Turmeric has been one of the main topics of conversation for quite a while now.
This aromatic spice has been given the title ‘superfood’ many times, and rightfully so, due to the increasing number of science-backed articles on its numerous health benefits.
From its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties to it having fewer side effects than any synthetic drug, turmeric is quickly becoming one of the most widely consumed natural health remedies. It’s basically becoming everyone’s best friend!
These days you can find it in many recipes, smoothies, drinks, and even desserts. However, many people are also taking turmeric supplements because they want to obtain the full spectrum of its health benefits.
Among the many other superpowers it possesses, like aiding cardiovascular health, for example, this vibrant orangey-yellow powder is also a wonderful supplement for your brain health, and it’s highly recommended for keeping it in the best shape.
So, stay with us, and we’ll talk about the benefits of turmeric for your brain, primarily, but also about the overall benefits that turmeric provides, as well as the dosage for your specific needs.
We’ll also cover some basic information about turmeric, its components, safety, and ways you can incorporate it into your diet. As a bonus, we’ll briefly touch upon the ways you can keep your brain healthy and happy.
What Is Turmeric?
Turmeric (Latin: Curcuma Longa) is a flowering plant belonging to the ginger family. It’s indigenous to Southern Asia, but nowadays it’s also grown in Central America and other tropical and subtropical regions.
When the rhizomes (or the underground stems) of the plant are boiled and then thoroughly dried in the sun, they are ground into a fine powder with an earthy, slightly bitter, but sweet taste. This is how the turmeric spice that we all use is made.
Also known as ‘Indian saffron’ because of its vibrant color, turmeric powder is commonly associated with Indian cuisine and it’s a key ingredient of the curry spice blend.
Due to its rich hue, turmeric is commonly used as fabric and food dye, but also in cosmetics as a pigment, or as an active compound in skincare due to its anti-aging activity. 
What’s more, turmeric has longstanding use in Ayurveda, an ancient system of Indian medicine, as well as traditional Chinese medicine, for the treatment of various ailments, like inflammatory conditions, rheumatism, fatigue, breathing problems, digestive issues, allergies, dermatological diseases and many more. 
Nowadays, the numerous health benefits of turmeric are widely recognized which is why it’s used as a dietary supplement for maintaining general health, but also to treat conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, depression, arthritis, eczema, cancer, IBS, to only name a few. 
Turmeric Nutrition Facts:
The nutritional profile of turmeric is quite rich, just like its color and aroma. This superfood plant is very high in essential vitamins and minerals, namely: 
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) - helps to maintain the body’s energy supply by breaking down carbohydrates, proteins, and fats
- Vitamin B3 (niacin) - lowers cholesterol; aids blood circulation; boosts memory and brain health
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) - benefits the central nervous system; involved in producing the neurotransmitter serotonin which boosts your mood
- Folates - help form red blood cells and prevent anemia; helps tissues grow
- Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) - a powerful antioxidant which aids the body’s immune system and helps absorb iron, among many things
- Vitamin E - a powerful antioxidant; helps prevent damage from free radicals
- Vitamin K - a group of fat-soluble vitamins required for the synthesis of certain proteins needed for blood coagulation
- Calcium - a necessary mineral for the whole body
- Copper - helps the body form red blood cells and maintain healthy nerves, bones, and immunity; aids brain development
- Iron - necessary for many vital body functions; helps create energy from nutrients; responsible for general energy and focus
- Magnesium - necessary for bone, muscle, and cardiovascular health; helps anxiety and depression
- Manganese - has antioxidant properties; helps regulate blood sugar
- Phosphorus - important for bone health; helps to remove waste and repair damaged tissue
- Zinc - helps regulate the function of the immune system; plays a role in brain function
What Is The Chemical Composition Of Turmeric?
Over 300 components are found in this golden powder, one of the main ones being a volatile oil containing bioactive compounds called turmerones, which are believed to have antimicrobial, antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer potentials. 
The other major components of turmeric are the coloring agents called curcuminoids which include curcumin, the primary bioactive compound that gives turmeric its bold color, and most of its potent health benefits. It’s the superstar of all components of turmeric.
Turmeric and curcumin are often mistaken for one another, but it’s important to remember that they’re not the same thing.
Turmeric is a plant that contains many compounds, including curcumin which is found at a very low concentration in the turmeric rhizome itself. You can incorporate turmeric into your diet either through food or supplements.
Curcumin, on the other hand, is extracted from the turmeric root and you can only obtain it through supplements at a concentrated dose of about 95%.
Curcumin has been researched extensively in the last half-century, and time and time again it has demonstrated a myriad of beneficial properties that play an important role in preventing and treating autoimmune disorders, diabetes, cardiovascular, inflammatory, and neurodegenerative diseases, as it has been shown to act as a memory aid and mood stabilizer. 
Turmeric For Brain Health
When we say brain health, we mean anything that might affect our brains - from physical causes, like aging, to something more abstract, like stress and anxiety.
In this domain, turmeric and its component curcumin have shown a lot of promise for various physical ailments, but also for mental health.
Thanks to the many conducted studies on the benefits of turmeric for brain health, we’re able to get a better insight at just how good for the brain turmeric is.
Here’s why we love this spicy powder as brain food.
Turmeric For Depression
Depression is one of today’s most common mental diseases affecting people of every gender and age group.
It’s much more than just being in a low mood, it’s a state of constant hopelessness and apathy.
More specifically, depression is directly linked with fluctuations of serotonin and dopamine, so making them the target would be of great benefit in treating depression. In fact, it has already been established that curcumin has the ability to influence the production of these chemicals. 
Let’s look at the research.
In regards to this, during one research, curcumin was combined with piperine, which is a black pepper extract that enhances its bioavailability.
Behavioral, biochemical and neurochemical tests were then performed and it was discovered that curcumin increased both serotonin and dopamine levels, while it inhibited the monoamine oxidase enzymes which are responsible for the breakdown of serotonin and dopamine in people with depression. 
Another study took a different approach. The participants were patients who had a major depressive disorder (MDD), and all were treated with either a placebo pill or 500mg of curcumin supplement twice a day for eight weeks.
It was found towards the end of the trial that the individuals who were given curcumin showed a notable improvement in their mood. 
A similar study used 20mg of fluoxetine (brand names Prozac and Sarafem, among others) and 1000mg of curcumin in patients with MDD who were put in three groups for a six-week treatment, with the drugs used either individually or together.
The group that showed the most improvement was the one taking a combination of both. The other two groups that were taking fluoxetine and curcumin, respectively, came right behind it, and almost at a tie. 
In all three studies, curcumin was very well tolerated, so we can conclude that it’s a great alternative for people who prefer the natural way to help them get their depression under control, but also for those who can’t tolerate synthetic drugs very well.
Turmeric Helps Stress And Anxiety
Stress and anxiety are maybe the most talked-about topics these days. The feeling of an ever-present emotional tension is never welcome, let alone comfortable, but familiar enough.
Every one of us has been prone to stress and anxiety and has struggled with managing them at least once in our lives, and this is a direct result of the fast times we’re living in.
Stress can cause major setbacks as it has been linked with various conditions such as fatigue, chronic migraines, back pain, suppression of the immune system, and many more.
For these reasons, it’s more than recommended that we get our stress under control in the best way possible before it starts to get worse.
Same with anxiety. It causes prolonged stress by being in a constant involuntary fight-or-flight mode. It’s about worrying when there is nothing to worry about, and basically puts your whole body under unnecessary strain.
Anxiety can also lead to some long-term effects, such as memory problems, gastrointestinal and cardiovascular issues, among others.
Luckily, turmeric and its extract, curcumin, have shown some very promising results in helping to manage both stress and anxiety.
Let’s look at the research
For example, one study managed to prove that curcumin makes you more resilient to chronic social stress, while also reversing the effects and preventing anxiety-like behavior in social situations.  
Curcumin also significantly boosts docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the brain. DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid usually obtained through the diet. It’s an essential nutrient for brain development and protection, and its deficiency is often linked to the neuropathology of some cognitive disorders, including anxiety.
This particular finding is very important for the vegan community because the primary source of DHA is fish, and people who eat plant-based food are in danger of being deficient, which makes curcumin a great addition to their diet. 
If you suffer from stress or anxiety right now, keep the things you’ve just read in mind and go out and get yourself some turmeric.
Turmeric Boosts Memory And Slows Down Brain Aging
Turmeric’s compound, curcumin, can also boost memory, which is especially helpful for seniors who lose some of the working memory capacity as they age.
In fact, regular daily doses of curcumin of around 180mg in total, can yield tremendous results over time and improve memory and sustained attention in non-demented older adults. 
Curcumin can also improve memory by increasing the blood flow to the brain due to its antioxidant properties. 
But one of its more intriguing properties is that it boosts neuroplasticity.  Neuroplasticity is the brain’s capacity to maintain its growth and keep forming new neural connections throughout your life.
It’s a process when the brain does its own synaptic maintenance by deleting the neural connections that aren’t useful or necessary anymore and strengthens the already existing ones.
Turmeric And Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder, which means that brain cells start to deteriorate, which in turn causes the individual to lose basic cognitive abilities, as well as experience memory loss. It’s the most common type of dementia and its implications usually cause disruptions in the person’s daily life.
Studies in recent years have shown many promising trials of curcumin’s health benefits for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s.
Given the fact that oxidative stress, free radicals, and abnormal inflammatory reactions are some of the leading contributors to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, it comes as no surprise that turmeric’s antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties slow down the process and actually improve the overall memory of Alzheimer’s patients. 
Further proof of curcumin’s positive effects is the fact that India, where turmeric has been widely consumed for centuries, has some of the lowest rates of Alzheimer’s in the world. 
What’s The Verdict - Is Turmeric Beneficial For Our Brain?
Turmeric is a great addition to your diet for many reasons. Considering its rich nutritional profile, it would be a shame to pass on such a wonderful ingredient. Given all the previously stated facts, we’d say that the era of turmeric is just beginning.
Just think about it: there must be a reason why it has remained such a well-respected ingredient for thousands of years. We must be lucky to live in an age where its numerous health benefits can be clinically proven.
And as a bonus, turmeric is one of the most aromatic, flavorful, and complex spices there are.
So, if you’re convinced of its glory, then the question remaining is - how much should you take and in what form?
Turmeric Dosage For Brain Health: How Much Should You Take?
Taking Turmeric And Curcumin Supplements
In order to keep your brain health top-notch, the optimal daily dosage of turmeric is between 500mg and 2000mg , and whether you decide to implement it in your diet or take some supplements, the choice is yours.
Should you decide on taking a curcumin supplement, the recommended daily dose is between 80mg and 500mg , provided that your supplement also contains an ingredient that enhances curcumin’s bioavailability.
This is usually piperin, which is quite effective in delivering the full spectrum of curcumin’s powerful nutrients. However, many people have experienced gastrointestinal reactions to piperine, as well as an increase in the side effects of some drugs , so if you’re sensitive, you should opt for something else.
Curcumin with coconut oil is a great alternative, because curcumin is lipophilic, meaning it’s fat-soluble, so you could go with a curcumin supplement that’s much easier to digest.
Taking Turmeric Through Food
When you take turmeric through your diet only, you can’t be 100% sure of the dosage. However, in this case ‘the more, the better’ principle applies. For example, because turmeric is a staple in Indian cuisine, it has been estimated that the average daily Indian diet incorporates around 2000-2500mg of turmeric or 60-100mg of curcumin per day. 
If this sounds like too much for you, it’s okay. For starters, a little goes a long way, considering how powerful this golden spice is. So take your time and make the best diet plan for yourself. The most important thing is to be consistent.
Ten Ways To Incorporate Turmeric In Your Diet
Below we’ll share with you some ideas on how you can start adding turmeric into your diet more and hopefully inspire you to experience the amazing benefits this aromatic powder offers, the culinary way!
Make turmeric tea
Turmeric tea is one of the best ways you start incorporating more turmeric into your diet, especially if you’re just starting to acquire the flavor. It still offers many of the health benefits of turmeric and at the same time, you get to try something new and enjoy a wonderful drink. To make turmeric tea you’ll need to boil 3 to 4 cups of water on the stove with two teaspoons of ground turmeric. You’ll need to let it simmer for about 10 minutes and then strain it in another container. At this point, you can add some honey, ground ginger and some lemon, if you want to. And voila, it’s ready to drink.
Make golden milk
Golden milk is another comforting beverage that has its roots in Ayurveda. It’s sweet and perfect to sip on before bed or in the early morning with breakfast. You’ll need ½ cup of milk of your choice, 1 tsp of turmeric, fresh ginger or ginger powder, some cinnamon, and black pepper, and honey or maple syrup to taste. You simply mix all ingredients together in a pot, you bring it to a boil, and simmer for 10 minutes. Then strain and transfer to a mug, and it’s done.
Add it to eggs or tofu
Turmeric is a great addition to scrambled eggs or a tofu scramble. It’ll add some zest and some color to the dish, as well as some much-needed aroma.
Add it to roasted vegetables
Some turmeric adds a very nice and warm flavor to root vegetables like carrots, potatoes, and sweet potatoes, and cauliflower and turmeric make a great combo as well.
Add it to rice
Rice is a blank canvas when it comes to herbs and spices, so it’s perfect with turmeric. You could also add some curry to enhance the flavor and make it fancier.
Turmeric makes a great addition to a yogurt dip when you need some fun snacks. Don’t forget to add a lot of garlic and salt and pepper.
Add it to soups
Red lentil soup and turmeric are a great pairing, but feel free to experiment. Pumpkin soup is also a good idea.
Blend it into a smoothie
Yes, the flavor is strong, but adding a banana will mask it quite well, and don’t forget to make your smoothie with milk because you’ll need those fats to deposit the nutrients, since turmeric, as we said, is lipophilic.
This one is a no-brainer because of chicken curry, but in case you haven’t tried it, please do.
You can keep it simple here with just olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, honey, and turmeric, but you can also go wild and come up with new original combinations.
General Health Benefits Of Turmeric
Besides being good for the brain, turmeric uses its superpowers on other processes in the body.
Turmeric And Diabetes
Diabetes is a very common metabolic disorder in the 21st century and it’s related to the impaired ways in which your body handles your intake of sugar.
The way this happens is when your pancreas does not produce enough insulin (the hormone that regulates blood sugar) or when your body isn’t able to effectively use its own insulin.
For starters, according to one research, curcumin in turmeric is capable of stabilizing blood sugar levels thus making diabetes more manageable. 
Another study on type 2 diabetes mellitus suggests that curcumin has a great potential as a therapy for diabetes, and can impede its complications. 
In spite of this research, it could be safely said that just by its antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric (and curcumin) could be efficient in preventing diabetes.
Turmeric For Skin Health
Skin health is important not only for aesthetic purposes but also because the skin is the largest organ in our bodies and it’s important that it’s protected and well taken care of.
There is growing evidence that the anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, antimicrobial, and anti-neoplastic properties of turmeric are beneficial for various common skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis, acne vulgaris, facial photoaging, oral lichen planus, pruritus, and psoriasis. 
Turmeric For Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is a joint degenerative disease and it’s the most common form of arthritis. It’s mostly related to aging and it happens when the cartilage in your joints breaks down due to the natural degeneration of the protein makeup in the cartilage.
Fortunately, a study from 2019 has found strong evidence that curcumin might actually help. The focus was on knee osteoarthritis in comparison with diclofenac, one of the usual NSAIDs for treating this condition.
In this study, patients with knee OA were all randomly assigned to take either a 500mg curcumin supplement or a 50mg diclofenac tablet. The study lasted for 28 days and during that time the patients who took curcumin started showing gradual improvement and experiencing less and less pain, and by the end of the trial, it was evident that curcumin had similar efficacy to diclofenac, but was tolerated much better. 
Turmeric And Cardiovascular Health
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a general term for a number of disorders affecting the heart and the blood vessels.
A very recent study tested curcumin supplements against various CVDs and their conclusion was that curcumin’s positive and therapeutic effects protect against cardiovascular dysfunction like arteriosclerosis and aortic aneurysm, and its antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, and anti-apoptotic properties are effective in improving CVDs like heart failure and diabetic cardiovascular complications. 
What Are The Side Effects Of Turmeric?
Turmeric is generally relatively safe and low-risk when it comes to side-effects, but still, you should employ some caution if you want to consume it on a regular basis, as with any other ingredient or drug.
The spice itself shouldn’t cause any problems at all, unless taken in very high doses. The supplements, however, may cause some discomfort, depending on your tolerance, because they are more concentrated.
The most common signs of intolerance are nausea and upset stomach or diarrhea. But, if you experience more severe reactions, such as high blood sugar, increased thirst, or blurred vision, you should stop taking the supplements immediately.
Turmeric Reaction With Certain Conditions And Medications
Even though turmeric is considered safe, it can still interfere with some medications, and there are certain conditions for which taking it is not recommended.
If You’re Pregnant
Pregnant women should avoid consuming turmeric because there is a chance that turmeric might stimulate the uterus and trigger early labor or miscarriage. You don’t have to cut it out of your diet completely, but if you do decide to include it, make sure it’s consumed in amounts commonly found in meals.
If You Have Hormone Sensitivity
These conditions include anything connected to the reproductive organs, like endometriosis, uterine fibroids, or breast, ovary, or uterus cancer, because the curcumin found in turmeric may mimic estrogen.
If You Have Scheduled Surgery Soon
You should avoid taking turmeric or curcumin if you’re supposed to get a surgery in the following two weeks because it might slow down blood clotting and cause extra bleeding during the surgery. It’s recommended to quit taking either of them for at least two weeks before the surgery.
If You Take Blood Thinners
If you’re taking anticoagulant medications, you should definitely steer clear from both turmeric and curcumin, because they amplify the effects of blood-thinning drugs. Having your blood too thin also increases the risk of bruising and bleeding.
If You Have Stomach Issues
Gastrointestinal issues like GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) can be made worse by curcumin, and you can experience irritation and nausea, so it’s best to stay away.
If You Take Medications For Stomach Acid
Turmeric can interfere with medications for stomach acid reduction, thus reversing the effect and causing discomfort.
If You Take Iron Supplements
Turmeric can inhibit the absorption of iron in the body and cause iron-deficiency anemia.
If You Take Diabetes Medications
You should use turmeric with caution if you’re a diabetic because it can cause hypoglycemia, i.e. low blood sugar levels.
Other Ways To Keep Your Brain Healthy
Our brains are the most fascinating machines and keeping them fit and healthy is a must. We should exercise our brains just like we exercise our bodies, in order to improve memory, cognitive function, focus, and productivity. Here are some ways you can keep those neuron connections fresh:
- Exercise is the most obvious way for your brain to stay healthy and active for a long time. It’s great for the brain in that it affects the growth of new blood vessels in the brain and reduces inflammation. It also reduces stress and anxiety, thus making you calmer and in control of your own body. In addition, it directly affects your gray matter and possibly slows cognitive changes related to aging.   All in all, exercising is amazing for the brain!
- Doing a jigsaw puzzle every once in a while will also do wonders for your brain health and strength in the long run. First, it engages both sides of the brain, your creative and your logical side, second, it helps your short term memory, and third it’s very fun. It also helps you develop your visual-spatial reasoning when you have to imagine how the smaller parts fit into the big picture.  So, maybe you should start today.
- Learn a new language. This one is not a surprise, as it’s been proven time and time again that learning a new language forms new brain connections. It has been observed that, in fact, when adults start learning new languages they actually use more areas in the brain, and in this way, the brain remains permanently modified, for the better, of course. 
- Getting enough sleep is vital for your brain’s health because sleep is neuroprotective.  When you sleep, you not only rest your body, but you rest your mind as well and give your brain a break. At nighttime, it’s best to let it do some self-maintenance, clear the static and resume its normal function in the morning. Sleep deprivation is no one’s best friend when it comes to your brain health.
- Doing crosswords is similar to doing a jigsaw puzzle, but you exercise different cognitive functions here. You make connections to different notions and cross-reference things. If you already like doing crosswords, you’ll be glad to hear that doing crosswords and number puzzles regularly make your brain sharper later in life, or in other words, your brain will actually be ten years younger. 
- And in the end, eating healthy is the optimal way for your brain to stay healthy. Make sure you feed it all the nutrients it needs, cut down on any unnecessary and excessive ingredients, and maybe take some brain supplements for an extra boost.
Turmeric and its extract, curcumin, are a wonderful addition to your diet, whether through supplements, powder, or in a raw form. However you choose to take it, their numerous positive health benefits won’t elude you and you will certainly feel the difference for yourself.
Taking into consideration all the health benefits mentioned, we think that should the research continue, in the future, we will have much more information on how the components within turmeric can be best utilized for our general health.
How do you incorporate turmeric into your diet? Leave us a comment, we’d love to know!