Curry vs. obesity and diabetes (in mice, anyway)

Findings presented to ENDO 2008, the Endocrine Society's annual meeting in San Francisco this week, show that a spice found in curries has remarkable properties when administered to obese and diabetic mice:
"It's too early to tell whether increasing dietary curcumin [through turmeric] intake in obese people with diabetes will show a similar benefit," Dr. Tortoriello said. "Although the daily intake of curcumin one might have to consume as a primary diabetes treatment is likely impractical, it is entirely possible that lower dosages of curcumin could nicely complement our traditional therapies as a natural and safe treatment."

For now, the conclusion that Dr. Tortoriello and his colleagues have reached is that turmeric – and its active anti-oxidant ingredient, curcumin – reverses many of the inflammatory and metabolic problems associated with obesity and improves blood-sugar control in mouse models of Type 2 diabetes.

Link (Thanks, Marilyn!)


  1. this could possibly explain the 5 pounds i’ve lost starting to cook at home and eat mostly Indian food, maybe. hm.

  2. Not just curry either! Also some yellow rice versions, and lots of Morrocan food, especially the stew-like stuff served over couscous. Probably other recipes too – it’s often used as a natural yellow food coloring, as well as for flavor. Sadly paella and some versions of yellow rice use saffron instead.

    Clearly, it’s about time I cooked up a couscous dinner. Semi-recipe: Chicken or lamb (optional), zuchinni, a white onion, chickpeas, yellow raisins or dried cranberries, a little chicken or vegetable broth, turmeric, cinnamon, and cumin – chop everything into smallish pieces; cook meat (just till cooked through) in a large saucepan using a little olive oil to keep it from sticking, add onions and cook until they turn clear, then add everything else (season to taste) and cook until the zucchini softens. You can also add other vegetables, especially eggplant and thinly-sliced carrot. Cook your couscous in broth instead of water, too, for more flavor. Really simple and yummy!

    @1: It’s probably just from cooking at home, actually. Take-out or restaurant food often has a lot more calories than a version of the same thing that you cook at home.

  3. Thanks for the recipe Ornith! I’ve been wondering what to do with the mountains of zucchini I’m expecting to have at the end of the summer.

  4. This treatment might work for mice but…. For me curry is a rarely indulged delight for the taste buds. Which is promptly followed by two hours of pain in which I can only occasionally wince and imagine a cluster of broken razor blades and rusty roofing nails meandering their way through the 18 feet of my digesting system. The endgame doesn’t belong on this forum.

    I’ll eat it (and enjoy it) but only at gunpoint or under the threat of offending a generous host.

    Orinth: copied and pasted, that looks delicious

  5. I’ll never understand how curry could be bad for digestion. Curry and chili are at the top of my list of “healing foods”. I feel sick, in any way, I eat these things and feel better a lot faster than if I’d, say, tried to eat a tuna sandwich. Or the other bland crap my mother thinks is best when your sick.

    Spice burns the disease away.

  6. Yay. I now have an excuse to eat even more curry. Now if ‘they’ could just find something good and healthy about Rum.

  7. I thought we were supposed to be getting away from “nutritionism.” You know someone’s going to make a curry pill (like those garlic pills and fish oil pills and soy pills) for people who are scared by spices (or legitimately pained by them.)

    Doug Nelson, a pressure cooker will be your best buddy if you want to use dried beans. Best of all, slap a TSOL stick on it and it’s steamPUNK! ha ha!

  8. This is the same miracle spice that cures Alzheimer’s.

    Either we should all move to India, or the Turmeric Council is finding creative ways to sell the stuff.

  9. @3: You’re welcome! And my favorite thing to do with zucchini is to grill it with a little olive oil and lemon pepper. You can sautee it instead but the grilled version is better.

    @4: I’ve always used canned. I don’t know if dry would cook enough – certainly not if you didn’t pre-soak them.

    @5: you’re welcome!

    @6 – everyone’s digestion/spice sensitivity is different (I find most spicy foods just taste like pain, myself). The really bland stuff is only supposed to be for when your stomach is already upset, and a tuna sandwich full of mayo does not belong on the list of bland foods. Ginger, however, will settle your stomach – candied ginger is great to carry for motion sickness, and delicious besides. Soup is good for stuffy heads – the steam and hot liquid loosen stuff up. For any other kind of illness, you can eat whatever you like.

  10. Plain ol’ yellow mustard, like French’s is loaded with turmeric. Nothing spicy about that.

  11. “I thought we were supposed to be getting away from “nutritionism.” You know someone’s going to make a curry pill”

    They already do make a curcumin pill

  12. A teaspoon of turmeric and ginger, a quarter teaspoon of mace and a teaspoon of honey in a cup of hot water makes a nice spicy, gingery cup of tea. Now I’m being told that what my friends think is an oddball taste might be good for me? Rats. Now everyone is going to be stealing my tea supplies.

    The last time this happened, they decided green tea was a health drink with antioxidants and natural flourides. I had decided several decades ago that I liked the stuff, and have taken flack over the years for that odd taste. Then two years ago, my green tea started getting pilfered. I declared war when they started messing with my Genmai Cha. ;^)

  13. Vietnamese people call it “bot nghe,” and use it liberally as some sort of cure-all miracle powder. I think my dad bought a sack of it and mixes it with honey and tea. After scarfing it down in one shot he likes to tell me again about its wonders. There’s also some in this 17-ingredient mystery allergy cure he gives me (I don’t know what else is in it besides ginger and turmeric, which is also a little frightening).

  14. Yeaaaah…

    Anyone who eats enough curry is bound to lose some weight when it has its trademark “cleansing effect” on them.

    I think the BOFH explored that one thoroughly not too long ago :)

  15. @#6BALDHEAD –
    I’m the same way about ‘hot’ peppers. I’ve read some studies recently that say there may be cancer fighting bits to capsaicin, of course those who don’t eat peppers routinely like me all say “DUH, it would kill anything!”. As of late my favorites tend to be serrano, but I’ll eat anything from bell to red habanero. I’ve yet to try Jolokia, but I’m going to order some seeds soon.

  16. Scientists never run out of things to do with mice.

    I wonder what their inspiration is.


    Ah! It’s Money.

    200 years from now, someone somewhere will be “testing” Ecstasy on Barn Owls in order to “work out” what role MDMA can play in preventing/curing Diabetes/Insomnia/Obesity.

    My fat chums: obesity is caused by eating too much crap food.

    Diabetes was once a rare disease. Mysterious.

  17. Spicy foods can give you a ‘rush’, could it be that they have a similar appetite-suppressing effect to amphetamines?

  18. “Scientists never run out of things to do with mice.”

    And cynical armchair critics never run out of snide comments based on two minutes worth of morning “NEWS” show banter on a study by hairsprayed talking heads (who even if they had doctorates, would never admit to scientific literacy on the air, as it would alienate their intellectually-insecure viewer base, and who cement their personae of aggressive ignorance by ragging on the weather guy for being too nerdy) said banter being scripted based on a quick perusal of a paragraph of an AP article thrown together by someone who has, at most, skimmed the original study.

    What was the motivation again?

    Oh yeah,

    ignorance and laziness and even insecurity.

  19. @21 DanDaery
    “200 years from now, someone somewhere will be “testing” Ecstasy on Barn Owls”

    /me submits funding application

Comments are closed.