Too Much Exposure: Everyday Chemicals that Can Harm Kids

September 18, 2019

Here is a great article from Harvard Medical School’s health blog that clearly lists some of the main chemicals that we want our kids to steer clear of, and why. At our office we test children for imbalances that are sometimes caused by too much exposure to these chemicals, that can lead to avoidable health problems. They are often referred to as “endocrine disrupters” because they cause hormonal imbalances in the body.

It is a quick read and worth a look!

In health,

Dr. Gina


Natural Ways to Prevent and Treat Colds & Flu

August 31, 2015

Feature_Flu

There are about 1 billion colds in the US every year, with every child catching it 6-10 times a year, resulting in 22 million school days being lost every year!

When it comes to cold and flu season, prevention really is the first line of defense. To keep your body’s defense system–the immune system–in peak condition, follow our immunity-boosting tips to help your body fight off the bugs looking for a host. And, for times when you are feeling ill, the second set of tips can help ease your symptoms and support a quick recovery.

Cold & Flu Prevention Tips

Your immune system is at work 24/7! The best approach to supporting immune function is a healthy lifestyle that includes stress management, exercise, whole foods, nutritional supplementation, and the use of plant-based medicines. On a daily basis, you can take the following steps to help your immune system keep you healthy:

  • Wash your hands regularly to help prevent transfer of bacteria.
  • Stay clear of people sneezing or coughing. Avoid shaking hands or other close contact with anyone whom you know to be sick.
  • Make sure your home and work space are well-ventilated. Even on a cold day, open a window for a few minutes to clear out stale air.
  • Follow a consistent sleep/wake schedule so the immune system can repair and recover.
  • Drink plenty of water and eat a balanced diet that includes a variety of organic (when possible) fruits and veggies, which contain antioxidants that help the body neutralize cellular damage.
    Healing Tips
  • Rest. Sometimes the body’s only way of getting your attention is to force you to slow down by getting sick. Don’t push through fatigue. Honor your body and sleep/rest as needed to promote healing. Reduce activity at home and at work as much as possible.
  • Increase fluid intake to include water, diluted vegetable juices, soups, and herbal and green teas.
  • Eat light meals and eat more soup. Whether you choose a vegetarian broth or a heartier bone-broth, soups for healing should be loaded with a variety of herbs and veggies.
  • Manage stress. Even just 10 minutes of meditation a day has positive effects on the immune system and promotes a positive mindset.
  • Laugh–it truly is good medicine. Patch Adams was onto something when he brought humor to his patients’ bedsides. Read a funny book. Watch stand-up comedy. Share jokes with a friend or your kids. Laughter lowers the stress hormones and elevates your mood–both are good for healing.

Vitamin, Mineral, and Botanical Support for the Immune System

There’s no panacea, but a growing body of research has shown that certain vitamins, minerals, and plant-based supplements can help prevent/curtail the symptoms of colds and flu. Some that you may want to include are listed below.

These are best tailored to your specific needs and health status, with guidance from your doctor.

  • Multivitamin and mineral formula
  • Vitamin C
  • Bioflavonoids, 1000 mg/day
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D, 2000 IU/day
  • Zinc, 30 mg/day
  • Echinacea, elderberry, and astragalus (tea, capsule, or liquid extract) help prevent common cold and viral infections. Physicians and scientists continue to study the immune-enhancing effects of these and other botanical remedies.

Food for Thought. . .
“He who cures a disease may be the skillfullest, but he that prevents it is the safest physician.”
– Thomas Fuller

In health,

Dr. Gina


The Healthiest Kids on the Block

July 31, 2015

bigstock-Kids-Superhero-67023205Did you know that 40% of daily calories of US children and adolescents aged 2-18 years come from added sugar and solid fats? Approximately half of these empty calories come from six sources: soda, fruit drinks, dairy desserts, grain desserts, pizza, and whole milk.

Raising healthy kids sounds pretty simple: Provide good nutrition, 60 minutes of daily physical activity, and create a joyful and safe home environment. Do that, and you’ll reduce your child’s risk for obesity, diabetes, and other chronic disease. But you’re up against a host of unhealthy temptations including advertising, peer pressure, and an abundance of junk food in shiny packaging.

The first and most important step you have to take for your child’s health is modeling healthy habits in front of them. Make a healthy lifestyle a family affair. Keep things simple. And don’t give up when kids get picky. The tips and resources provided below will keep you on track.

Keep Kids in Motion. Once kids return to school, they are sedentary for the better part of the day. Outside of school, make sure your kids have opportunities to stretch, strengthen, and build endurance for 60 minutes daily. Make time for creative play at the park where children can engage all the major muscle groups. Provide opportunities for trying new sports or creative movement classes. Get the whole family involved with obstacle courses, biking, or hiking. When the weather outside is too hot or cold, visit an indoor pool, playscape, climbing gym, or bounce-house facility. Create a joyful atmosphere at home, check stress at the door (which is easier to do if you are exercising), and encourage playtime.

Limit Screen Time. With more schools incorporating digital devices into curricula, it’s important to monitor your child’s free time on the screen. For younger children, set a daily limit of 60 minutes, and for older children, set a limit of 120 minutes for all media–TV, movies, and games.

Consider having a “digital-free zone” in your home: one room designated just for reading, games, and music sans the headphones. Also, make one day a week (e.g., Sunday) a “device-free day” for all family members. Play games or get physically active, together.

A Balanced Diet, Not a Food Fight. No matter their age, kids can be picky eaters. Offer your child choices at meals that are acceptable to you, health promoting, and palatable. Model the healthy eating habits you want your child to have whether they are at home or out with friends.

When it comes to getting kids to try new foods, get creative: Blend veggies into homemade smoothies. Serve raw veggies with hummus. Make zucchini-based brownies. Incorporate blended or finely chopped veggies into pasta sauce for use on pizza and spaghetti. Try healthier ice cream options like Bliss (raw, vegan, organic and tastes great) or Arctic Zero.  Involve your kids in creating a beautiful fruit salad. Kids’ palates change as they age; what they like/don’t like at age 3 is likely to be different at 13 and even 23!

Introduce and reintroduce healthy selections at all meal and snack times. And don’t fight about food…that only creates a lousy mood for everyone at mealtimes. Sometimes, it really is okay to skip the asparagus and still have dessert.

Tame the Sweet Tooth. Sugar intake for children is recommended to 3-4 teaspoons a day. Cutting back on soda, candy, and cookies is only the first step. Read labels to identify added sugar, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, and food dyes that can be hidden in foods including bread, condiments such as ketchup, crackers, cookies, candy and canned and frozen foods. Make your own frozen treats from fresh fruit, and cut down on packaged foods.

Sleep Well. During sleep, children’s bodies generate hormones important to healthy growth and development. A good night of rest allows children to wake energized for the following day. Research has shown that sleep plays a role in maintaining a healthy weight and promoting a positive mood. Try to keep kids to a daily sleep-wake routine, especially during the school week.

Healthy diet and exercise make a huge difference in the health and demeanor of children. If challenged with a behavioral and/or physical health issue you can take it a step further. At HealthBridge Medical Center we will often run lab tests to determine if a child has specific food allergies, or a particularly high demand for certain nutrients like zinc, magnesium or essential fatty acids for example.  Getting specific with nutrient supplementation and adjusting the diet accordingly makes for much happier and healthier children. It is always worth the time and effort involved.

In health,

Dr. Gina


New Recommendations for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women, and Children

June 12, 2014

pregnant_womanFederal officials on Tuesday announced major changes in advice to pregnant and breastfeeding women by recommending consumption of at least 8 ounces of low-mercury fish per week.

It is the first time that the Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration have issued recommendations on the minimum amount of fish that pregnant women and children should eat. The previous advisory, issued in 2004, included only maximum amounts to protect their fetuses and young children from mercury, which can harm developing brains and reduce IQs. Click here to read more.

That is a good step in the right direction.  Now we need to be made aware of the levels of radioactive chemicals showing up in the fish as that is equally if not more concerning to human health.

Dr. Gina


Ten Nutrition Changes Could Save 1 Million Children

June 25, 2013

istock_000005618515smallThis is a timely publication…the Lancet offers excellent guidelines on preventing disease in children with proper nutrition to the mother and to the baby.

AANP via The Lancet – Ten Nutrition Changes Could Save Lives Of A Million Children- (Monday, June 10, 2013)


Nearly 15 percent of all deaths in children under age five (a total of over 900,000) can be prevented, and over a fifth of all cases of growth stunting averted, if 10 nutrition interventions are scaled up to cover 90 percent of the population in the 34 countries most affected by malnutrition, according to a new study on maternal and childhood malnutrition.

More than half of this cost would be accounted for by India and Indonesia, both countries with sufficient financial resources to make a substantial contribution to the cost of stepping up the fight against malnutrition. The scientists estimate that prevalence of stunting in children under age 5 would be reduced by 20 percent.

The ten interventions include providing folic acid, calcium, and balanced energy protein and micronutrient supplements to pregnant women; promoting breastfeeding and delivering appropriate complementary feeding to infants; providing vitamin A and zinc supplements to children up to the age of five; and using proven treatment strategies to manage moderate and severe malnutrition in children. This study was released June 6, 2013 by The Lancet.

—In health,

Dr. Gina


The Most Pesticide-Heavy Fruits and Vegetables

April 29, 2013

Seattle Farmers MarketThe non-profit Environmental Working Group recently released their 2013 Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists.  Apples and celery were at the top of the list of the most contaminated fruits and vegetables, while asparagus and avocados were at the top of the list of the least contaminated fruits and vegetables. Click here for more.

Pesticide residues are an important contributor to the increased incidence of chronic illnesses worldwide, including obesity, estrogen sensitive cancers, neurological disorders, depression and anxiety.

In an effort to protect the body from harm (especially children whose detoxification mechanisms are not fully developed, and older adults whose detoxification systems are less efficient), do your best to stick with organic when consuming the Dirty Dozen.

In health,

Dr. Gina

 


Warning for Parents: Toxic Lead Levels in Imported Rice

April 16, 2013

BoywithRiceCakeA new press release from the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians reveals that rice not manufactured in the US has high levels of lead that are causing toxic reactions in children.

US companies must maintain strict quality control measures when importing foods and herbs from other countries. The study cited was just presented at the American Chemical Society’s meeting and is extremely concerning, especially because of the gluten free trend in children’s foods. Manufacturers are turning to rice based products as an alternative for wheat.

There was concern over high arsenic levels in rice in late 2012. For now, to be on the safe side, I recommend avoiding rice-based infant and children products altogether.  There are other options for grains if desired, that promote balanced nutritional health, such as quinoa.

In health,

Dr. Gina

TOXIC LEVELS OF LEAD COMMON IN IMPORTED RICE, RICE FLOUR: A new study has found that the rice imported into North America from Asia, Europe and South America contains very high levels of lead that represents serious health risks, particularly for infants and children, who are especially sensitive to its effects, and adults of Asian heritage who consume larger amounts of rice. (Rice and rice flour imports to the US have tripled since 1999 and rice is the staple food for 3 billion people worldwide. Lead interferes with a variety of body processes and is toxic to many organs and tissues including the heart, bones, intestines, kidneys. It causes potentially permanent learning and behavior disorders in children.) The researchers found that for children, the daily exposure levels from eating the rice products imported from these countries would be 30 to 60 times higher than the FDA provisional total tolerable intake (PTTI) levels; for adults, the daily exposure levels were 20 to 40 times higher than the PTTI levels. This study was presented in New Orleans at the meeting of the American Chemical Society. The full report will be available when it is published in a journal at a later time.


DHA Produces Healthier Babies

March 5, 2013

Image

A new double-blind study that was published on line in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that pregnant women who consumed DHA (an omega 3 essential fatty acid) had larger babies, a longer gestation, and fewer preterm births.

In the study, 154 healthy women were randomly assigned to consume 600 mg of DHA per day during the second half of pregnancy and 147 women were assigned a placebo.

After the researchers adjusted for maternal education, socioeconomic status, prior pregnancy, smoking and other risk factors they discovered that the babies of the DHA mothers weighed nearly a half a pound more, were longer and had slightly larger head circumferences.  And in the group of mothers on placebo, 5% gave birth at 34 weeks or less, whereas among the DHA group, only 0.6% gave birth early. The lead author, Susan E. Carlson, a professor of nutrition at the University of Kansas, says that is a dramatic reduction in preterm labor as compared to the general population.

There were no side effects reported.

Most Americans consume too much of the other essential fatty acids (omega 6 and omega 9) and not enough of the omega 3 (which DHA is classified as). So balance here is key.  DHA is rich in sea foods and meat however I do not advise pregnant women to consume these foods in order to get DHA, as they also contain high levels of toxins (heavy metals and other environmental toxins that get stored in the animal fat).

I will often recommend the vegetarian source of DHA available on the market today, that is derived from algae. One easy way for a pregnant woman to be sure she has the right balance of essential fatty acids, including DHA is by consuming 1-2 tablespoons per day of Udo’s DHA Oil Blend while avoiding vegetable based cooking oils and packaged foods that contain oil, like chips and crackers.  Just be sure to keep the Udo’s DHA Oil Blend refrigerated and do not cook with it. Always keep it cold as the fatty acids are vulnerable to heat sources.

In health,

Dr. Gina


Tell Jerry Brown to Prioritize Safe, Sustainable Food as his #1 Agenda Item

January 19, 2011

Please sign this letter to Gov. Jerry Brown, encouraging him to make healthy, local, organic and sustainable food policies a central part of his administration.

Food Democracy Now has prepared a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown, asking him to prioritize  healthy, sustainable and local food and farm policies that benefit all Californians. The letter prepared by Food Democracy Now asks for California food policies that place a strong emphasis on improving access to healthy food to underserved communities, create economically vibrant farms and farm jobs, reward and adequately protect farm workers and ensure that the bounty of California’s natural resources are preserved for future generations.

 

In health,

Dr. Gina



Please Tell Congress to Pass the Child Nutrition Bill TODAY!

September 29, 2010

Tell congress to pass the child nutrition bill today!

In the next 36 hours, the House is set to vote on the much anticipated Child Nutrition Re-authorization Act (CNR). Tomorrow, on September 30th, the bill will expire if Congress does not act. If that happens, our kids will lose out on the best shot they’ve got at improving the quality of their school lunches.

Click here to take action now.

Below is more information, provided by the good folks at Food Democracy Now!

Please consider a donation as well to support their continued and focused efforts to protect our food supply. It is a powerful way to say “Thank You!” for working on our behalf.

In health,

Dr. Gina (Nick) Cushman

Urgent: Can you take a moment today for children?

In the next 36 hours, the House is set to vote on the much anticipated Child Nutrition Re-authorization Act (CNR). For over a year now, America’s children have been waiting on this vote, and tomorrow, on September 30th, the bill will expire if Congress does not act. If that happens, our children will lose out on the best shot they’ve got at improving the quality of their school lunches, and along with it, their health.

Although this bill has been at the heart of much criticism, it is our last best hope to address childhood hunger, set limits on junk food in the schools and provide mandatory funding for farm to school programs this year. [1]

It is so urgent that we are asking you to not only sign a letter to your Representative in congress, but also to make a call today urging them not to ignore this important bipartisan piece of legislation. Can you take a moment for America’s children right now?

Click here to send an urgent email to your U.S. Representative.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/265?akid=216.63486.nasZck&t=8

What does Child Nutrition Act provide?

  • Mandatory funding for grants to assist in establishing Farm to School programs. ($40 million over 8 years)
  • Establishes national nutrition standards for all foods sold on school campuses (including vending machines)
  • Improves access for low income and poverty level students to school nutrition programs
  • Expands the after school meal program, including authorizing Summer Food Grant Support
  • A 6 cent increase per school meal
  • $10 million for an Organic Food Pilot Program that authorizes competitive grants for lower income school districts to purchase organic food for their menus

The Child Nutrition Act is important legislation that we can no longer afford to deny our children. First Lady Michelle Obama has recognized this from the beginning of her husband’s presidency, working as a powerful advocate to end childhood obesity within this generation. [2] It’s no wonder. According to The Centers for Disease Control, one-third of all children born in the year 2000 will be overweight, obese or contract diabetes. Even worse, these children will be the first in our nation’s history to die at a younger age than their parents, if we don’t reverse this disturbing trend. [3]

There’s no better reason than that to advocate for better school lunch programs, which not only build children’s health and address hunger, but also create opportunities for new and beginning farmers through Farm to School programs.

Farm to School

Farm to School programs provide children the opportunity to eat seasonal and local fruits and vegetables, creating the potential to enhance children’s overall health and lifelong dietary habits. With current Farm to School programs in place, giving access to farm fresh food, schools have reported a 3 to 16% increase in school meal participation among students, giving them a connection to where their food comes from and improving academic performance.

In addition, Farm to School programs keep local dollars in the community, provide jobs, and market opportunity for small and midsized farmers; something Food Democracy Now! advocated for in February 2009 when we were the first organization in the sustainable food community to sit down with Secretary Vilsack in his office at the USDA in Washington DC.

Now is the time to enact this important measure, which builds healthy kids and healthy rural communities.

Click here to send an urgent email to your U.S. Representative.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/265?akid=216.63486.nasZck&t=12

The Tale of Two Bills

A great deal of concern has been raised over the incremental but crucial differences between the House and Senate bills for the re-authorization of the Child Nutrition Act. One hotly contested difference is that the Senate version takes $2.2 billion in funding away from the SNAP or Supplemental Nutritional Access Program (formerly known as food stamps). [4] While this is an area of deep concern, leaving one to question the integrity of every U.S. Senator, it is, at this point, a politically unavoidable reality.

Those in favor of the House bill are also extremely discouraged at the cut in funding for the breakfast program from the Senate version, not to mention the dramatic reduction in funds budgeted for the Farm to School program. The House version grants $10 million per year for Farm to School programs over 5 years, while the Senate version of the bill only allows $5 million per year over 8 years. Also, notably absent from the Senate version is the expansion of food safety requirements. Worth noting is the appallingly low figure that both the House and Senate granted in the bill at a mere 6 cents per meal for America’s school children. [5]
With 12 percent of children ages 2 to 5 already obese, not to mention the fact that food insecurity is at it’s highest rate since the USDA starting keeping stats in 1995, certainly, we could do better. [6]

The Child Nutrition Act has held much promise for our nation’s children, let’s not fail them any longer. Our kids deserve better than the status quo that has brought them obesity and malnutrition.

We know that we can no longer afford to wait to give our children the nutrition they deserve. For many, this is the main meal of their day and it’s time that Congress treat America’s children like the precious national resource for our future that they are.

Even though this bill enjoys broad support from NGO’s, the First Lady, military generals and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack [7], it could go down in flames alongside other vital pieces of legislation this year, such as the climate change bill, if you don’t take action today.

Today, we need to say, “Not on our watch!”

Don’t fail kids today. Please take a moment and join us!

Be a Hero today to our kids by clicking here to send a letter to your Representative in Congress, then make a quick call.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/265?akid=216.63486.nasZck&t=14

The next generation thanks you for participating in food democracy  –

We need your help to keep the pressure on! Please donate to Food Democracy Now today – as little as $7 can make a big difference. Every bit helps!

http://fdn.actionkit.com/go/donate/133?akid=216.63486.nasZck&t=17

We rely on folks like you to keep us going. Thanks again for your support.

Sources:

1. Senate bill S. 3307 – 111th Congress, The Library of Congress.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/257?akid=216.63486.nasZck&t=19

2. “Healthy, and Safe, School Lunches”, Michelle Obama; Editorial New York Times; April 4, 2010.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/258?akid=216.63486.nasZck&t=21

3. P”revalence of High Body Mass Index in US Children and Adolescents, 2007-2008″ The Journal of the American Medical Association, January 20, 2010.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/259?akid=216.63486.nasZck&t=23

4. “Critics call child nutrition bill counterproductive”, NPR, September 29, 2010.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/260?akid=216.63486.nasZck&t=25

5. “A modest proposal for congress: Ditch the extra spending for school lunch, Ed Bruske, Grist, September 28, 2010.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/261?akid=216.63486.nasZck&t=27

6. “Food insecurity rising in America”, Newsweek, August 8, 2010.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/262?akid=216.63486.nasZck&t=29

7.”100 Retired Generals and Admirals, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Urge Congress to Pass Child Nutrition Bill As Matter of National Security”, Mission Readiness, September 21, 2010.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/263?akid=216.63486.nasZck&t=31


%d bloggers like this: