Turmeric is all the rage right now, and for good reason! It’s been used for centuries as both a flavorful spice in a variety of dishes, and as a potent herbal medicine. The yellow-orange hued root provides a whole host of health benefits, and new research has just revealed another one. A study conducted by Australian researchers from Monash University in Melbourne, in conjunction with several Taiwanese institutes, found that a daily dose of just 1 gram of turmeric can improve short-term memory in people predisposed to memory loss.
The study was published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and involved testing the memories of adults who were 60 years of age or older, and had recently been diagnosed with pre-diabetes (which is known to cause memory loss), but whom had not yet been treated. The participants were divided into two groups. One group was given a 1 gram turmeric supplement with some white bread for breakfast each morning, while the control group simply received a placebo and the bread. The memories of the test subjects were evaluated before and after receiving the supplement.
When discussing their findings, researcher Mark Wahlqvist said, “We found that this modest addition to breakfast improved working memory over six hours in older people with pre-diabetes.” Wahlqvist also noted that the prevailing opinion of the working memory is that it’s one of the most important mental faculties, and is essential for cognitive abilities such as planning, reasoning and problem solving.
Turmeric, and its key compound known as curcumin, have also been linked to reducing the risk of dementia. A 2009 study conducted at Duke University found that curcumin can actually help counteract the effects of Alzheimer’s disease on the brain. The compound specifically targeted amyloid plaques, which are thought to be one of the primary causes of Alzheimer’s-related brain damage. One of the researchers from the study, Murali Doraiswamy, explains that feeding mice a diet enriched with curcumin helped to dissolve amyloid plaques in older mice, and the same diet fed to younger mice prevented their formation altogether.
Doraiswamy also emphasizes the importance of following a healthy diet and leading an active lifestyle for dementia prevention, but states that if you do those things, “[E]ating curry regularly could help prevent dementia.”