If you have ever enjoyed a spicy plate of Indian food, you are already reaping some powerful brain health benefits of curcumin without even knowing it. Turmeric is what gives curry its bright yellow color, and the curcumin it contains acts like nutritional “gold” for your health. Although curcumin may be most well known as a powerful anti-oxidant that supports joint comfort, there is also evidence that it can support healthy brain function.
Curcumin can cross the blood-brain barrier and fight free radical damage. It also increases blood flow to the brain and may help improve concentration and memory. One study found that supplementing with curcumin helped improve blood flow as well as exercise does.
Curcumin may also increase neuroplasticity, and help your brain grow and adapt throughout your lifespan. Curcumin increases brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which stimulates the production of new cells and helps your brain function at its best.
It is well known how essential DHA is for the brain. One study showed that curcumin increases the bioavailability of the omega-3 essential fatty acid DHA, which acts as a building block of the brain. Curcumin also enhances the synthesis of DHA to help elevate its level.
If you’d like to get the brain health benefits of turmeric, remember that it is not water soluble, so it's best taken along with healthy oils whenever possible. You can also enhance curcumin absorption into your body by using fresh turmeric root instead of powder.
If you’d rather not add this flavorful spice to your regular diet, don’t worry. In addition to turmeric, there are curcumin supplements available for a more concentrated dose. Many supplements include piperine, which is the main bioactive ingredient in black pepper. It can increase the absorption of curcumin by as much as 2,000%.
Whether eating turmeric or supplementing curcumin, do so alongside a nutritious diet and active lifestyle. That should help maximize the potential brain health benefits.