Which household spice can improve memory and prevent dementia?

We have known for a long time that the food we eat can have a profound impact on our brains. But the spices we sprinkle on top could makes the key difference – particularly for those of us past the age of 60.

According to the Huffington Post, a new study shows one simple spice can have a huge impact on 60-80-year-olds, increasing memory, cutting stress and even reducing the chances of long-term conditions such as dementia: turmeric.

Andrew Scholey, director of the Centre for Human Psychopharmacology, explained that the brain is “very energetic”.

“It’s metabolically alive,” he said. “Even greedy if you will”.

“It’s about two percent of an average adult body weight but it consistently burns about 20 percent of our energy. This means it’s very susceptible to small changes in energy delivery, so agents that can improve blood flow or glucose to the brain or reduce inflammation can improve cognitive function”.

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Curcumin, the key active ingredient in turmeric, is a powerful anti-inflammation agent, and therefore a key to improved brain function.

The results were startling: test subjects who took curcumin found their memory improvingafter just one dose.

After four weeks, they were even better equipped to deal with stress and anxiety – a result that even surprised the researchers.

“That wasn’t something we set out to show”, said Scholey.

However, this doesn’t mean you should be switching to an all-curry diet; moderation may be more effective.

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“One aspect of curcumin is the fact that if you eat a lot of turmeric, most of the curcumin ends up passing right through you,” he said.

“It needs to be treated in a way that allows it to be absorbed at a higher rate.”

Other research headed by Scholey has found other natural ingredients to help with brain functioning. These include rosemary, sage, bacopa and vitamin B supplements.

Do you use turmeric in your cooking? Does this news make you want to use it more?