That’s the biggest question out there. Our body is like a sponge in many ways. What we put into it, we absorb — but only to a certain extent!
Let’s go back and understand how we came to this point today of curcumin’s prowess going mainstream.
Not Just a Spice
Turmeric isn’t just a spice that adds a deep yellow-orange color and aromatic flavor to curries. Turmeric, a member of the ginger family, is well-studied and well-known for its medicinal properties and health benefits.
For thousands of years, humans have been using turmeric as a medicine. It was a key component in Indian Ayurvedic medicine as long as 4,000 years ago. Throughout time, turmeric was used to help treat numerous illnesses and conditions including flatulence, bad digestion, liver disease, worms, irregular or painful periods and arthritis. Our ancestors may not have known what these complaints were or had the names for them that we do now, but they did know the power of turmeric.
And it’s only relatively recently that scientists have discovered that most of the turmeric’s power lies in its active compound, curcumin, or more specifically the group of compounds called curcuminoids. Curcumin is one of many curcuminoids and is the subject of the most attention in the medical and wellness world.
The Science Behind Curcumin
Countless studies have found proven benefits to curcumin and other curcuminoids, most of which are down to their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. One review, published in the Journal Foods, in 2017, sums up the available evidence nicely. The researchers concluded that curcumin “can help in the management of oxidative and inflammatory conditions”.
What are Oxidative and Inflammatory Conditions?
Normal bodily functions such as breathing and digestion produce unstable byproducts called free radicals. We can also increase the levels of free radicals in the body by eating fried, fatty foods, drinking alcohol, overexposure to UV light from the sun, smoking and breathing in air pollutants and toxins. These free radicals can damage human cells and DNA.
This damage is known as oxidative stress and is closely linked with inflammation. Sustained, chronic inflammation can lead to autoimmune conditions, where the immune system attacks parts of the body, such as the digestive tract in Crohn’s disease, or the joints in arthritis.
Oxidative stress has been linked with chronic inflammatory diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, osteoarthritis, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, asthma, bronchitis, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, and depression.
Many of the processes by which free radicals enter our body, we have no control over. But thankfully, compounds called antioxidants can help neutralize free radicals or ‘mop’ them up. Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants, and curcumin is a particularly potent type of antioxidant. It’s also an effective anti-inflammatory agent, helping to reduce the levels of chronic inflammation in the body that leads to these conditions.
So it’s little wonder the curcuminoids have excited scientists so much, with them being implicated in the successful management of inflammatory diseases when administered alongside conventional medicines.
Maximizing Bioavailability for Improved Curcumin Absorption
A wonder spice, it seems! But the body doesn’t absorb curcumin very well on its own, even if standard curcumin supplements are consumed. What is absorbed, is quickly broken down, leading to poor ‘bioavailability’, or a poor window of opportunity for the body to use it and benefit from it.
It’s thought that consuming curcumin-containing turmeric in fat-rich curries helps its absorption, but there is an obvious downside to eating lots of high-fat foods beyond recommended amounts. (Plus, the benefits are gained from a higher dose of curcumin than is possible to consume from food alone, which is why curcumin supplements are so popular.)
However, all is not lost. Taking curcumin supplements alongside an absorption-boosting supplement such as AstraGin® has been found to boost curcumin uptake.
A number of studies have examined the effectiveness of AstraGin® and curcumin uptake.
For instance, in one study, after a 24-hour treatment in Caco-2 cells, we observed that curcumin-lecithin had excellent absorption in the study, and AstraGin® displayed strong effect on enhancing the transport rate and total curcumin absorbed in the observed time.*
In another study, absorption improved by 92% when AstraGin was added to a curcumin product containing peperine.*
Brands that contain turmeric ingredients should take a new, innovative approach to differentiate their product lines to address the challenge of bioavailability. Including AstraGin®, which is also adaptogenic, helps support the body’s react to various stressors. It’s a win-win for the consumer and a win-win for your brand.
Request more information on AstraGin® here.
We’d love to help you advance your curcumin product to the next level!
*AstraGin® Product Dossier.