Spicing Up DNA Protection

“Spicing Up DNA Protection” This landmark study comparing
the ability of different spices to suppress inflammation also compared
their ability to protect DNA. Cloves, ginger, rosemary,
and turmeric were able to significantly stifle
the inflammatory response. But what about DNA protection? If you take a tissue sample
from some random person, around 7% of their cells may
show evidence of DNA damage, actual breaks in the
strands of their DNA. And if you blast those
cells with free radicals you can bring that number up to 10%. But if the person had been eating ginger
for a week, that drops to just 8%. This is from a tissue
sample taken from someone who hadn’t been eating
any herbs and spices, and as a result, their
cells were vulnerable to DNA damage from
oxidative stress. But just including
ginger in our diet may cut that damage 25%,
and same with rosemary. But check out turmeric.
DNA damage cut in half. Again this is not just mixing turmeric
with cells in some Petri dish. This is comparing what happens when you expose the cells
of spice eaters versus the cells of non-spice
eaters to free radicals and just sit back and
count DNA fracture rates. And not only did the turmeric
work significantly better, but a significantly smaller dose. This is comparing about one and a third
teaspoons a day of ginger or rosemary to practically just a pinch of turmeric —
about an eighth of a teaspoon a day. That’s how powerful the stuff is. So I encourage everyone to cook
with this wonderful spice. Tastes great, and may protect
our cells in our body with or with out the added stress. If you just count DNA
breaks in peoples’ cells before and after a week of spices
without the free radical blast, we see no significant intrinsic protection
in the ginger or rosemary groups, but the turmeric group still appeared
to reduce DNA damage by half. This may be because curcumin
is not just itself an antioxidant, but boosts the activity
of our own antioxidant enzymes. Catalase is one of the most
active enzymes in the body. Each one can detoxify millions
of free radicals—per second! And if you consume the
equivalent of about three quarters of teaspoon
of turmeric a day, the activity of this enzyme in
our bloodstream gets boosted 75%! Now why do I suggest
cooking with it rather than just like
throwing it in a smoothie? Well, this effect was found
specifically for heat-treated turmeric. Because in practice
many herbs and spices are only consumed after cooking, they tested both turmeric and oregano
in both raw and “cooked” forms. And in terms of DNA damage,
the results from raw turmeric did not reach statistical significance, though the opposite was found
for the anti-inflammatory effects. So maybe we should eat it both ways. Practical recommendations for
obtaining curcumin in the diet might be to add turmeric to sweet
dishes containing cinnamon and ginger. I add it to my pumpkin pie smoothies, which is otherwise just a can
of pumpkin, frozen cranberries, pitted dates, pumpkin pie spice
and some nondairy milk. And also cook with curry
powder, or turmeric itself. They also suggest something
called turmeric milk, which is evidently a
traditional Indian elixir made with milk, turmeric
powder, and sugar. I’d suggest substituting a healthier
sweetener and a healthier milk. Soymilk, for example, might
have a double benefit. If you’re taking the turmeric
to combat inflammation compared to dairy protein osteoarthritis sufferers
randomized to soy protein ended up with significantly
improved joint range of motion.
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