Exploring additional ways to support a weight loss goal is always interesting, especially when you see new hacks and trendy advice from lifestyle bloggers and influencers. Weight loss supplement options are endless, but they can be full of unwanted additives and have lists of side effects. The best is to consult your doctor before implementing something new into your diet.
We've decided to find the science behind the turmeric hype and whether this spice is a magic bullet for weight loss or just another online marketing trick.
Turmeric, or The Golden Spice, is a popular ingredient in Asian cuisine. Apart from being a top option for creating aromatic dishes, this versatile spice has also been an integral part of Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Ayurveda is traditional Indian medicine based on the concept that disease is caused by stress or an imbalance in someone's consciousness.Turmeric resembles ginger root, with a light brown outer skin and yellow flesh. We mostly use turmeric in a powdered form for cooking; however, the spice contains a compound called curcumin that has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, making it popular in Ayurvedic healing.1Rahmani AH, Alsahli MA, Aly SM, Khan MA, Aldebasi YH. February, 2018. Role of Curcumin in Disease Prevention and Treatment. Adv Biomed Res. DOI:10.4103/abr.abr_147_16
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As with many health issues, unhealthy weight gain also occurs due to untreated inflammation. Turmeric contains over 230 active compounds, but research on turmeric, specifically the compound curcumin, indicates that this compound's anti-inflammatory properties can lower inflammation in the body, resulting in weight loss.
For example, test-tube studies suggest that curcumin can suppress specific inflammatory markers that are elevated in people experiencing weight gain and obesity.3Bradford PG. February, 2013. Curcumin and obesity. Biofactors. DOI:10.1002/biof.1074
Another 30-day study of 44 people with weight issues concluded that taking 800mg of curcumin combined with 8mg of piperine twice daily helps reduce body weight and BMI and results in lower waist circumference.4Di Pierro F, Bressan A, Ranaldi D, Rapacioli G, Giacomelli L, Bertuccioli A. November, 2015. Potential role of bioavailable curcumin in weight loss and omental adipose tissue decrease: preliminary data of a randomized, controlled trial in overweight people with metabolic syndrome. Preliminary study. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. PMID:26592847
These studies show positive results when using turmeric, or the compound curcumin, specifically for weight loss. However, not many studies or trials have been conducted, so ultimately, more solid evidence is needed before curcumin can be recommended as a weight loss supplement.2Kunnumakkara AB, Bordoloi D, Padmavathi G, Monisha J, Roy NK, Prasad S, Aggarwal BB. June, 2017. Curcumin, the golden nutraceutical: multitargeting for multiple chronic diseases. Br J Pharmacol. DOI:10.1111/bph.13621
If you're considering turmeric as a weight-loss aid, it's essential to keep in mind that this supplement also has possible adverse effects.
Take a closer look at these common medications, as they don't interact very well with turmeric supplements:
Although some studies on turmeric show promising weight loss-promoting results, more investigation is required. Researchers need to look at all role-playing factors and the effects of long-term use before curcumin can be cleared as a safe weight-loss tool.
For example, the test-tube study shows great potential, but at the same time, taking turmeric as a supplement can also have adverse effects if you're on specific medication like blood thinners.
Taking supplements for weight loss is not a healthy way to lose weight and keep it off in the long term. Some supplements are great for kick-starting your weight loss journey, but you ultimately need to make other changes, including your diet, portion control, and your relationship with food.
Taking something safe to accelerate your results is fine, but weight-loss should also be a mental shift to achieve long-term results.
Some studies' findings suggest that you can take up to 12 grams of curcumin on a daily basis for short periods if you're not on any of the medications listed above. However, studies about the risks and results of long-term use are needed to provide more clarity.
Some individuals taking high doses of curcumin can suffer adverse effects and allergic reactions, including skin rash, constipation, nausea, vomiting, stomach aches, and diarrhea.6Lao CD, Ruffin MT 4th, Normolle D, Heath DD, Murray SI, Bailey JM, Boggs ME, Crowell J, Rock CL, Brenner DE. March, 2006. Dose escalation of a curcuminoid formulation. BMC Complement Altern Med. DOI:10.1186/1472-6882-6-10 Pregnant and breastfeeding women should also avoid curcumin supplements as they have not been cleared for safety in these conditions.
If you suffer from one of the following disorders, taking curcumin as a weight loss supplement is a bad idea:
If you are healthy, not on any blood-thinning or diabetic medications, and you're not currently pregnant or breastfeeding, taking a modest dose of curcumin can be harmless. Make sure to visit your doctor and discuss your decision with them first before you start taking it.
The body does not have a high absorption tolerance for turmeric, so a compound named piperine is added to boost absorption by up to 2 000%. Piperine is found in black pepper, and only a tiny amount is required to help the body absorb more curcumin.11Hewlings SJ, Kalman DS. October, 2017. Curcumin: A Review of Its Effects on Human Health. Foods. DOI:10.3390/foods6100092 Thus, look for a turmeric supplement that contains piperine to boost absorption.
Curcumin is indeed a very useful supplement, a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also used in the complex prevention of cancer. At the same time, all statements that turmeric speeds up metabolism and helps break down / remove fats from the body are myths. Only one thing helps to lose weight: a negative balance between consumed and expended calories. That's it! There are no magic pills or products. You can add turmeric to your meals as any other spice, but don't rely on it as a weight loss panacea or consider it a health problem shooter. It is just a helper, one among many useful products. To maintain general immunity and prevent different diseases, use turmeric diluted in water – there will be no worse.
Another way you can help your body boost curcumin absorption is by taking it with a healthy fat. As a rule of thumb, make sure you take curcumin supplements with meals, but also focus on adding healthy fats like coconut oil, full-fat dairy, or almond milk.12Dei Cas M, Ghidoni R. September, 2019. Dietary Curcumin: Correlation between Bioavailability and Health Potential. Nutrients DOI:10.3390/nu11092147
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Studies indicate that turmeric is a promising weight loss supplement as it fights inflammatory markers linked with overweight and obese patients. However, more research and trials must be conducted before turmeric becomes a safe and established weight-loss aid. Avoid turmeric if you're pregnant or breastfeeding, and also if you're on blood-thinning medication or diagnosed as a bleeder, if you have diabetes, and if you're struggling with low iron or kidney stones. Taking high doses of turmeric as a long-term weight-loss solution is unsafe as there is a lack of research regarding its long-term use. Always consult your doctor before taking a new supplement.