Turmeric is the hottest topic in the field of natural and alternative treatments for everything that ails us. Actually it’s the curcuminoids, particularly curcumin, that are under study, and they are proving to be effective for alleviating pain, preventing certain cancers, lessening the side effects of certain prescription drugs, killing fungus, alleviating oxidative stress on cells, reducing inflammation, and healing skin, among their many capabilities. Now you can add one more quality to the list of turmeric’s benefits: weight loss.
The Skinny on Fat
It was originally believed that we are all born with a certain number of fat cells, the number of which would remain fixed throughout our lifetime, and this is what determined whether you would have a propensity to become fat or remain slim. It was thought that if you feed your fat cells, you will become fat. If you don’t eat fat, your fat cells will remain “empty” and you will remain slim. Researchers now know that fat cells divide and multiply just like any other cell, so you can gain many new fat cells the same way you can grow new muscle. If the body is not getting what it needs and cell signals are incorrect or skewed, you’ll end up with more fat than you want.
So it’s not the fat in your cells that makes you fat, it’s the division and ultimate number of fat cells. Curcumin blocks the signals that tell the body to form fatty tissue. Combined with its ability to reduce inflammation, existing fat is burned more efficiently and the creation of new fat cells is slowed down. But not all fat is created equal.
Brown fat or adipose tissue is connective tissue. Its function is to store energy from excess calories that can be used when the body run’s out of fuel. It also releases hormones that control metabolism, cushions organs and insulates the body with a thin layer under the skin. When activated, brown fat burns white fat.
The role of white fat is to release another hormone, adiponectin, into the blood stream. This hormone makes the liver and muscles better able to respond correctly to the hormone insulin, thereby making us less prone to developing diabetes. When someone is carrying excessive weight, the production of adiponectin slows down, sometimes shutting down altogether.
Subcutaneous fat is the lowermost layer of the integumentary system. It lies below the skin and is generally composed of loose connective tissue and some globs of fat including visceral fat and adipose tissue. Subcutaneous fat can also develop around the belly in a layer and in addition to visceral fat.
Visceral fat is the dangerous type found in the belly and lies deep within the body, though it can be found elsewhere, such as the thighs and buttocks, where it is not considered dangerous to health. It is stored deep in the abdominal cavity where it surrounds the liver, pancreas, intestines and other organs, and it’s dangerous because it changes the way your body operates, increasing inflammatory chemicals and interfering with hormones, including the ones that regulate appetite and weight.
Turmeric for Fat Loss
It turns out that turmeric is one of the most powerful natural substances you can use for losing weight in a healthy manner. In fact, it may be a whole body solution.
Bile is a fluid substance that’s secreted from the liver. Its role is to break down fat so the body can metabolize it. Curcumin increases the level of bile in the stomach so fat is broken down more readily and absorbed into the bloodstream where the body can use it for energy.
Leptin is a protein produced by fatty tissue which regulates fat storage. Curcumin directly regulates insulin resistance and leptin resistance (two factors heavily linked to fat gain) reducing fat sediment.
Curcumin also helps to control blood sugar levels. When blood sugar levels are too high, the body will retain fat because it’s using sugar as a quick energy “fix”, but this is a very poor, inefficient and potentially dangerous substitute for sustaining long term energy.
Obesity is a condition promoted in part by inflammation. Curcumin reduces inflammation dramatically so the body can work more efficiently. Hormonal messages from the brain will start delivering the right signals and the fat burning process becomes regulated to effective levels.
How to Use Turmeric for Weight Loss
Don’t worry about losing the fat necessary for regular metabolism, energy and hormone delivery. Curcumin regulates fat burning, but it won’t eliminate the brown adipose tissue or white fat you need.
There are no official recommendations regarding turmeric intake, but the average intake in India, where turmeric is a staple “medicine”, is between 2-2.5 grams daily from food. Be aware of how much curcumin content is in any supplemental form you may be taking.
Purchase an inexpensive high quality liquid extract of turmeric, whole turmeric root, organically processed turmeric powder loose, in small bags or in bulk, or powder in capsules.
Drink turmeric tea 2-3 times a day to add turmeric to your diet and help flush out metabolized fat and toxins.
Add it to soups, sprinkle it on veggies, eggs, roasted meats, and cottage cheese, or try this wonderful morning shake:
3-4 ounces fermented milk product such as yogurt or kefir
1 tbsp. coconut oil
1 tsp turmeric powder or 1/4 tsp. turmeric extract
1/2 tsp. ginger powder
Handful of fresh greens of 1 tbsp. green powder
1 tbsp. collagen protein powder
1-2 raw pastured eggs
1 tsp raw honey
1/4 cup fresh pineapple
1/4 cup fresh or frozen whole cranberries
Place all ingredients in a blender on high until smooth. Add a bit of water if necessary.
A lot of curcumin is good, but more is not always better. Turmeric can cause diarrhea in some people when taken in very high amounts. Limit your intake to 2-3 grams daily (about 1-2 teaspoons). Other side effects for very high doses include stomach ache, heartburn, overloading the gallbladder, hair loss, and immune impairment.