Among its many health benefits, recent research claims that turmeric also can aid in weight loss. Traditionally used for natural healing and seasoning, this powerful powder could help to inhibit the growth of fat cells. Understanding current research and dosing information might prove to be helpful for those trying to lose weight.
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Used for over 6,000 years as traditional medicine in India and Ancient Egypt, turmeric, a member of the ginger family, is used to flavor curries and is used as yellow food coloring. According to the Advanced Health and Life Extension, numerous modern trials have only validated turmeric's use as a supplement for a wide variety of ailments. For example, turmeric contains the polyphenol curcumin, and a recent study has shown curcumin's potential for weight loss in mice.
In a study by the Agricultural Research Service at Tufts University in Boston, researchers divided a group of 18 mice into three groups. A control group was fed a typical diet, while the other two were both fed high-fat diets. One group eating the high-fat diet also received a relatively small amount of curcumin. At the end of the study, researchers Mohsen Meydani and Jean Mayer found that the high-fat group fed the curcumin weighed less than the group that didn't receive the supplement, though both groups ate the same diet. In addition, the group fed curcumin had lower levels of blood cholesterol and liver fat.
The researchers at Tufts University say that curcumin stalls the spread of fat by inhibiting new blood vessel growth in the fat cells themselves. The curcumin appeared to interfere with the expression of the two genes associated with the spread of these fat cells. Meydani, one of the Tufts researchers and a nutritionist, says he can't predict whether the results would be the same in humans. As of this time, he says no similar studies have been done on humans.
According to the Advanced Health and Life Extension, turmeric rarely has side effects. If anything, they say, excessive amounts could cause mild stomach distress. However, those with liver disease, those who drink heavily or those who are taking heptoxic medication should be under the care of a physician while taking turmeric supplements, as large amounts may be toxic to the liver.
Human trials have found no negative side effects of 800 to 2,500 milligrams of turmeric per day. Turmeric can be found in capsule form.
Other Health Benefits
In addition to possible weight loss, turmeric offers its users other health benefits, too. The Advanced Health and Life Extension says researchers have demonstrated that curcumin inhibited the growth of cancer cells and promoted cell death in three different melanoma cancer lines. Curcumin works by suppressing the protein in the cancer cell responsible for protecting the cell from death. Also, the Diet Blog states that turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory and a protector against Alzheimer's disease and cystic fibrosis.