Researchers have long studied the benefits of turmeric, including whether it helps induce weight loss. As per studies, it is curcumin — a yellow plant-based polyphenol with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties — found in turmeric which benefits our health in many ways.
What studies say
A 2019 study published in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology found that curcumin intake resulted in a “significant reduction in body mass index (BMI), weight, waist circumference, and leptin (a hormone which plays a role in obesity), and a significant increase in adiponectin levels”, but did not effect hip ratio in people with metabolic syndrome and related disorders.
In another 2015 study published in the European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences, researchers found curcumin to increase weight loss from 1.88 to 4.91 per cent, enhance reduction of body fat from 0.70 to 8.43 per cent and that of BMI from 2.10 to 6.43 per cent, in a group of overweight people.
How does that happen?
Inflammation plays an important role in obesity, as in many other chronic diseases. Obesity is marked by the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines that lead to chronic inflammation. Curcumin in turmeric suppresses particular inflammatory markers, suggests research. It also helps suppress fat tissue growth, argued a 2009 study conducted by Tufts University, promoting weight loss.
A 2017 report in Foods, however, suggested that the properties of curcumin are not activated well if ingested by itself “due to poor absorption, rapid metabolism, and rapid elimination” unless some other ingredients are added to it. One of them is black pepper, which activates curcumin the body by 2000 per cent.
Seema Singh, chief clinical nutritionist & HOD, Fortis Hospital, Vasant Kunj, told indianexpress.com, “Besides reducing inflammation associated with obesity, consumption of turmeric increases the metabolic rate which helps burn calories faster in the body. Turmeric water or turmeric tea can help you reduce belly fat. Half teaspoon of turmeric, raw or in the powder form, can be added to warm water and consumed.”
Some studies, however, have not been able to conclusively say that curcumin in turmeric can induce weight loss. A 2018 study in the journal of the Canadian Medical Association said they found no evidence that curcumin affected inflammatory response. Minal Shah, senior nutrition therapist, Fortis Hospital Mulund, added, “There have been studies in the past but there is no solid proof to show that turmeric would help in reducing weight. We still need further evidence to confirm the same.”