Turmeric and Weight Loss
Turmeric is well known for its ability to support the health of the body in many amazing ways. But have you heard the claim about supporting weight loss?
There isn’t a whole lot of information about the subject, which suggests that it might be a more recent revelation. A handful of studies from the previous 10 years have looked at the claims and found that, for people with specific health problems related to inflammation, diabetes, or fatty liver, turmeric may be beneficial for weight loss.
While many of these studies focus on the effects of turmeric on animals, researchers have left the door open for further research on the effect of the spice on humans.
What is Turmeric?
Turmeric is a relative to the ginger plant and is native to Southeast Asia. The part of turmeric most used for medicinal purposes is the underground part known as the rhizome but is sometimes called the root.
The rhizome is a bright orange-yellow color and contains the compound curcumin, an antioxidant that helps to protect the body from disease and other dangers.
Turmeric is found in supplements or as a powder that you can add to food or drink. It is also the main ingredient in curry. Some grocery stores carry the whole root that you can slice or grind into a powder.
How Turmeric Aids Weight Loss
Inflammation and Diabetes Related Conditions
Inflammation affects metabolism in the body by impeding insulin signaling to help control blood sugar levels, cholesterol transport, and cellular homeostasis.
The primary compound in turmeric, curcumin, is an antioxidant that gives turmeric its yellow-orange color. When ingested, curcumin positively interacts with how the body stores fat, the release of insulin from the pancreas, the immune system, and muscle cells. All of these changes help to ease or reduce symptoms that can lead to biological changes in the body that can lead to obesity.
Conversion of White Adipose Tissue
Adipose tissue is body fat that has two primary forms: brown and white.
The white form of adipose tissue merely stores energy that is accessible to the body when needed. Brown adipose tissue generates body heat. Brown adipose tissue is constantly being used as a fuel to keep the body at a normal temperature, while white adipose tissue can remain in the body, unused, so long as the body is always provided enough energy through a healthy diet. When people talk about losing body fat, it’s the white adipose tissue that they can’t shake because the body prioritizes white adipose tissue development.
At least one study has found that curcumin affects how the body generates and “labels” adipose tissue, leading to a decrease in body weight and fat mass in animal studies.
The liver serves many functions that help the body to achieve homeostasis (stability between different body systems.) As the liver is responsible for the conversion of nutrients into a usable form in the body, the processing of fat, and other compounds, poor health or other problems can affect how well the liver functions.
In a research study on the effect curcumin on fatty liver disease, a condition marked by the accumulation of fat in the liver that reduces its function, found that the turmeric extract had a “significant reductions in body mass index and serum levels of total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, glucose, and glycated hemoglobin compared with the placebo group.”
This beneficial effect occurred after eight weeks with a dosage of 500 mg per day of a turmeric extract. While the study didn’t look at weight loss, fatty liver and weight loss have been shown to be directly connected, and improving liver function may aid in eventual improvements to overall body weight reduction.
Weight Loss Goals
When starting a weight loss regimen, a holistic approach will work best. This means using exercise and a healthy diet, along with herbs or supplements, to help you to reach your goals. If you're looking for a convenient way to get more turmeric in your diet, besides a supplement, then give golden milk a try. You can also add turmeric to your favorite soup, fit smoothie, or healthy dessert.
Turmeric may help, but probably has limitation if you’re looking to shed weight fast or at a healthy pace. Still, it’s worth using to see if it helps you to reach your goals.