• The Science and Benefits of Gratitude

    15 January 2019
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    You were raised to show gratitude, right? We all were, but yet, we all typically struggle with this seemingly easy task. We get caught up in the expectations and the business of life. As the new year gets underway, though, it is a wonderful time to truly understand the importance and benefits of gratitude.

    What is gratitude?

    Gratitude is the quality of being thankful, with readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. Gratitude is not an attitude in our mind. Feeling grateful is an internal experience of fullness and expansion in the heart, an expansion that spontaneously arises from the recognition of love, of goodness, and of grace. 

    When you accept gratitude into your lifestyle and let it become a true part of who you are at your core – which happens over time and with awareness of practicing gratitude – it actually will rewire your brain and provide unexpected benefits to your body. 

    Everyone has a gracious side. A 2009 study discovered that the hypothalamus (the part of our brain that regulates multiple bodily functions including our appetites, sleep, temperature, metabolism and growth) activates when we feel gratitude, or display acts of kindness. Leading a kinder life evokes a happier, higher functioning body. As we feel gratitude, the chemical dopamine is released in our brain. It doesn’t matter if we are grateful for a person, an item, or an experience, we are granted a ‘high’ similar to what people label a ‘runner’s high.’ This high is addicting and will pull us toward this feeling over and over again. This release of dopamine may also be responsible to reducing pain levels. Studies show that keeping a gratitude journal throughout a painful (physically, mentally, or emotionally) time can reduce the overall symptoms.

    As your brain is the first place that experiences the affects of gratitude, research confirms that appreciation effectively increases happiness and reduces stress and depression. The benefits to your body are not far behind those that impact the brain. Research shows that performing acts of kindness and being grateful may contribute to a longer and healthier life. Grateful people tend to be happier and exercise more than those who are more anxious or reclusive. 

    Gratitude also improves your sleep cycles and increases your self-esteem, leaving you feeling less aggression and anxiety. You will form stronger connections to friends, strangers, or family members as your heart becomes more empathetic through learning gratitude. Research also shows that gratitude not only reduces stress, but it may also play a major role in overcoming trauma. 

    One study showed that people are more likely to feel gratitude towards: 

    • acts done by strangers than family members
    • larger acts than smaller acts
    • more inconvenient acts
    • acts that confer benefits which themselves are not necessary because of a situation caused by the benefactor
    • people with higher status
    • people who were generally nicer. 

    People were also significantly more likely to feel gratitude when their declaration of gratitude would be public. While this all may be true, it is not gratitude at the core. Take the time to notice and respond to the smaller acts. Your head, heart, and body will thank you. 

    My goal for you in 2019 is to exchange self-pity for gratitude. You can choose to write a few sentences in a gratitude journal or notes for a gratitude jar, or simply take a moment to silently acknowledge all that you have, but any way you do it, giving thanks can impact your life for the better.

    If you are wondering how to lead your children down the path of a grateful heart, start by saying, “Thank you” to them whenever possible. Leading by example, squatting down to eye level, placing a hand on their shoulder, and simply being grateful towards your child will open their world to accept and give appreciation.

     

    Resources: 

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2733324/

    http://local.psy.miami.edu/faculty/mmccullough/gratitude/Is%20Gratitude%20a%20Moral%20Affect.pdf

    http://local.psy.miami.edu/faculty/mmccullough/gratitude/Emmons_McCullough_2003_JPSP.pdf 

    http://local.psy.miami.edu/faculty/mmccullough/Papers/The%20Grateful%20Disposition_JPSP.pdf

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  • Why Babies Need Tummy Time

    4 January 2019
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    Did you know that tummy time exercise is essential for future developmental milestones? Your newborn is learning and growing at a rapid rate, and she will experience new sensations as she matures. It is common for most infants to cry, fuss, and typically not enjoy being laid on their stomachs while awake. Actually, most babies tend to fall asleep instead of working on their neck and core strength. However, you are not failing if this is what happens in your house. 

    Over the years of adjusting families with young infants, I can tell in a single adjustment if a baby is completing tummy time at home. I tend to bring the subject up often in the families that I notice it may not be happening. There was false information spread a few years ago about this exercise being useless, and sadly, many moms bought into it. This, paired with the “Back to Sleep” (“Safe to Sleep”) campaign, has led to developmental delays and problems with many babies. 

    Laying a baby on her back does significantly lower SIDS risks; however, a baby who is always on her back is not going to develop on track. There are concerns about an infant’s head shape, especially if she is left on her back or supine position for most of the day. Babies who spend a majority of time lying on their backs in car seats, rockers or on play mats, can develop a misshapen or flattened head. You can read more about the increase in helmet wearing and Flat Head Syndrome here.

    The problem is not just a flat spot on the head; your baby can develop problems with her neck and head muscles, and this misshapen head provides less room for the quickly expanding brain to grow. As a result, several children may be prone to developmental delays, sensory issues, speech and language trouble and attention and focus issues. Research has found that many students who struggle academically (and emotionally) lack the proper muscle tone in their neck, shoulders, and back to comfortably sit in a class, take notes, and look at the white board. 

    Crying when introduced to tummy time is common, as it is a hard workout for a baby. She is working on strengthening her arms, legs, core, and neck so she can crawl correctly and eventually walk, run, and continue to develop on track. Tummy time also promotes proper posture, mental and visual stimulation, and exploration and interaction with the world around. Research shows that babies who spend at least 80 minutes per day (in small increments) playing on their tummy while awake are more likely to reach their milestones faster than those who spend less time on their tummy.

    A 2017 study found that parents who report even the slightest head asymmetry in their newborn’s first month of life were more likely to prevent further asymmetry from occurring, and they were able to reverse the problem while working with their pediatrician and following side-lying technics and tummy time exercises. This I valuable information, as many parents believe the only solution is a helmet.

    Do you struggle with tummy time? Here are a few ideas to make it a more peaceful practice:

    • Spread out a blanket in a clear area of the floor 
    • Try short sessions after a diaper change or after your baby wakes from a nap
    • Put a toy or toys within your baby’s reach to help your baby learn to play and interact
    • Sit with your baby while she is on the floor so that she doesn’t feel abandoned
    • Increase the session duration as your baby gets older

     

     

    References:

    https://journals.lww.com/pedpt/Fulltext/2007/01910/The_Effects_of_Prone_Positioning_on_the_Quality.7.aspx#P84

    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/128/6/1236.short

    https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/000992280604500202

    https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/1107573

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0882596309002930

    https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01942638.2017.1287811

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  • The Power of Vitamin A

    2 January 2019
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    We are on the cusp of flu season yet again, and I am asked daily by my patients, “How can I stay healthy? How can I keep my kids healthy? What do I do if we get sick?”

    While I have covered my suggested vitamins and supplements here in the past, I have failed to write about a very important, and often overlooked vitamin. It seems to commonly be forgotten by doctors, too. Vitamin A is a powerful -and crucial- vitamin needed for our immune systems to prevent or treat a virus.

    However, Vitamin A is not to be taken lightly. Vitamin A Toxicity is a very real and scary possibility, so dosing this vitamin correctly is quite important. As it is a fat soluble vitamin, it is stored within the body and not passed like water soluble vitamins. If an individual has adequate vitamin A stores, supplementation with high doses of vitamin A may cause a temporary malfunction in the regulation of immune function. This may result to an increased susceptibility to illness. Knowing the amount of Vitamin A you are consuming is vital. 

    I’d like to begin with the history of Vitamin A.

    Although recent research is shedding light on how important Vitamin A is in preventing and treating viruses, it has been in the spotlight for decades in the holistic world. Used to treat Measles, the Vitamin A Protocol is viewed as a staple in natural-minded practices and homes across the globe. 

    Dating back to 1932, research was performed using high dosing of Vitamin A on groups of people diagnosed with the measles. Within equal sized groups of 300, the control group had 26 deaths, and the vitamin-treated group had 11. 

    Now consider the advancements we have made through research over the last 80+ years. 

    A protein called STRA6 is a receptor for retinol-binding protein (RBP), which forms a complex with vitamin A. RBP’s binding to STRA6 allows the attached vitamin A to be absorbed into the cell. This is where the magic happens. These ‘A-Powered Cells’ are needed to ward off viruses and cancers. They keep your body healthy, and when a virus does take root, these cells are needed to attack it. 

    (Side note: You know how important Vitamin D3 is, right? Well, it cannot aid your body without some Vitamin A. They both bind to the same cells.)

    In 2011, The World Health Organization stated:

    Acute lower respiratory tract infections, in particular bronchiolitis and pneumonia which are the most severe forms of acute lower respiratory tract infections, are the leading cause of mortality in children under the age of five. Pneumonia alone kills 1.8 million infants and young children every year.

    With further investigation, we discover that Vitamin A supplementation is associated with large reductions in mortality and morbidity with children under the age of five. 

    A 2002 study revealed, a dose of 200,000 IU of Vitamin A given for TWO DAYS was associated with greatly reducing the risk of overall mortality and pneumonia specific mortality in all ages, with children under the age of two being the highest benefiters.

    Vitamin A and the Measles:

    In the case of measles, the evidence suggests that even after the onset of infection, vitamin A supplementation can improve the course of the virus and the fatality rate. 

    Dosing:

    You should always work with your doctor when changing your supplements, or plan to follow an intense, high-dosage supplement protocol. 

    I tend to follow the WHO recommendations, along side of what the research presents, when dosing Vitamin A. Check your multivitamin before adding any extra into your daily routine. It is not advised to take more than 25,000 IU per day, and even that should not be done more than 2 months at a time. A healthy diet already includes plenty of opportunity for natural supplementation, so proceed with caution. However, if you find that you come down the colds and sicknesses often, including a Vitamin A supplement daily will prove helpful. Most studies show that even at 5,000 IU daily, people felt benefits. 

    At the onset of the flu, measles, or other viruses, the current protocol I recommend is 200,000-400,000 IU per day for ONLY TWO DAYS. This is a huge difference, isn’t it? Research has been done on both of these numbers, with results showing little difference, and both being effective. I would like to take into account that each individual is different, so every treatment can be slightly different. Again, you never go beyond 400,000 IU a day, and you never follow this high-dosage for more than 2 days. 

    Natural Vitamin A Sources:

    (Animal)

    • beef and chicken liver
    • fish oil
    • eggs
    • butter

    (Plant)

    Bright and vibrant yellow and orange fruit as well as dark green leafy vegetables – the more intense the color the more nutrient dense the produce.

    • Carrots and Beets
    • Sweet Potatoes
    • Kale and cabbage
    • Spinach and Rapini
    • Broccoli
    • Watercress
    • Squash and pumpkin
    • Melon
    • Mangoes
    • Tomato
    • Apricots
    • Papayas
    • Tangerines
    • Asparagus

    Other Facts about Vitamin A:

    • Vitamin A protects the body from free radicals, neutralizes them as well as aiding in combating oxidative stress (which is attributed to infections and cancer).
    • The amount of Vitamin A stored in the body is a direct correlation between a risk of cancer development.
    • If there is a drastic decline or lack of vitamin A in cells within the body there is an increased potential that such cells can become malignant.
    • Vitamin A is critical for good vision
    • Vitamin A plays an important role in healthy bone growth
    • Vitamin A is essential for reproduction
    • Vitamin A plays a role in cell division and cell growth
    • Vitamin A supports skin health

    Side Note: It is recommended by WHO that infants are given 50,000 IU of Vitamin A along side of vaccines to ensure their cells are not depleted of this important vitamin while vaccinated. 

     

    References:

    http://www.who.int/elena/titles/bbc/vitamina_pneumonia_children/en/

    https://www.bmj.com/content/343/bmj.d5094

    https://www.the-scientist.com/daily-news/vitamin-a-receptor-found-46862

    https://www.popline.org/node/337440

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2521770/?page=4

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  • Surviving Depression through the Holiday Season

    5 December 2018
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    Suicide is still the tenth leading cause of death and the rate of suicide in 2016 increased by 1.2 percent. In 2015, the last year the CDC released mortality data, there were 44,193 suicide deaths; in 2016 there were 44,965, an increase of 772 additional deaths.

    While the average number of suicides per day are the lowest throughout the months of November and December, the number begins to climb again in January, February, and March – peeking throughout the spring each year. The holiday season tends to bring with it a contagious joy and celebration, typically including family, friends, and happy gatherings. However, it is also a season of stress, anxiety, loneliness, heartache, and disappointment. When you mix these feelings with someone living with depression, it can possibly trigger a chain reaction that ends in a devastating outcome. Harvard professor of psychology Matthew Nock cited a study published in JAMA Psychiatry that found that as hours of sunlight increased, so did the risk of suicide. The authors hypothesize that sunlight could boost energy and motivation, giving people who are depressed the ability to take action and make a suicide attempt.

    When someone is depressed, they often withdraw and self-isolate.  However, during the holidays, there is an emphasis on spending time with family and friends, which can be particularly difficult when you do not feel that you are truly connected to these people. This pertains to many types of depression, including: clinical depression, seasonal affective disorder, or bipolar disorder.

    People with depression tend to have a negative view of themselves and their lives, this is true ever when they know:

    • No one has a perfect life.
    • Social media is not an accurate account of true life.

    It is important for those living with a mental health condition to take extreme care of their own needs. If you or a loved one has a mental illness, please work closely with a trusted doctor and therapist regularly, especially during the holidays. Begin a journal of your daily feelings, as it is easy to forget your exact emotions from day to day. 

    Beating the Holiday Blues

    Unlike chronic depression, seasonal depression does not linger long after the holidays or winter months, but it can still cause you to feel the same symptoms as someone who lives with it every day. A lot of seasonal factors can trigger the holiday blues such as: less sunlight, changes in your diet or routine, alcohol, over-commercialization, or the inability to be with friends or family – or worse, being forced into gatherings with people who do not make you feel happy.

    Signs you may have the “Holiday Blues”:

    • tiredness
    • fatigue
    • depression
    • crying spells
    • Mood swings
    • irritability
    • trouble concentrating
    • body aches
    • loss of sex drive
    • insomnia
    • decreased activity level
    • overeating (especially of carbohydrates) 
    • weight gain.

    How to help yourself:

    • Find increased social support during this time of year. Counseling or support groups can also be beneficial.
    • In addition to being an important step in preventing the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, regular exposure to light that is bright, particularly fluorescent lights, significantly improves depression in people with SAD during the fall and winter.
    • Setting realistic goals and expectations, reaching out to friends, sharing tasks with family members, finding inexpensive ways to enjoy yourself, and helping others are all ways to help beat holiday stress.
    • Including proper supplements daily, along side of a healthy diet and exercise can improve your mood and lesson your symptoms.
    • Make realistic expectations for the holiday season.
    • Set realistic goals for yourself.
    • Pace yourself. Do not take on more responsibilities than you can handle.
    • Make a list and prioritize the important activities. This can help make holiday tasks more manageable.
    • Be realistic about what you can and cannot do.
    • Do not put all your energy into just one day (for example, Thanksgiving Day, New Year’s Eve). The holiday cheer can be spread from one holiday event to the next.
    • Live “in the moment” and enjoy the present.
    • Look to the future with optimism.
    • Don’t set yourself up for disappointment and sadness by comparing today with the “good old days” of the past.
    • If you are lonely, try volunteering some of your time to help others.
    • Find holiday activities that are free, such as looking at holiday decorations, going window shopping without buying, and watching the winter weather, whether it’s a snowflake or a raindrop.
    • Limit your consumption of alcohol, since excessive drinking will only increase your feelings of depression.
    • Try something new. Celebrate the holidays in a new way.
    • Spend time with supportive and caring people.
    • Reach out and make new friends.
    • Make time to contact a long lost friend or relative and spread some holiday cheer.
    • Make time for yourself!
    • Let others share the responsibilities of holiday tasks.
    • Keep track of your holiday spending. Overspending can lead to depression when the bills arrive after the holidays are over. Extra bills with little budget to pay them can lead to further stress and depression.

    If you are thinking about suicide, or if you are worries about someone else, please get help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255

    References:

     https://afsp.org/suicide-rate-1-8-percent-according-recent-cdc-data-year-2016/

    https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/November-2015/Tips-for-Managing-the-Holiday-Blues

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3315262/

    archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1901524

    https://www.medicinenet.com/holiday_depression_and_stress/article.htm#is_it_possible_to_prevent_holiday_anxiety_stress_and_depression 

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  • Dr. Brenda’s Guide to Reducing Holiday Stress and Staying Healthy

    15 November 2018
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    While the bells are jingling and the gifts are being purchased, many people tend to hold an underlying stress throughout the festive season.

    The increased stress load throughout the holidays can affect:

    Your overall health
    Your mental health
    Your skin
    Your stomach
    Your sleep
    Your Wallet (You know it’s true)

    Stress decreases the body’s lymphocytes (the white blood cells that help fight off infection). The lower your lymphocyte level, the more at risk you are for viruses, including the common cold and cold sores. High stress levels can also cause depression and anxiety, leading to higher levels of inflammation. In the long-term, sustained, high levels of inflammation point to an overworked, over-tired immune system that can’t properly protect you. While the holidays are only a brief period of time, the body quickly jumps into this state of panic and can fall deep into the rabbit hole of feeling off.

    Your kids will be out on winter break from school soon, family gatherings are on the calendar, the gift list is a mile long, forget trying to get enough food in the house to feed everyone. Somehow, it all falls on you to pull everything off without a hiccup. Perfect decorations, polished china, fluffy bows, and a tree worthy of a magazine cover – despite your sanity flying out of the window.

    Take a breath.

    You can do this – without the extreme stress.

    Dr. Brenda’s Holiday Happiness Guide

    Keeping yourself mentally balanced will help you work through stressors as they are presented to you. A mind at peace will be able to more clearly problem solve and enjoy the process.

    If you are not one who enjoys the holidays due to the stress, consider removing the largest stressors from your plans. Cancel family plans, give giftcards instead of packages, curl up in PJ’s and order your meal to be delivered – and eat on paper plates. You will stay sane, happy, and healthier than forcing yourself to follow through with your typical holiday expectations.

    Plan Ahead

    Anything you can do weeks in advanced? Get it done. You want to already have the majority of your list crossed off before the rush of the season arrives.

    Turn on Music or Podcasts

    Have sounds in the background that keep your mind on positive things.

    See Your Chiropractor

    Being adjusted regularly can help reduce your stress levels.

    Exercise

    Find 20-30 minutes each day to burn extra calories, even if that means squatting while basting the turkey. Your exercise endorphins will help you stay happy.

    Turn Off the Screens

    Smart phones, TVs, pads, etc. all trigger the brain to feel inflamed, fatigued, and disrupted. Limit your exposure.

    Utilize Services

    You can have groceries delivered. You can order gifts online. You can schedule your calendar via voice command. Use these features to make your life easier.

    Take Your Supplements

    Keep your immune system ready to do battle by keeping on your regular supplement schedule, possibly increasing vitamin D and probiotics.

    Laugh Often

    Laugh with your loved ones throughout the day. Do silly things without holding back.

    Rest

    Try to get more sleep, but if that is not possible, just give yourself a timeout to regroup and refocus – or completely take your mind off of everything.

    Have a Budget and a Plan

    Most holiday stress revolves around finances and extended family. Take the time to put a budget in place and stick to it as best as you can. Hunt for gift deals, but don’t feel pressured to over-purchase.

    When all else fails, walk away for 10 minutes. You can disappear into a bathroom, take a walk around the block with your dog, FaceTime your best friend across the country, or meditate. You always need to put the oxygen mask on yourself first.

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  • Should You Take a Nap?

    4 November 2018
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    Losing just one night’s sleep is enough to offset our brain. It causes neurons to fire more slowly than usual, meaning our brain takes longer to translate visual input into conscious thought.

    But as a society, we are sleeping less and working more.

    Our country labels a day by the pattern of the sun and the moon. We associate daylight with activity and darkness with sleep, but not before performing more activity after the sun has set. This habit tends to leave Americans with an average of 4-6 hours of sleep every night, not enough to function at an optimal neurological level.

    While you should try to sleep for 7-8 hours consecutively each night, I understand that adulthood does not make it easy to do so. However, if you have the ability to clear space in your afternoon for a short nap, your body (and brain) will thank you. While naps do not necessarily make up for inadequate or poor quality nighttime sleep, a nap of 20-30 minutes can help to improve your mood, alertness and performance. 

    According to the Sleep Junkies,“Even a 20-minute power nap can clear our mind, help consolidate already learnt information, and allow our brain to pick up new material faster and more effectively. Even in the early stages of sleep, the brain starts to clear out adenosine – a chemical that gets created as we work and learn. This means that when we wake up, the brain is now able to collect more information, since it has additional free space. A slightly longer nap of 60 – 90 minutes has even more benefits; and mimics a good night’s rest that allows us to learn twice as fast. Research suggests that 20 – 40 minute naps can correct this problem; so that people who take a short nap are more alert, respond better and faster and make less mistakes. Brain scans show that people who take naps perform better at tasks.”

    Naps can be typed in three different ways:

    •Planned napping (also called preparatory napping) involves taking a nap before you actually get sleepy. You may use this technique when you know that you will be up later than your normal bed time or as a mechanism to ward off getting tired earlier. 

    •Emergency napping occurs when you are suddenly very tired and cannot continue with the activity you were originally engaged in. This type of nap can be used to combat drowsy driving or fatigue while using heavy and dangerous machinery. 

    •Habitual napping is practiced when a person takes a nap at the same time each day. Young children may fall asleep at about the same time each afternoon or an adult might take a short nap after lunch each day. 

    University of California psychology professor Dr Sara Mednick, author of Take a Nap! Change your Life, goes even further in listing the benefits of napping.

    She claims it “increases alertness, boosts creativity, reduces stress, improves perception, stamina, motor skills, and accuracy, enhances your sex life, helps you make better decisions, keeps you looking younger, aids in weight loss, reduces the risk of heart attack, elevates your mood, and strengthens memory”

    Even as the science shows that napping has many benefits, understand that every person is different. There is also researching showing that naps potentially increase the inflammation within the body, and they can cause an individual to feel more tired and groggier after waking. If you would like to start napping, try to make it a daily habit, and try to keep it just under 30 minutes to see how your body responds. 

    Here are a few items that might help you nap in your car, or in an empty dark room at work!

    References:

    https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/napping

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVOazisuXgw
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3768102/

    https://www.nature.com/articles/nn1078

    https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/on-call-caught-napping

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16540232

    https://www.saramednick.com

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  • Choosing a Crib Mattress Matters

    17 October 2018
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    There is nothing more eye-opening than becoming a parent. The moment you find out that you are pregnant, it is as if you realize just how dangerous everything is that surrounds you. That soap? Toxic. That packaged food? Poison. The microwave? Death. Suddenly, you throw yourself into learning about the healthiest, safest items possible. This little life you are growing will enter the world completely perfect, and you want to provide an environment full of safe items and positive experiences. There are enough uncontrollable toxins flying around to worry about, make sure that the things you bring into your home don’t add to the list.

    One of the biggest fears most new parents experience is SIDS. It is terrifying because the cause has not yet been determined; although, we can look at a pattern of toxic exposures in relation to SIDS occurrences and form our own opinions.  While keeping your baby in your room is highly recommended, one thing that is often not talked about is the quality of your baby’s mattress.  Toxic chemicals are found in the materials used to make the most commonly sold crib mattresses (and all mattresses for that matter!). Did you ever even think that a mattress could be dangerous?

    All crib mattresses have the same overall construction: the core, the padding, flame retardant material/chemicals, and a cover or “ticking,” which may also have chemicals added to make it waterproof. Crib mattresses range from those made almost entirely of petroleum–based products (petroleum = SCARY dangerous) to others made of natural fibers like wool or cotton.

    According to Women’s Voices for the Earth:

    • 72% of surveyed mattress models use one or more chemicals of concern identified in this report, such as antimony, vinyl, polyurethane, and other volatile organic compounds.
    • 40% use vinyl coverings.
    • 22% use proprietary formulas for waterproofers, flame retardants or antibacterials, keeping potential health impacts secret.
    • 20% of surveyed mattresses offer some “green” components but do not take meaningful steps to ensure products are free of toxic chemicals.

     

    Crib mattress may contain chemicals of concern in any of the four layers. For example:

    • Some flame retardants are made with antimony, which is also a contaminant of polyester. Long-term inhalation of low levels is linked to eye irritation and heart and lung problems.
    • Vinyl, used as a waterproof cover, relies on many toxic chemicals throughout its production, including cancer-causing chemicals, asthma triggers, and developmental toxins.
    • Polyurethane foam, also appearing as “memory foam” or “soy foam,” is made with a potentially cancer-causing chemical, and may emit harmful “VOCs”—volatile organic compounds—in the home. VOC’s can also be found in synthetic latex foam. VOC’s can irritate eyes, nose and throat, cause headaches and some cause cancer.
    • Companies that use proprietary chemicals, or refuse to disclose chemical use, make it impossible to determine potential health threats. In the absence of disclosure, assume they may cause harm.

    What brand mattress should you go with?

    The following companies have been noted to be safe and reliable (this is not an all-inclusive list):

    • Vivetique
    • White Lotus
    • Naturepedic
    • Land and Sky
    • Natural Mat
    • Organic Mattresses, Inc.
    • Pure Rest
    • Savvy Rest
    • Shepherd’s Dream
    • Sleeptek
    • Soaring Heart Natural Bed Company
    • Suite Sleep

    This information is also relevant for all mattresses, not jus crib mattresses.

    Take the time to research before you purchase and air your mattress out for at least a week before using it!

     

    Learn more about mattress chemicals and dangers:

    https://news.utexas.edu/2014/04/02/crib-mattresses-emit-chemicals

    https://www.womensvoices.org/avoid-toxic-chemicals/the-mattress-matters/

    https://raisingnaturalkids.com/your-mattress-matters/

    https://www.momtricks.com/crib-mattresses/best-organic-crib-mattress/

    https://www.ewg.org/enviroblog/2014/04/toxic-dreams-crib-mattresses-may-release-risky-fumes#.WypKz6dKhzo

    https://news.utexas.edu/2014/04/02/crib-mattresses-emit-chemicals

     

     

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  • Breech Presentation in Pregnancy

    14 September 2018
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    Breech births occur in approximately 1 in 25 full-term births, but this statistic is drastically skewed due to the number of mothers who opt for an elective c-section between gestational weeks 37-40 due to their baby’s position.

    As a family chiropractor, I see many mothers throughout their pregnancies. I cannot begin to count to number of women who begin to worry about a baby who is sitting in a breech position. The first thing that I remind them is that there is still time! Until labor actually begins, and even throughout early labor, there is time for a baby to change positions. However, I completely understand the state of panic as the weeks fly by and a baby remains in a less than ideal position.

    I will cover all of the ins and outs of the Webster Technique and how chiropractors can aid in helping a pregnancy be as uneventful as possible in another post, but today I want to break down breech positioning and the options you have as the mother.

    To begin, there are several positions in which a fetus can become situated in utero; the most common being head down in an either left or right occipital anterior position. This means that the baby’s back is facing the mother’s abdomen (complete OA position) or is turned slightly with the back facing the left or right side of the mother and the head looking the other direction. These are commonly referred to as LOA and ROA positions (Left or Right OA). While these are the most common and easiest to birth positions, there are several other options a baby may choose.

    A transverse, or side-lying baby is the only position in which is truly unsafe to birth. It can possibly be fatal for both baby and mother; however, a c-section does not need to be scheduled, as a baby can turn once labor begins. When the body begins labor, different hormones are released and both mother and baby work together. This can encourage the baby to turn head down. If baby’s position does not turn as the labor progresses, a c-section will be needed.

    A breech baby, one who is sitting upright, presents a whole new level of challenges. There are three breech positions:

    • Frank (or extended) breech—legs are straight and feet are up near the baby’s head.
    • Complete (or flexed) breech—knees are bent, but feet are above the baby’s bottom.
    • Footling breech—feet are below the baby’s bottom.

     

    Most medical birth teams will start discussing the scheduling of a c-section after 36 weeks gestation. Typically, it is recommended to have the surgery between 38-40 weeks gestation, but it seems that most doctors choose never to discuss the most natural option: let labor occur naturally. It wasn’t but a few decades ago that all doctors (and midwives) delivered breech babies. It is known as a ‘hands-off’ delivery, meaning the birth team does not assist the baby as it is born. Pulling, tugging, or rotating a breech baby as it is born can cause severe problems, complications, or even end in death. Due to these risks, most doctors today have never even witnessed a breech birth, therefore will not perform one. It is a sad turn of events, as the risk is so little, and is truly only an increased risk when the birth is interfered with.

    Breech presentation can be the effect of a pregnancy with multiple fetuses, placenta previa, amniotic fluid levels in abnormal range, abnormal pelvic conditions, or just a stubborn baby. It can be easy to learn that your baby is in this position, as kicks are felt in the lower abdomen. An ultrasound will also tell you more exact information.

    If you are faced with a breech pregnancy and would like to help baby find a better position, there are several things you can do:

    Practice Good Posture: Poor posture can encourage poor fetal positioning.

    Exercises from www.SpinningBabies.com

    Chiropractic Adjustments: The Webster Technique has a high success rate with encouraging babies to find a more ideal birthing position.

    Therapeutic Massage: Muscles and tendons control more than one would expect. By using pressure points and massage, the body can be triggered to relax and allow the baby to move easier.

    External Version: This manipulation is not recommended until after 34 weeks gestation, but most doctors will not perform the technique until 38 weeks, as they want baby’s lungs developed prior to trying to manually ‘flip’ the baby. This technique does not come without risks, as it can cause the placenta to be torn from the uterine wall, bleeding to occur, and immediate delivery of the baby. While rare, these are possible outcomes and make sure you discuss them with your birthing team.

    Of course, there is always the option of having a vaginal breech birth. Finding a doctor who will perform this delivery may not be easy, but it is not impossible. Several midwives will attend breech deliveries, and it is your right to birth your baby as you please. A hospital may have you sign a waiver that you are going against medical recommendations, but it is your birth. You need to feel comfortable with your birth team and confident in your decisions, no matter what you choose.

    References:

    https://spinningbabies.com/learn-more/baby-positions/other-fetal-positions/left-occiput-anterior-loa/

    https://spinningbabies.com/learn-more/baby-positions/breech/when-is-breech-an-issue/

    https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/patients/patient-information-leaflets/pregnancy/a-breech-baby-at-the-end-of-pregnancy.pdf

    http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(00)02840-3/fulltext?_eventId=login

    http://americanpregnancy.org/labor-and-birth/breech-presentation/

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  • Become a Less Stressed Mom by Decluttering

    14 September 2018
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    Dr. Brenda’s tips for decluttering your home and life that will help you become a happier and less stressed mother.

    There’s no denying that motherhood bears the weight of a thousand loads (of laundry). It seems that nothing would be accomplished without a mom running the show. On top of the working, laundry, meal-planning, grocery shopping, boo-boo kissing, bed-making, party planning, gift shopping, errand running, lunch packing, back-to-school preparing, calendar scheduling, and chauffeuring of children there is an expectation that she also mentally be sane. Yes, it’s true, as mothers we are assumed to be able balance it all with grace and without (much) complaint.

    But is it possible?  Probably not 100% possible, but, are there ways to help you find happiness and reduce stress in your day-to-day life as a mom? ABSOLUTELY.

    Science shows that decluttering your space reduces stress, improves focus, and increases overall happiness. When relating this theory to motherhood, it can be said that losing the clutter in your home will help you juggle the rest of your obligations easier and with a more peaceful demeanor.

    How do you declutter? Isn’t decluttering just adding one more thing to your plate?

    5 Tips to Declutter Your House

    1. Limit your laundry: This doesn’t mean give all your clothes away. It means stick what isn’t worn in a month’s time into a storage tub to be looked at again later. Keeping your own closet limited will make getting dressed easier each day. Now the hard part? Do the same thing to your children’s closets.
    2. Get rid of toys: Your kids do not need every plastic thing ever made. Studies show that most kids actually have no idea what toys they own because they have so much crap. If you aren’t ready to truly get rid of it, put 75% of it in boxes and store it away for a rainy day.
    3. Knick Knacks are for your grandma. We are the generation of minimalists. We do not want our old report cards or yearbooks. The more crap on your shelves, the more crap you have to clean.
    4. Dump the Junk Drawer(s): Literally, dump them out into the trash. They are junk. Do not overthink this process.
    5. Store things out of sight. Use basement storage, attic space, or invest in a garage storage system, but get the crap out of your sight every day. You’ll want to keep the holiday décor, the hand-me-downs for the baby, and maybe a few other random things, but they need a place out of mind.

     

    5 Tips to Declutter Motherhood

    1. Establish routine and daily goals. Load and run the dishwasher every night and unload it every morning. Start a load of laundry every day after breakfast and fold it every night after the kids are in bed.
    2. Leave your phone in another room and ignore social media. It soaks up more hours of your day than you can imagine. Unplug and be present.
    3. Breathe fresh air and exercise. An oxygenated brain through fresh air and working out makes the entire body feel happier.
    4. Limit playdates, sports, and activities. When the calendar is overfilled, the mind cannot process one day from the next.
    5. Do not listen to others’ expectations. Let others fly or fail on their own terms, do not drown because of them. There is no gold medal at the end of all of this. There is no Mother of the Year. There is just you and your own happiness while journeying alongside of your children.

    A few more random tips:

    Each day, complete your chores before tackling any decluttering. Your mind will not focus on the task at hand until you have completed what needs done.

    If you can afford, hire a cleaning service to come in as often as possible. Not scrubbing your toilets can be enough to make you happy for an entire week. If you can’t afford this, stick to a cleaning schedule that holds you accountable for a little ach day.

    This is hard. This will not happen overnight. You are worth it. You deserve less stress and more happiness.

     

     

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  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: Misunderstood, Misdiagnosed, and Management

    14 September 2018
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    At least 10% of women, that is over 5,000,000 women in the United States are affected by PCOS, with at least 50% of women suffering being misdiagnosed or undiagnosed all together. The true number of women living with pain is far larger than any research has been able to detect. 

    If you are diagnosed, the treatment is limited, at best, and most women are told they will have symptoms and ailments throughout their lives. Considered to be the most common endocrine disorder among fertile-aged women, it is no wonder that infertility is on the rise. 

    A condition is which a woman over-produces the male sex hormones, PCOS means there is an imbalance of estrogen and androgens within the body. This can be noted by:

    • Facial Hair
    • Weight Gain
    • Ovarian Cysts
    • Irregular/Absent Menstrual Cycle
    • Acne
    • Hair Loss
    • Extreme Cramping and Pain
    • Infertility
    • Fatigue
    • Mood Swings
    • Pelvic Pain
    • Headaches
    • Sleep Problems 
    • Type II Diabetes
    • Eating Disorders
    • Cardiovascular Disease
    • Other Health Issues

    PCOS is not only genetic, but it can be triggered through environmental factors, too. New research explores the high possibility that PCOS gene mutations can take place within the womb. This leads to environmental triggers bringing about symptoms if puberty does not. Obesity, chronic inflammation, poor diet/lifestyle choices, and exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals all pay a role in the development of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. 

    Every PCOS case should be looked at independently, and treatment should be discussed and planned according to each woman. However, the best place to start is with a diet that restores insulin sensitivity to the body.

    Dietary Changes

    Fill your plate with high-quality protein (about 4 ounces worth):

    • Wild-caught fish
    • Organic Chicken
    • Grass-fed beef
    • Free-range eggs
    • Pasture-based dairy

    Cut sugar:

    This means no processed or fast food items enter the body. Skip boxed foods and stick with whole foods. 

    Healthy Fats (Remember to cook with fats that are good for your body):

    • Pasture-based butter
    • Organic Olive, Coconut, or Avocado Oil

    Lifestyle Changes

    Exercising daily improves metabolism and insulin sensitivity.

    Avoiding endocrine-disruptive chemicals can lessen symptoms and improve fertility/pain experiences. Avoid the following:

    • BPA  (Found in food containers, liners, and cans)
    • Phthalates (Found in beauty products, plastic wraps, plastic containers)
    • Pesticides
    • PFCs (Found in non-stick cookware and fabrics)
    • Chemical Sunscreens (Any including oxybenzone)

    Supplements

    While working with a doctor, herbalist, homeopath, or team of your choice, you will find the right supplements combination for you. There are, however, several supplements that have been found to work individually or (as a power house) all together. You can find the following packaged together, but remember to find a high quality supplement.

    Maca: An estrogen balancing herb that increases energy, libido, and decreases stress, Maca can be looked at as an all-around bonus to your day. 

    Calcium-D-Glucarate: At 25 mg daily, C-D-G has been shown to help the body eliminate excess hormones before they re absorbed, aiding in a positive balance.

    Cinnamon: At 75 mg daily, cinnamon has been shown to help balance glucose levels.

    Vitamin D: Low VitD levels are linked to almost every disease or illness known. PCOS is no exception. Vitamin D paired with calcium has been shown to normalize menstrual cycles.

    Omega-3: The liver and cardiovascular health are both benefitted by taking the anti-inflammatory Omega-3’s.

    D-Chiro Inositol: The most promising instill compound for PCOS. It can improve insulin sensitivity and ovulation.

     

    References:

    http://www.pcosaa.org/pcos-symptoms/

    http://www.pcosaa.org/symptoms

    https://www.nature.com/articles/nrendo.2010.217

    http://www.healthylife.com.ng/top-5-maca-root-benefits-nutrition-no-4-best/

    http://www.ohlonecenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Howe_E_PCOS_2015.pdf

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0015028206045559

    https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199904293401703

    https://europepmc.org/abstract/med/12917943

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0039128X99000124

    https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/94/10/3842/2596989

    https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/01443615.2012.751365

    https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07315724.2012.10720443

    http://www.pcoschallenge.org/symposium/2014-presentations/pcos-natural-integrative-care-elizabeth-board.pdf

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