“Hi, Aunty, I was looking out for you. I tried reading up about antioxidants, but got a little confused.”
Dr. Radha smiled, pleased to have incited the spark of curiosity in Priti.
“You must have studied about different chemical reactions, Priti? You remember the word ‘oxidation’?”
“Yup, it’s something to do with adding oxygen or removing hydrogen and so on..”
“Right! Now our body is like a laboratory – at any given time, there are several chemical reactions going on to ensure it functions normally. When all these reactions take place, there are some high-energy entities that get generated. We call them free radicals. These free radicals are very reactive, and they attack the cells and their components, and this triggers several oxidation reactions. Tell me, what does the word ‘anti’ mean?
“Anti means ‘against,’ right?”
“Correct. So, an antioxidant is a substance that stops or prevents these oxidation reactions.”
“So, what’s so great about antioxidants?”
“The free-radical induced reactions lead to oxidative stress. This oxidative stress is responsible for tissue inflammation. Increasingly, research is showing that this inflammation is the underlying cause of several diseases such as diabetes, heart diseases, arthritis, Alzheimer’s diseases and even cancer.” (1)
“So that means turmeric can treat all these diseases because the curcumin in it is an antioxidant?”
“Yes! Laboratory studies and human trials with curcumin show promising results in treatment of these diseases. What’s even more important is that research shows that curcumin plays a major role in preventing these diseases, too.” (2)
“Ummm…Give me an example, Aunty?”
“Ok. Have you heard of cholesterol?”
“Yes, it’s a fatty substance, and I’ve heard that it’s dangerous for the heart.”
“Correct. When cholesterol levels in the body rise beyond the normal range, it starts getting deposited on the walls of the arteries. This causes the blood vessels to narrow, and so, the blood pressure rises, causing a strain to the heart, and increasing the risk of heart disease.
Now this cholesterol is stored mostly in the liver. In a laboratory study, researchers fed a group of rats a high-cholesterol diet. Then, they administered curcumin extract to these rats. Guess what happened? The cholesterol levels in the rats actually dropped!” (3)
“You mean curcumin destroys cholesterol?”
“Not directly. Curcumin makes the cholesterol move out of the liver through the bile and get excreted from the body. So, overall, the cholesterol levels drop, bringing down the risk of heart disease.”
“By the way, what’s that I see on your chin, Priti?”
“Oh that! It’s a pimple – it’s so irritating, I feel like pulling it out!”
“Never do that, Priti. When you try to pluck out a pimple, you always end up making it worse. Use a turmeric face pack, instead, and you’ll see the acne go away after a few weeks. (4)
Remember I told you curcumin has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory actions?”
“That sounds great, Aunty! What’s the name of this product? Does Ganesh Medicals have it?”
“Make your own face pack at home, Priti. Mix in a teaspoon of turmeric powder with some honey and apply on the affected spots. Or mix turmeric powder with some milk or curd or lemon juice or aloe vera gel, apply, and rinse off after 10 – 15 minutes. Do it for a few days regularly; you’ll thank me later!”
“Oh! I’ll definitely try it today itself!”
“You know what would be even better, Priti? Use turmeric regularly, and over time, you’ll find your skin glowing with good health!”
Further reading for scientific content:
Disclaimer: The article is not a medical prescription. It is only for information. The opinion expressed are of the author.