To steer clear of any extra unwanted additions, going the natural route is sometimes a safer choice. This is where turmeric come into play!
What Us Turmeric?
Turmeric is an aromatic eastern root, commonly used in Indian cuisine and touted for its medical properties. Turmeric skin is brown in color, similar to a sweet potato, and has bright orange flesh an earthy, sweet, and slightly spiced flavor.
While you may be more familiar with the powered turmeric found in the spices section of your local market, it is also often available in its raw form. You can find this in the produce section.
Turmeric And Weight Loss
While turmeric contains as many as 235 different compounds, most research on turmeric has been done on its most bioactive compound, curcumin. However, the studies on the association between curcumin supplementation and weight loss are limited.
Nocp;e Rodriguez, RDN, NASM – CPT, owner of Enjoy Food. Enjoy Life, LLC, advised that while the studies that have been done show promise, the body of research contains fewer than 2,000 participants which is not enough to prove a definitive connection.
Vandana Sheth, RDN, CDCES, FAND, registered dietitian nutritionist and author of My Indian Tble: Quicj & Tasty Vegetarian Receipes, agreed with Rodriquez on the limitations present in current research.
Sheth brought up a 2021 review of randomized control trials (RCTS) that concluded higher dose curcumin intakes [of 1500 mg] or supplementation with specifically bioavailable forms showed the most promising results with significant reductions in participant body weight, BMI, and waist cicrumference.
it’s important to note many of these studies were shorter in duration – one to six months – and lacked follow – up. Sample sizes were also very small, consisted of mostly women, and have had confounding factors such as the inclusion of dietary and physical activity intervention during the studies.
Furthermore, many studies included participants who had been diagnosed with specific disease like metabolic syndrome and non – alcoholic fatty liver disease. With this in mind, it may be more pertinent to investigate the root cause of some of these diseases, and how curcumin can be beneficial.
Anti – Inflammatory Properties
Many disease have something in common: inflammation. Sheth points out that turmeric, namely curcumin, may help support weight loss efforts primarily due to its anti – inflammatory properties.
The scientific community, in in vitro studies, (in a test tube) has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt curcumin’s potential for anti – inflammatory benefits.
Furthermore, many human studies, including RCTs and systematic reviews of RCTs, have also proven the effectiveness of curcumin supplementation to reduce biomarkers for inflammation.
However, similar to Rodriquez and Sheth’s findings, the authors of these studies call for more robust studies that include more participants, consistent dosage and formulations, and the establishment of long term effectiveness relative to an individual’s health status, yet again providing there is not ‘one – size – fits – all’ approach to healt.
The Connection Between Inflammation And Weight Loss
When someone is experiencing obesity, inflammation is also incited in the body.
Studies have shown that in states of obesity, not only are pre – inflammatory cytokines increased, but anti – inflammatory cytokines decrease. Pro – inflammatory cytokines, like TNF -a, are responsible for modulating the adaptive and innate immune response. When their homeostasis is dysregulated, line in cases of obesity, autoimune disease and other complications can occur.
Furthermore, adipose tissue secretes several hormones, the most commonly studies being adiponectin and leptin. These hormones are responsible for glucose metabolism and protect against insulin resistance (adiponectin), as well as appetite regulation and fat storage (leptin).
When obesity is present, the ratio of these hormones becomes disturbed. When adiponectin is low and leptin levels increase, adipose tissue dysfunction occurs and is correlated with chronic low – grade inflammation and place one at increased risk for cardiometabolic disease and other chronic diseases.
How Does Increased Inflammation Lead To Decreased Ability To Lose Adipose Tissue?
Unfortunately, conditions such as leptin resistance and insulin resistance can occur, meaning the body no longer responds to their stimulation. In these cases, it may make it difficult to regulate one’s appetite and metabolize nutrients properly.
With these mechanisms in mind, we must consider where curcumin can play a role.
While the connection between weight loss and curcumin is not entirely clear, the evidence points to curcumin as being able to disrupt the dysregulation of pro – inflammatory and anti – inflammatory systems in cases of obesity that can lead to difficulty losing weight.
Turmeric Supplements vs, Turmeric Root
If you decide to add turmeric to your diet, one question you may be facing is if you should take it as a food or through a supplement. One of the challenges to harnessing the potential anti – inflammatory properties of curcumin is bioavailability, or how well the body can absorb and utilize the nutrient in question.
Rodriguez and Sheth agree with the current research that another compound, piperine, found in black pepper, can improve curcumin’s absorption. Rodriquez advises that pairing turmeric with a heart – healthy fat can also assist this process. That being said, if taking a supplement, one would need to be sure it’s in a form optimized for absorption.
Additionally, as noted earlier, dosing amounts are also important. Speak with a health care professional to see if a turmeric supplement would be appropriate for your diet, as well as what dosage you should take.
Sheth also advises checking with a health care provider before taking a new supplement.
What The Experts Recommend
Rodriguez and Sheth are in agreement: If you’re interested in getting some of the benefits that turmeric may have, including its bright color, go ahead and add it to stir – fries, salad dressings, curries, or lattes.
However, research has not yet conclusively discovered a link between curcumin and weight loss. If one chooses to take a supplement, at this point, there is no certainty that it is the hero it may be claimed to be.
Ultimately, following a variety – filled diet is the key to achieving and maintaining weight loss over time.