Let’s spice up your beauty routine with a little turmeric
Truly a celebrity among medicinal plants, turmeric is popular not just for its magazine cover-worthy brilliant color, or warm, earthy flavor, but for its impressive antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions in the body. Yes, the science on turmeric is hot! Puns aside, turmeric’s anti-inflammatory effects might be helpful for some of the most common inflammation-based skin issues, including acne, psoriasis and aging. Over 200 studies have looked at why we should consider eating more turmeric for healthy skin. Ready to discover why you should consider spicing up your skin regimen by adding a little more turmeric into your diet?
What is helpful in turmeric for your skin?
Researchers say curcumin, a naturally occurring compound found in the bright orange-yellow root of the turmeric plant, might be helpful for your skin. Curcumin is a phenolic compound that’s got some serious antioxidant power it can use to fight free radicals (those pesky bad compounds in your body that wreak havoc on your skin cells, and can speed up aging).
Eating Turmeric for Healthy Skin
With a long history of use as traditional medicine, it’s not surprising that scientists are confirming in laboratories that curcumin has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects. Studies have looked at the effects of eating turmeric on the skin, suggesting it may have potential benefits for acne, atopic dermatitis, photoaging, pruritus, psoriasis, radiodermatitis and vitiligo. More research is needed, but in the meantime, adding a little warm, turmeric into your next curry, or latte could offer your skin some additional nutritional support – turmeric contains over 100 components including fiber, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), calcium, flavonoids, fiber, niacin, thiamine and other nutrients.
How to Reduce Inflammation in the Skin
As it’s happening, you can’t see it but, your skin is endlessly remodeling after it’s damaged by sun radiation, air pollution and tobacco smoke, which ultimately trigger inflammation. Inflammation is a big problem as it disrupts natural skin regeneration, and breaks down the structures that keep your skin elastic and smooth. Inflammation in the skin can lead to redness, pain, itching and dryness. It can also lead to acne, psoriasis and accelerate skin aging.
Your skin is a giant barrier that protects your body from the external world. It’s kind of like the battlement of a castle (hopefully a really pretty outer wall, not the typical tooth-like, rough ones seen in historical castle walls). The skin has an impressive immune system to help limit access to your body, and help keep it healthy. The skin contains an intricate network of immune cell residents, called the SALT (skin-associated lymphoid tissue) – the body is so cool!
Can Turmeric Help with Psoriasis?
When the immune reaction in the skin gets out of control, chronic inflammation can begin, leading to skin conditions, such as psoriasis. The National Psoriasis Foundation notes turmeric’s powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, in particular, curcumin’s ability to alter TNF cytokine expression. (In non-science geek terms, it appears that curcumin can prevent some of the messengers, called cytokines, that create a storm of activity in the skin that occurs in psoriasis lesions.)
Is Turmeric Good for Acne?
A curry mask is a bit of a stretch, if you’re looking to improve acne naturally, and could leave your skin yellow. However, eating turmeric might offer some mild benefits to your acne-prone skin. Acne involves inflammation, the presence of unhelpful microbes on the skin, and can be exacerbated by uncontrolled blood sugar levels. Ingesting curcumin has been researched for many benefits, including its ability to reduce inflammation, support the body in fighting off microbes and improve blood sugar levels.
Turmeric for Aging Skin
Dubbed ‘inflammaging’ by aging experts, low levels of inflammation in the body, caused by emotional stress, poor diet, physical stress and environmental toxins, causes an ongoing breakdown of the skin’s important structures. Luckily, you can battle against these pesky accelerators of aging in your skin with the help of antioxidants, such as those in turmeric. In particular, curcumin has been noted in laboratory studies to protect the skin from damaging UVB sunlight. To protect the youthful appearance of your skin, it’s probably best to reduce your exposure to harmful sunlight, and never fear sitting down to enjoy a culinary delight that includes turmeric.
Speaking of fear and sitting down, your skin is targeted by stress – your skin reacts to stress. Stress can aggravate psoriasis and eczema. You can thank the skin-brain axis for that (a constant communication that occurs between your brain and your skin). As such, perhaps the best thing you can do for your skin is to put your feet up, enjoy some deep, relaxing breaths and sip on a delicious, antioxidant-rich mug filled with a warm Turmeric Latte.
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Allison Tannis MSc RHN: Known for her deliciously geeky words, Allison’s books and articles are read around the world by those curious where are the most nutritious (and delicious) places to stick their forks. More at allisontannis.com. Follow @deliciouslygeeky.