Although, my life vocation is centered on the creation of beauty… health is my foremost objective and I make sure it’s never sacrificed. In fact, my premise has always been that when we cultivate health, the beauty will follow. Beauty is identified by both its interior and posterior components. We are our best version, when we are healthy…we radiate a light which transmits as balance of the mind and body. With this balance we are able to help and inspire others to be responsible and gentle with one another and ultimately create a more intelligent society. I truly believe health and intelligence breeds happiness, less hunger and violence, and greater advancements.
As a wife and mother, I wish to help my family achieve optimal health by serving as a good role model. This means living happy, health consciously, and helping them stay away from hazards that may get in the way of them doing the same. Hidden dangers lie in misconceptions about the food we eat and we often underestimate what we can do to keep ourselves healthy. I hope to help share data which has helped me make better choices for my family. Below I list some healthy tips I incorporate into my family’s life and I have hopes you too will incorporate into yours.
1. Eliminate Sugary Drinks and all Sodas
Consumption of sugary drinks are a major contributor to the obesity epidemic (reported JAMA 2012). Survey conducted show that we derive at least 50% of our daily sugar in take from sugary fruit drinks, soft drinks and sports drinks. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends your daily diet consists of no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar (100 calories) for women and 9 teaspoons of sugar (150 calories) for men. Noting that just one regular soft drink contains 8-10 tsp (over 130 cal), you can see that these drinks put us at risk for not only obesity but all other related diseases. With one of three children in US overweight or obese, sugary drinks should be limited, if not completely eliminated from your family’s life!
With limited or no nutritional value, the health concerns out way their benefits!. CNN reported that scientific research has linked higher death from diabetes, heart disease and cancer in parts of the world where sugary drinks are most consumed. Although there are obviously other attributing factors to these scary incidences, the American Heart Association has linked each to elevated sugar intake.
What about diet drinks/sodas? We have recently been uncovering the mechanism these previously thought to be “healthier sodas” contribute to obesity. The artificial sweeteners, fructose or sugar alcohol used in diet sodas, tend to slow our metabolism and decrease our sensation of “satiety” or “feeling full”. One of the ways they do this is by altering the activity of the bacteria in out gut. According to a report in the Obesity Reviews, the bacteria begin to produce a short chain fatty acid that, when accumulated, increases hunger by blocking signals of satiety and causing a type of inflammation. This inflammation has been associated with tendency to develop insulin resistance, diabetes, increased risk of stroke and heart disease. Furthermore, the brain responds to non-caloric sweetness as it would real sugar and therefore triggers pancreatic insulin release. This insulin serves to deplete available blood glucose and induces a hunger response to replenish its stores.
It’s clear that those who consume high sugar drinks or sodas of any kind are at risk of increased risk for a multitude of health concerns. I propose to try keeping sugary drinks for special occasions and making water, herbal teas and freshly squeezed juices as your go-to drink option.
2. Forgo Using the Microwave
Scientific studies have been conducted from well-respected Swiss, German and Russian scientists on microwaved food. Results have shown that microwaving food decreases it nutritional value and alters it to producing harmful, even cancer causing, substances.
Findings have included that microwaving causes the following changes:
- To meat: May produce some nitrosdienthanolamines (known carcinogens believed to be linked to stomach and colon cancer) and decrease its nutritional value.
- To thawed fruit: Converts glucosides and galactosides into carcinogens
- To vegetables: Removes nutritional benefits from plant alkaloids and cause more difficult to digest.
- To vitamins, minerals and healthy fats: Leads to structural degradation leading to decreased bioavailability.
- To antioxidants: Removes potency more so than steaming or stir-frying (also reported in Journal of Science of Food and Agriculture 2003).
- To garlic: Depletes it of cancer protecting ingredient.
- Alters amino acids of proteins so to make them unusable for the body.
Other studies have shown unhealthy blood alterations, mental decline and nutritional deficiencies in those who exclusively cook in microwaves. As if all this is not enough, if you add the carcinogenic effects of heating in plastic, the impact of microwaving doubles in its gravity to our health!!
For the sake of our families health we need to limit our exposure to toxins and carcinogenic substances. In my house, we are not waiting for the American Medical Society to issue warnings against microwave use, nor are we waiting for a large scale study which can hurt the billion dollar industry. Being a medical practitioner myself, I know what it takes to get a study approved and done well. It takes a lot of money and dedicated scientists working over decades to evaluate the long term results. This said, I don’t foresee this ever being done and therefore our children will continue to suffer from strange disease processes resulting from cumulative effects of modern life and its technologies. What we can do is be aware and incorporate what we know in our guts to be true… most often the simpler and the closest to nature, the better!
Being raised with minimal use of microwaves, we had the opportunity to know the luxury of stove/oven cooked and raw food. Seeing that these methods of food preparation are actually healthier, why not give that to our children as well?
With cancer and immune system disease on the rise…let’s leave microwaving for emergencies and try to preserve the nutritional/health integrity of the carefully chosen food we eat.
3. Be Wary of Canned Foods
A concerning percentage of canned food is contaminated with Bisphenol A or BPA. To all you moms out there, BPA may hit a soft spot. BPA is known as the scary chemical we all look out for when choosing baby bottles and other items babies tend to put in their mouth. BPA is a common component of polycarbonate plastic and is used in many food packaging items, kitchen ware and yes…. baby bottles. It is released from these products over time and gets into the food we then feed our families with.
BPA is a chemical that has known health hazards and more so when exposed to children’s bodies. Even in acutely low doses, BPA, which can mimic effects of human estrogen, interferes with the human hormone system (officially stated in 2009 Endocrine Society). It also has shown to alter mammary gland development in animals and increases breast cell proliferation in human cells. Studies have shown when pregnant mice were exposed to BPA, it increased their offspring’s risk of breast cancer. Furthermore, there have been connections to regular consumption of BPA contaminated food with prostate cancer, diabetes, obesity and ADHD. Because of such reports the EU, Canada and even China have prohibited its uses in baby bottle productions. France is also in the process of banning BPA in all food application products. Government involvement or not… is it not time we take precautions to protect our families from limit BPA exposure? Savvy moms now know to only buy “BPA-free” when selecting children’s plastic items.
But, are we overlooking other sources of BPA intoxication of which we should all be aware? As concerning as the BPA levels in plastic is, we are now more aware of it and companies are making strides to protect our children from contamination. Our real hidden threat of BPA is now in canned goods. It was just recently that scientists have analyzed and found significant levels of BPA in a range of popular canned goods. From corn to canned soup…. the epoxy-resin lining of these tinned foods are contaminating contents with this sneaky health hazard. Food manufacturers use this material due to its protective properties against bacterial contamination, but, is it worth the risk of the above mentioned issues? Again, until the FDA gets involved and bans use of such dangerous materials, it may be worth it to forgo canned foods all together. Seeing that canned foods often are high in sodium and use concerning preservatives….I feel it may be an all-around good omen to purge our cupboards of can-derived nutrition…don’t you?
For those of you who cannot live without your favorite canned food…. There are BPA free manufactures. Some examples are Eden Foods and Trader Joes. The website Tree Hugger or Organic Grace also has a list of safe varieties.
For more information on the danger of canned food check out this well written article in the Sydney Morning Herald.
4. Make Exercise A Regular Family Event
For adults, the health benefits of exercise are well published. There are a dozen reasons why exercise is important to your physical and mental well-being. But as most of you know, getting started on a fitness regimen can be difficult….especially if you have little free time to dedicate to your relationship and family. For this reason many give up their right to exercise to spend time with the ones they love.
But why not combine fun/family time with physical exercise? This option allows health benefits for the whole family and promotes bonding in your relationships!!This is the premise on which my family and I live! We make exercise a family event. My family and I spend hours on the weekends running together and biking. Exercising has provided us with many of our happiest moments! I wish the same for you!
Teach your children that physical activity is a normal part of their routine. Encourage rollerblading, bicycling, yoga, running, stretching and sports by participating in these activities with them.
Not especially sporty? Start with long walks and go from there!
Living in the cold? Bundle up and go for a walk or take on winter sports (let’s learn from the Europeans whom never let the cold stop them from getting outside!).
The benefits of exercise for children are irrefutable. The below offers you some insight on what exercise can do for your children.
- Regular exercise can increase children’s ability to think, plan and do math (Journal of Health Psychology).
- MRI guided studies from the Health Science University in Augusta Georgia have shown exercise to increase executive function of children’s brain and improve overall social behavior. Improved executive function means improving self-control, reasoning and abstract thought.
- Another study showed children who exercised 40 minutes every day for 3 months increased 3.8 points on scores of cognitive planning. It seems the more kids exercise the more intelligent they become!
Brain power aside, exercising together can help build lifelong healthy habits, create memories, get you and your family in the fresh air more often! It’s also an affordable activity and by stimulating healthy appetites, might get them to finally have a go on that quinoa dish or grilled fish you have been pushing on them. (:
Chris Carter PhD recently wrote a similar article, in the Huffington Post, on effect on exercise and brainpower, for those interested in an additional read check it out here.
4. Limit Toxins and Chemicals Exposure by Buying Safer Products.
This can be achieved by choosing your food and household products wisely. Below I offer you a few ways to achieve this and reason you should be a more intelligent consumer.
Food and Cosmetics: When choosing food or plant derived products, chose organic. Organic labeled products are those in which manufacturers have complied with strictly controlled procedures in their production. This means they have been produced without synthetic chemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics or preservatives. Foods labeled organic have been grown on land which has also been protected from such chemicals for at least three years. Animal products such as eggs or dairy must come from free range animals that eat only organic feed.
• Consumption of organic food can help decrease allergies. A study by the British Journal of Nutrition found decreased eczema and wheezing among 2 year olds who consumed organic dairy products.
•Less exposure to organophosphate pesticides. A study from the University of Washington found lower levels in those preschoolers who ate organic vs. conventional food. Elevated levels of these pesticides are associated with mental health issues like depression and memory problems (BBC report in 2006).
•Less resistance to antibiotics. Because organic farming prohibits non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in livestock, meat, dairy and eggs we are less likely to acquire resistance to life-saving antibiotics.
For more info on the safety of meat and other foods click WebMD link and see here.
It’s totally understandable that organic food may be just too expensive for some households. It is for this reason The Environmental Working Group has created a Shopper’s Guide which dictates which produce carry most risk of contamination. We can then prioritize our organic shopping and buy the foods which carry the highest risk, with highest pesticide levels, or those which our family consumes the most, such as milk and eggs. The foods with lowest contamination are the ones you should buy from a local source. Buying local is a good option for those who can’t afford organic. Local farmers worry less about preservation, since not traveling long distances to get to the consumer. This means fresher food and less use of harmful substances in cultivation.
You can also use food washes such as Environne and Veggi Wash to help remove contaminants from your food. There are also homemade recipes for food washes using vinegar and water click here for one example. You may also need a vegetable brush for some fruits and veggies with thicker skin. It is not recommended to use detergents to was your food, risks may outweigh benefits.
Household Products: Many products we use for cleaning and air-freshening have harmful effects to almost every bodily system. Cumulative effects of their exposure have raised concerns and are now thought to be correlated to increasing epidemics. Most concerning are the effects they may have on small children. Trends reported include an increase in learning and developmental disabilities, asthma, childhood cancers, ADHD, as well as decreasing IQs. Scientists believe pesticides to be one of many culprits in these growing issues related to our children’s health. For more on this please refer to this report published by The Pesticide Action Network :A Generation in Jeopardy: How pesticides are undermining our children’s health & intelligence.
It is up to use to protect ourselves and our children from these effects by limiting pesticide contamination.
Some tips when choosing Household Products:
- Read the label and avoid these ingredients: Diethanolamine (DEA) and triethanolamine (TEA) (can be carcinogenic and easily penetrate skin), butyl cellosolve or ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, ammonia (can irritate respiratory pathways), Sodium hydroxide and sodium hypochlorite (bleach which damage repiratory pathways and skin), chlorinated phenols (hazards to lungs and circulatory system), diethylene glycol (depress nervous system), formaldehyde found in deodorizers (respiratory irritant and suspected carcinogen), petroleum solvents in floor cleaners, percholethylene in spot removers and many others.
- Use sparingly any product with labels which include DANGER or POISON. Chances are they are affecting your families’ health with regular use.
- Try cleaning using gentle non-toxic ingredients to clean your home. Examples of such are Baking Soda, Unscented Liquid Soap, Lemon, Borax – (sodium borate),White Vinegar, Washing Soda, Sal Soda, Isopropyl Alcohol in water and Cornstarch Citrus Solvent. For indications of use please refer to this website.
- If making your own cleaning solutions seems overwhelming, please refer to Organic Consumers website for safer alternative commercial cleaning products
- For more on this topic see http://eartheasy.com/blog/2010/05/6-ways-to-reduce-your-exposure-to-pesticides/
I hope that these tips have helped make you more aware of how you can contribute to making sure your family has the best chances of living a longer, healthier, more quality life.
I have about a dozen more tips up my sleeve… but I thought I might spare you from the information overload. (: I plan to offer these in post soon to come ….stay tuned!!
As those of you who already have gotten to know me have figured out…I’m passionate about wellness! I hope you are enjoying my journey to keep you all your youngest, healthiest and most beautiful selves!
Cheers with Love from my family to Yours!