Curcumin for Diabetes Prevention

November 6, 2015 (Updated: August 16, 2018)
Lily Moran

Good news about good health isn’t hard to find these days. With thousands of research projects underway around the world, all at our fingertips, there’s always a promising new discovery to report.

But this news made my fingertips do a happy dance on the keyboard.

A study published in the journal Diabetes Care revealed that curcumin, an extract of turmeric, was 100% successful at preventing adult prediabetic patients from becoming type 2 diabetic.

I repeat: 100% successful at preventing prediabetic patients from becoming diabetic.

At the end of the nine-month study, 16.4 percent of control group members, who were given a placebo, were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Are you listening, you 89 million prediabetics in the US? Are you listening, my fellow doctors?

This is monumental.

Curcumin is extraordinary

Turmeric is a member of the ginger family. It’s easy to grow in all sorts of climates. In its powdered form, it’s a common ingredient in cuisines from India to Africa to Mexico, with a beautiful bright orange color.

The powder contains 3–4 percent of the polyphenol curcumin, which has already achieved superstar health status in hundreds of different studies. It and its source, turmeric, have been linked to more than 600 potential health benefits.

  • It’s a super antioxidant that doesn’t just stop free radicals from doing their damage—it also kicks our own internal antioxidant mechanisms into high gear.
  • It can reduce or prevent damaging inflammation, which is the cause of many negative health conditions, from heart disease to gastrointestinal disease to cognitive impairment.
  • It increases the levels of a brain hormone that boosts production of new neurons and fights various degenerative processes in the brain, including depression and Alzheimer’s disease.

Research strongly suggests that curcumin alone can match the effects of 14 different man-made medications—with zero side effects and at just a shred of the cost.

Why prevention is essential

As always, relieving the suffering of those with any disease is at the heart of all our research and treatments. But every disease affects more than just those who have it.

Family members are diverted from their normal routines and often bear a heavy emotional burden as their loved ones suffer. Employers are hit by costs of absenteeism.

Medication and care for a person in the US with diagnosed diabetes cost an average $10,970 a year. Even with insurance coverage, diabetics face increased out of pocket medical costs.

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The bottom line: Treatment alone cost the US an estimated $245 billion in 2012. Include the loss of productivity due to illness and disability and the cost jumps to $322 billion.

That’s $1,000 a year for each of us.

Different studies produce somewhat different numbers. I’ve picked the more conservative estimates, so the reality is that the real costs may be even higher.

Obviously a 100 percent effective, 100 percent safe, easily accessible preventive treatment is a godsend. The real clincher is that curcumin kicks down the key obstacle that has long put quality medical care out of the reach of millions in the US.

It’s totally affordable. No high-tech labs or highly paid specialists are required. It’s been known, and used medicinally, since long before labs and specialists even existed.

The study subjects, for example, took a daily capsule of just 250 mg, at a cost of just pennies a day.

Effective, safe, and cheap. Trifecta.

For everyone, not just prediabetics

Obviously, you need to know if you’re one of the millions of prediabetic adults here in the US who have not yet been diagnosed. Your doctor knows all the right tests and exams.

If you’re diagnosed as prediabetic, then this article has given you maybe the best news of your life. Make sure your doctor “gets it” and creates a regimen that includes curcumin.

If you’re not prediabetic, there’s nothing better for you in the world than curcumin. It certainly can’t hurt to add dishes with turmeric to your diet. That means countless healthy curry and stir-fry meals and any you can improvise, from teas to smoothies to roasted vegetables.

It’s hard to judge, however, how much dietary turmeric is needed to deliver a worthwhile dose of curcumin. You might ask your doctor about a curcumin supplement just to be sure. Just 250 mg/day worked wonders for the study subjects.

Other research shows that 500 mg, twice a day (and up to four times a day) is a pretty sure way to get all of curcumin’s amazing benefits. I recommend finding a curcumin supplement that’s been standardized to at least 14% curcumanoids and designed for improved absorption in your body.

Talk it over with your doctor.

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