The season of sickness is upon us. This rings especially true for infants, toddlers, and young children in daycare.
Daycare germs are real. They have been researched and explained away as evil necessities of childhood. If anything, most parents joke about the fact that their children spend more days sick than healthy while in their first few years of daycare. They then try to explain their theories with the myth of, “getting sick now builds a baby’s immune system to be healthier later!” (While this sounds ok, it is completely untrue due to the lack of developed immune systems, over vaccinating, unhealthy diets, over sterile environments, etc.)
Yes, an infant in daycare is going to get sick more often than one who is with his mother throughout the day. Breastmilk builds antibodies to the environment around the mother. This helps protect the baby from getting sick, and is known as ‘Nature’s Vaccines’ by those who like to label everything. But, we live in a world that takes significant funds to navigate through, and mothers find themselves in a position that returning to work is a necessity. With our deplorable maternity leave ‘benefits’ in the United States, most working mothers end up enrolling their newborns (yes, newborns) into daycare between 6-12 weeks of age. While this is less than ideal, it happens every day.
Returning to work is stressful enough, but add into that the alarming statistic rates of infant illnesses related to daycare attendance, and it leaves a mother in a panic. Your baby’s first cough, stuffy nose, cold, or fever is never a fun experience, and when in daycare, it typically means that the flood gates are just opening.
How to Prevent or Limit Daycare Germs
First and foremost, breastfeed. Send breastmilk and educate your daycare provider on the importance of pace feeding. Your milk is the single most important thing that keeps your baby healthy. Keep yourself healthy and boost your own immune system to pass on all the positive nutrients to your baby while you are separated.
Give Probiotics. There are high-quality infant probiotics that you can give your baby daily to help his gut keep healthy bacteria present.
Vitamin D3 is a necessity. A drop or 2 every day can help boost your baby’s (still developing) immune system.
If you are nursing, you can help by taking Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Omega 3 Fatty Acid, and Probiotics regularly! This of course should be paired with a whole foods diet full of leafy greens, garlic, ginger, fruits, vegetables -as organic as you can manage. Include plenty of exercise, too.
Please start your baby with regular chiropractic care. A chiropractor contributes to the overall health and wellness of your little one.
If your little one is starting to sit independently and showing an interest in eating food, continue to breastfeed as often as possible, but feel free to also boost their immune system through healthy foods. If your child is beyond the breastfeeding years, definitely start working on his immune system.
10 Ways to Boost the Immune System
- Supplements: Can be taken preventatively to boost the immune system or as treatment if you are sick.
- Vitamin D3 – Vitamin D rapidly destroys the cell walls of bacteria, fungi, and viruses, including the influenza virus. Getting as much sunshine on your skin will also boost the immune system! Send those babies outside to play.
- Elderberry – In 2000, a study was done on the effectiveness of elderberry during a flu epidemic in Panama. In a placebo controlled double blind study of influenza B, a complete cure was achieved within 2 – 3 days in nearly 90% of the elderberry-treated group compared with at least 6 days in the placebo group. Elderberry is very high in antioxidants and is a good source of potassium, vitamins A, B and C and nutrients like, amino acids, carotenoids, tannin and rutin. Anthocyanins, one of the most powerful antioxidants known to man, are found in these remarkable berries in far higher quantities than either Vitamin C or E alone. This accounts for the excellent health benefits of elderberry. You can find elderberry in liquid form and even make your own gummy versions at home!
- Echinacea– This natural herb will enhance the immune system. Medical research has shown it to be safe and effective in decreasing the frequency, duration, and severity of common illnesses such as ear and sinus infections, colds, and the flu. Echinacea comes in adult tablets and liquid, as well as children’s chewables and drops. Numerous clinical trials have been carried out on Echinacea preparations: it appears that the extracts shorten the duration and severity of colds and other upper respiratory infections (URIs) when given as soon as symptoms become evident.
- Vitamin C– This simple vitamin can fight off invading germs. Younger kids up to age 6 will benefit from around 250 mg per day. Older kids and adults can take 500 mg per day. Available as a powder, chewable, or capsule. You can get enough Vitamin C through a good diet, but if your diet is not quite where you would like it to be, supplementing will help.
- Fruits and vegetable supplement– The immune-boosting properties of nature’s food is remarkable. If your kids won’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, taking a “raw foods multivitamin” will help.
- Zinc– Zinc is an important nutrient required by the body for proper growth, better immune, nervous and reproductive systems. Unfortunately, the body cannot produce this nutrient on its own and hence it needs to make up for it through a proper diet.
- Probiotics– Probiotics help to regulate the immune system by balancing the good bacteria (flora) in the tummy. These “good” microorganisms potentially reduce the risk of diarrhea and respiratory infections. Strengthen your child’s immune system by serving live-cultured products like organic yogurt or by adding a probiotic supplement to their water or applesauce. Be sure the probiotic is organic high quality. The best species of probiotics are lactobacillus and bifidobacteria. Available as liquid, powder, and capsules, children and adults can take as directed.
2. Nutrition/Diet: A healthy immune system begins with a healthy diet. Processed foods are full of chemicals, and toxins that weaken our ability to fight illness and stay healthy. Skip anything that comes in a box (or a bag typically) and stick with whole foods. Yes, this means you will be preparing and cooking more, BUT grab a crockpot and let it do the work for you. Most foods that boost the immune system are those that are good sources of one or two particular vitamins, minerals or nutrients, so eat a diversity of foods. For the immune system to function properly and be able to defend your body against pathogens, it is very important to supply the body with a sufficient amount of all vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids. Immune health and proper immune response cannot be obtained without all these essentials.
Foods to Include: (Superfoods list)
- Tumeric: a powerful anti-inflammatory, new studies show that turmeric also lowers fevers.
- Garlic: It’s antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal. Garlic has some serious infection-fighting capabilities.
- Bone Broth: Homemade can’t be beat. A cure-all in traditional households, bone broth or stock can be made from chicken, fish, or beef bones. It builds strong bones, soothes sore throats and nourishes the sick.
- Almonds: Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it requires the presence of fat to be absorbed properly. Nuts (especially almonds) are packed with vitamin E. A half-cup serving provides nearly 100 percent of the recommended daily amount.
- Citrus: Almost all citrus fruits are high in vitamin C and with such a variety to choose from it’s easy to add a squeeze of C to any meal.
- Red Bell Peppers: red bell peppers have twice as much vitamin C as citrus, as well as being a rich source of beta-carotene.
- Broccoli is super-charged with an arsenal of vitamins and minerals. Packed with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as numerous antioxidants, broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables you can put on your table.
- Ginger: helps prevent a cold from taking hold of you
- Spinach: full of antioxidants
- Yogurt, kefir: Probiotic-packed foods!
- Mushrooms: Numerous medical studies have shown that beta glucans (found in mushrooms) can positively modulate and strengthen the immune system and prevent infections.
3. Lose the Sugar: If you do only one thing to boost your immune system, eliminating sugar will do the most good. Refined sugar is a poison which, among other things, dramatically decreases immune function.
4. Herbs and Salts: Epsom Baths, salves, teas, steams, tinctures have all been found to have immune boosting qualities! You can make your own, or purchase high quality versions to use at home on yourself or your little one. Mixing magnesium flakes and Epsom salts with a few drops of essential oil will give you boost. Same with a steam shower with a few oil drops. Doing these things weekly will keep your body cleansed and ready to ward off illness.
5. Massage: Just what you have wanted to hear! A massage session calms you down, eases your anxieties, and even helps you sleep at night. A study by the government’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine finds that those sessions help you ward off illnesses, too.
6. Exercise: Physical activity may help flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways. This may reduce your chance of getting a cold, flu, or other airborne illness. It causes changes in antibodies and white blood cells, which circulate more rapidly and detect illnesses earlier. The brief rise in body temperature while exercising may prevent bacteria from growing and fight off any existing infections more effectively.
7. Essential Oils: While it is not shown safe to ingest any essential oils, you may diffuse them, use them in salves, rubs, baths, etc. There are “hot” oils that should not be used on children, so make sure you know what you are purchasing and how you are using it.
8. Sleep: If your child is 12 and under and gets less than 10 hours of sleep per night, or if your tween or teen is getting less than eight and a half hours— they ’re prime candidates for a weaker immune system. Make sleep a priority in your home.
9. Fresh Air, Germs, and Play: Yes, you read right – GERMS. Not all germs and bacteria are bad for you! Some exposure to germs can help build a child’s immunity and protect them from illness. As homes become cleaner and more sterile, the immune system doesn’t have to work as hard to defend the body against common bacterial infections—and this may have led to an unintended consequence: allergies. A theory, the “hygiene hypothesis,” developed by immunology experts, states underexposure to germs and bacteria are decreasing the body’s ability to fight allergies and asthma later in life. Allow your kids to be kids, get dirty outside and play with friends—and don’t worry incessantly about germs.
10. Skip The Chemical-Filled Products: Anything you put on the skin is absorbed into the body, either helping or hurting yourself or your child. From toothpaste to shampoo, read your labels or make your own products.
http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/feeding-eating/family-nutrition/foods-to-boost-immunity/boost-your-childs-immune-system http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=78 https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-Consumer/ https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/#h3 http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/health-concerns/childhood-illnesses/echinacea http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15035888 http://www.smallfootprintfamily.com/the-many-different-kinds-of-sugar https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007165.htm http://theholisticmama.com/take-this-herb-daily-to-boost-immunity/
A healthy lifestyle includes many facets that all enhance the body’s ability to function at peak levels. While most of us are not professional athletes, we are striving to live our best lives. Eating a healthy diet full of whole foods rich in vitamins and protein always ranks at the top of the “Live Smart” list, but the following point is exercise.
The recommended amount of aerobic exercise is 30 minutes each day, but doing this may not seem like it is enough to see desired improvements or maintain previous achievements. There is also the added struggle with common ‘coming of age’ ailments such as lower back pain, joint pain, and inflammation. Many people assume that they cannot perform as desired due to these problems, but instead of giving up or doing less than needed, consider looking at yourself in a bigger picture sort of way. Think about how everything within you works together. By doing this, you will realize that you need more than just high quality foods and a walk around the block.
Studies have proven time and time again that aerobic exercise and strength training are the key components to improving chronic lower back pain and strengthening the back muscles. Alongside of exercise comes regular chiropractic adjustments. The two work together to ensure proper functionings are occurring under the skin. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, January 2012, reports that conservative care, consisting of chiropractic care or exercise, is “more effective than over-the-counter and prescription medication for relieving neck pain.”
Even if you are not suffering from chronic pain, and you are a healthy individual simply looking to become healthier, pairing regular chiropractic care with daily exercise will present many benefits. Regular chiropractic care helps ensure that your body is capable of exercising at your desired level. It optimizes the spinal joint mobility and mobility of other key joints such as the hips, knees, and shoulders, allowing for full flexibility to be attained. These factors all lead to the overall benefit of reducing the risk of or preventing damage and injury through exercise. Chiropractic adjustments work to activate parts of the nerves that are responsible for causing contractions of the muscle. These contractions work the muscle, causing muscle strength to increase, too. So not only are you preparing the body to workout smart, you are allowing it to make gains and perform more intensely.
Consider your chiropractor an additional personal trainer, she has extensive knowledge of the human body and how it works. She has the ability to help your body handle the stress that exercising puts on it by adjusting it post workout, lessening soreness and fatigue. She aligns the joints and bones into the best position possible, making movement easier.
If you aren’t sure if chiropractic care is right for you throughout your quest to a healthier life, consider the professional athletes of our country. One study showed that the performance of athletes improved by 6.12% after having an adjustment. Studies have also shown that 16,320 to 27,200 adjustments are given to NFL players by chiropractors over the course of a football session. Every professional football team employs a chiropractor. Baseball and basketball players all seek regular adjustments, too. The strength of their muscles is greatly enhanced by chiropractic care. Jump distances improve as well as range of motion, speed, and flexibility. One thing is for sure, living a healthy life takes work, so why not add in regular visits to your chiropractor to help make it a bit easier?
Youth sports is big business in our country, and it’s hard not to get caught up in at as a parent. I haven’t met many families that don’t have children in sports year round. Many families have children in year-round sports on top of club or recreational level sports that run seasonally. While sports lead to great opportunities, they do put a lot of strain on the body. Many school-aged children and teen athletes are experiencing injuries and chronic pain early in their sporting careers. Most traditional treatments for these complaints only place a bandaid on the underlying issues and may include addictive medications. Chiropractic care works to find the root of the problem and heal the issue itself – as well as preventing chronic pain from ever occurring.
Today’s young athletes work harder, spend longer hours, and work through injury more than the generations before. Over 30 million children participate in organized sports in the United States, and close to 775,000 children are treated in hospital emergency rooms for sports-related injuries. According to the Journal of Neurological Science, more sports-related, non-fatal injuries are treated in hospital emergency rooms than any other type of unintentional injury. While traditional doctors treat the immediate damage done, many children leave the hospital with undiagnosed spinal stress.
Young athletes are still growing, leaving them less coordinated and more susceptible to injuries due to slower reaction times than adults. Many injuries result from repetition and overuse, which places stress on the musculoskeletal system. This can be from practicing imperfect techniques, wrong shoes, improper equipment, etc – all of which makes the bodywork harder and creates greater demands on the body.
The American Chiropractic Association states chiropractic is a “form of health care that focuses on musculoskeletal and nervous systems disorders and numerous studies support their assessment.” It is common in sports medicine, but typically isn’t discussed until an athlete is at a professional level. Youth, high school, and college athletes can all benefit from seeing a chiropractor regularly, too!
Chiropractic care decreases recovery time.
After practices or after a game, an athlete can benefit from soft tissue techniques such as massage or instrument-assisted soft tissue techniques. These make the tissue more moveable and relaxed. They decrease lactic acid and improve blood flow.
Chiropractic care aids in injury repair.
Enhancing mechanical motion by adjusting joint segments with soft tissue techniques can improve muscle tone and blood flow to injured areas. aAN adjustment can help to reduce inflammation and lower pain levels. Kinesiology tape can also be used to provide support and increase blood flow to the injured area.
Research shows a supportive link between chiropractic care and athleticism. A study of athletes by the Journal of Chiropractic Research and Clinical Investigation announced that athletes receiving 12 weeks of chiropractic care showed 30% improvement in reaction time. Taking care of a young athlete’s body should not begin the first day of practice or after the first tournament of the season. Athletes should focus on body awareness and health – all year long, and with young athletes, parents need to take on this responsibility.
Chiropractic care can improve a child’s game.
Keeping the spine in proper alignment is a great way to ensure your child is gaining the most from their sport. The non-invasive techniques performed by a chiropractor shorten recovery time, prevent strains/sprains and encourage body strengthening. Flexibility can also be increased to help prevent injury.
One of the greatest benefits of utilizing a chiropractor is avoiding medication. By helping kids build strong bodies and take in the right nutrients, chiropractors can enhance an athlete’s ability to perform. Regular adjustments can keep a child healthy, happy, and at the top of his game!
Alongside of the backpack, lunchbox, and new shoes should also be a reminder list of how to keep the school germs at bay this year. We saw a nationwide increase in illnesses this time last year, no doubt related to the back-to-school rush and ‘unhealthy’ environment our kids are sitting in day after day.
While most classrooms look spotless to the naked eye, there is so much happening that you just aren’t seeing. Generally speaking, classrooms are sprayed and wiped with chemical-filled and artificially-scented cleaners. There can be hidden mold and other growing issues not even known about. Bleach is a janitor’s best friend. I’m not judging because schools are huge cesspools of snot and sickness, so go ahead and get them as clean as possible; however, a completely bleached space does not mean germs are stopped from spreading.
What it means is that all bacteria, both good and bad are eliminated daily. When you add to this foundation a squirt of hand sanitizer a few times each day, you have a recipe for disaster.
Most classrooms have a carpet or rug area, even a couch and/or pillows. These items are rarely cleaned more than a quick vacuum (for the rug). This is what I call the sick-pot. If there are community crayons, pencils, scissors, or other supplies, you can bet they too are holding the sick germs. You see, when your child is void of the healthy bacteria to fight these germs, they get sick easier, and spread the sick germs easier. It is a vicious cycle that most parents and teachers think is par for the course. The biggest myth, though, is when parents state, “It’s just building their immune systems.” When you are preventing your child from being able to fight the illnesses, you aren’t building anything.
So what can you do to help prevent your child from becoming sick this school year?
Preparing for School Sicknesses
Eat Whole Foods
The foods you feed your child are the fuel that power his gut. The link between the brain and the gut continues to raise the importance of eating well.
If the gut bacteria balance is off, there will be stomach aches, headaches, focus issues, and behavior problems. Study after study provides the information needed to support creating a healthy gut environment. To do so, you will need to adjust the diet and introduce high quality supplements. If you have questions on what ‘high quality’ means, head over to this post.
Probiotics – Help balance the gut bacteria with probiotics.
Multi-Vitamin – While most are filled with junk, you want to look for folate (methyl-folate is best) instead of folic acid.
Immune Boosting Tincture – Tinctures are becoming more well-known, and with great reason. Highly concentrated versions of immune boosting herbs are dropped into your child’s water cup each day. They can be found at almost any natural grocery store or ordered online.
Vitamin D3 – Unfortunately, the return to school brings with it less time outside in the sun. As most kids are naturally deficient in Vitamin D, being inside most of the day makes it worse. Liquid or chewable versions works, but drops are the easiest way to get the highest amount in your child.
Vitamin C – A liquid version can be a little fizzy for most kids to tolerate, but there are decent chewable versions out there.
Elderberry – I recommend tinctures over liquid so you skip the extra sugars and get a more concentrated dose.
Echinacea – Again, a tincture form is great. (An immune-boosting tincture will have this in it, but if sickness occurs, you may want to add this in.)
Vitamin A – Read over my Vitamin A research to ensure you have the right amount on hand if a virus is picked up at school!.
Provide Personal Supplies
Send a note if needed, but encourage your child to use his own pencil and other supplies.
Encourage Hand Washing
Hand sanitizer isn’t on my favorite list. Instead, have your child use soap and water regularly.
Get Good Sleep
Sleep is imperative for good health, especially when a body is still growing. Your child’s body and brain need to be on a regular sleep schedule.
Something happens to your soul when your bare feet are buried in the sand while the ocean waves crash nearby. This same feeling can also be found as your feet walk over fresh soil, through a wild meadow, and over the river rock rubbed smooth from decades of moving water. The truth is that your body experiences a connection to the earth when you walk barefoot, and this connection may be an essential element to our health that most people are lacking.
‘Environmental medicine generally addresses environmental factors with a negative impact on human health. However, emerging scientific research has revealed a surprisingly positive and overlooked environmental factor on health: Direct physical contact with the vast supply of electrons on the surface of the earth.’
Our society’s current lifestyle naturally pulls us away from such contact with the earth. As a whole, we are grossly sedentary, overly shoe-wearing, and unadventurous. Research has found that this disconnect may be a major contributor to physiological dysfunction and unwellness. Reconnection with the earth’s electrons has been found to promote physiological changes and an overall healthier well-being.
What is Grounding?
Grounding, also called ‘Earthing,’ is the act of putting the body in direct and uninterrupted contact with the earth. Grounding refers to contact with the earth’s surface electrons by ‘walking barefoot outside or sitting, working, or sleeping indoors connected to conductive systems that transfer the energy from the ground into the body.’
You can accomplish grounding through:
- Sleeping on a conductive mattress pad
- Sleeping with a conductive sheet
- Using a small conductive pad for your feet while sitting
- Walking barefoot outside on the earth (the most official and easiest)
The direct transfer of the earth’s electrons through grounding has the potential of neutralizing electrical voltage the body absorbs through the immense exposure that we are living our lives in. One study showed that when the body is grounded, its electrical potential becomes equalized with the earth’s electrical potential through a transfer of electrons from the earth to the body.
Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman said that when the body’s potential is the same as the Earth’s electric potential (being grounded), it becomes an extension of the earth’s gigantic electric system. This means that the energy of the earth can work to cancel, reduce, or push away electric fields from the body.
Utilizing thermography, researchers have been able to find fascinating links to lessening inflammation with grounding. The natural process of metabolism produces what most people know as ‘free radicals’ in the body. Free radicals play a large role in healing the body, as they trigger inflammation, which is needed during the recovery process. However, too many free radicals are linked to low levels of inflammation throughout the body and cause chronic pain and discomfort.
There has been an increase in the number of people suffering from autoimmune diseases, which are caused by inflammation throughout the body. Fifty million people in the U.S (at least) are suffering from diseases including:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Inflammatory bowel disorders
- Rheumatoid arthritis
How does grounding effect free radicals, you may be wondering?
Free radicals lack the electrons needed to neutralize their effects in the body. Researchers have discovered that through grounding, the earth’s electrons attach to the free radicals and produce the spark of energy to cause balance. Could grounding then positively effect those suffering daily from pain and autoimmune diseases? Absolutely.
Being grounded immediately impacts you in the following ways. It makes you feel:
- Less tense
- Less stressed
How often do you feel overwhelmed? Work, family, friends, health, and life in general has a way of throwing your mind down the rabbit hole. Taking time to reconnect with yourself and the earth will help you refocus and reprioritize – keeping yourself above the demands of life.
About 30% of the adult population complains of sleep disruption, while about 10% have symptoms of daytime functional impairment consistent with the diagnosis of insomnia. Insomnia often pairs with major depression, generalized anxiety, substance abuse, dementia, and a variety of pain and physical problems. Research has found that grounding the body at night during sleep positively affects morning fatigue levels, daytime energy, and nighttime pain levels. Investing in a conductive sheet may change your life.
Grounding the body to the earth substantially decreases red blood cell clustering, resulting in a reduction of blood viscosity. The association between earthing and the immune response has been documented by several studies, all of which provided accounts of positive impacts. These impacts include:
- Reducing inflammation
- Lessening depression
- Lessening irritability
- Reducing or eliminating chronic pain
- Improving sleep
- Increasing deeper sleep
- Relaxing the nervous system
- Increasing energy
- Increase happiness
- Reducing stress
- Reducing anxiety
- Promoting calmness
- Normalizing biological rhythms (including circadian rhythm)
- Normalizing blood pressure and blood flow
- Relieving muscle tension
- Relieving headache
- Improving menstrual cramps
- Speeding healing
- Healing and preventing bedsores
- Protecting the body from effects of EMFs
- Shortening recovery time from injury
- Speeding recovery from athletic activity
- Reducing snoring
- Reducing jet lag
- Helping to support adrenal health
Evidence shows that being outside barefoot or indoors connected to grounding conductive systems creates a contact with the earth that is a natural, easy, and extremely effective way to lead a healthier lifestyle. Perhaps it’s time for us to join our kids outside and regain the freedom, confidence, and happiness that a healthy life provides.
For more information about the studies covered, please read through Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth’s Surface Electrons
In a positive turn of events, the Food and Drug Administration has recently released a ‘rule’ to declare mineral sunscreen ingredients as safe, specifically zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. The FDA said 12 other chemicals used in common sunscreens need more research to determine if they can be officially listed as safe. If these chemicals are deemed unsafe by the FDA, our U.S. regulations will be more in line with European rules about sunscreen, which would ban about 90% of the sunscreen products available here.
The EWG assessed over 13,000 SPF products and found that two-thirds contain potentially toxic ingredients or offer inferior protection. 84% of the over 800 sunscreens the EWG studied did not pass health and environmental testing. Many contained potentially harmful chemicals like oxybenzone, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate, which are known to copy naturally occurring bodily hormones, throwing the body’s systems off balance. Some sunscreens also contained Padimate-0 and parsol 1789 (also known as avobenzone), which are linked to DNA damage when exposed to sunlight. The EWG also discovered that over half of the sunscreens available in the U.S. are potentially lying about their product claims on longevity, water resistance, and UV protection.
Two of the twelve chemicals being called into question include oxybenzone and octinoxate, which many of us have known for years to be unsafe and actually dangerous to our bodies and the environment. There have been people championing the fight against these chemicals for over a decade now. However, a recent study has found that the chemicals in sunscreen can be absorbed not only into the skin, but through to the bloodstream. The most common of these two sunscreen chemicals, oxybenzone, was found in 96% of the population by a recent study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. This is especially alarming since oxybenzone is considered an endocrine disruptor, can reduce sperm count in men, and may contribute to endometriosis in women. It’s scary to think that it is being rubbed on anyone’s body, especially a body belonging to a baby, toddler, child, or pregnant/breastfeeding woman.
These hormone disruptors, toxins, carcinogens, and preservatives can negatively impact people, corals, aquatic, and marine life. In fact, they are so dangerous to our ocean life that Hawaii passed a ban on sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate that goes into effect in 2021. Do you know what is frustrating though? The FDA is allowing these chemicals to still be available until more research has been performed. Instead of recalling these sunscreens and taking them from the shelves, they will still be sold to the masses for pennies.
Sunscreen use has risen in the past decade, as people are trying to protect themselves against sunburns and skin cancer. While usage is on the rise, so are skin cancer rates. These new reports are presenting the probable link between the two. Sunscreen increases risk of overexposure to the UV rays produced by the sun. Ultraviolet radiation is made up of 90% Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays that are not absorbed by the ozone layer and penetrate deep into our skin – and Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, which are partially absorbed by the ozone layer and stick to the top layers of our skin, causing sunburns. Both types of UV rays are thought to cause skin cancer. Most sunscreens claim to block some UVB radiation, but many don’t screen UVA rays at all.
A 2019 study has verified that “mineral-based skincare products provide environmental protection, are ecologically safe, and can replace chemical-based sunscreen ingredients.” The EWG has recognized only two ingredients as being adequately tested for safety and efficacy: zinc oxide and titanium oxide. It is vital to choose a mineral-based sunscreen when applying to yourself or your family.
Best Mineral Sunscreens According to EWG:
- Badger Mineral Sunscreen
- Babyganics Sunscreen
- All Terrain KidSport SPF30 Oxybenzone-Free Natural Sunscreen
- Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen
- Bull Frog Sunscreen
- Burt’s Bees Sunscreen Stick
- California Baby Hypoallergenic Sunscreen
- JASON Mineral Sunscreen
- Naked Turtle Mineral Sunscreen with Aloe
- Sunology Natural Sunscreen
- Raw Elements Sunscreen
- The Honest Company Sunscreen
- Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen
Something to consider:
Even though mineral-based sunscreens are safe to use, they (as well as chemical-based versions) prevent Vitamin D production, especially when used daily. I have previously discussed the importance of Vitamin D, and you understand the need for your body to naturally produce it. By creating a barrier, you prevent the one true benefit that the sun’s rays provide. This is one of the reasons our society has become completely deficient of Vitamin D, which in turn increases the risk of the most common cancers today. It can then be said that we are utilizing sunscreen in hopes of preventing one type cancer, while we are increasing our risks of developing numerous other types of cancer.
Perhaps instead of avoiding sun without being slathered in sunscreen, we should concentrate on non-burning sun exposure, granting us the benefits of the sun without the cancer risks. This can be done by being “sun smart” with our clothing, time of day exposed, consuming an anti-inflammatory diet, and staying in the shade.
As gardening season is now in full swing, and you are wondering how to keep pesky weeds and bugs from invading your harvest before you can enjoy it, I’m writing to have you think twice before grabbing pesticides. Yes, they stop the weeds and kill the bugs, but at what cost to your health?
Pesticides were created to increase the yield of fruits, vegetables, and other crops by eliminating their common predators. They are chemicals and they are not limited to one specific name. Because there are many kinds of pests, there are many kinds of pesticides.
Fungicides: Important for protecting harvested crops and seeds from fungal rot.
Insecticides: Reduce destruction and contamination of growing and harvested crops by insects and their eggs.
Herbicides: Weed killers used to improve crop yields.
Rodenticides: Important for controlling destruction and contamination of crops by vermin and rodent-borne diseases.
While these chemicals do yield more crops, they also leave a layer of pesticide residue on every crop harvested. This residue is then included as the crops are processed into ‘shelf-life items’ or transported to the stores in which you purchase them from. Yes, this includes your backyard garden crops and those found at your local farmer’s markets.
Pesticides can enter the body:
- through the skin (dermal),
- through the lungs (inhalation)
- by mouth (ingestion)
Because pesticides are placed on the ground, any rain water can potentially transfer them to the nearest waterway and supply them to your general water exposure. This means that you could be showering and cooking with water contaminated with pesticides. It pairs well with the food coated in the chemicals, doesn’t it? It’s quite scary.
Current agricultural practices include the wide production and extensive use of chemicals known for their ability to cause negative health effects in humans and wildlife and to degrade the natural environment.
It is important to understand that there are two types of pesticides: Synthetic and Organic. While organic is generally a label that you should reach for, know that organic pesticides are still pesticides. “Natural” does not mean “non-toxic;” organic pesticides can also be harmful to your health and the environment. Organic refers to specialized kinds of pesticides that occur in nature and are used instead of synthetic pesticides, which are produced in a laboratory. Both types of pesticides can be created with low-volumes of toxins, but still can impact your health; the organic version, hopefully less so.
Mild Pesticide exposure is linked to:
- irritation of the nose, throat, eyes or skin
- loss of appetite
- weakness or fatigue
- changes in mood
Moderate exposure is linked to the above plus:
- excessive salivation
- feeling of constriction in throat and chest
- abdominal cramps
- blurring of vision
- rapid pulse
- excessive perspiration
- profound weakness
- muscular incoordination
- mental confusion
Severe exposure is linked to the above plus:
- inability to breathe
- extra phlegm or mucous in the airways
- small or pinpoint pupils
- chemical burns on the skin
- increased rate of breathing
- loss of reflexes
- uncontrollable muscular twitching
“Some health effects from pesticide exposure may occur right away, as you are being exposed. Some symptoms may occur several hours after exposure. Other effects may not be noticed for years, for example cancer.”
EPA’s human health risk assessments for many pesticides are available via Chemical Search. Search for the pesticide of interest and look in the regulatory actions or tabs.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should never handle pesticides, as it can cause birth defects, or be passed through the breastmilk. Round-up has been found in all breastmilk tested for research, and researchers are calling for action to be taken because of the health risks that are going to become unavoidable soon.
What Can You Do?
- Declare your yard a “pesticide free zone” with visible signage. This may allow neighbors to start educating themselves on the dangers in their yard or on their foods.
- Talk with the farmers at your market and ask them about their practices.
- Wash your produce before consuming it.
- Buy organic and still wash it.
- Skip processed foods all together.
I was asked an interesting question the other day during an appointment. I had a client ask me if Epsom Salt baths were something she should be taking regularly. Before even blinking, I told her that they were a wonderful addition to life, and that they were a great way to relax, detox, and soothe muscles. I moved on with my day without much of a second thought. However, I realized that, while Epsom Baths are typically recommended, and that the magnesium has to be helpful for all logical reasons, I had never done the research myself.
So here I sit, telling you how disappointed I am in the lack of scientific evidence that has been performed on this great product for the bath tub (and in other aspects of life). I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that researchers do not have the funding or the interest in such a small wives’ tale. That does not mean that it is not worth including in your life, though. Plenty of evidence backs its use for overall health!
While my writings won’t be based purely on Epsom Salt Bath studies, they will include research on magnesium and how the skin absorbs and delivers to the blood, cells, and tissue of the body.
Why I Recommend Epsom Salt Baths
‘Epsom salt is different from traditional salt in that it’s actually a mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate, and is technically known as magnesium sulfate. It’s composed of tiny, colorless crystals that look like table salt, but it’s actually a completely different thing, as table salt is made up of sodium chloride. Magnesium sulfate is a mineral that many of us are lacking in, as levels have been decreasing over the last three to four decades around the world.’
While we know magnesium is needed in order to increase our health statistics, there is also research showing its powerful anti-inflammatory benefits and exfoliating capabilities.
Epsom salt baths have many well-documented benefits:
- They should help improve circulation and possibly prevent cardiovascular illnesses by decreasing inflammation and protecting the arteries. Healthier arteries means less risk of blood clots, plaque build-up, and damage to arterial walls.
- Strains, sprains, and swollen areas can be aided with an Epsom soak.
- It can help to repair muscle damage and offset delayed inflammation.
- Magnesium is a natural stress reliever, and a bath improves the mood.
- Epsom Salt baths are known for relieving tension, pain, and cramping.
- It aids in many enzymatic functions, helps to regulate fluid retention in cells, and facilitates the body’s use of calcium to transmit chemical signals throughout the nervous system.
- An Epsom salt bath can promote detoxification all over the skin.
- For women, an Epsom bath can positively impact PMS, hormonal migraines, endometriosis, and polycystic ovarian syndrome.
- Epsom salt helps you sleep because the magnesium relaxes muscles, improves digestion, balances blood pressure, and in turn, gives you more energy after more restful sleep.
- According to Dr. Joe Matusic, a pediatrician in Charleston, W.Va., and an assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at the Charleston division of the West Virginia University School of Medicine, Epsom salt can help soothe common summer ailments that itch or burn the skin. This includes mosquito bites, bee stings, mild sunburn, poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. To apply, either create a compress with a washcloth, cold water and Epsom salt, or take an Epsom salt bath. Epsom salt works by drawing the moisture out of lesions caused by rashes, and reducing the swelling caused by bites or stings.
Even if it’s a placebo effect, I have never heard of someone not finding benefits with 1-2 cups of Epsom Salt mixed in with their warm bath water. I highly recommend adding this relaxing (and inexpensive) ritual to your life!
Cloth diapers are not what our grandmothers once used- a cloth towel held together by pins. Gone are the days of hand-washing and line drying cloth diapers, too. (Unless of course, you choose to do so.)
We are entering a more environmentally friendly generational wave right now, and one trend is coming back with a new style. Keeping disposable diapers out of landfills can help to lessen your carbon footprint, and it can have significant health benefits for your baby. Choosing cloth diapers over conventional diapers is an easy decision when you understand just what it can mean for your baby.
The Benefits of Cloth Diapering
Keeping the chemicals from disposable diapers off of your baby’s skin should be a priority. Sodium Polyacrylate, Tributyl Tin, Phthalates, and Dioxin are only a few of the most common chemicals found in disposable diapers. These are all linked to lifelong health risks such as endocrine disruption, obesity, and cancer.
By choosing cloth diapers, you also lower the risk of diaper rashes and UTI’s because you will be changing your baby more frequently.
9 in every 10 American babies use disposable diapers. This adds up to 27.4 billion diapers in landfills each year.
- Just for the disposable diapers U.S. babies will wear, over 200,000 trees are cut down every year.
- In one year, 3.4 billion gallons of fuel oil will be used to manufacture disposable diapers.
- Disposables generate over 3.5 million tons of waste each year.
- Those diapers can take up to 500 years to decompose.
Earlier Potty Training:
Because cloth diapered babies can feel when they are wet, they want to potty train earlier than those in disposable diapers. They tend to have less bed wetting issues as they potty train and grow, too. It is easier to notice your baby’s bathroom cues when wearing cloth diapers, making the transition to underwear smooth and easy.
Your Bank Account:
Purchasing disposable diapers will cost you over $800 a year per child, but (depending on how many cloth diapers you purchase) cloth diapers can be bought for $5-20 a piece. You can survive with about 25-30 diapers, easily. (It’s even cheaper if you use prefolds and a cover!) These diapers can be reused on siblings, too.
The Selection of Cloth Diapers
It is an overwhelming world to jump into these days! You can choose between:
But don’t shy away because of the choices, you’ll find your favorites as you start trying them out. The easiest will always be an all-in-one, hybrid, or pocket diaper. They require the least amount of work, but all cloth diapers are pretty easy!
Perhaps the pattern options may sway your choice, too. Whales, monkeys, plaid, stripes, ice-cream cones, you name it and you can find it on a cloth diaper. Ruffles and bows? No problem. An attachable dragon tail? Yep. You may just find yourself starting a new obsessive collection!
How to Clean Cloth Diapers
If you are breastfeeding, there is literally nothing to do but toss your diapers directly into a diaper bag, and then wash the contents of the bag every other day (empty and toss the bag in, too). You’ll rinse the diapers on a cold cycle, wash them on a hot cycle with minimal soap, and then rinse them again on cold. You can hang them to dry or toss them in the dryer for convenience.
If you are using formula, or after solid foods enter the picture, you can knock the poop into your toilet before throwing the diapers into the wash.
Learn More About the Risks of Disposable Diapers:
Parents are also not aware of the adverse effects of disposable diapers being in contact with their baby’s reproductive organs 24 hours a day for more than two years and the long-term effects it causes.
Disposable diapers have been implicated by diapering proponents like leak proof polymers, super absorbent polymers, and some scented chemicals which are the key factors for everything from chronic diaper rash, respiratory problems like asthma, liver damage, skin diseases, infertility, and even to cancer.
Continue the research:
In a recent article on USA Today, it was announced that “young people are far more likely than senior citizens to report being lonely and in poor health.” After a study including 20,000 Americans was published, the results are causing quite the stir.
“The overall national loneliness score was alarmingly high at 44 on a 20-to-80 scale, but the prevalence of social isolation among those ages 18 to 22 raises even more concern. The younger people, part of Generation Z, had loneliness scores of about 48 compared with nearly 39 for those 72 and older.”
This is predicted to effect overall mortality rates, as loneliness impacts health and increases suicide risks. Loneliness is tied to chronic stress and depression, which both trigger chronic inflammation and risks to numerous diseases. It is a sad and disheartening truth that needs to be talked about.
We want to place blame on social media and technology, which does play a large role. Although, this study discovered that all young Americans felt lonely – not just those attached to screens and online relationships. What if I told you that the root problem was far deeper than this?
The truth is that our society is lacking human touch.
It starts at infancy when parents utilize products to hold or soothe their babies instead of wearing them skin-to-skin or feeding them on demand. From there, the human touch factor continues to dwindle. Throughout childhood, families have the weight of the world on them to keep up with Jones’. There are countless sports, camps, clubs, and activities to somehow schedule into daily life. There is too much homework, not enough sleep, and expectations that are too high. This all leads to very small intervals of actual family time. The constant struggle of going and going restricts the amount of time children receive emotional and comforting interaction.
This trend continues throughout the teenage years and with the pressures of college applications, financial aid worries, and lack of true friendships due to the impending doom that is social media, young adults enter college and the real world as alone as ever.
When was the last time friends hugged one another, or teachers patted students on the back, or coaches high-fived their players? We live in a world where adults are scared to be seen using physical contact on minors and parents are too busy to get more than a handful of hugs in over an extended period of time, and in turn, this world has produced a generation full of under-touched humans.
Why We Need Human Touch
Human Touch Promotes Confidence. One study discovered that students are 3 times more likely to participate in class discussions after a teacher proudly pats their shoulder during class.
Physical connection through touch produces oxytocin. Oxytocin promotes happiness and health.
Physical touch increases levels of dopamine and serotonin, two neurotransmitters that help regulate mood as well as help the body relieve stress and anxiety.
Physical touch is known to improve the function of your immune system as well as reduce diseases such as those associated with the heart and blood. One study found that receiving more hugs from partners led to lower heart rates and blood pressure.
Less touch as a child leads to greater chances of violence later in life.
Touch helps to bond people together, creating and fostering trust and happiness.
Economic benefits can be linked to physical touch because of the connections and trust it forms. (An example: professional sports teams whose players touch more often -hugs, holding hands in prayer, touching arms, pats on the back- win more games than teams who do not practice such actions.)
Interpersonal touch has a powerful impact on emotions, and it can increase chances of love, connection, and happiness.
How To Increase Physical Touch
See Your Chiropractor. No other doctor connects with patients in such a ‘hands-on’ way. It is one of the reasons there is such a high success rate that comes with included chiropractic care in your life. Physical touch can lead to happiness, but it can also be the key to wellness.
Hug. Hug friends and family and even a stranger if the opportune moment presents itself. (Aim for 8-12 hugs a day, especially with your children!)
Shake Hands. When you meet someone, shake their hand. When greeting someone, shake their hand!
Slap on the Back. Don’t be afraid to do the work-version of a hug and motivate a coworker with a ‘Good Job!’ Pat on the back.
Current research is suggesting that touch is truly fundamental to human communication, bonding, and both physical and mental health. Take time to reach out and physically connect with those around you.