Numerous studies have been done on the benefits of turmeric, a dark yellow spice commonly used in Indian and other Asian cuisines.
They have suggested that turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties. The spice is also reportedly helpful in preventing cancer or Alzheimer’s disease, and treating inflammatory bowel diseases or indigestion.
The key ingredient in turmeric is curcumin. It is what gives the pungent spice its characteristic hue and it makes up about 2 to 3 per cent of turmeric.
Trials on rats have shown that unrealistically high doses of curcumin may inhibit the development of some types of cancer.
A BBC programme, Trust Me, I’m A Doctor, did an experiment to see if turmeric could boost one’s health. It reported two months ago that cooking with turmeric might reduce the risk of cancer, though more research is needed.
For the experment, it divided about 100 volunteers into three groups.
One group consumed a teaspoon of tumeric, ideally mixed with their food, every day for six weeks. Another group swallowed a supplement containing the same amount of turmeric and a third group was given a placebo, or a dummy pill.
The programme asked Professor Martin Widschwendter and his team from University College, London, to test the DNA methylation patterns, or chemical modifications to the DNA of the volunteers’ blood cells at the start and end of the experiment.
It was to see if the changes in the DNA might indicate that the volunteers’ bodies were switching on and off different genes that might be related to diseases.
The supplement group and the placebo group showed no changes.
However, significant changes were found in those who added turmeric powder to their food.
The biggest change involved a gene known to be associated with the risk of cancer, as well as with allergies like asthma and eczema, and anxiety and depression.
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The study suggested that simply adding a teaspoon of turmeric to your daily food or beverages like tea can make a change to your DNA, in a way that could well reduce your risk of cancer, allergies and possibly even depression.
It is possible that cooking can make curcumin more soluble.
Ms Jaclyn Reutens, a dietitian at Aptima Nutrition in Singapore, said the theory that heat and dissolving agents such as milk, water and oil increases the effectiveness of curcumin is highly…