A good excuse for a takeaway: Eating curry every day can 'stave off infections'
07:14 GMT, 28 May 2012
It’s the perfect excuse for a take-away – experts say a curry a day could keep infections at bay.
U.S. research has shown that curcumin, which is found in the popular curry spice turmeric, causes a sizeable increase in a protein that boosts the immune system.
It helps the body to fight bacteria and viruses, including those that cause tuberculosis, even if it has not encountered them before, the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry reports.
Health benefits: A chemical found in curry spice turmeric helps fight infection
Professor Adrian Gombart of Oregon State University, who found that curcumin caused levels of the protein, cathelicidin anti-microbial peptide, to almost triple, said: ‘Curcumin is generally consumed in the diet at fairly low levels.
'However, it’s possible that sustained consumption over time may be healthy and help protect against infection, especially in the stomach and intestinal tract.’
Immune boost: Curcumin in turmeric caused levels of the protein, cathelicidin anti-microbial peptide, to almost triple
He added: ‘This research points to a new avenue for regulating CAMP gene expression.
‘It’s interesting and somewhat surprising that curcumin can do that, and could provide another tool to develop medical therapies.’
He said that the impact of curcumin wasn’t nearly as potent as that of vitamin D but said it could still have physiological value.
Curcumin is also believed to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Prof Gombart and his colleague Chunxiao Guo had looked at the potential of both curcumin and omega-3 fatty acids to increase expression of the CAMP gene.
They found no increase with the omega-3 fatty acids, but curcumin caused levels of CAMP to almost triple.
Vitamin D has been studied intently in recent years for its potential therapeutic benefits in treating a range of diseases including cancer.
Prof Gombart said that any alternative ways of eliciting the same biological response merited further research.
Turmeric has been used for 2500 years as a medicinal compound and also in religious ceremonies, as well as being a favourite ingredient in curry.