turmeric provides multiple areas of protection against the mechanisms which cause Alzheimer's. This research was so profoundly exciting to researchers that human clinical trials to further investigate Tumeric's potential as a "preventive, therapeutic agent for Alzheimer's disease will soon be underway".

- A Potent Anti-Inflammatory: Turmeric's anti-inflammatory effects have been shown to be comparable to the potent drugs hydrocortisone and phenylbutazone as well as over-the-counter anti-inflammatory agents such as Motrin. Wow! Bet you didn't think your lunchtime curry could do that, right? And, unlike lab-produced pharmaceutical drugs, Turmeric has been shown to produce no toxicity, nor the kinds of stomach problems that commonly occur with pharmaceutical anti-inflammatory drugs.

- Rheumatoid Arthritis: Many clinical studies have shown that the antioxidant properties of Turmeric help fight the free radicals responsible for the painful joint inflammation of arthritis.  Turmeric's combination of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects explains why many people with joint diseases find relief when they use the spice regularly, and in a recent study of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, Turmeric was compared to phenylbutazone and produced comparable improvements in shortened duration of morning stiffness, lengthened walking time, and reduced joint swelling.

- Cystic Fibrosis: Curcumin, the major constituent of turmeric that gives the spice its yellow color, can help correct the genetic defect that is responsible for cystic fibrosis, as suggested by an animal study published in the April 2004 issue of Science. Cystic fibrosis, a fatal disease that attacks the lungs with a thick mucus, causing life-threatening infections, and afflicts about 30,000 American children and young adults, who rarely survive beyond 30 years of age.

- Colon and other Cancers Prevention: Turmeric's antioxidant effects help protect the colon cells from free radicals that can damage cellular DNA -- a significant benefit particularly in the colon where cell turnover is quite rapid. By improving liver function, it also helps the body to destroy mutated cancer cells so that they cannot spread through the body and cause more harm. Even more interesting, when Turmeric was combined with the vegetable Cauliflower, the protection against colon cancers was even more pronounced, leading researchers to believe the combination of cruciferous vegetables and curcumin could be an "effective therapy not only to prevent prostate cancer, but to inhibit the spread of established prostate cancers". Time to start eating cauliflower with turmeric!

- Improved Liver Function: recent studies have shown that Turmeric increases the detoxification enzymes in the liver, so much so that one set of researchers commented, "Turmeric used widely as a spice would probably mitigate the effects of several dietary carcinogens". In our polluted, often carcinogenic-laden environment, diet and lifestyles these days, this is a good thing...

- And more: from cardiovascular protection benefits (reduced heart attack and stroke risk) to serving as a great source of vitamin B6 to further overall anti-oxidization, detoxification and blood-brain benefits, the health benefits of Turmeric continue to be revealed and discovered by new scientific studies each year.

Okay, I'm sold: so what kind to buy?

You can find Turmeric as a powder in most grocery stores, and sometimes as the fresh root (it looks very similar to ginger root, but with a more orange color) in your vegetable or produce section. As with any foods, herbs or spices, we always feel that the fresher and less "extracted" and refined, the better.

So, if you are going to buy the powdered spice form, we recommend finding the organic, non-irradiated form which many natural/health food and gourmet grocery stores usually carry in their "bulk foods" section along with other spices, if possible. Often, the jars containing the spices in these bulk/organic/whole foods stores are re-filled often, the source is organic and non-irradiated, and is likely to be relatively fresh...compared to those small vials of kitchen spices that one usually finds on the bottled spice racks.

Fresh: fresh Turmeric root is an absolutely delicious thing if you can find it; you can slice off the ginger-like skin with a knife and then just eat a couple pieces of the fresh orange-colored root, which is surprisingly not-too-spicy or intense-tasting as one might think (we think it's INCREDIBLE tasting), and, well, you're eating the real thing, straight from the source.

If you can't find either of the above, then your grocery store spice rack will most certainly have it: try to find one that says "non-irradiated", and preferably organic, and 100% pure Turmeric (not blended with other spices or flavorings.

Ways to eat it: one of the easiest, fastest ways to get your daily Turmeric is just to mix a small spoonful of the powder with some warm water, stir briskly, and drink. Yes, it actually tastes quite good, especially once you get used to it.

Or, sprinkle a spoon or two on your cauliflower or broccoli (for the double-strength benefits we described earlier), or in your soups or seafood or meat, almost anything works with this amazingly tasty and healthy spice (hence the liberal use in Indian cuisine).

At BrainReady, we like the "mixed with water" approach for the powder, or eating a couple bite-size pieces of the fresh root after eating a salad (it seems a fitting ending to a great salad).

Cosmetic warning: it stains! No wonder Turmeric is also used as a dye and pigment in clothing, foods and other items, thanks to its intense yellow-orange color. Be warned: particularly with the fresh root, it will temporarily stain your fingers, teeth, anything that touches it, which is of course harmless but you might want to munch on it AFTER you've done that photo shoot for the toothpaste commercial, and you should be careful if you're wearing a nice white shirt or sweater while drooling at how wonderful Turmeric tastes, as it will stain.

But I'll take the temporarily yellow teeth and occasional shirt-soaking to reap the myriad health benefits of this Ultimate Spice any day.

Let us know what YOU think about Turmeric, and share your recipes: email us at and let's talk Turmeric!

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