It is estimated that one third of the world's current population is overweight or obese. The problem is that obesity alters various body functions and, in the long run, increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease but also cancer. This is why researchers are focusing their action on all the lifestyle and nutrition choices that could help counteract the overweight. In particular, the real challenge is to understand the best actions able to ensure long-term body weight control and not to guarantee only immediate results destined to be overturned in a short time. Spices, such as red pepper, ginger and turmeric, have shown a beneficial effect on health, helping to combat obesity. Today in particular we are talking about turmeric thanks to an article recently published in the Nutrients magazine that takes stock of the situation about the anti-obesity properties of this precious spice (Alsharif et al, Nutrients, 2021).
The active ingredient of turmeric is curcumin, a substance with proven antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antitumor, hepatoprotective, antidiabetic and anti-cholesterol action. But curcumin, as shown by previous studies, is also able to counteract obesity. In fact, curcumin acts on several fronts. First of all, it inhibits two enzymes involved in adipogenesis, that is, in the formation of adipose tissue. Not only that, curcumin reduces the activity of enzymes responsible for activating cortisol, which is a hormone released in response to stress and which promotes obesity. Finally, curcumin increases energy expenditure and stimulates weight loss by increasing the production of ATP, which is the energy that cells can use.
However, the problem with curcumin is that it is poorly bioavailable. Therefore, to overcome this problem, in the various studies, scientists have increased the amount of curcumin given to the volunteers and have combined it with substances capable of increasing its availability, such as piperine of black pepper. With these measures it was possible, after a couple of months of treatment, to observe a reduction in body weight, body mass index and waist circumference in the groups treated with curcumin.
However, some clarifications must be made. The studies analyzed the action of large quantities of curcumin, on average 1500 mg per day, which correspond to about 40 grams of turmeric per day, an amount that is impossible to achieve within a healthy and balanced diet. In addition, significant results on body weight were observed after at least two months of taking curcumin and if healthy guidelines were respected such as avoiding unhealthy foods and increasing physical activity. Therefore, what emerges from the article is that turmeric is certainly a healthy, anti-radical and anti-inflammatory spice and capable of reducing circulating fats. Turmeric helps to combat obesity with different mechanisms but cannot be seen as a miraculous remedy, just as one of the many pieces of the puzzle of healthy nutrition and active lifestyle that works in synergy with other substances and choices to be put into practice every day.