I have been an athlete all my life. I am the farthest thing from a world-class athlete. Nonetheless, I have spent countless hours swimming, cycling, running and in the weightroom. Ironically, I began my endurance racing in 1982 at the age of 22 sitting on the couch in front of the television. That afternoon, I had my “it" moment. I saw a world-class triathlete, Julie Moss, stagger to the finish line in the 1982 Ironman Triathlon World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. I had never witnessed such determination, drive and a will to succeed. She would not be denied. She changed my world forever.
Fast-forward 35 years. During this time, two of my greatest passions became exercise and nutrition. I have competed in approximately 300 endurance events, from ultra marathons to marathons to triathlons to long-distance, rough water swims. And I have become an avid taker of supplements. In fact, I credit my voracious consumption of supplements to my longevity in events that are notoriously very hard on the body.
I have worked in the natural products industry for 25 years. There are thousands of wonderful products on the market that have a profound impact on performance, health, wellness and longevity. And many of these products are clinically validated. One of those products is curcumin.
Curcumin is a naturally occurring chemical compound that is found in the spice turmeric. The two words are sometimes used interchangeably, but the technical difference between the two is that turmeric is the yellowish powder used to flavor foods, while curcumin is a chemical contained within turmeric. In Indian and Asian cultures, turmeric and curcumin have a long history of use as a traditional herbal medicine. Western medicine is beginning to study the potential of turmeric in treating diseases such as arthritis, cancer and diabetes.
In fact, several studies suggest curcumin might ease symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, including pain and inflammation. Moreover, these potent anti-inflammatory benefits seem to be quite protective against some forms of cancer progression. However, curcumin has additional anti-cancer effects that are independent of its anti-inflammatory effects and thus is a heavily researched molecule for both cancer prevention and treatment.
Studies have shown curcumin helps prevent several forms of cancer including breast, lung, stomach, liver and colon. It stops development of cancer by interfering with the cellular signaling aspects of this chronic disease.
Interestingly, my research unveiled curcumin has "smart kill" properties that actually work to inhibit the growth of tumors and the spread of cancer in fundamental ways at the cellular level. It has the laboratory-proven capability to inhibit a particular cancer-promoting enzyme (COX-2), impede blood supply to cancer cells, induce tumor-suppressing genes, stop metastasis, kill lymphoma cells and prevent the regrowth of cancer stem cells.
The ability to target cancer stem cells is one of curcumin’s most powerful anti-cancer properties. In fact, according to GreenMedInfo.com, a recent study describes the wide range of molecular mechanisms presently identified by which curcumin attacks cancer stem cells (CSCs), which are the minority subpopulation of self-renewing cells, within a tumor colony. These stem cells alone are capable of producing all the other cells within a tumor, making them the most lethal, tumoriogenic of all cells within most, if not all, cancers. Because CSCs are resistant to chemotherapy, radiation, and may even be provoked toward increased invasiveness through surgery, they are widely believed to be responsible for tumor recurrence and the failure of conventional cancer treatments. These are compelling findings, indeed.
Furthermore, some of the most fascinating curcumin research also dovetails with what I experience so much of: muscle soreness. A new, double-blind, randomized-controlled study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology in March 2015 indicated curcumin can help reduce pain associated with delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and aid muscle recovery in physically active people.
The study examined whether curcumin had an impact on "single-leg jump performance and DOMS following unaccustomed heavy exercise." Researchers gave 17 male volunteers 2.5 g of oral curcumin (or a placebo) twice daily two days before to three days after strenuous single-leg press exercise, separated by 14 days of rest. During this trial period, researchers monitored post-exercise limb pain, muscle swelling and other indicators of muscle damage and inflammation. Data was collected at baseline, immediately after exercises, one day after exercises and two days after exercises.
The results indicated that aside from inducing moderate to large reductions in pain caused by single-leg squats, gluteal stretches and squat jumps, the curcumin supplements also caused small reductions in creatine kinase activity (increased amounts of creatine kinase in the bloodstream is associated with muscle damage). The researchers even found curcumin improved the volunteers' single-leg jump performances due to its anti-inflammatory benefits. Further research is needed but the results are compelling nonetheless.
This type of research is why I enthusiastically continue to take my supplements every day. I will continue to sing the praises of the people that make up this industry. At 55 years of age, I can only report that my supplement regimen has been very successful for my endurance racing and overall health. And, ironically, curcumin has been a part of that regimen.
Mark Becker is an Account Manager for Vivion, a raw materials distributor, based in Vernon, California. He has worked as a natural products sales and marketing executive for 20 years. Mark has written more than 300 articles and has hosted or been a guest on more than 500 radio shows. He obtained a bachelor's in journalism from Long Beach State University and did his Master’s work in communications at Cal State Fullerton. For more than 30 years he has participated in numerous endurance events, including more than 150 triathlons of Olympic distance or longer, 103 marathons and numerous other events including ultramarathons and rough water swims from Alcatraz to the mainland. He has relied on a comprehensive dietary supplement and homeopathic regimen to support his athletic, professional and personal endeavors. Follow Mark Becker on Facebook and Twitter. For more information, access www.vivioninc.com or www.EnergyatLast.com.