Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
The spice known as turmeric may be the most effective nutritional supplement in existence. Many high-quality studies show that turmeric has major benefits for your body and brain. Many of these benefits come from its main active ingredient, curcumin. Turmeric is the spice that gives curry its yellow color. It has been used in India for thousands of years as both a spice and medicinal herb. Recently, science has started to back up traditional claims that turmeric contains compounds with medicinal properties. These compounds are called curcuminoids. The most important one is curcumin. Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric. It has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant.
However, the curcumin content of turmeric isn’t that high. It’s around 3%, by weight. Most of the studies on this herb use turmeric extracts that contain mostly curcumin itself, with dosages usually exceeding 1 gram per day. It would be very difficult to reach these levels just using turmeric as a spice in your foods. That’s why some people choose to use supplements. However, curcumin is poorly absorbed into your bloodstream. In order to experience the full effects of curcumin, its bioavailability (the rate at which your body absorbs a substance) needs to improve.
It helps to consume it with black pepper, which contains piperine. Piperine is a natural substance that enhances the absorption of curcumin by 2,000%. In fact, the best curcumin supplements contain piperine, and this makes them substantially more effective. Curcumin is also fat soluble, which means it breaks down and dissolves in fat or oil. That’s why it may be a good idea to take curcumin supplements with a meal that’s high in fat.
Before scientists had a better understanding of neurons, it was believed that they weren’t able to divide and multiply after early childhood. However, they now know that isn’t the case.
Neurons are capable of forming new connections, and in certain areas of the brain they can multiply and increase in number. One of the main drivers of this process is brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This is a gene that’s involved in making a protein responsible for promoting the life of neurons. The BDNF protein plays a role in memory and learning, and it can be found in areas of the brain responsible for eating, drinking, and body weight.
Many common brain disorders have been linked to decreased levels of BDNF protein, including depression and Alzheimer’s disease. Interestingly, animal studies have found that curcumin may increase brain levels of BDNF. By doing this, it may be effective in delaying or even reversing many brain diseases and age-related decreases in brain function. Still, since these studies were performed in animals, it’s hard to say what the results mean for humans (19Trusted Source, 20).
It may also help improve memory and attention, which seems logical given its effects on BDNF levels. However, more studies are needed to confirm this.