Boost your brain power in 2015 with ancient spice

Yesterday, I told you a bit about the history of frankincense (boswellia), one of the gifts brought to the birth of Christ by the three Magi. Of course, today frankincense is part of a potent trio for effective and safe joint support. In fact, as I mentioned, this trio is far more effective than all the tired, old glucosamine and chondroitin supplements.

But today, I want to share more with you about a different member of the joint trio–turmeric. Also known as curcumin in the popular and tasty Indian curries, turmeric is a potent, natural herb you can use to help prevent and manage many medical conditions. In fact, new research shows it’s an incredible brain powerhouse.

In a new study, researchers from the Monash Asia Institute tracked memory in a group of Taiwanese men and women 60 years or older who had been recently diagnosed with untreated prediabetes. They gave participants one gram of turmeric with a morning meal of white bread. They also tested the participants’ working memory before and after eating the white bread.

Amazingly, the researchers discovered this modest amount of turmeric improved the participants’ working memory for more than six hours following the starchy meal.

Experts widely consider working memory as one of the most important mental abilities. It’s critical for cognitive functions–such as planning, problem solving and reasoning. In fact, I think of “working memory” as the random access memory (RAM) in your computer. It’s required for moment-to-moment executive functioning.

In addition, doctors assess a patient’s working memory as a way to evaluate overall cognitive function. It’s also useful in predicting future impairment as observed in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Of course, turmeric is also an amazing cooking spice.

In fact, it’s one of three or four main ingredients (together with cumin, coriander, and red chili) in typical curry spices widely used in cooking in India, Burma, Thailand, Southeast Asia, and parts of China. It’s also a popular ingredient in contemporary cuisine in the West.

Turmeric’s bright yellow color–which gives curry its yellow hue–comes from the presence of curcumin. And research shows curcumin reduces the risk of dementia. So today’s findings out of the Monash Asia Institute should come as no real surprise to anyone who knows the history and science of the spice.

One way turmeric/curcumin appears to protect the brain is by balancing blood sugar and metabolism. In fact, curcumin seems to work especially well on cognition in men and women with poor energy metabolism and insulin resistance.

Of course, as I’ve recently reported, several natural spices, including ginger, seem to have  this same kind of effect.

So perhaps all the cooks in ancient times in the East were naturally onto something special…

When they added curry, ginger, and other spices to rice, they slowed digestion and metabolism of all the carbohydrates in the meal. This naturally helped keep their blood sugar balanced while still obtaining calories from their traditional cuisine. Of course, with curry you also get the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, brain-boosting, and metabolic-balancing effects of all its potent ingredients.

So over the holidays, take a break from the leftovers and baked goods to treat yourself to great Indian food. Dine-in or take-out. Or better yet, cook some traditional Indian dishes at home with curry. Just search the internet for some simple curry recipes and you’ll enjoy a wonderfully fragrant, healthy meal at home, as over a billion people do every day.


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