Curry favor

By now, you know how I feel about exercise. Let’s just say I’d never discourage you from “sweating to the oldies.”

But I have to share the latest good news about the darling of the supplement industry, curcumin. (You know… the compound that gives curry powder its trademark yellow color.)

According to new research, a daily supplement of curcumin might double as a trip to the gym–at least, where your heart health is concerned.

In this study, researchers divided 32 postmenopausal women into three groups. One served as control. The second participated in an aerobic exercise program. And the third took 25 mg of supplemental curcumin daily.

The researchers assessed the subjects’ vascular health according to something called “flow-mediated dilation” (FMD). And after eight weeks, both the women who exercised and the women who took curcumin saw equal improvements in this critical measure.

In simple terms, FMD tells you how much blood flow gets to your heart. Anything that increases blood flow to the heart is a good thing. More blood flow equals more oxygen and more nutrients. And that means healthier tissue.

Obviously, these findings are great news for people who are unable to exercise. But I’m certainly not suggesting that you stop exercising and just take curcurmin, I’m suggesting you do both… because there’s no saying yet how great the effect could be if the two were combined.

The exact mechanism behind curcumin’s power is unclear. But the researchers point to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects on endothelial function as a possible clue.

Endothelial linings cover every blood vessel in your body. If they stay healthy, you will too. But unfortunately, oxidative stress can sabotage your endothelial function quickly.

I can’t write enough about the dangers of oxidative stress. And while we’re still on the tail end of the biggest eating season of the year, you should be aware that the main cause of oxidative stress on your endothelial linings is a perfect storm of high glycemic load meals… and of course, sugar.

But that doesn’t mean the holidays have to be a disaster where your blood sugar’s concerned.

As part of a recent double-blind trial, Chinese researchers gave 100 type-2 diabetics either a placebo or 300 mg of curcuminoids daily for three months.

Compared to placebo, subjects taking curcuminoids experienced significant improvements in both blood sugar levels, insulin receptivity, and hbA1C, a measure of long-term glucose control.

Curcuminoids also lowered subjects’ free fatty acids (FFAs), which play a role in insulin resistance.

This study adds to a growing body of research showing that natural products can help maintain healthy blood sugar levels. This is very exciting to me because we desperately need to fight this booming worldwide epidemic.

In the US, almost 24 million people live with diabetes–about 8 percent of the population. The price tag for this comes in at around $174 billion, with $116 billion being direct costs from medication.

Natural substances are not only less expensive but also a lot safer than drugs in the long run. But the same caveat still applies.

Yes, it’s absolutely possible to avoid diabetes and to help yourself through the use of natural and safe alternatives. But no pill in the world can do it alone. You must eat right, too–and that’s where my New Hamptons Health Miracle comes in to save the day.

A little something to think about the next time the desserts arrive. Let’s see… living without heart disease and diabetes… or a cookie?

You decide.

“Curcumin ingestion and exercise training improve vascular endothelial function in postmenopausal women” Nutrition Research. Volume 32, Issue 10, Pages 795-799, October 2012
“Curcuminoids exert glucose-lowering effect in type 2 diabetes by decreasing serum free fatty acids: a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.” Molecular Nutrition & Food Research 2012 August 29. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201200131