How Turmeric Can Help You Lose Weight

by Rakib Sarwar, RPh
Published on February 6, 2019 and last updated for accuracy on February 7, 2019

Turmeric, a plant from the ginger family, also known as curcumin, is one of the most popular, natural weight-loss supplements. It is used as an alternative medicine for thousands of years, mostly for its benefits related to weight loss. Furthermore, it is well-known for its strong anti-inflammatory effects. Let’s learn more about this interesting plant.

What is turmeric

Turmeric comes from the Zingiberaceae (ginger) family (1). It is a concentrated source of phytonutrient of curcumin, which is the key compound responsible for its strong anti-inflammatory properties. It is also a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B6 and potassium (2), which are all very good for the heart.

Its root is the basis for production of the worldwide-popular spice. The turmeric or curcumin spice has a bitter taste. It is often used as a supplement in various meals, including rice, cheese, and meat. In addition, the root of this plant is often used as an ingredient of certain medications.

Turmeric is a compound of a vibrant yellow color. This peculiar feature gives a nice color to all meals you add it to. This is why, much before the modern era, turmeric inspired the ancient people to use it as a paint.

India is the country of origin of turmeric. There, people mainly use it because of its medical properties, including:

  • Being a strong antioxidant
  • Used to relieve stomach pain
  • Used to regulate metabolism
  • Used against inflammations
  • To fight obesity (3).

Furthermore, it is rich in iron and manganese. Therefore, it boosts your energy and removes free radicals. Thanks to its active ingredient, curcumin, that has a strong antiseptic and antibacterial effect, turmeric is also used to:

  • improve digestion,
  • fight infections,
  • prevent colds,
  • cure bronchitis and asthma,
  • heal wounds (4).

If you are interested in how turmeric works, keep on reading.

How turmeric works

When it comes to the mechanisms by which turmeric improves general health and enhances weight loss, we can highlight several most important ones. In addition to being very nutritious and delicious dietary supplement, turmeric has very subtle ways in which it leads our body to a more efficient weight loss.

The phytochemicals found in turmeric play a key role in weight loss. Curcumin reduces fat deposits and accelerates weight loss if reinforced by proper diet and exercise. These are some of the ways in which it works to help you lose weight:

  • Reliefs pain
  • Removes toxins from the liver, the main organ for burning fat
  • Improves body healing
  • Facilitates digestion
  • Has an anti-inflammatory effect
  • Reduces type 2 diabetes risk, which is related to obesity
  • Increases the level of antioxidants
  • Changes fat cells into good fat cells
  • Lowers the level of bad cholesterol
  • Improves metabolism (2).

Let’s see more details about some of the above mentioned the most important effects of turmeric including weight loss.

Curcuma as a joint pain relief substance

Studies have shown that turmeric relieves pain even in severe chronic conditions such as arthritis (5). Its effects resemble the effect of ibuprofen! Arthritis, in most cases, occurs in joints. It is therefore important to point out that the consumption of turmeric enables people with chronic joint pain to exercise and therefore lose weight.

Improves liver function

Strong antioxidant properties of turmeric have a positive impact on liver function. Namely, turmeric is able to recover the liver that has been damaged by toxins (6). This is especially important for people who have to take strong medicines for diabetes or other health conditions that are generally capable of damaging liver function due to frequent use. Let’s not forget that a strong liver is a good ally in the weight loss process.

Facilitates digestion

Scientists have found that turmeric plays a very important role in the digestive processes. It is believed that the reasons are its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which primarily affect the better function of the digestive enzymes (7).

Turmeric also activates lazy intestines. Good digestion is one of the prerequisites for controlled and healthy weight loss.

Anti-inflammatory effect against obesity

Since obesity causes inflammatory processes, which in turn increase your chances of getting some chronic illnesses like diabetes or heart disease, the introduction of curcumin in your diet can only benefit you.

Specifically, curcumin prevents the spread of inflammation between fat and muscle cells, as well as pancreatic cells. This process lowers blood pressure, reduces cholesterol, decreases blood sugar level, and other metabolic conditions that are closely related to the state of obesity (2).

This property of turmeric is important because your body can easily focus on the weight loss process if you are not subjected to an inflammation.

Reduces type 2 diabetes risk, which is related to obesity

Scientists found that turmeric can affect type 2 diabetes by regulating blood sugar levels. Curcumin has the ability to lower the level of free fatty acids in patients with this disease (8).

Free fatty acids play an important role in the development of insulin resistance. If consuming turmeric may lower the levels of these acids, it is possible that it will reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes or keep it under control.

A strong antioxidant

Current research shows that turmeric is a powerful antioxidant (9). As such, it protects the intestines from free radicals that damage the DNA. Furthermore, the intestines play a very important role in the weight loss process as they affect our metabolism.

Changes fat cells into good fat cells

Adipose tissue is fatty tissue or what we simply recognize as fat in overweight people. It consists of adipocytes and is actually 80% fat! Adipose tissue is, however, significant because it produces hormones, including leptin – the hormone of satiety (10).

It is important to distinguish between the white and brown adipose tissue. While brown adipose tissue has a role in body thermoregulation, the white adipose tissue is the one we hate. It is the fat we want to get rid of. Our body produces heat by burning fat and glucose, and this is why brown fatty tissue is important.

Turmeric for weight loss stimulates thermogenesis – a metabolic process in which calories burn and produce energy. This process also helps to lose excess pounds.

In the end, inflammatory processes in our body are also associated with the build-up of fat deposits and obesity. This happens when certain adipose cells produce oxidative stress. Adipose cells such as TNF-α and IL6 have this inflammatory role and can often lead to diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.

Lowers the level of bad cholesterol

When turmeric is used as a spice, it stimulates the production and secretion of the bile and makes it easier to digest fat from the food you eat. The active ingredient of curcumin decreases the LDL-cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol”) as well as triglyceride levels while increasing the level of the HDL-cholesterol (“good” cholesterol) (11).

The daily dose of this spice should not exceed 1 small cup of coffee (divided into several portions in a day). Also, in order to absorb curcumin as good as possible, you should use it in combination with black pepper and olive oil.

How is this relevant to weight loss? Cholesterol causes fatty accumulations on your inner organs. This is very dangerous in general, as it can lead to chronic and lethal diseases. Furthermore, it makes the weight loss process significantly harder and slower.

Improves metabolism

Turmeric is a spice that produces heat and warms you up. It increases body temperature, which speeds up your metabolism (3). As already mentioned, it wakes up your intestines, which also leads to a metabolism regulation.

Now that we know a lot on how turmeric works, we are sure you are eager to learn some home-made recipes with turmeric for weight loss. Let’s get started!

Weight loss recipes with turmeric

All of these recipes are proven, easy to make, safe for use (for a healthy adult), and efficient. You will notice that people often combine turmeric with lemon and pepper. There is a good reason for that. Active substances from these ingredients complement each other and lead to excellent weight loss results.

Lemon and turmeric for weight loss

A very good recipe for weight loss consists of warm water with Curcuma and lemon juice. You can easily prepare it yourself.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of warm (not hot) water,
  • ¼ teaspoon of turmeric,
  • Juice from a half of a lemon.
  • You can also add some cinnamon and honey.

Add turmeric, lemon juice, cinnamon, and honey to warm water. Stir well. Before drinking this delicious juice, mix it well because turmeric naturally falls to the bottom.

Turmeric and yogurt

Turmeric and yogurt are a great way to start your day when you are trying to lose weight. Simply add a small spoon of turmeric into yogurt and stir. This mixture should be consumed in the morning before your breakfast. If you want to speed up your weight loss process, take another dose before lunch. Avoid consuming more than these two recommended portions.

Golden paste

The Golden paste is a combination of heat, black pepper, and healthy fatty acids, which increases the absorption of curcumin. It is recommended to take this paste with your meal or immediately after your meal. You can make the golden paste for weight loss yourself.

Ingredients required for making the golden turmeric paste are:

    • A half cup of Curcuma powder
    • A cup of water
    • Half a teaspoon of ground black pepper
    • 70 ml of olive or coconut oil.

Mix a cup of water with the curcumin powder and stir slowly until you get a thick paste (6-10 minutes). If the mixture becomes too dense, add a bit of water. After that, add pepper and oil. Mix together for a few more minutes until all the bubbles disappear.

After it cools down, keep the paste in your refrigerator. It is safe for use for a week. In the beginning, take a small amount, from ¼ to half of a teaspoon of the paste. If you do not notice any unwanted side effects, increase the dose for one-fourth of the spoon per week until you reach 1-2 doses of 1, 2 or 3 times a day.

This is the ideal amount of the paste you should consume for weight loss.

Curcuma tea for weight loss

This is an option for tea lovers, as well as for those who do not like turmeric paste.

Turmeric Tea Recipe

If you like drinking tea, here’s a great recipe for weight loss you will definitely enjoy.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 cups of milk
  • ¼ cup turmeric powder
  • 1 spoon of honey (or some other natural sweetener).

Preparation:

Add Curcuma powder into cold water and stir well. Bring this mixture to boiling point. When water boils, let it cool slightly and add milk and honey. This tea is not as efficient as the golden paste, but it is convenient for those keen on tea. You can consume it 3 times a day.

Turmeric latte

Turmeric latte is a creamy, delicious drink. It is a perfect coffee substitute. The preparation takes only 5 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon of Curcuma,
  • almond milk,
  • coconut milk,
  • vanilla extract,
  • honey,
  • pepper.

Mix all ingredients except honey, in a pot and gradually increase the heat. Keep on stirring it. Finally, pour this hot juice into the blender. Blend it for 30 seconds. Add honey and serve warm.

Fruit smoothie with turmeric for weight loss

For this amazing, refreshing smoothie, you will need:

  • pineapples,
  • mangos,
  • ginger,
  • ½ teaspoon Curcuma,
  • coconut milk.

Blend all ingredients in the blender and add some water if needed. You can also add blackberries, blueberries, pumpkin seeds, or almonds.

Energy balls

These balls are incredibly easy to prepare. You need only 10 minutes and there they are! You will need these 7 ingredients:

  • Dates,
  • Oat,
  • Almonds,
  • Lemon juice,
  • Turmeric,
  • Chia seeds,
  • Vanilla extract,
  • Coconut flour.

Remove the seeds from the dates. Soak them in water for a few minutes. After they soften, put them into a blender without removing the water. Add all other ingredients to the blender, except the coconut flour. Blend well. If it turns out to be too thick, add several drops of water. Finally, divide into small balls and roll into coconut flour. Voila! Your turmeric energy balls are ready.

The advantage of these delicious balls, besides being incredibly tasty, is that you can freeze them and keep them in the freezer for up to three months. They are a healthy source of energy and help strengthen your immune system.

Apart from these amazing, turmeric-oriented recipes, you can add turmeric to your usual diet. You can combine it with vegetables, milk, tomatoes, and salads, as part of a number of delicious recipes.

Turmeric is extremely flexible when it comes to adding it to your food. You can use it as a spice, both for sweet and salty dishes.

It goes great with rice and all kinds of Indian dishes, which makes sense since turmeric originates from India.

When to avoid using it

We have already told you that turmeric is not only a useful spice and a tasty dietary supplement, but also has many benefits for your general health. Those include pain relief, fighting arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and infections.

However, certain medical studies have shown that excessive and improper consumption of turmeric can lead to a great number of health problems. Those issues can manifest themselves in mild forms or get a scope of fatal cardiac arrhythmias.

Therefore, it is clear that the side effects of turmeric consumption certainly do exist. These are the most commonly reported ones:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Gallbladder problems
  • Digestive tract issues
  • Bleeding
  • Liver-related problems
  • Uterus contractions.

Let’s go in depth of each of these side effects in order to understand when you should avoid turmeric and why.

1. Allergic reactions

The recommended total intake of Curcuma is about 1500 grams per day. However, some people experience side effects such as:

  • nausea,
  • vomiting,
  • diarrhea,
  • stomach discomfort (12).

If you did not exceed the maximum allowed amount of turmeric per day and you still experience even one of these symptoms, you are probably having an allergic reaction to turmeric. You should immediately visit your doctor.

In case you use turmeric as an ingredient in skin lotion, keep in mind that genetically susceptible people may feel tingling, or get a rash or allergic reaction. Some people may experience severe cases of contact dermatitis and anaphylaxis.

2. Gallbladder problems

We have already said that turmeric has numerous positive effects on the stomach and digestive system. Now, we say that it can cause gallbladder problems. We don’t want to confuse you, but you should know that excessive consumption of turmeric can lead to liver and gallbladder conditions. This mainly refers to the creation of gallbladder stones (13).

3. Problems with stomach and digestive tract

Turmeric usually does not cause gastric irritation or inflammatory processes when consumed in recommended and allowed amounts. However, individuals who use Curcuma to treat chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis can easily develop stomach problems related to turmeric.

Also, if you suffer from heartburn, it is strongly advised to avoid turmeric or to consume small amounts, as it is slightly acidic in nature (2).

Furthermore, there are several recorded cases of an upset stomach. You should avoid it if you suffer from gastro-oesophageal reflux disease.

4. Bleeding

Turmeric can inhibit platelet aggregation and thus, in theory, increase the risk of internal bleeding. Also, as it influences the production of cells that stimulate blood coagulation, it is suggested that patients who have problems with blood clotting should avoid turmeric (14), especially if they are preparing for a surgery.

5. Problems with the liver

High intake of turmeric is associated with liver dysfunction. This can be manifested through digestive tract issues related to liver function. This is why restricting the intake of Curcuma within the recommended dose is highly recommended (14).

If you suffer from any medical condition that involves liver in any way, it is better to avoid or completely eliminate turmeric from your diet.

6. Contraction of the uterus

Consumption of turmeric is generally not recommended at all if you are pregnant or are planning to get pregnant. Namely, turmeric stimulates the contractions of the uterus. This increases the basal activity of its muscles, which can, in turn, trigger premature birth, miscarriage or vaginal bleeding (16).

Furthermore, there are two conditions in which you must report to your doctor or medical care specialist that you were/are using turmeric. Those are:

  • Using medications
  • Going to have an operation

Combination of medications

Turmeric has been proven to interact with the metabolism or function of anticoagulants such as aspirin, clopidogrel, and warfarin. It also affects the activity of anti-inflammatory drugs, i.e., it changes the way they function.

Although it has been proven useful in reducing blood sugar levels, which is good for anyone who is at risk of developing diabetes, those who are already diabetic and use hypoglycemic medications should avoid turmeric. The reason is rather simple: simultaneous consumption of turmeric and medicines may additionally increase the risk of hypoglycemia (15), which is proven to be life-threatening.

Having a surgery

Turmeric may slow down blood coagulation. In some cases, this can increase bleeding during and after surgery. Specialists recommend total elimination of turmeric in any form from your diet 2 months before any surgery (14).

Final Words

The benefits of consuming turmeric are certainly numerous. This refers to metabolism, weight loss, digestive tract, and many other organs and organ systems, body functions and conditions.

The positive effects of turmeric for weight loss are especially interesting and valuable.

However, there are certain conditions when you should avoid Curcuma, including liver disease, pregnancy, planned surgery or gallbladder issues. In these cases, you should definitely not buy turmeric.

We recommend consulting your doctor or medical care specialist if you have suffered from spice-related allergies or any disease in the past.

Other than that, we highly recommend buying this affordable plant/spice and slowly introducing it into your regular diet.

References:

  1. https://www.britannica.com/plant/Zingiberaceae
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92752/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23339049
  4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0024320514007036
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5003001/
  6. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2213422018301069
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3882399/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3476912/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17569207
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4918853/
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19151449
  12. https://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(03)80281-6/abstract
  13. https://www.livestrong.com/article/490325-gallstones-avoiding-turmeric/
  14. https://www.rxlist.com/turmeric/supplements.htm
  15. https://www.turmericforhealth.com/turmeric-queries/can-turmeric-lower-my-blood-sugar
  16. https://www.elitedaily.com/wellness/turmeric-can-wonders-body-wary-6-side-effects/2005583

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