Curcumin supplements could help to reduce the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, early research has found.
People with an unhealthy diet who are concerned about their liver health may benefit from taking a food supplement containing curcumin, new research suggests.
Curcumin is found in the common curry ingredient turmeric and is increasingly being recognised for its potential health benefits, with studies suggesting effects ranging from easing joint pain to altering the body's response to chemotherapy.
Now, early research published in the Journal of Physiology and Biochemistry indicates that this useful food supplement may also help to prevent liver fat accumulation.
This is important, as the build-up of fats called triglycerides in the cells of the liver can ultimately lead to inflammation, scarring or 'fibrosis' and a potentially life-threatening condition called cirrhosis.
Furthermore, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is currently recognised as one of the most common forms of liver disease worldwide.
Researchers at Istanbul University studied the effects of curcumin on rats that were fed a high-fat diet.
They found that those given curcumin tended to have lower levels of triglycerides in their liver, as well as reduced levels of a circulating glycoprotein called fetuin-A, which is formed in the liver before being secreted in the bloodstream.
It is thought that fetuin-A may be involved in a number of metabolic disorders, such as visceral obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes and fatty liver, which means that a natural way to lower its levels would be welcome.
The study authors concluded: "These findings suggest that the reduction of fetuin-A may contribute to the beneficial effects of curcumin in the pathogenesis of obesity."
Turmeric's beneficial ingredients are not easily absorbed by the body, but this can be overcome by using a high-quality curcumin supplement.
Not all curcumin supplements are the same, however, and many contain versions of the active ingredient that are still not particularly 'bioavailable' and are therefore likely to have little benefit.
The Really Healthy Company's curcumin food supplement, called AlphaCurcumin Plus, contains a patented curcumin extract, which studies have shown to be more bioavailable than ordinary extracts.
It is also formulated with a proprietary blend of Klamath Blue-Green Algae, enzymes, quercetin and black pepper extract (Bioperine) to further enhance absorption by the body.