Turmeric for Brain

Turmeric is an essential ingredient of south Asian food .It’s powder is widely used as a spice in curry by people residing in South Asia. The medical benefits of turmeric have been studied extensively in the past decade. Although useful for its anti-inflammatory effect in several systemic diseases, its usefulness in Alzheimer’s disease, a neurodegenerative disease which severs the cognitive function of  human, has drawn the attention in the last decade .

Fig: Turmeric Powder (Source: Wikipedia)

Turmeric is a sterile plant, the root of which is dried and crushed to make a bright yellow spice. It has been used widely in India for last 2500 years for its antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and carminative properties. Turmeric contain a natural phenol called curcumin in it. It’s the curcumin that is found to be responsible for all these properties of turmeric. The bright yellow color of turmeric is also due to the presence of this natural phenol curcumin.

Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease with progressive impairment in cognitive function. Memory is the most compromised aspect of cognition in Alzheimer’s disease. Loss of memory is called dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia in the elderly people. The frequency of this disease increases with age.

Various researches have been conducted, both in animal and humans throughout the world regarding the role of turmeric in preventing  Alzheimer’s. Study done at Singapore showed that people eating curry showed better cognition than those who did not eat curry. The prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease in adults aged 70-79 years in US is 4.4 times higher than that in India. These are some of the epidemiological data supporting the role of turmeric in Alzheimer’s disease.

As mentioned before, the chemical identified in turmeric, which plays a crucial role in preventing Alzheimer’s disease is called curcumin. It prevents the formation of amyloid plaques which is a hallmark of  Alzheimer’s disease. Amyloid plaques are neurotoxic and are responsible for the loss of neurons eventually leading to loss of memory present in AD. Experiments done in lab animals have shown that curcumin prevents the formation of amyloid plaques by its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Similarly, it also prevents the formation of amyloid plaques indirectly by lowering the blood cholesterol level.

So, adding a small quantity of turmeric powder daily in your food might be of great help to your brain in long term. It is also a cost effective way of preventing alzheimer’s disease given the large budget that is currently being spent in tackling this disease in Europe and the US. As the consumption of turmeric has already been a difference behind the high incidence of Alzheimer’s disease in west as compared to Asia, its time to promote its use worldwide.

To conclude, start using turmeric powder folks, the experimental results are not that bad!!!

References:

Mishra S, Palanivelu K, The effect of curcumin(turmeric) in Alzheimer’s disease: an overview, Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology 2008 Jan-Mar;11(1):13-19

Brain food

Two Juglans regia walnuts.

Two Juglans regia walnuts. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What are brain foods?

Brain foods are those foods that help in nourishing your brain, one of the most vital organ of your body. They can be fruits, vegetables, cereals or fish.

Why are brain foods important?

They consist of several micro nutrients like anti-oxidants and macro-nutrients like fatty acids and proteins that are necessary for the smooth metabolism of brain.

Name some brain food.

Blueberries, nuts and seeds, pomegranate, broccoli, green pumpkin, beans, kiwi fruit, Avocado, wild salmon, whole grains like oat, brown rice, freshly brewed tea, dark chocolates , salmon are some of the brain foods.

Do brain food protect us from disease?

According to the researchers  of UCLA’s Brain Research Institute and Brain Injury Research Center , Omega-3 fatty acids(a unsaturated fatty acid) which is  found in brain food like salmon, kiwi, nuts  is found to improve learning and memory . These foods also  in fighting against  mental disorders like depression and mood disorders, schizophrenia, and dementia.

According to Dr Neal D Bernard, an American physician, vitamin E present in nuts and seeds, the anthocyanins that give grapes and berries their color, and the omega-3 traces in green vegetables have protective role in the brain. These are responsible for lowering the risks of cognitive disease.

Referred articles:

http://www.nature.com/nrn/journal/v9/n7/abs/nrn2421.html

http://www.forbes.com/sites/michaeltobias/2012/12/12/food-that-might-protect-your-brain-and-save-your-life-a-discussion-about-the-ecology-of-alzheimers-with-dr-neal-barnard/

http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/eat-smart-healthier-brain