Covered in this article;
- What is curcumin?
- What does it do?
- Supplementing with curcumin
Curcumin has been touted as the new anti-cancer, anti-ageing, magical fat loss pill. Literally everyone wants in on this phenol, to such an extent that the curcumin industry sold an estimated US$6 Billion last year. The reason why curcumin has been publicised to such an extent is because of its anti-inflammatory properties (or more correctly pro inflammatory – I’ll get to this in a second) and the low rates of cancer in populations (such as India) where curcumin consumption is high.
So what are my thoughts on curcumin?
Curcumin is amazing. Literally this thing could be the cure for every inflammation related illness known to man.
Curcumin has its action on reducing inflammation by actually stimulating inflammation. When the body encounters curcumin in the bloodstream, it immediately ramps up the immune response and clears the curcumin as well as many other pro-inflammatory products. The inflammation is then resolved and your body is left a whole lot healthier!
Furthermore, curcumin helps reduce fat gain through its role in regulating inflammation. As you all know, when your body is hurt and inflamed it produces extra cortisol – as cortisol resolves inflammation. When you release extra cortisol, you break down protein into glucose via gluconeogenesis. Once the inflammation is gone, you are left with free glucose which then causes an insulin spike, driving some of your glucose into your fat cells. By reducing this process curcumin allows for rapid fat loss, as seen in many rodent experiments (see the appendix if you want to read more)
However, curcumin has one big problem.
Your body doesn’t like to absorb it.
As curcumin stimulates an anti-inflammatory response, this means your body will try and detect it before it can be absorbed. Basically, your body looks at curcumin as if it is a pathogen. Because of this, curcumin is rapidly metabolised (broken down) and excreted before it can actually have its effect. This means you would have to spend literally hundreds of dollars on curcumin pills to get any real effect.
Is curcumin worthwhile?
Yes. 100% it is. However I recommend getting your curcumin from sources such as turmeric and ginger. Supplement companies still haven’t quite nailed how to get curcumin into your system without it being degraded. Many have tried to combine it with piperine, make liposomal curcumin (curcumin in a carrier made of fat), curcumin nanoparticles and a host of others. Literally none of these are effective, and in the case of piperine it is actually bad. Piperine inhibits a process called glucuronidation, which allows all the nastys you encounter into your cells. You don’t want this.
To get a decent dose of curcumin, I suggest having 5g of turmeric or ginger on each meal in a day 2-3 times per week. You don’t want to have it too often as otherwise you lose the therapeutic qualities. At this dose you should notice a substantial reduction in inflammation, enhanced recovery time plus potential increase in muscle gain and fat loss!
As curcumin is a hot topic of research, there is something new coming out every day. This means that although we haven’t quite found a way to use it effectively, we will soon! As soon as I find out about a suitable curcumin product that I would use and give to my clients, then I’ll share that product with you guys!
Aggarwal, B. (2011). Targeting Inflammation-Induced Obesity and Metabolic Diseases by Curcumin and Other Nutraceuticals. Annu Rev Nutr. 30(1):173–199.
Alappat L, Awad AB. (2010). Curcumin and obesity: evidence and mechanisms. Nutr Rev. 68(12):729-38