NFSC 345: Diet Supplements and Functional Foods
Skill Area: Nutrition
Assignment Title: Medicinal Benefits of Curcumin, Specifically In Hepatic and Digestive Conditions
What I learned: Turmeric and its main bioactive compound, curcumin, is a popular extract with many popular health claims. I researched some of the lesser publicized claims and was exposed to several of the research paper databases as well as quantitative articles about some of the tested hypotheses.
Reflection to assignment: This assignment gave me better perspective on the difference between popular lay-public articles about health claims and actual scientific research papers. I chose to look into curcumin as I have read in many lay-public articles about its purported efficacy in the treatment of inflammation and reduction of autoimmune disease, but I hadn’t read much about its influence on hepatic health. I had personally experienced a lowering of total circulating cholesterol after taking it for a period of time, and I wanted to find out if there was any existing research backing up this anecdotal evidence. Several different theories point to why it may function to improve hepatic health and bile flow and studying curcumin’s biochemical functions helped me learn more about these processes.
Relevance to the profession: Many people refer to dietitians to find out what types of dietary supplements may benefit their health. A dietitian’s job is to learn more about how whole foods benefit nutritional and health status, and nutritional supplements don’t always have the same bioactivity as the whole food. Understanding how various isolated biochemical extracts function physiologically is an important part of being educated about nutrition.