Scientific research is already firmly establishing turmeric as protective of the cardiovascular system, a supporter of healthy cholesterol levels and a potent free radical scavenger but new research is now coming to light to show that it may keep you looking young, possibly slowing down the rate at which the skin ages. So is it time you started adding this miracle spice to your beauty regime?
The appearance of the signs of ageing when it comes to your skin is due to a number of factors, both extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic factors include smoking, air pollution, sun exposure, alcohol consumption and poor nutrition while intrinsic factors are genetic background, declining hormonal activity and modification in growth factors.
Turmeric is one of the highest antioxidant-containing spices
When skin ages wrinkles, sagging skin, age spots and hyper pigmentation occur. Wrinkles and sagging of the skin are generally down to loss of collagen (a structural protein that maintains a firm tissue), loss of fat tissue and gravitational force acting on the skin.
The most common solution recommended by dermatologists is to eat a diet rich in antioxidants.
Turmeric is one of the highest antioxidant-containing spices on the ORAC scale - ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity - it is a scale that measures the amount and activity of antioxidants in foods. Turmeric appears in 6th place in the list of herbs and spices with the highest antioxidants, just under cloves (which is the highest) and cinnamon.
More specifically it is the active curcuminoids present in turmeric that are strong antioxidants. Curcumin has antioxidant activity comparable to that of Vitamin C and E and is known to treat conditions of oxidative stress, which is the imbalance between prooxidants (which induce oxidative stress) and antioxidants (which reduce it). It also raises the level of antioxidant enzymes, scavenges free radicals that cause oxidative stress and inhibit lipid peroxidation (oxidation of fats present in cell membrane leading to cell death). So including turmeric in your diet can prove to be helpful in terms of supplementing your antioxidant intake.
Antioxidants are essential for protecting the integrity of the skin
Antioxidants are vital for protecting the skin from ageing too quickly by preventing free radicals from destroying its texture and elasticity.
Antioxidants also protect the skin from ultraviolet light, a key contributor to the visible signs of aging.
Biologically, aging is defined as a number of changes at cellular level that makes one susceptible to diseases and infections. Curcumin combats the aging process in an important way - by protecting your mitochondria. Mitochondria are the tiny “power plants” that provide the energy your cells need to function. They also control the health of your tissues, your muscles, your organs and your skin. The problem is your mitochondria become weaker as you get older, in other words they die off. As this happens, you lose your capacity to make energy and as a result your physical and mental performance decline.
Mitochondria also produce a lot of free radicals - this oxidation breaks them down and effectively they end up damaging their own DNA. This leads to malfunction which in turn leads to disease and aging. Curcumin, however, reverses this through a process called mitochondrial biogenesis. It’s how you prevent and reverse the degrading of your mitochondria and it’s also how you rejuvenate your existing mitochondria.
Turmeric’s anti-aging power isn't just about the antioxidants
Turmeric’s anti-aging power isn't just about the antioxidants - research shows that turmeric inhibits a key enzyme called elastase, which digests elastin. Elastin, along with collagen, is a protein needed for making the skin smooth and pliable, and also helps it to retain its original position when pinched. In fact, studies have found that turmeric may inhibit elastase by up to 65%.
Turmeric is truly a miracle herb and can help in “healthy aging” so if you have not started taking it yet for the health of your skin or for it's many other benefits, start taking it now!
How to take turmeric
There are a multitude of ways to incorporate the spice into your diet from sprinkling it on your eggs or into your breakfast smoothie, cooking it into soups and curries or making it into a drink such as the now widely known 'golden milk' or 'turmeric latte'. However your choose to consume it with food remember it needs heat, a small amount of black pepper and some kind of fat for optimal absorption.
If you are going to choose a supplement, it is recommended to look for one that combines piperine. This is because when high dosages of biologically active ingredients are consumed, the liver will see them as toxic and try and break them down as part of a detoxification process. This process is called glucuronidation and is true for curcumin.
Piperine is a chemical which inhibits the glucuronidation process, and so causes high levels of curcumin to stay in the blood stream. Studies both in animals and humans have shown that when a turmeric extract is taken with piperine, curcumin remains present in the blood for longer, at a much higher concentration than when taken without piperine.
So, with a turmeric extract (which contains high dosages of curcumin) taking piperine will prevent the curcumin breaking down, and so increases the potency and the bioavailability (your body's ability to absorb it).
It is important to note that turmeric has a blood thinning property, therefore please consult a medical professional if you are already consuming blood thinning medications or due to undertake any surgical procedures. Caution should also be taken while consuming supplements when suffering from gallstones, obstruction of bile passages or gastrointestinal diseases.
A healthy balanced diet is the best way to consume all the nutrients we need. Sometimes however this isn't possible and then supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying any supplements or herbal medicines.