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PERFORMANCE WITH EXTRA MUSCLE: How turmeric's health benefits keep you on form

LUCY | MOJU

If it’s a path to better health you’re looking for, there really is one root to go. Turmeric. As a plant in the ginger family, the benefits of this spicy stem have been a hot topic going back thousands of years. And today, studies have suggested how turmeric’s properties for healing, recovery and improved performance are not to be sniffed at.

In fact, if you were to rummage around Mother Nature’s medicine cabinet, it would surely be packed full of the stuff. But why is turmeric so good for you?

Well friends, that’s exactly what we’re going to find out.

IN A SHOT: 1 MINUTE READ FOR THE SUPER BUSY

INTRODUCING TURMERIC’S ACTIVE INGREDIENTS

The secret to this wonder root’s far-reaching powers all lie in its key active ingredient: the polyphenol curcumin. The most important of turmeric’s compounds, curcumin is a very strong antioxidant with possible anti-inflammatory effects1 – hence why our Turmeric Shots are so handy for taking care of your daily health.

HOW DOES TURMERIC WORK?

Well, turmeric’s health benefits have been found to help your body out in all kinds of ways. In fact, studies have shown that it may help with…

• Supporting immune health

• Fighting inflammation

• Increasing antioxidants

• Helping with pain

• Looking after your brain

• Supporting digestion

• Keeping your body active

4 EASY USES OF TURMERIC

Here’s a few suggestions to get you started:

  1. By blending the active ingredients with black pepper, the curcumin in your MOJU Turmeric Shot is more easily absorbed and can get to work: making it a super easy way to get it into your daily routine.

  2. As a spice rack staple in many kitchens, it may be no surprise that turmeric is a highly versatile cooking ingredient. Sprinkling a small amount into dishes from curries, stews and roasted veggies to smoothies, dressings and soups, it brings a fragrant kick and heavy punch of flavour – not to mention that signature yellow pop.

  3. You can also enjoy the fresh root as a tea, adding 1-2 teaspoons of ground or grated root to hot water with either honey, milk, lemon or cream to taste.

  4. Alternatively, you can also feel the benefits through turmeric tablets to top up your daily diet – although, like the powdered form in your spice jar these tend to be heavily processed and the bioavailability of supplements are lower.

LEARN 'MO: 5 MINUTE READ FOR THE BUSY, BUT CURIOUS

MOJU x TURMERIC: YOUR ROOT TO OPTIMUM HEALTH

So why have we got the hots for turmeric over here at MOJU? Well, in our mission to make nature the #1 ingredient in active nutrition, it’s wholefood magic like this that’s our biggest turn on. Proven to provide higher bioavailability2 of nutrients which are easier for your body to absorb, it makes much more sense to get all-natural heavy-hitters like these into your daily routine. Not just because turmeric benefits your body better than supplements or pills. But because it tastes SO much better too.

Our Turmeric Shots have been created to provide a much more enjoyable experience than the turmeric tablets that’ll inevitably sit in the back of the cupboard for weeks. Fresh-pressing 16.3g of nature’s fiercest root into every shot, our balance of apple and lemon juices throw some fruitiness in with our signature fiery kick. All while a touch of black pepper helps aid your body’s ability to absorb turmeric’s active ingredients.

TALKING SHOT: TURMERIC FOR SPORTS PERFORMANCE

So, before we go into the full breadth of what turmeric can do for your health, let’s take a look at a couple of studies we conducted ourselves.

Our shots were put to the test by Emma Tester, performance nutritionist at Munster Rugby. The squad were hitting the Turmeric Shots regularly after training sessions, and used the drop jump test as a performance measure of recovery rates. The result? Our findings showed that rates improved over the course of the season. Not bad.

Similarly, a study we ran with the Edinburgh Rugby Squad saw us look at the tendinopathy and pain scores of 15 players. With regular use throughout the season, we were able to record an improvement in pain levels and muscular soreness – much to our guinea pigs’ relief.

But what was going on inside those shots? Why were our players kicking pain and muscle stress where it hurts? The answer lies with the most powerful active ingredient found in turmeric: curcumin.

CURCUMIN: AKA WHY TURMERIC IS SO GOOD FOR YOU

As we mentioned earlier, turmeric’s active compounds are called curcuminoids, the most important of which being curcumin. As well as giving turmeric its golden yellow colour, these protective compounds help the body combat the damaging effect of a process called oxidation.3

WAIT A SEC, WHAT IS OXIDATION?

Oxidation is a normal and necessary process that takes place in the body. During this process, oxygen in the body splits into single atoms with unpaired electrons. Electrons like to be in pairs, so these atoms, called free radicals, scavenge the body to seek out other electrons so they can become a pair. This causes damage to cells, proteins and DNA. It's this process that’s been linked to human disease and aging.

As natural by-products of normal chemical processes, there’s not much we can do about the production of free radicals – but a build-up does have the ability to harm the cells of the body. Over time, this process may lead to chronic inflammation and, as a result, lead to age-related conditions including heart disease, type 2 diabetes. Increasing our intake of antioxidants helps to address the imbalance of free radicals that cause oxidative stress – helping to protect our bodies from damage.

Including protective foods in the diet means our bodies are better placed to cope with aging and the inflammation associated with it, as well as with exercise-induced inflammation and muscle soreness.

SOUNDS GOOD… SO WHAT ABOUT ALL THOSE OTHER HEALTH BENEFITS OF TURMERIC YOU MENTIONED EARLIER?

Funny you should ask that, cos we’re about to come at you with a whirlwind of facts. Here’s a whole bunch of health benefits to hit you right in the feel-goods:

SUPPORTING IMMUNE HEALTH

There’s been research that suggests the health benefits of curcumin as an active ingredient might act as an immune modulator4: with properties that support important immune cells including T cells, B cells and Natural Killer cells. (All good news for your overall health.) As well as this, curcumin seems to down-regulate pro-inflammatory compounds called cytokines – the things that are guilty of causing inflammatory damage. When consumed at low doses, it’s thought that turmeric can also kick our antibody responses up a gear or two – helping us to fight off infection. (It’s even thought to provide relief against allergies, such as hayfever.)

FIGHTING INFLAMMATION

Inflammation is a necessary process in the body, as it fights off harmful invaders and repairs damage caused by bacteria, viruses and injuries. In fact, without inflammation, pathogens like bacteria could easily take over your body and kill you (gulp…) But despite this, long-term inflammation is thought to be behind the most chronic conditions such as heart disease and cancer as a result of attacking healthy tissue – so it must be controlled.

Therefore, anything that can help fight chronic inflammation is of potential importance in preventing and even treating these diseases. The active ingredients and properties of turmeric have been proven to provide strong anti-inflammatory properties that chill out any hyped-up inflammatory molecules in the body.1,3,4 Without getting into all the complicated details, the key takeaway is that curcumin is a bioactive substance that fights inflammation at the molecular level… which is EXCELLENT news.

HELPING WITH PAIN

So, we know that the potential health benefits of turmeric, and curcumin in particular, include better regulation of inflammation in the body. But it’s not just about reducing the damage of disease itself – it could also reduce the sensation of pain that often goes with them.

In fact, studies comparing the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric against those of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) have shown great promise.5,6 Inflammation, also known as swelling, is a common health concern for many people, especially the elderly or athletes. Joints or other muscles can become inflamed as a result of overuse, underuse, or simply old age. And if left untreated, it can cause significant damage to the body.

When in pain, many people have turned to synthetic drugs, specifically paracetamol and ibuprofen for pain relief. However, natural remedies such as turmeric can provide alternative treatment options – especially for those who might not be able to take over-the-counter medicines for some reason. Many people suffering from inflammation and daily pain have found turmeric to be highly effective and make a good impact on their health.

Some clinical trials have found that turmeric’s properties to be effective in helping to reduce swelling and inflammation – whether consumed as food or turmeric supplements.

LOOKING AFTER YOUR BRAIN

There is growing evidence7,8,9,10 that the curcumin found in turmeric can cross the blood-brain barrier and may help to protect against dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Once again, it looks to be those anti-inflammatory properties at play, reducing inflammation as well as the build-up of protein plaques in the brain that are symptomatic of dementia sufferers. This active ingredient also boosts brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels which support cognitive function – by improving learning and boosting memory in the hippocampus area of the brain.

SUPPORTING DIGESTION

Curcumin has long been used in traditional medicines as a treatment for many digestive conditions. As one of those bodily functions we don’t think about unless something’s going wrong, it’s easy to forget just how delicate this intricate system really is. For it to work properly, it takes every part to work together – from the way your mouth processes food, down to your intestines’ ability to extract nutrients and get rid of waste. Your diet will of course play a major part in making sure the digestive system has all the nutrients, fibre, vitamins, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents to produce the enzymes necessary to process food. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats can do a lot of the heavy lifting. But sometimes a little boost certainly doesn’t hurt.

Turmeric’s active ingredients has definitely got the goods to help you out there. Giving you a hit of all the different vitamins your body needs to digest food means it can help decrease the amount of time it takes for gastric emptying – aka when your stomach transfers food into the small intestine. There’s also been studies that have found curcumin to help with a bunch of different digestive issues – reducing the pain of conditions like IBS, and offering sufferers something more natural than synthetic drugs or laxatives.11

KEEPING YOUR BODY ACTIVE

If the curcumin found in turmeric is as powerful as the evidence suggests12,13,14 it would have obvious benefits when it comes to keeping the body young and active into old age. It’s for this reason (among many others) that turmeric tablets have become very popular as an anti-aging supplement. As well as helping to reduce the body’s risk and boost recovery when suffering from illness or disease, its role in reducing inflammation and oxidation may help to limit the effects that aging can have on the body.

5 BONUS TURMERIC FACTS

1. TURMERIC IS A RHIZOME

Just like our other all-star ingredient ginger, turmeric is a rhizome – aka, a subterranean plant stem made up of roots and shoots. India is the world’s largest producer of turmeric, although it’s also cultivated in China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Java, Brazil, Peru, Australia and many parts of Africa.

2. IT’S BEEN SPICING UP LIVES FOR OVER 4,000 YEARS

That’s right. First adopted in Southwestern India, the popularity of turmeric soon spread throughout the subcontinent and the rest of Asia. While initially only used for cooking (more on that in a moment) it soon became an ingredient of choice for ancient healers and doctors who began to study it for its medicinal properties.

3. IT’S NOT A REPLACEMENT FOR SAFFRON

It’s true that turmeric’s properties of bright golden-yellow colour and presence of powerful active ingredients bear some resemblance to saffron, but when it comes to taste, the two are nothing alike. Turmeric’s flavour is acidic, earthy, lightly spiced and highly fragrant with a slight ginger-like kick. This warming quality is what makes turmeric a major component in many curry powder mixtures, giving a characteristic mellow quality to spicy dishes.

4. IT CAN BE USED FOR A DYE THOUGH

While we’re much more about getting turmeric’s active ingredients into our bodies, the curcumin’s natural golden yellow colouring has also been traditionally used as a natural dye for centuries. (Most commonly for saris and Buddhist monks’ robes.) While it’s not the best for colour fastness, it’s worth remembering how much turmeric can stain fabrics and skin, just in case you get your hands on some fresh root at home!

5. IT CAN EVEN KEEP YOUR CAR RUNNING

Yep, apparently it’s not just your body that turmeric can keep firing on all cylinders. Apparently, a leaking car radiator can be temporarily sealed by adding turmeric powder to the water until you can get to a mechanic. (In fact, it’s an active ingredient in many leading radiator sealant mixtures. Who knew?)

BLIMEY, SO MANY BENEFITS… ARE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS?

Both turmeric and curcumin are generally considered safe and without any serious side effects. However, it’s always good to think balance – and like anything, not overdo it. If you consume too much, there’s a chance you might experience a bit of ‘gastrointestinal stress’. As we’ve already discussed, turmeric is a handy support in helping the digestive system to process waste – but while upping your intake can help with deficiencies, too much can have the…erm… opposite effect.

While we all obviously want to get toilet troubles a swerve, don’t stress too much. Simply be mindful of how much turmeric you’re ingesting a day, and if your stomach gives you any complaints (such as indigestion, stomach aches, nausea or gas) just cut it back a little.

HOW TO STAY ON GOOD TURMS

So, you’re fully equipped with all the know-how, it’s time to get the good stuff into your diet. As well as getting turmeric into your cooking, or topping up with turmeric pills, you know you’ve always got your MOJU on hand to help.

Get your fridge fully stocked with nature’s most impressive roots by hitting our webstore Whether it’s part of your post-gym wind-down or worked into your morning ritual, we’re sure you’ll love getting this vit hit in your daily routine.

TURMERIC SHOT PACK

CITATIONS

1. Reduced inflammatory and muscle damage biomarkers following oral supplementation with bioavailable curcumin - https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214647416300034?via%3Dihub

2.https://medicare-europe.co.uk/science-clinical-data/liquids-vs-pills.html#:~:text=Additionally%2C%20it%20has%20been%20shown,in%2022%20to%2030%20seconds

3. ANTIOXIDANT AND ANTI-INFLAMMATORY PROPERTIES OF CURCUMIN - https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-0-387-46401-53

4. Immune modulation by curcumin: The role of interleukin-10 - https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10408398.2017.1358139?journalCode=bfsn20

5. Herbal formulation "turmeric extract, black pepper, and ginger" versus Naproxen for chronic knee osteoarthritis: A randomized, double-blind, controlled clinical trial - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32180294/

6. Efficacy of Turmeric Extracts and Curcumin for Alleviating the Symptoms of Joint Arthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5003001/

7. Curcumin boosts DHA in the brain: implications for the prevention of anxiety disorders - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4754352/

8. Curcumin reverses the effects of chronic stress on behavior, the HPA axis, BDNF expression and phosphorylation of CREB - https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0006899306027144

9. Antidepressant-like effects of curcumin in WKY rat model of depression is associated with an increase in hippocampal BDNF - https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0006899306027144

10. Curcumin Enhances Neurogenesis and Cognition in Aged Rats: Implications for Transcriptional Interactions Related to Growth and Synaptic Plasticity - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3281036/

11. The Problem of Curcumin and Its Bioavailability: Could Its Gastrointestinal Influence Contribute to Its Overall Health-Enhancing Effects? - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6333932/

12. Curcumin supplementation likely attenuates delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25795285/

13. Dietary supplements for treating osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29018060/

14. Role of Curcumin in Common Musculoskeletal Disorders: a Review of Current Laboratory, Translational, and Clinical Data - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26311096/