Curcumin Linked to Improved Brain Function and Lower Risk of Brain Diseases

7 minute read

Where did I park? I know my keys are here somewhere. Did I unplug the iron? These statements are familiar to most of us. The occasional brain fog or the misplaced item is common as we age. Every part of the body begins to deteriorate with age, but there are things you can do to make the process easier.

In fact, certain choices can even slow down the aging process, especially in regards to your brain, as well as take steps to delay or possibly prevent neurodegeneration.

Your Brain Needs Love, Too

As we age, our ability to recall information slows. Absentmindedness is common, especially during multitasking or when we are not giving something our full attention. This is a problem for people of all ages, but it tends to occur more often the older we get.

The brain performs a number of important functions and is vital to life, so it is easy to understand why the brain starts to get worn out. We need to take care of the brain throughout life, so as we age, the degeneration is not as severe.  

Doctor looking at MRI scans of human brain

The Brain

The brain consists of four lobes, each responsible for specific and important functions.

Frontal Lobe: Associated with reasoning, planning, problem-solving, emotions, and movement.

Parietal Lobe: Responsible for movement, recognition, and orientation.

Occipital Lobe: Responsible solely for visual processing.

The Temporal Lobe: Associated with memory, speech and perception or recognition of auditory stimuli.

Damage to any area causes loss of function and the same can occur from neurodegeneration. Aging can lead to certain areas becoming compromised, which results in the deterioration of functions.

3-D illustraion of neurons

What Curcumin Can Do

Turmeric, a spice commonly used in curries, also possesses valuable medicinal properties. The key compound present in turmeric that provides such value is curcumin, which acts as a strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. Recently, it has been discovered that curcumin can also enhance your brain function, reducing the chances of cognitive decline.

Not only can this flavorful spice enhance any meal, but it also protects your body from inflammation, free radicals, and wages war against neurodegeneration. That is a lot for one little compound.

| Related: Turmeric Study Promises Relief for Depression Sufferers |

As an antioxidant, curcumin frequently crosses the blood-brain barrier to protect brain cells from free radical damage. This also allows for increased blood flow to the brain, which improves memory and concentration.

The presence of curcumin also increases the production of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), a protein that stimulates the creation of new brain cells. What better way to fight aging than with an army of new cells. Additionally, curcumin increases the bioavailability of DHA, a fundamental amino acid and building block for your brain.

Curcumin, Natural Anti-Depressant?

As an antidepressant, curcumin may be a great natural alternative for SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) drugs. People who suffer from depression often try numerous medications, in search of an effective medication without horrible side effects.

Curcumin helps with depression by increasing the two critical neurotransmitters associated with depression, serotonin, and dopamine.  

Macrophages and Brain Plaque

Macrophages are an essential part of your immune system. These white blood cells are responsible for engulfing and digesting foreign substances, cancer cells, and pretty much anything that does not have a “healthy body cell’ protein on its surface.

With regards to brain health, these macrophages can detect brain plaque associated with Alzheimer’s disease, destroying the plaque. The cause of this plaque is beta-amyloid protein, which is toxic and formed when the protein is not processed correctly. Curcumin has been shown to reduce the levels of this beta-amyloid protein, as well as to help the macrophages clear out the plaques.

Senior citizens doin yoga in the park

What Else You Can Do

Starting a curcumin or turmeric supplement will be a great first step in keeping your brain healthy. The stronger and healthier your brain is, the less affected it will be by the aging process. In addition to taking curcumin, there are a few other choices you can make to support brain function.

Stay physically active: Exercise is not only good for your heart, but it also helps ward off brain aging too, so remember that your brain needs the workout just as much as your muscles.

| Related: Turmeric (Curcumin) Keeps Old Age at Bay |

Sleep well: Not only do you get cranky and tired with a lack of sleep, but it potentially damages your brain, too. We need sleep to restore and refresh. Since the brain needs restful sleep each night to protect from premature aging.

Challenge yourself: Mental stimulation is the best way to keep your mind healthy, as learning new skills or information encourages the growth of new brain cells.

Take it easy: Stress causes increased hormones that can accelerate aging in the body and brain. Find ways to avoid stress, as well as coping mechanisms to deal with it such as yoga and meditation.

A woman helping her father

The Bottom Line

To keep your brain performance at optimal levels, you need to be wise about your diet and lifestyle choices. Turmeric and more specifically curcumin have wide-reaching benefits for the body and brain.  

A turmeric supplement, a cup of turmeric tea, or even adding turmeric to your favorite dishes is an easy way to give your brain a little extra protection, in addition to lifestyle choices such as exercise, adequate sleep, continued learning, and stress management.

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