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February 19, 2018 09:23 AM
Updated February 19, 2018 09:37 AM

For everyone who hasn’t started spicing their foods with turmeric, I am sharing recently published evidence that might have you reaching for this beautiful orange spice. Most spices have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties along with flavor enhancing powers. And turmeric has all that and maybe a bit more.

Evidence about curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has been documented since the early 1970s. And every study on curcumin would say a clinical trial is needed. Well here it is. The first well-designed study was published online ahead of press in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

This was an 18-month, randomized, double-blind study of 40 subjects. Participants were between 50 and 90 years old with no signs of dementia. Half received a highly bioavailable curcumin product called Theracurmin and the others received a placebo. Tests of memory were given at the beginning and end of the study. Screening for accumulation of amyloid and tau plaques, which are markers for dementia, was done via PET scans.

Subjects taking the Theracurmin demonstrated significant memory improvement after 18 months compared to the placebo group. The PET scan showed the treatment group had decreased accumulation of tau and amyloid proteins in the amygdala and hypothalamus when compared to the placebo group. Increased amyloid proteins are associated with dementia.W

This was a study of only 40 well-educated subjects, so sweeping generalizations should be avoided. And a potential side effect of this amount of curcumin is gastrointestinal distress. This could be a topic to discuss with a primary physician.

Adding more turmeric to meals is a great place to begin. Always use a bit of black pepper with turmeric as it increases bioavailability

▪ Turmeric pairs well with eggs in a scramble, omelet or shakshuka.

▪ Add ½ teaspoon or more of turmeric to soups and casseroles. If you like the flavor add more.

▪ Sprinkle into a smoothie.

▪ Stir into nut butter.

▪ Have a turmeric golden nightcap,

Sheah Rarback is a registered dietitian on the faculty of the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. Follow her on Twitter @sheahrarback.




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