Obesity is a medical condition where your health is at risk due to accumulation of fat in your body.
This condition pre-disposes the body to various diseases like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic cardiac problems, cancer etc.
Worldwide, an estimated 1.9 billion adults are overweight and 600million of them are obese.
This is statistics presented in World Health Organization fact sheet of 2014. It is preventable by changing lifestyle, exercise and proper diet.
Weight loss should be gradual and moderate.
An approximate 10% of weight loss reduces various obese parameters like hypertension, blood pressure, cholesterol level in blood, diabetes type 2, cardiac diseases.
This goes a long way in improving health and adding to the longevity of obese/overweight people.
Various natural occurring chemicals found in different plants accelerate the process of weight loss.
Turmeric is one such plant. Curcumin, the active ingredient of Curcuma longa (turmeric) has a pivotal role in enhancing weight loss.
8 Benefits of Turmeric In Weight Loss
The effects of curcumin in hastening weight loss and thus preventing obesity, is multi-faceted. It has many implications and mechanisms.
1. A study in humans highlights that curcumin promotes fast weight loss
A recently conducted clinical trial on overweight people already undergoing a diet and lifestyle change illustrated the effect of curcumin on weight-loss.
Curcumin increased the rate of weight loss in this population who were already under the lifestyle change regime.
A reported 1kg of weight-loss per 10days was seen in the curcumin group compared to 500gm of weight-loss per 10days seen in the control group(lifestyle changes without curcumin treatment).
That is double the weight-loss in a given time.
A drastic reduction was observed in the BMI(from2.1 to 6.43%), waistline ( from 2.36 to 4.14%) and hipline measurements (from 0.74 to 2.51%) in the curcumin group.
What does this mean? This clinical study clearly illustrates the far-reaching consequences of curcumin in weight-loss. Not only does it causes weight-loss but also it enhances the progress of weight-loss; doubling the effect in a short span of time without any major side effects.
2. It reduces obesity-induced inflammation
Curcumin has an anti-inflammatory effect.
Obesity-induced inflammation can give rise to metabolic diseases and impaired blood sugar control.
It prevents inflammation of adipocytes or fat cells by inhibiting various pro-inflammatory factors. This study dwells on this fact.
Factors like NF-kB, TNFα, TGF-β, Plasminogen activator inhibitor type 1 (PAI-1) are proteins that contribute to inflammation.
Curcumin lowers the levels of such pro-inflammatory agents and increases the level of adiponectin- a hormone that breaks down fat.
Curcumin decreases the level of expression of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), lipooxygenase 2 enzymes.
These enzymes are essential for inducing the proper functioning of cytokines. Cytokines are a type of protein signaling molecules which regulates our immune system.
What does this mean? This implies that curcumin, found in turmeric, inhibits various proteins involved in causing chronic inflammation in fat storing cells of our body. It modulates a cascade of proteins which causes inflammation which further leads to insulin resistance and hyperglycemia (high glucose level in blood).
3. It reduces obesity-associated type 2 diabetes risk
Studies have found that fat cells may function as endocrine (hormone-producing) organs.
They play an active role in influencing the metabolic pathways of the body.
The fat cells of obese individuals are inflamed and these inflamed cells secrete various protein factors which lead to insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance is the preliminary cause of type 2 diabetes and hyperglycemia. Curcumin ameliorates this by stimulating glucose uptake and reducing glucose formation in the liver.
It does this by elevating the expression level of various proteins like GLUT4, GLUT2 and GLUT 3 which are essential for glucose metabolism.
It also activates adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK).
AMPK is essential for fat to break down and glucose transport.
Curcumin enhances the secretion capacity of β-cells (insulin producing cells) of the pancreas. Thus leading to an increased insulin level.
What does this mean? Research implies that curcumin remedies insulin resistance. It enhances the overall insulin secretion ability of cells. It influences glucose transport, uptake and formation mechanism,thereby maintaining the normal blood sugar level.
4. It improves antioxidant status in overweight individuals
Obesity is correlated with oxidative stress. Increased oxidative stress causes an increase in accumulation of fats in the cells.
This is manifested in decreased expression of anti-oxidant enzymes.
This increased oxidative stress level further leads to metabolic syndrome (a cluster of diseases characterized by impaired energy metabolism).
Curcumin increases the expression of various anti-oxidant genes like Nrf2, HO-1,NQO-1.
Thereby it decreases the level of reactive oxygen species (ROS) which cause tissue damage.
Hence, the oxidative stress level is drastically reduced. High levels of ROS are seen in the cardiac cells of obese people. It is an essential parameter of cardiac diseases.
Its anti-oxidant property includes lipid peroxidation (oxidative breakdown of lipids) prevention, iron ion chelation and decreases the activity of enzymes like superoxide dismustase, glutathione synthetase transferase; each of which contribute to oxidative stress.
What does this mean? Curcumin drastically reduces the oxidative stress level of obese patients by affecting genes involved in improving antioxidant status. This has implications on cardiac and metabolic health of obese individuals.
5. Curcumin prevents accumulation of fats
White adipose tissue (WAT is a complex hormone secreting organ which secretes cytokines (proteins regulating the immune system) called adipokines required for cell differentiation of fat cells.
Curcumin suppresses the activation of these WAT cytokines, thus preventing the growth of fat cells.
Curcumin stimulates the expression of Adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and inhibits the expression of COX-2 and PPAR-γ. These factors are proteins which is essential for fat cells differentiation.
Curcumin doesn’t allow fat cells to progress through the cell cycle, thereby inhibiting their growth.
Curcumin prevents adipogenesis that is, the growth of fat tissues.
What does this mean? Curcumin acts in multiple ways to prevent synthesis of new fat cells. Reduced fat cells translates into reduced accumulation of fats and increased breakdown of fats or weight loss.
6. Curcumin changes bad fat cells to good fat cells
Research has shown, there are certain types of fat cells which promotes energy utilization and expenditure. This results in decreased obesity.
These brown fat cells are called good adipocytes contrary to the white fat cells called bad adipocytes.
Curcumin has a key role in converting white adipocytes to brown adipocytes.
It enhances the expression of brown fat specific genes like UCP1 and AMPK which enables the switch from white to brown fat cells.
What does this mean? Curcumin can cause browning of white fat which leads to breakdown of fats instead of storage.
7. Curcumin lowers high cholesterol levels
A clinical trial demonstrated that curcumin at a dose of 1g per day for 30 days reduced cholesterol and blood lipid levels in obese individuals.
However, no change in body fat was seen; this could be attributed to low dose or inadequate time span of the trial to observe visible results.
Curcumin prevents the formation of triglycerides. These triglycerides are the building blocks of cholesterol.
Thus it prevents cholesterol formation by blocking the enzyme glycerol-3-phosphate-acyl transferase 1 (GPAT-1).
This enzyme activity is blocked when another enzyme AMPK is activated by curcumin.
Curcumin also effects the expression of certain genes which are essential for cholesterol formation.
Curcumin attenuates fatty acid synthesis in the liver. It causes accelerated oxidation of fats and low amounts of fatty acids in the liver.
Curcumin also affects cholesterol transport and uptake. It retunes it in such a way that less cholesterol is taken by the cell and more is given out.
What does this mean?
Curcumin reduces cholesterol levels and this finding can impact hypercholesterolemia (high levels of cholesterol in the blood), and the fatty liver problem associated with obesity.
8. Daily use of turmeric enhances metabolic health
Clinical trials have shown daily intake curcumin for 12 weeks or more radically lowers the weight and lipid content in people with metabolic syndromes.
A daily intake of 1-2g per day has a lipid-lowering effect.
It reduces bad cholesterol and good cholesterol ratio.
Oxidative stress plays a key role in metabolic syndrome (MetS). The anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory property of curcumin aids in ameliorating metabolic syndrome parameters.
What does this mean? Curcumin ameliorates parameters of metabolic syndrome by employing its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and cholesterol lowering properties.
Health Benefits of Turmeric
There are various scientifically proven health benefits of turmeric.
- Turmeric is a strong anti-microbial agent. It is effective against various bacterial, fungal and viral infections.
- Turmeric is chemo-preventive in nature. Dietary intake of turmeric day prevents various types of cancer like oral, skin, intestinal, urinary bladder cancer etc.
- It has been recorded in a clinical trial, a daily intake of 1 gm of curcumin reduces the anxiety and depression level in obese individuals.
- It plays an essential role in reducing blood cholesterol level.
- Turmeric enhances our cognitive abilities like reading, learning, analyzing, etc. It also enhances our memory capacity.
- Turmeric hasneuroprotectivee ability which protects us from different neuro-degenerative disorder like Alzheimer’s disease.
- Turmeric helps in digestion. It acts as a cure for stomach upset, heart burn, irritable bowel syndrome and different gastro-intestinal disorders.
- Regular intake of curcumin prevents cardiac diseases.
- Regular intake of turmeric can reduce the risk of developing diabetes.
- Turmeric is very beneficial for the skin and helps in combating various skin diseases.
How to Take Turmeric for Weight Loss?
Turmeric contains 2-6% of curcumin.
In clinical trials, it has shown a threshold level of 8g per day.
Around 1-2g of turmeric daily can accelerate exercise and diet induced weight loss.
Commercially available supplements come with absorption enhancers such as piperdine or phospahtidylcholine. This is because curcumin is ill-absorbed by the body.
Always opt for a standardized 95% curcumin extract with piperine supplement. Consult a doctor prior to taking supplements.
You can also include 1 tsp of turmeric powder in your diet daily.
The best way to take turmeric is to mix turmeric powder with a pinch of black pepper and/or adequate oil (olive or coconut oil).
If you are new to turmeric start with small doses say 1/4 tsp a day and gradually increase to 1-2 tsp 2-3 times a day.
Avoid taking turmeric on an empty stomach and close to other medications.
Turmeric serves as a useful natural remedy for various diseases. Turmeric in diet is safe.
High doses of turmeric can cause gastric side effects. Turmeric supplements should be avoided in pregnancy.
Intake of turmeric is not advisable if one has gall bladder stones or bile duct obstruction. Turmeric can mildly increase bleeding risk and hence should be avoided prior to surgery.
Turmeric supplements can have drug interactions with diabetes medication, blood thinning medications, stomach acid reducing drugs and certain antidepressants.
Consult a doctor before taking turmeric supplements.
Curcumin, found in turmeric, shows great potential as an anti-obesity agent. It prevents accumulation of fats, prevents the development of fat cells, reduces cholesterol and improves blood sugar control.
Results of a clinical trial also suggest that curcumin enhances diet and exercise induced weight loss. Additionally, it also improves features of metabolic syndrome.
Turmeric also has a number of health benefits. So spice up your diet to lose weight.