I’m back!

I have taken a long break from writing posts for my blog or actually replying to comments. I apologize for the long delay for some of you on your questions/comments. As you know, even the strongest warrior moms need a break…so I took one. I’m replying to comments each day and hope to be caught up by the end of the week. Next week I hope to start writing again. Stay tuned to hear about our experience with yeast and leaky gut issues (yet again!).  I’m really into whole foods and diet changes, so look for posts about that and how to incorporate it into your child’s diet.

Cheers!

Fluoride: Too much of a good thing?

I’m not a fan of fluoride in our toothpaste and definitely believe it should not be in our water supply. When I take my sons to the dentist for cleanings, I skip the fluoride treatment. Their toothpaste is fluoride-free. Not one cavity for both of my boys! Their only source of fluoride is our drinking water. But that’s about to change since we just purchased a reverse osmosis water filtration system for our home.

Reverse osmosis is one of the only ways to filter out fluoride in your home tap water. EWG (Environmental Working Group) recommends drinking filtered tap water. This is primarily due to manufacturers of bottled water are not listing water sources or purification methods on their labels. More to the point, tap water is regulated by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) under stricter standards than the FDA’s (Food & Drug Administration) regulation of bottled water. The FDA sends inspectors to bottling plants every 2-3 years. In 2009, almost 50% of bottled water sources came from tap water. I know that if I’m going to drink tap water, I would want to know how it’s filtered and also use a reusable bottle made from stainless steel or BPA-free plastic than buy it in a non reusable, non BPA-free plastic bottle. I digress…back to fluoride and it’s dangers of over-consumption.

Everything in moderation…but not in America. According to FAN’s (Fluoride Action Network) website:

Most developed nations, including Japan and 97% of Western Europe do not fluoridate their water supply. However, comprehensive data from the World Health Organization reveals that there is no discernible difference in tooth decay between the minority of western nations that fluoridate water, and the majority that do not. In fact, the tooth decay rates in many non-fluoridated countries are now lower than the tooth decay rates in fluoridated ones.

 The most obvious reason to end fluoridation of our water supply is that it is now known that fluoride’s main benefit comes from topical contact with the teeth, not from ingestion. Even the CDC’s Oral Health Division now acknowledges this. There is simply no need, therefore, to swallow fluoride, whether in the water, toothpaste, or any other form.

Health Problems From Fluoride

There are many health concerns other than dental fluorosis (excess levels of fluoride causing tooth enamel to mottle and discolor, then decay).  Studies by The Lancet and National Research Council indicate that fluoride is a neurotoxin that interferes with the function of the brain and body and also reduces IQ levels, indicating that fluoride intake causes cognitive damage.

Fluoride also decreases thyroid function. Women are more susceptible to this and symptoms of low thyroid function are:

  • Lack of energy
  • Low body temperature
  • Dry skin
  • Not sweating well
  • Tendency towards constipation

Fluoride exposure disrupts the synthesis of collagen and leads to the breakdown of collagen in bone, tendon, muscle, skin, cartilage, lungs, kidney and trachea. It also confuses the immune system (that can’t be good!) and causes it to attack the body’s own tissues. It will increase the tumor growth rate in cancer prone individuals and promotes development of bone cancer. Fluorides accumulate in the brain over time to reach neurologically harmful levels. And of course, fluoride causes premature aging of the human body.*

How Much is Too Much?

In 2003, the National Research Council appointed one of the most balanced and objective panels of experts that has ever objectively investigated fluoride. They spent about three years studying it and determined that the current “safe” drinking water standard of 4 ppm (parts per million) set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for fluoride is too high and should be lowered. But in the four years since, the EPA has not completed a new health-risk assessment, and thus we still live with this outdated and unsafe standard, even though the NRC study was specifically requested by the EPA.

(Dr. Joseph Mercola; The Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mercola/warning-this-daily-habit-_b_741635.html )

The contents of a family-size tube of fluoridated toothpaste is enough to kill a 25-pound child.  Even Proctor and Gamble, the makers of Crest, acknowledge that a family-sized tube “theoretically contains enough fluoride to kill a small child.”

So to answer my question, YES, we are getting too much fluoride and it’s NOT a good thing. Fluoride is toxic and you must have a prescription from a doctor to get it. But our municipal water suppliers are purchasing it and adding it to our water. Once it’s in the water, you can’t control the dose of any individual’s daily consumption. There is no oversight nor a doctor prescribing it for you and your family.

To learn more about your local water supply, log onto http://www.epa.gov/enviro/facts/sdwis/search.html .

Source * – http://www.robertgammal.com/PDFs/SciFactsFluoride.pdf

Back to School – Back to Lunch Packing

Just about a week or two before school begins, I start to look forward to my kids getting out of the house (or my hair) and into a routine again. I crave the routine too, but not all of the obligations that go with it. The one I dread the most is packing lunches everyday for both my sons. It’s not only the chore of it, but it’s the pressure to come up with a variety of lunches so they don’t get “lunch burn out” by Thanksgiving. And I won’t cave to letting them buy school lunches until Jamie Oliver is the personal chef at my son’s school, so that’s not an option.

I’d like to share with you a simple idea I came up with that my son thinks is awesome. Now if your child is GF/CF, you’d have to come up with alternatives to replace the gluten and casein in my idea. I’m sure you have seen, heard, or perhaps bought Lunchables for kids. I happen to think its a genius of an idea for kids that are sick of sandwiches, but of course the packaged food industry takes a simple idea and adds a ton of crap to it. I don’t like any product that Kraft puts on the supermarket shelf. Even Lunchables “healthy” alternatives like their ones with fruit and 100% fruit Capri Sun has a ton of sugar and sodium in it, plus artificial colors, flavors and enough preservatives to choke a horse (has several plus that nasty one BHT), high fructose corn syrup, and American Cheese. American Cheese is not cheese in my opinion and it’s pretty gross. So I put together a clean Lunchables version for my kids.

Homemade Lunchables:

  • Crackers (your kids’ healthy, favorite choice)
  • Cheddar Cheese (rBST hormone free dairy) sliced in 2″ squares
  • Canadian Bacon (try to find a brand that is nitrite free)
  • Green/red grapes
  • 2 cookies (I like Trader Joe’s brands without all the artificial stuff, or no cookies if your child is sugar-free)
  • Water

Now this is enough food for my 9-year-old but I do have to add more to the lunch for my eating machine 13-year-old. As for the cracker choice, read the ingredient labels and try to find one that is organic and GMO free. That’s a tough one to find when it comes to grains.

As for more ideas other than sandwiches, I’ve also switched out the Canadian bacon for slices of turkey. My youngest also loves hard-boiled eggs so I give him that with the crackers sometimes too. As you see here, my goal is to get healthy proteins in my kids at lunch without filling them up with a ton of carbs that will slow their brain down in the class after lunch. Protein will convert to the necessary neurotransmitters dopamine for cognition: focus and attention. Plus give them energy for the rest of their afternoon.

What healthy lunch ideas do you pack for school?

Digestive Enzymes – An Important Team Player

Football season is here and our family loves the Dallas Cowboys. I love to watch football with the men of my house.  The quarterback is the primary playmaker on the team and sets the game in motion. Digestive enzymes are like the quarterback in the digestion game in our gut. They get the ball rolling and involve the entire team in reaching the goal…digestion of foods so our bodies can get the nutrients to thrive on.  Digestive enzymes are needed to completely break down the foods and peptides for several reasons: to reap the all the nutrients in the food, and so the bad bacteria or yeast don’t have more food to eat and grow on.

Our body naturally produces digestive enzymes to break down foods before they start their trek through the intestines. We have enzymes in our saliva that aid in food breakdown. These enzymes are amylase, which break down carbohydrates along with our chewing of the food. Next stop is the stomach where stomach acid, muscles and the enzyme pepsin, breaks down proteins and work on the food for approximately an hour before it continues to the small intestine. Our small intestines release enzymes as well as our pancreas. Enzymes released in our small intestines are lactase (breaks down milk sugars), DPP IV (breaks down the milk and other protein bonds), and disaccharides (breaks down starches and sugars).

You can see that digestive enzymes have a lot of work to do and without them, our bodies cannot function properly just like a football team can’t function without its quarterback. Enzymes are required for your body to function properly because without enzymes you wouldn’t be able to breathe, swallow, drink, eat, or digest your food. Our cells won’t get the glucose for energy, amino acids for protein and toxins wouldn’t be removed from our blood.

Some Digestive Enzyme Facts:

  • Enzymes are proteins made by cells in our bodies and all living organisms.
  • Enzymes exist in all raw food.  All raw foods, including meats, have some enzyme activity.
  • The more raw food you eat, the less digestive enzymes your body needs to produce.
  • Cooking or other types of processing destroys enzyme activity.
  • Digestive enzymes, used properly, can provide a substantial benefit to most everyone, especially those consuming a great deal of cooked or processed food.

Enzyme Deficiency

Poor dietary habits, fast food consumption, and excessive intake of fat and sugars, all require excessive amounts of enzymes to digest our foods. Over eating foods that are void of enzymes (processed pre-packaged foods) and eating too much food results in a depletion of enzymes in the body. In particular, there is strain put on the pancreas to secrete greater amounts of enzymes than normal. The result is an exhausted pancreas. To reduce the load on the pancreas, the immune system lends its white blood cells which have stores of enzymes to aid in the digestive process. The result of this is impaired immune function. By ensuring our body has sufficient enzymes not only supports the digestive process, but the immune system as well.

Eating a food or food group too frequently will also contribute to an enzyme deficiency. Foods that are more likely to cause allergies/sensitivities are the ones that are consumed the most: eggs, wheat/gluten, milk, corn and soy. When these foods are consumed several times a day for years it creates an enzyme deficiency for that food and the body can no longer break down the proteins or starches and causes a reaction when the peptides enter our bloodstream.

When food is properly digested, it is broken down into substances that the body recognizes and can utilize. If food molecules are not broken down into their smallest form (by enzymes) when they enter the bloodstream the body recognizes them as foreign invaders and attacks. When the body no longer can handle the overload of food that it cannot properly digest and utilize, the result is food allergies and intolerance, indigestion, gas, bloating, heartburn, constipation, and diarrhea. There are other symptoms of our body’s imbalance from incomplete digestion such as asthma, environmental allergies/sensitivities, candida over-growth, arthritis, obesity, eczema, fatigue, headaches, and hyperactivity.

One digestive enzyme that tends to be insufficient in a lot of ASD kids, as well as kids with ADHD, is DDP4 (dipeptidyl peptidase-IV).  This enzyme is found in the gut and is responsible for breaking a bond between amino acids in peptides formed during protein digestion. Problems occur when there is a lack of DDP4 which causes incomplete digestion of the gluten (wheat) and casein (dairy) molecules, leaving a mischievous peptide. In the case of damaged or leaky guts, these peptides called gluteomorphin (gluten) and caseomorphin (casein) can pass into the blood, where they do harm because they evoke an immune response. They can also mimic endorphins that cause changes in perception, mood, and behavior.  This is one reason why the gf/cf (gluten-free/casein free) diet is so effective in reducing behaviors in kids with autism. It’s the elimination of the offending peptides from the diet.

Types of Enzymes

  • Amylase  – breaks down carbohydrates, starches, and sugars (found in fruits, vegetables, potatoes and a lot of snack foods)
  • Protease  – breaks down proteins (found in meats, eggs, cheese, and nuts)
  • Lipase  –   breaks down fats (found in most dairy products, meats, oils, and nuts)
  • Cellulase  – breaks down cellulose, plant fiber

When one supplements digestive enzymes, plant derived enzymes are the most effective. They are obtained from the lysosomes of live plant cells.  They are more effective because they can survive the acidic environment in the stomach and different PH levels in the small intestines. Animal derived digestive enzymes that mimic our pancreatic enzymes only survive in the alkaline environment of our small intestine.

Digestive Health & Foods That Support It

In order to keep our digestive and overall health at its best, eating more raw vegetables, nuts, and fruits is important. Papaya and pineapple are the best sources of foods that contain naturally occurring digestive enzymes. Papaya contains the naturally occurring digestive enzyme papain, which helps to digest protein. Pineapples contain the digestive enzyme bromelain, which acts as an aid for indigestion. Pineapples also contain multiple anti-inflammatory enzymes. Mangos, watermelon, blueberries, raspberries and grapefruit also contain naturally occurring digestive enzymes.  Parsley, kale, broccoli, celery, cabbage and beets and beet greens are excellent choices for raw vegetables that contain naturally occurring digestive enzymes. Wheat grass and aloe vera  juice contain a lot of enzymes.

All raw food contain digestive enzymes; naturally fruits and vegetables are excellent sources. Some smart fruit choices are  fresh apples, figs, pears, cherries, peaches, strawberries and apricots. For vegetables, all of the bell peppers: red, yellow, green and orange, as well as tomatoes, are excellent choices.

Balancing your meal with raw foods in addition to cooked foods can assist your body in the digestive process, just as the quarterback balances out the game with running plays, passing or handing off the football. For example, a salad or raw veggies along with your steak or chicken breast will help ease the demand on your body to release digestive enzymes since the veggies in the salad contain enzymes. Same goes for the quarterback when he hands the football off to the running back; which saves his throwing arm and reduces the risk of interceptions.

For more information on using digestive enzymes for your child, refer to my page on enzymes.

https://healingautismandadhd.wordpress.com/diet-2/digestive-enzymes/

Sugar. Oh how I (heart) thee!

Lemon Shortbread Heart Cookies

Lemon Shortbread Cookies photo by Craig Cutler

This Valentine’s Day I must confess my secret love affair. Yes, you guessed correct…it’s with sugar.  I love sugar! All foods taste yummier with sugar.  Whether it’s sugar in my coffee, sugar in my pastries, sugar in my yogurt, sugar in my, well, candy…I crave sugar! Sugar is delightful and never fails to lift my spirits. It gives me that extra energy at the end of a long day. When I’m bored it entertains me with its sweet kiss on my lips. When I’m sad it consoles me better than any therapist. When I’m PMSing it saves me and others around me! (sigh) But my love affair with sugar is coming to an end.

I have finally decided that I must give up this addiction and only taste sugar’s sweet delight occasionally. Not every day. How in the world and I am going to do this? Better yet, why?!

Well, I have always known that sugar is bad for my health. But aren’t all addictions bad for you in some way? I know that in order to get fit and healthy, I must conquer my addiction to sugar. I know it can be done. I have friends that actually don’t eat it at all. I know! Sounds insane, but apparently it can be done and you do survive. So they’ve told me.

In the process of convincing others how sugar affects our health, perhaps I’ll see the benefit in going through my (painful) sugar withdrawals and know that better health awaits me.  First let’s begin with how ubiquitous sugar is in our diet. It’s not going to be easy to give it up, unless I eat mostly freshly prepared meals and snacks. I’ll have to be strong when I bake chocolate chip cookies for my sons and not have any. (groan)

Sugar is in ketchup, yogurt, cereals, breads, brownies (seriously?! I thought it was just chocolate), instant oatmeal, pancake mix, and most conventionally package good foods/snacks. I’m talking about sugar, not high-fructose corn syrup. HFCS does not exist in my diet. But the sad thing is you can’t completely avoid all sugars because they are in fruit in the form of fructose. So I will have to get my sugar high from my fruits. (I wonder if anyone ever struggles with strawberry addiction.)

And then to top it all off, your body converts carbohydrates to sugar! What’s up with that?!  Whole wheat bread, potatoes, white rice…all gets converted to glucose and stored as FAT. Not fair! All the yummy things to eat in life are bad for you…unless you eat them in MODERATION. That’s the key.

You may wonder just how is sugar addicting. Well, when you eat sugar it triggers dopamine, (a neurotransmitter and neurohoromone in the brain) which is our “pleasure” hormone. What brain wouldn’t like that feeling? So of course you crave it more. I was horrified to learn that heroine, morphine and sugar all trigger the same pleasure centers in the brain! This is when I learned I was an addict. And one of the first steps in conquering any addiction is knowledge, then acceptance. So is depression the next step because all the pleasure sensors in my brain will wither up and die without sugar giving them that instant gratification on a regular basis?!

Where do I begin? Well, I’ve already started by not putting sugar in my morning coffee (latte). I use Organic Blue Agave Nectar. It has a much lower glycemic index. And that’s the key in keeping your blood sugar level and staving off diabetes and other chronic diseases. If you’re not familiar with the glycemic indices of foods, check out http://www.glycemicindex.com and learn more. Here’s a quote directly from their website.

The glycemic index (GI) is a ranking of carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100 according to the extent to which they raise blood sugar levels after eating. Foods with a high GI are those which are rapidly digested and absorbed and result in marked fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Low-GI foods, by virtue of their slow digestion and absorption, produce gradual rises in blood sugar and insulin levels, and have proven benefits for health. Low GI diets have been shown to improve both glucose and lipid levels in people with diabetes (type 1 and type 2). They have benefits for weight control because they help control appetite and delay hunger. Low GI diets also reduce insulin levels and insulin resistance.

Next, I’m going to have to give up ice-cream…oh the horror! I know there is not one redeeming health quality of ice-cream, but it’s just so, um, delicious. Better yet, I’m going to have to replace my craving with something that will satisfy me and help my body get through “detox”. Yes, when you eliminate sugar from your diet, your body goes through detox. I’m told that I might experience feeling lightheaded, headaches, lack of energy (duh!), skin itching/rash/pimples, mood disorders (another duh!) and intense cravings. But apparently this should only last 3-4 weeks. That makes me feel better. (note sarcasm) I have to have incredible self-control for a month. Then it gets easier.

There are two major health reasons that I want to eliminate sugar from my diet. The first is that sugar feeds yeast in the gut.  When yeast takes over your gastrointestinal tract, it creates immune dysfunction and gastrointestinal distress. Yeast lives and feed off of sugar and foods that convert to sugar. Yeast is a huge biomedical factor in autism and ADHD and its related behaviors in children. The second health reason is cancer. Sugar feeds cancer cells and helps them grow and proliferate in your body. Cancer cells thrive on cell inflammation and sugar/glucose promotes inflammation. This is the one step that I’ve failed miserably at when following the recommendations of “The Anti-Cancer Diet” book by David Servan-Schreiber. I know, I’m an addict and I need to acknowledge that fact. But still.

So I’m going to keep reminding myself that I am giving up sugar for my health and my children. Next step is to stock up on healthy snacking alternatives like veggies, fruit and nuts. I’m going to package them up in my BPA-free snack bags and take them with me wherever I go. When I’m feeling low-energy, they will give me that lift I usually seek from sugar. If anyone has any tips on how to overcome sugar addiction, I welcome them! Oh, and Happy (sugar-free) Valentine’s Day.

Fungicide in OJ? Now what are we to drink at breakfast?!

OK, so now we can’t drink commercial OJ anymore. First it was arsenic and lead in apple juice, now a bad fungicide in orange juice. What the hell is America supposed to drink at breakfast anymore?

This fungicide is linked to cancer and infertility. But the FDA assures us it’s only “trace” amounts, so we should be just fine. Well those “trace” amounts of chemicals and toxins in our food, water supply, and environment, start to add up and don’t leave your body so readily…thus the cancer risk.

I purchase Trader Joe’s Organic Florida OJ which I found relief in knowing this fungicide is banned in the U.S.  Brazil imported oranges and juice is what contains it and the commercial OJ providers like COKE uses it and found it. Wouldn’t tell us if it was in their Simply Orange or Minute Maid brand…and Pepsi won’t admit if they have found it in their OJ brands Tropicana and Dole. You can bet that Pepsi is buying it from Brazil where the OJ is cheaper than Florida grown orange juice.

Time to plant that apple and orange grove in your backyard folks. Squeeze it fresh everyday. Seems to be the only way we can be assured our food supply isn’t tainted. *heavy sigh*

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204124204577154813627399478.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

Essential Fatty Acids and Why We Need Them

Omega-3 and omega-6 are considered “essential fatty acids” (EFA) because our bodies need them for building healthy cells, and maintaining nerve and brain function. Our bodies can’t produce EFAs, so our only source is from food. This is one area where your diet will greatly affect the balance of omega-3 vs. omega-6 and your overall health. Essential fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that can protect us from diseases likes type-2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and age-related brain decline.

Omega-6 fatty acids primarily comes in the form of linoleic acid from plant oils. The main source that the western diet provides these are in the form of corn oil, soybean oil, and sunflower oil. But the healthier source of omega-6 should come from seeds and nuts. We really should only be getting 5%-10% of our food calories from omega-6 fatty acids in our diet.

Omega-3 fatty acids come from fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and tuna. Unfortunately, with our polluted oceans, tuna and mackerel contain unsafe levels of mercury, and other contaminates, while salmon is only best as wild caught Alaskan salmon. There are other sources such as flaxseed, walnuts and green leafy vegetables. Flaxseed oil, for example, contains about 55% omega-3 fats. Canola oil has about 10%.

All of these foods are healthy choices, but there’s still some debate about whether they have all the benefits of fish oil. The reason: the omega-3 in flax, canola, walnuts, and other vegetable sources are in the form of alpha linoleic acid, or ALA. Although the body can convert some ALA to EPA and DHA, the two forms of omega-3 fats with proven heart protection benefits, it’s not clear how much is converted. Diets high in omega-6 fats interfere with the conversion of ALA to DHA in omega-3s.  As you age that conversion becomes even more inefficient, at a time when your brain and nerves really need the protective benefits from EPA and DHA.

Omega-6 fatty acids compete with omega-3 in the body, so the ratio of these two forms of polyunsaturated fats is very important. We need more omega-3 in a ratio of 1:1 to 1:4 (omega-6:omega-3).  With all the fast food, prepared convenient foods and packaged foods in the America diet, this ratio is way off since it’s flooded with omega-6 fatty acids in the form of vegetable oils such as corn and safflower oil.

So if you don’t eat fish, or want to limit the amount you eat due to exposure to toxins, a supplement is recommended in the form of omega-3 that is high in DHA.

BENEFITS OF EFAs

Essential Fatty Acids, particularly Omega-3s (high in DHA) supports brain function with focus, concentration and mood. About two-thirds of the brain is composed of fats. Myelin, the protective sheath that covers communicating neurons, is composed of 30% protein and 70% fat. DHA reduces oxidative stress, enhances learning and memory, and is the most abundant omega-3 fatty acid in cell membranes within the brain. Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory and the primary building material for cell membranes, which let nutrients in and toxins out.

  • Our bodies cannot produce Omega fatty acids, so we must get them through our diet and supplementation.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are utilized by our eyes, brain, heart, joints, digestive system and many other tissues and systems.
  • Omega-3 improves your ability to concentrate as well as your energy level.
  • Omega-3s in the form of DHA are beneficial to kids and adults with ADHD or autism.
  • Through it’s anti-inflammatory effects, cod liver oil is a promising treatment for arthritis sufferers.
  • The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oils keep platelets in the blood from sticking together, which reduces blood clotting and lowers the risk for heart attacks. They may also provide protection by reducing inflammation in the blood vessels.
  • Omega-3s help with mood disorders, such as depression.
  • Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory and omega-6s are pro-inflammatory. Diseases like heart disease, cancer, type-2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s thrive on cell inflammation. Diets rich in omega-3s reduce inflammation and disease risk.
  • Grass-fed cattle are higher in omega-3s vs. omega-6s.  Conventional beef is fed diets high in omega-6s with grains like corn and soybeans.  Organic beef doesn’t necessarily mean they are grass-fed, which is the type of beef we should be consuming. It just means the grains they are fed are organically grown.

Our family has reduced our intake of omega-6s and eat a diet richer in omega-3s, yet we still take a dietary supplement of omega-3 fatty acids in the form of DHA.  Remember, our bodies may not be efficient at converting enough of the ALA (from EFAs) to DHA.

An informative source with a great list of FAQs on this subject is the DHA/EPA Omega-3 Institute.

http://www.dhaomega3.org/

 

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