Turmeric Can Help with Weight Management

Turmeric’s curcumin increases production of energy-producing mitochondria, which generate brown fat. Plus, this Ayuvedic staple spice increases levels of the fat-burning enzyme lipase, which is linked to the reduction of fat cells and increase of fat metabolism.

In This Article

Brown Fat vs. White Fat

Did you know that we each have two types of fat? One is beneficial, while the other is harmful. These two primary types of fat cells are called brown and white.

Brown fat cells are primarily found in newborns and leaner individuals. These cells are rich in energy-making mitochondria and contain an ample amount of iron, giving them a reddish-brown color. They are also rich in thermogenic proteins that provide heat, insulation, metabolism, and energy to the body.1,5,6 Brown fat cells contain small lipid droplets that burn glucose and white fat cells as fuel. The big difference between brown and white fat cells is that brown fat cells burn energy, rather than store it.

White fat cells are more common, abundant in adults and overweight/obese individuals. The more white fat cells a person has, the slower their metabolism will be. White fat cells are storage sites for extra calories in the form of large lipid droplets.1,5,6

Two Types of Brown Fat

Two types of brown fat have been identified, constitutive (present from birth) and recruitable, which are created by the browning of white fat when levels of brown fat are insufficient to maintain body temperature.1 Brown fat has been found to protect mice against obesity when they are overfed, and mice with more brown fat tend to be more lean and healthy.1

It was once thought that brown fat disappeared after infancy. That is until recently, when researchers discovered that adults carry brown fat as well, and that there are certain agents that can actually boost its production!

How to Boost Your Brown Fat

One way to boost brown-fat-to-white-fat ratios was made famous by Wim Hof, aka The Iceman, founder of the Wim Hof Method, which helps people endure ice cold water (among other things). In one study, brown fat levels were increased after a 10-day cold climate acclimatization period. Non-shivering thermogenesis was also improved, making us mortals into superhumans . . . for the moment!

But before you run out, join the Polar Bear Club and jump into a freezing cold lake . . . think twice. Many studies link cold exposure to increased cardiovascular risk.3 Cold baths and exposure must be done gradually with supervision or approval from your doctor.

Gradual Cold Shower Exposure can be accomplished by starting with a warm shower and ended with gradually colder water over a couple of weeks. Eventually you will be able to tolerate colder showers and colder weather.

However, there are also newly discovered safer and easier ways to boost your brown-to-white-fat ratio. Recently, some very compelling evidence suggests that turmeric can do just that.

In a handful of studies, one of the active constituents of turmeric, curcumin, was found to boost brown fat levels and support healthy, natural weight loss in a variety of ways.

Turmeric for Brown Fat4,7,8

  1. Turmeric’s curcumin increases production of energy-producing mitochondria, which generate brown fat.
  2. Turmeric’s curcumin enhances expression of proteins involved in fat oxidation.
  3. Turmeric’s curcumin increases levels of the fat-burning enzyme, lipase, linked to reduction of fat cells and increase of fat metabolism.
  4. Turmeric’s curcumin increases expression of genes linked to production of brown fat.

The Right Kind of Turmeric

Turmeric, once again, offers unique health benefits and should be strongly considered as a daily cooking spice or supplement.

Black pepper is shown to boost absorption levels of turmeric through the intestinal tract by 200-2000%9,10 The best ratio of turmeric to black pepper that I’ve found is 16:1 parts turmeric to black pepper.10 At LifeSpa, we use this ratio in our Turmeric Plus formula. Dosage: 1-2 caps 2x/day after food.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK189496/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3726172/
  3. http://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/fulltext/S1550-4131(13)00247-7
  4. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0955286315002417
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4768046/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3593105/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23339049
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92752/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3151395/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9619120

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK189496/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3726172/
  3. http://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/fulltext/S1550-4131(13)00247-7
  4. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0955286315002417
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4768046/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3593105/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23339049
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92752/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3151395/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9619120

20 thoughts on “Turmeric Can Help with Weight Management”

    • Hi Agatha,
      That would depend on how much curry powder (thereby Turmeric) you are having per day. Generally we will recommend 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric powder 2-3 times per day to start. If you would like to supplement with it in capsule form, we have a very easily absorbed turmeric formula: http://store.lifespa.com/turmeric_plus.html
      Be Well

      Reply
  1. In order to get the kinds of benefits your are referring to, how much turmeric would a person need to take on a daily basis? I usually take about 1.5 tsp daily in powder form cooked in a little ghee with black pepper and water. Measuring 1/16th of that is confusing so I just give a generous number of grinds with my pepper grinder.

    Reply
    • Hi Tamara,
      That sounds like a good amount of turmeric, and is great you are adding in the black pepper. It is a question of how exact you want to be–but we generally say that 1/4 teaspoon 3 times per day is a good place to start. Since you are already having more than that, we do not see any reason you need to increase your turmeric at this time.
      Be Well

      Reply
  2. Not trying to be a nuisance or anything, but I severely doubt a person will increase the amount of brown fat in their body by taking a couple turmeric pills a day. The body is designed for efficient living and survival. Without living in a cold environment, the chance of your body putting on brown fat is slim, slim, slim. Hope it works for those who try it though!

    Reply
    • People tend to have extremely short memory. And what isn’t promoted by big corporations and media…..for profit..
      Wim Hof Method is very good, but how it’s explained in laboratory, how it works, by his doctors, is wrong in my opinion. Toxins, halo people!
      Also, long time ago, it was called Hydrotherapy. Priest Sebastian Kneipp was even sued by medical establishment for “fixing the people” for free…..150 years ago?
      Same old.
      In Europe, his memory is still left a bit, because of many Kneipp Baths.
      You can read a little compressed history here. I found that when looking for him and others. https://www.atosleo.com/hydrotheraphy.html

      Reply
    • Hi Paige,
      You are most welcome! It is our passion to build this bridge between Ancient Wisdom and Modern Science.
      Be Well

      Reply
    • Hi Jenna,

      Dr. John overall does not recommend herbs to pregnant mothers. Pregnancy on its own can be such a healing time.

      Using a bit of turmeric in your food should be fine, just don’t overdo it and consider speaking with your doctor or a trained herbalist before making changes to your diet.

      Best,
      LifeSpa Staff

      Reply
  3. Hello! Thanks for another provoking article! I wonder whether the same benefits of tumeric are produced if you use the root in cooking instead of powder or tablets?

    Reply
  4. A problem with taking turmeric is that, alongside any of the benefits it may bring, it also contains lots of oxalate, and so contributes to potential oxalate overload. Oxalate is a plant toxin that we often get too much of in our modern diets. Oxalate overload has multiple negative health consequences. See the excellent work of Sally K Norton for more on this – at https://sallyknorton.com.

    Reply
  5. Hello I am a pitta Vata type who has always been very lean and athletic until breaking my neck. Having severe pain from spinal cord injury I was given lots of steroids to reduce the pain- 18 shots of dexamethazone which overdosed me. I gained 35 pounds in one month going from 115 pounds to 150 pounds . What kind of fat would i have from that overdose of steroids? My liver and endocrine glands almost stopped functioning. What herbs would be safe to take to filter out all that fat?

    Reply

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