The Anti-Diabetic Effects of Turmeric

Quick Updates

Hi everyone! It’s been awhile and I must apologize. Again. I know I promised to keep up with my blog in my last post… 5 months ago… whoops… but that was when my stress levels were normal, my brain was full-functioning, and medical nutrition therapy had yet to take over my life. Nightmares. But now it’s summer break! and although I will be completing a couple of online summer classes, I’m pretty much free to write and post all that I’ve ever wanted. Who’s excited? … Besides my mom? Hi mom

Moving Along

I wanted to start off my summer blog-athon with something I truly enjoyed learning about this past semester. This year in my advanced nutrition course, I was able to spend (A LOT of) time researching a really interesting and current nutrition topic- turmeric.

Lately, news headlines and talk shows can’t get enough of turmeric and this current buzz surrounding the spice is what led me to dig deeper.  Although turmeric has a variety of amazing health benefits, my research topic focused specifically on the anti-diabetic effects it potentially obtains, as I have a big soft spot for those suffering from this debilitating, chronic disease.

The research paper I wrote regarding this subject (that I am actually pretty proud of) can be read in full through the following link:

The Anti Diabetic Effects of Turmeric By Mikayla Cupp

However, I am not naive enough to believe people of the 21st century will sit down and read this 6 page, (somewhat) confusing, evidence-based paper in their own free time. I am also well aware that the average person has about a 6 second attention span before they X out of this blog post to look up cat videos on Youtube. So, if I haven’t already lost you to a “hilarious cat fails” compilation, here’s the gist of it:

What is Turmeric?

Turmeric is a yellow Indian spice that is commonly used for flavoring in teas, stews, and curries. It is composed mostly of curcumin, flavonoid responsible for therapeutic effects; turmeric’s most active ingredient.

Important Properties

Promotes prevention against chronic disease!

  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-cancer
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antiviral
  • Antibacterial
  • Anti-diabetic

How Does it Work?

In regards to diabetes, the curcumin component in turmeric is thought to activate insulin receptors and glucose uptake, stimulate the secretion of insulin from pancreatic beta cells, and influence the release of glucose from the liver.

End Result:

  • Decreased blood glucose levels
  • Improved insulin signaling
  • Increase in insulin sensitivity and resistance

Basically, the hypothesized end result is, in some ways, the reverse of what those suffering from diabetes normally experience! 

Recent Research

(Feel free to skip if this bores you; just know that it’s awesome!)

Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes:

  • Study: 250 mg of daily curcumin supplement vs. placebo group in prediabetic subjects
  • Results: 16.4% of prediabetic subjects in placebo group developed type 2 diabetes, vs. 0% of the curcumin supplement group after 9 months.
  • Supplemented group was found to have lower C-reactive protein levels (an inflammation marker), increased adiponectin levels (an anti-inflammatory marker), and better overall function of pancreatic beta cells.

Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes:

  • Study: One group of type 2 diabetics took a daily curcumin supplement treatment with their Metaformin, a popularly prescribed diabetes medication, vs. another group that took only their prescribed Metaformin.
  • Results: Turmeric was found to work synergistically with medication. Improved fasting blood glucose and HbA1c levels in supplemented group vs. no changes seen in group only taking Metaformin.


Very low bioavailability!

What does that mean? It means that when you ingest curcumin or turmeric in its natural form, low amounts are actually absorbed and utilized within your body. This drastically limits the health benefits it can provide 😦


  • More research is necessary to validate turmeric as a substantial therapeutic/preventative method for diabetes. However!!! Based on current evidence, it would likely be helpful for those suffering from diabetes to take a daily curcumin supplement.
  • A recommendation of 500 mg, 3 times a day was seen to have the best results regarding prevention of chronic disease.
  • Also note: Low toxicity concerns are associated with turmeric.

How to Implement Turmeric into Your Diet 


Look for supplements paired with bromelain or piperine, as they were seen to increase bioavailability and absorption.

Natural Turmeric

Pair natural turmeric with “fatty foods” such as milk and butter; coconut oil, or black pepper (contains piperine) to boost absorption.

You can likely find natural turmeric in both powdered and fresh forms at your local grocery store for an affordable price. If you decide to purchase fresh turmeric (a root) you will need to grind it down in order to easily implement it into your meals. If you google how to do this, you might come up with some pretty complicated methods. Personally, I just peel, chop, and grind it up using my coffee blender, as I’m sure any blender would suffice.

After it’s ground, I’ll usually place the turmeric in a zip-lock bag and store it in my freezer to have available when needed. You can add ground turmeric, or any store-bought powdered turmeric, for a spicy and savory kick to a large variety of foods/dishes. Some ideas include:

  • Smoothies
  • Soups + Stews
  • Pancake batter
  • Teas
  • Mac n’ cheese
  • Scrambled eggs + Omelets
  • Savory yogurt bowl

And the list goes on. Just google for more ideas!

So, whoop. There it is. I hope this post allowed you to see what all the turmeric hype is about. It’s a tasty, natural, therapeutic food source that I highly recommend incorporating into your diet 🙂

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more of the Summer Blog-athon: Coming soon to a Facebook post near you. I‘m also working on getting a life but don’t stay tuned for that as it  probably won’t happen. 

❤ Mikayla

Image source:

All other sources cited specifically in uploaded research paper

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