Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Should I Feed my Children Turmeric?

Last year my doctor suggested I start taking turmeric to help with inflammation and an ovarian cyst (TMI? hope not!).   I had heard of how healthy and great turmeric is and the more I researched the more I wondered if my kids could also be benefiting from turmeric.... 

What is Turmeric?
Turmeric is 4000 year old spice that is probably most well known for its use in Indian and Chinese food.  In nature it is found as a root (similar to ginger).    Turmeric's  bright yellow colored powder comes from the curcumin which is actually what gives turmeric its medicinal properties.  

Benefits of Turmeric
Turmeric has many well documented benefits. Among them:
1. Thanks to the curcumin which it contains, is has amazing anti inflammatory properties.  Considering inflammation contribute to the development and/or progression of most (if not all) chronic conditions this in itself is pretty huge.
2.  It is an immune system booster
3.  Curcumin in turmeric is also believed to stop an enzyme that may be responsible for turning environmental toxins into carcinogens in the body
4.   A number of laboratory studies on cancer cells have shown that curcumin has anticancer effects. It seems to be able to kill cancer cells and prevent more from growing. It has the best effects on breast cancer, bowel cancer, stomach cancer and skin cancer cells.  
5. Turmeric is being studied as a potential potent  "chemopreventor" (  a preventive modality in which natural or synthetic agents can be employed to slow, stop, reverse, or prevent the development of cancer. )

For kids, in general, turmeric  can be helpful to boost their immune system, with upset stomachs, growing pains and even gum pain/inflammation due to teething.

Is it Safe for Children?
Turmeric in its natural powdered form used for cooking is safe for children.   It is a great addition to their diet - but not necessarily needed daily. 

If your child (or you) falls into one of these categories please consult a doctor before increasing your turmeric intake (ie moving from powder and root to capsules or extract form):
1.  Turmeric can interferes with the body’s ability to clot blood - so it is best not to take before  surgery
2.  If you or your child take blood-thinning drugs or any anti-platelet medication, then it is best to avoid turmeric .
3.  Avoid using turmeric if you or your child has any issues with their gallbladders
4.  While there are many studies showing benefits of turmeric for diabetes, there are some that have found the opposite.   Best to be safe and avoid if you or your child has diabetes.

How can I give Turmeric to my children?
Turmeric has a strong, slightly bitter, taste.  Personally, its not something I absolutely love- it is definitely an acquired taste. Thankfully, though, turmeric does go well with various ingredients making it quite enjoyable and easy to incorporate with food and drinks.   As with everything, I find the younger you expose your kids to strong tastes like turmeric the more likely they will be to eat it without asking too many questions.   


this carrot turmeric puree can
be enjoyed as a soup for
the entire family too
Carrot and Turmeric Baby Food Puree
You can incorporate turmeric in baby food ( try a homemade puree of organic roasted carrots, leeks, coconut milk,  and turmeric - freshly grated or powdered.  If you don't like coconut milk you can use chicken or vegetable broth instead.  Add more liquid and you have a tasty soup for the whole family) 

Fresh Orange Turmeric Juice
You can incorporate turmeric with a fresh homemade orange juice  ( I like to use a couple of drops of turmeric extract for this - make sure it is high quality and pure)

Navel Orange Turmeric Fuji Apple Lemon juice
If you have a juicer grind a small amount of turmeric root with these other fruits for a zesty and tasty juice.

Turmeric Tea 
Mix 2 cups of hot coconut milk  with 1/2-1 teaspoon Turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon and pure organic maple syrup to taste

 Chicken curry
I fed my kids chicken curry (in a chunky puree form) as soon as my pediatrician said it was ok to introduce chicken as a protein - and both boys loved it (and still do).  Adding turmeric to your homemade curry powder is a great way to incorporate the spice and expand their palette.

Turmeric root and powder can be found at most supermarkets and farmers markets.  Ideally, choose turmeric root and grind it into a powder at home (instead of buying turmeric powder) since its therapeutic value begins to diminish once it is ground.

Turmeric can be found in higher concentrations in capsule form and as purified turmeric extract.  Most laboratory tests that have found benefits in taking turmeric  have made use of curcumin supplements or purified turmeric extract because of this higher concentration.  

If you choose turmeric extract or capsule make sure it contains 95% Curcuminoids per serving.    Bioperine, black pepper, is also ideal since it increases our absorption of turmeric

However, dietary intake of turmeric, as is common in India and China,  has still been found to be beneficial and is a great intro to turmeric - especially for children.  Combining  black pepper and turmeric leads to a 2000% increase in bioavailability (absorption).  Absorption also increases when mixing turmeric with lipids/fats (ie coconut milk in curry).

While cooking and using turmeric in its natural form is perfectly safe, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor if you prefer turmeric capsule or extract - especially if you are pregnant, nursing or for young children.  

I like

(for adults- always talk to your doctor before starting any vitamin regime):   I trust this company (and use their iodine capsules too).  The turmeric in this particular capsule is enhanced with black pepper extract

Longvida:  I don't take this one but recently heard about it


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