Is it OK to eat that?!

Lately it seems that we keep hearing about produce or meat recalls due to one of the many types of bacterial contamination.  Or that lead, antimony or mercury is found in unsafe quantities in our kid’s juice. Our ocean’s are polluted and the fish aren’t safe to eat. Tap water is not a viable option for the most part due to chlorine, flouride, and numerous other contaminates that leach into the supply. You know, growing your own garden, raising farm animals and digging a well is about your best option these days…unless you live in a populated city like Los Angeles. 

We live is such an area and I’m constantly having to research what foods are not only healthy for our bodies, but which ones to look out for that are not. I recently saw another article on this subject by Prevention Magazine and it summed up some of the most important foods to eat “clean” or avoid altogether. Here is a summary of their article that lists seven foods to avoid:

  1. Canned tomatoes. The lining of the cans they come packaged in contain bisphenol-A (BPA) and the acidity of the tomatoes cause it to leach into the food. BPA is a synthetic hormone that wreaks havoc in the human body. Can’t live without your canned tomatoes? Suggestion: buy them in glass containers or grow your own.
  2. Corn-fed beef. Not sure if you know this or not, but cattle evolved from eating grass, not grains. They don’t graze on corn fields or soybean plants. It’s grass…green, unfertilized, grass. Grass fed beef is richer in the good omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins E, A and minerals. Corn-fed beef is high in omega-6 which is pro-inflammatory and proven to increase cancer, diabetes, and heart disease risks. Suggestion: buy grass fed beef and if it’s too costly, eliminate it from your diet. You’ll do just fine without it.
  3. Microwave popcorn. This should be a no-brainer, but it’s not for a lot of people. We have really gotten lazy and dependent on instant gratification. At least that’s what packaged food manufacturers think of us. Chemicals line the bag (shocker!) vaporize and migrate into the popcorn as it heats and pops. These chemicals stay in your body and accumulate there. Another factor that contributes to cancer risks. Suggestion: pop your own on the stove top in a pot, the old fashioned way. Or buy an air popper. It’s infinitely less expensive and you can control how much salt and butter to put on it.
  4. Non-organic potatoes. Root vegetables absorb pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides that are in the soil. Potatoes are treated with fungicides while growing then sprayed with herbicides after harvested. If potato farmers won’t eat conventionally grown potatoes they grow and sell themselves, then you know it’s bad. Suggestion: buy organic. Don’t compromise on this one. Washing the potato does not remove the chemicals that absorb into the flesh.
  5. Farmed salmon. Atlantic salmon is farmed in crammed pens and fed soy, antibiotics, hormones and dye to make it’s sick flesh pink. There are high levels of antibiotics, pesticides and other contaminates in the fish that outweigh the beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. Suggestion: buy wild, fresh, Alaskan salmon when in season. When it’s not, buy canned salmon that is from wild Alaskan salmon.
  6. Milk produced with artificial hormones. Avoid all dairy, not just milk that is made from cattle treated with the recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST). These hormones increase milk production in cattle, are passed on into the milk and leads to higher levels of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) in milk. In humans, high levels of IGF-1 increases risks of breast, colon, and prostate cancers. It’s pro-inflammatory, and cell inflamation feeds cancer growth. Suggestion: buy milk and dairy with the label rBGH/rBST free or organic milk. A lot of dairy farmers produce milk without these hormones, so it’s easy to find.
  7. Conventional apples. Yes, that means any apple that is not organically grown. It’s one of the “dirtiest” fruits grown. The high level of pesticides are sprayed on them due to their inability to develop a resistance to pests. Recent studies have shown that higher level of pesticides in children contributes to ADHD and Parkinson’s disease as adults. Suggestion: buy only organic apples and applesauce. The phrase “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” was coined long before we grew pesticide laden fruit.

We need to take care of our health by first feeding our bodies good, healthy foods that aren’t artificially produced or poisoned with chemicals. Today’s consumer need to be aware of the dangers in certain food supplies and stay educated in making good food choices. We can’t leave our health and well-being up to the food manufactures and FDA. They are not looking out for our best interest. Only you can do that for you and your family.

To read the extended article referenced above, click on this link:

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/12/01/7-foods-should-never-eat/?intcmp=obinsite

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Drink Plenty of Water, and Don’t Forget the Lemon

The old saying goes “if life hands you a lemon, make lemonade”. Well this is actually very good health advice, just don’t add the sugar.  I recently came across some information on the health benefits of adding 1/4 – 1/2 of a lemon squeezed into an 8 oz. glass of water to drink twice daily.  I’ve started this practice and it makes me feel better. I’m not catching any colds/flu bugs, and believe me, they are going around right now. I happen to love the taste of lemon squeezed into my water-glass. Now I know why.

Squeezing 1/2 lemon into your water can create a refreshing drink that raises your body’s pH.  Why do we need to raise our body’s pH levels? Well, having a low pH means your body is acidic, which is not healthy. When our body is acidic, it doesn’t function quite as well as it should. We become more susceptible to illness, disease, fatigue, etc.

To help your body get the energy from the food you are eating, drink lemon water regularly. Next to drinking plain purified water, drinking lemon water daily is the most important thing you can do for your health.

Lemon juice consists of about 5% citric acid that gives a tart taste to lemon. They are rich in vitamin C. Lemons also contains vitamins like vitamin B, riboflavin and minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium as well as proteins and carbohydrates. Daily consumption of lemon water provides a number of health benefits like:

  • Help relieve many digestion problems when mixed with hot water. Due to the digestive qualities of lemon juice, symptoms of indigestion such as heartburn, bloating and belching are relieved.
  • By drinking lemon juice regularly, the bowels are aided in eliminating waste more efficiently. The intake of lemon juice can cure constipation and control diarrhea.
  • Lemons boost the immune system and help fight off infections. A daily dose will help ward off colds, stomach disorders and serious infection. Lemons have strong antibacterial properties. Therefore, they are good in preventing several bacteria-caused illnesses, including the stomach flu.
  • Lemon is an excellent fruit that aids in fighting problems related to throat infections, sore throat and tonsillitis. For sore throat, dilute one-half lemon juice with one-half water and gargle frequently.
  • Lemon juice can aid in weight loss by drinking an 8 oz. glass of water with 1/2 lemon squeezed into it each morning, which will kick-start your metabolism.
  • Lemon acts as a blood purifier and as a cleansing agent.
  • Lemons are an excellent source of antioxidants. Antioxidants rid the body of toxins as well as the free radicals that cause aging.
  • It is even known to help relieve hiccups when consumed as a juice.
  • Lemon juice acts as a liver tonic, is a dissolvent of uric acid and other poisons, and helps you digest your food by helping your liver produce more bile.
  • Lemon’s potassium content will nourish the brain and nerve cells.
  • Its calcium builds up the bony structure and makes healthy teeth.
  • It decreases the amount of phlegm produced by your body.
  • It is also thought to help dissolve gallstones and kidney stones.

How To Choose The Right Lemon

Remember to always buy organic lemons, free of pesticides. Some lemons are more sweet than others. A rule of thumb for selecting a lemon that is both sweet and high in mineral content, is to pick one that has a high specific gravity measurement and is heavy for its size. By comparing equal-sized fruit, the one with the greatest weight will have the most mineral content and sugar. A thick-skinned lemon will not be as heavy as a thin-skinned lemon and will not have the desired sweetness or mineral content.

Recommendations

If you are in good health and weigh less than 150 pounds, squeeze the juice of one half a lemon (one ounce) into a glass of purified water and drink this mixture twice a day (one whole lemon a day.) If you weigh over 150 pounds, squeeze the juice out of an entire lemon (two ounces) into a glass of purified water and drink this mixture twice a day (two whole lemons a day.) The lemon juice can be diluted more according to taste.

So the next time life hands you a lemon, squeeze it into your water and drink to good health.

I Thought I Knew It All (well, most of it)

I’ve learned about most biomedical interventions for autism and really thought I was just going to “refresh and recharge” my batteries that fueled the science geek in me.  Where did I go, you ask?  The 2010 Autism Research Institute’s (ARI) Conference held in Long Beach, CA on October 8-10. That’s where doctors, research scientists and parents discuss the exploration and evaluation of scientifically documented biomedical interventions for individuals within the autism spectrum.

Well, of course no one person can possible know about every aspect of this medical research, but as a parent whose life has been engulfed by it, I thought I knew most of it.  Well, I don’t, and I find that exciting. We are still learning about autism and the sensitive biochemistry of our children that are triggered by various environmental assaults. Unfortunately, more research still needs to be done, more children will be hit by the “autism bus” and more parents will demand answers on why this is a growing epidemic.

I have said before on my blog that I believe autism is not solely a disorder of the brain, but one that affects the brain, the immune system, and the gut. Well, one of the leading autism research scientists is Dr. Jill James, PhD from Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute, and she spoke at the conference on her research done on oxidative stress in autism.

Oxidative stress is a condition which occurs when the production of free radicals in the human body exceeds the body’s ability to neutralize and eliminate them. Oxidative stress can result from a lack of antioxidants (like vitamins A, E and C) or from an over abundance of free radicals. Free radicals can react with key components of cells including DNA, lipids, and protein, resulting in cellular damage.

Dr. James discussed  “The Autism Triad: Brain-Gut-Immune Axis” which are inter-dependent and their individual balance requires each other. All three systems are highly sensitive to oxidative stress, especially during critical developmental windows. A healthy brain needs to develop in a healthy immune system and gut. All three systems are immature at birth. Gene and environmental interactions affect the intracellular GSH/GSSG (ratio of reduced glutathione to oxidized glutathione) and the maturation of all three systems.  GSH/GSSG is the measure of cellular toxicity. Glutathione is our body’s primary antioxidant that protects red blood cells from damage and destruction by mopping up toxic free radicals. (side note: Did you know it is also needed for the action of insulin?)

A toxic inflammatory insult in one of these (brain, immune system, gut) can indirectly affect the development and function of the others. Wow! That says it all for me. In other words, if your infant or young child has inflammation in their immune system from a virus (acquired/immunization), the development of their brain and gut will be affected. Or perhaps your child had numerous ear infections and prescribed antibiotics. Their gut was affected by the reduction of good bacteria (wiped out by the antibiotics) vs. the bad bacteria that took over. This is an example of an inflammatory insult to the gut, which indirectly affects the development of the brain and immune system.

Oxidative stress may be a final common pathway for many structurally diverse environmental exposures such as heavy metals (lead, aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, mercury), solvents (alcohol, chlorine, benzene), and industrial chemicals (PCBs, pesticides, herbicides). All of these induce oxidative stress and deplete our body’s store of glutathione. Dr. James noted that a combined sub-toxic dose of these can reach a toxic threshold. Which means that our children can be exposed to these individual toxins at levels that are not considered toxic by our FDA/EPA, but the combined doses reach the toxic threshold.

This is exactly the point I continually try to make.  That our environment has a combination of toxic exposures that is affecting our current and future generation of children. It’s also affecting us as adults. It may not present itself as autism for us “grown ups”, but as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, etc.

Research in this area needs to continue and I am grateful for ARI, the doctors, scientists and parents that contribute their documented studies on biomedical interventions for autism.  Thanks to them, children are recovering and parents have hope. Perhaps our FDA and EPA could learn something from this community if they would just pay attention. I do know one thing. These agencies that are assigned to protect us certainly don’t (or choose not to) know it all.  And neither do I.

Pesticides Don’t Belong In Our Diet. (New study links pesticides and ADHD in kids.)

We all know that pesticides are dangerous, especially for our children. I’ve come across yet another study on the dangers of pesticides and it’s link to ADHD, so I have to shout it out, again. Why are we poisoning our children?!

New research shows that exposure to high levels of organophosphate pesticides could increase the likelihood of children developing ADHD. These pesticides are on a vast majority of our fruits and vegetables in your local supermarket.

“Organophosphates are one of the most widely used pesticides in agriculture to protect crops and fruits and vegetables,” said study lead author Maryse Bouchard, an adjunct researcher in the department of environmental and occupational health at the University of Montreal and at Sainte-Justine University Hospital Centre. “For children, the major source of exposure would be the diet — fruits and vegetables in particular.”

In their study, Bouchard and her colleagues analyzed data on pesticide exposure and ADHD in more than 1,100 American children aged 8 to 15. Children with higher pesticide levels in their urine were more likely to have ADHD, the team found.

“The analysis showed that the higher the level of exposure [as measured by metabolites in the urine], the higher the odds of having ADHD,” Bouchard added. Continue reading

What Autism Means To Me

April is autism awareness month. I think it’s wonderful that we have the ability to create more awareness since early diagnosis is important for the child and family. But the simple fact that we have a dedicated month of awareness means that it’s reached a level that demands attention, and it certainly has caught mine.

Today, it is estimated that one in every 110 children is diagnosed with autism, making it more common than childhood cancer, juvenile diabetes and pediatric AIDS combined.  This statistic keeps increasing.  When my son was diagnosed (in 2007), it was 1 in every 150 children. Before 1980, it was 1 in every 10,000. The Autism Society has statistics that break this down even further:

  • Autism has a 10 – 17% annual growth
  • $60 billion annual cost
  • In ten years, the cost will be $200 – $400 billion

What causes autism?

That’s the $64,000 question.  No known cause has been scientifically proven. Heredity points to it, but no “autism gene” has been found. Many children with autism or those who are at risk of developing autism have a metabolic impairment that reduces their ability to rid their bodies of heavy metals and other toxins. Build-up of these toxins in the body can lead to brain and nervous system damage and developmental delays. That pretty much sums it up for my viewpoint. Yes, I also believe there are true, Kanner autism cases. Genetic. And yes, I believe this metabolic impairment can also be genetic. Which leads me to my point. If I, my husband, or parents have this metabolic impairment, but don’t have autism, then why did this generation of children get it, and not us? Well, there’s a popular saying in the autism community that “genetics loads the gun, and environment pulls the trigger.”

I believe it’s the increase of toxins in our environment such as pesticides, PCB’s, mercury, lead, aluminum, arsenic, and antimony. Just to name a few. Our oceans are polluted which makes the fish our children eat polluted. Farming in 2010 is not the farming of 1980. We have genetically modified organisms (GMO) in our food supply, pesticide laden soil, antibiotics and hormones in our beef and dairy, and a strong prevalence of corn and wheat in the American diet.  The processed food industry has provided America with an unhealthy dose of harmful artificial ingredients (colors, flavors, preservatives and MSG). Profits are huge, but at what cost?

I don’t know if my son was born with a metabolic impairment or if the toxins triggered it. Thimerosal which is 49.9% ethyl mercury, is the preservative in the vaccines and Rhogam shots me and my son received. Add to that, I had over eight dental amalgams (50% mercury) and had one removed (unsafely) when he was 2 months old and still breastfeeding. Rhogam shots with thimerosal were given to me while pregnant and right after birth. Mercury is passed through breast milk, and neurotoxic to the fetus and newborn.

Studies have shown that ethyl mercury from thimerosal have important effects on metabolic pathways. Laboratory tests confirmed my son’s methylation pathway is impaired. This pathway is involved in the body’s ability to excrete toxins. His lab tests also indicated increased levels of mercury, lead, arsenic, antimony and PCBs. His body was not excreting heavy metals.  He was a typically developing infant and toddler. But by age three or four, he was diagnosed with autism.

How we treated our son’s autism:

For the past two and a half years, we have treated my son’s autism with behavioral therapy and biomedical treatments. He has had chelation therapy to remove the heavy metals, B12 shots and numerous supplements to boost his methylation. We’ve healed his damaged gut with probiotics, zinc and  herbal antimicrobial supplements.

His progress has been incredible. He no longer has meltdowns, tantrums, obsessions, diarrhea, sound sensitivity to everything, night waking, anxiety of new things or change, and doesn’t “stim” anymore. His eye contact has improved significantly, he has a lot of friends including a very best friend at school. In preschool he needed an aide in class. He has been in a mainstream classroom without an aide for the past two years; and is such an intelligent little boy. His expressive and receptive speech deficits are almost gone and his cognition has soared. I credit his recovery to working with a DAN! doctor on biomedical treatments and his behavioral therapy.

What does autism mean to me? That it is treatable. Our children need our help to heal and awareness is the first step. Research, read, educate yourself on how to help your child. Don’t wait for our government or others to do this for you. Take action. Now!

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