Posts Tagged ‘Healthy Kids’

Nutritional Intelligence

I’m at the age in life where I have friends having babies and the conversation around what they feed them comes up a lot. Apparently when they started reading what’s in the baby food jars they can’t believe the ‘stuff’ included so they have been making food themselves.

I came across a new book called Feeding Baby Green, by one of the country’s pre-eminent pediatricians, Dr. Alan Greene. His book posits a unique, forward-thinking 34-month guide to train your baby’s palate to appreciate the more complex flavors of healthy, unprocessed foods and I thought it would be an interesting read for those interested. Excerpt from Healthy Child Healthy World below:

Every parent is keen to find a way to engender healthy eating habits in their child. “Parents today have an unprecedented awareness and eagerness about the necessity of providing safe, wholesome, nutritious foods for their children”, says Dr. Greene. And yet today’s parents are burdened by economic constraints and severely limited time. The book reports that 80% of parents are unable to feed their children healthy foods because they are inconvenient, unavailable in their communities, or their children don’t like the taste.

What is the connection between what a pregnant woman eats and what her baby experiences? Dr. Greene explains that babies actually have a food life in utero, and the habits they establish in the first years after birth can have a lasting influence on their attitudes to food.

He refutes the claim by some  that it is impossible to get kids to eat healthy foods because they simply don’t like the taste. Dr. Greene believes that babies’ taste-buds can become easily programmed for the extra-sugar, extra-salt, extra starch that is every present in processed and take-out food. But if they are exposed to the “rainbow of flavors”, as he calls it, they can establish a preference for fruits and vegetables early on. This is his core thesis – something he calls “nutritional intelligence”.

“Baby food”, Dr. Greene reminds us, is a myth. Commercial baby food was an invention of 20th century food corporations, enforcing the theory that babies need meals separate from the fruits, vegetables and seasonings the rest of the family consume. Pointed and pervasive advertising convinced mothers that good baby food was scientific, uniform, twice boiled, and sold in jars.

Dr. Greene lays out a clear yet flexible how-to program, incorporating many techniques and angles, all of which is tailored to the baby’s current development stage. The time frames are general enough to work for most families, and allow enough wiggle room for customization.

Many of Feeding Baby Green‘s suggestions are both revolutionary and fundamental – breaking new molds yet also revisiting older traditions. He writes about engaging all of the baby’s senses when learning about food and eating. Flavor, aroma, touch, sights, sounds and language, these are all tools that help you make food a joyous experience. He also counsels on proper amounts, the right variety, and varying repetition with novelty.

Throughout the book, Dr. Greene offers a host of tempting recipes to make for baby at home: Bombay Vegetable Stew, Chickpeas and Tomatoes Provence, Baba Ganoush! There’s very little puree of this or cream of that. These recipes are meant for the culinary delight of the whole family.

Dr. Greene infuses Feeding Baby Green with a connection to the earth, to our food source, and to the truism that we are what we eat. He believes firmly that what is good for the planet is good for your family. As a Board Member of Healthy Child Healthy World, his outlook and practice are always consistent with the advice we offer parents. Much of his book is devoted to educating parents on the dangers of GMO crops, pesticides in agriculture, chemical additives in our food, and prevention of allergies and asthma. Dr. Greene is also a renowned advocate for organic foods, believing they not only keep us healthier but ensure our environment receives protection and nourishment as well.

And throughout, he draws on his wisdom as a practicing pediatrician, his first hand experience as a father of four children, and his family’s journey through his beloved wife’s battle with cancer. (She won!!!) Taking on this endeavor seems less daunting because Dr. Greene’s meticulous guide reassures the reader that they’ve got a friend in the kitchen with them.

Flame Retardant Products, who knew?

I thought this was an interesting article as I don’t know much of anything about flame retardant products. It will be a saga I’m sure with what they come up with to replace the decaBDE. The full article was posted on Healthy Child Healthy World.

On Thursday December 17, while the world was waiting to learn if talks in Copenhagen would produce a plan to keep the planet from heating up any further, the EPA made a flame retardant announcement of its own: Within three years – by the end of 2013 – the two U.S. producers and the largest U.S. importer of the flame retardant known as decaBDE (decabromodiphenyl ether) – used widely in plastics of electronics, motor vehicles, aircraft, in textiles and furniture – will end production, use, and sales of the chemical in the United States.

This may sound arcane but it’s significant in a number of ways, not least because
decaBDE is a persistent and bioaccumulative synthetic chemical – one of a class of flame retardants known as PBDEs – that most of us have been encountering daily for years. Contrary to initial expectations, deca- is not staying put in the finished products where it’s used. In numerous scientific studies it’s been shown to migrate out of finished consumer products and has been found in household dust, in vacuum cleaner and laundry dryer lint as well as in rivers, wildlife, food, and people, most disconcertingly in nursing mothers and children.

Steve Owens, EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances, said in his official response to the announcement,

“Though DecaBDE has been used as a flame retardant for years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has long been concerned about its impact on human health and the environment. Studies have shown that DecaBDE persists in the environment, potentially causes cancer, and may impact brain function. DecaBDE also can degrade into more toxic chemicals that are frequently found in the environment and are hazardous to wildlife.”

Deca- is one of several PBDE flame retardants that have been used widely in consumer products for years in ever increasing volumes, beginning largely in the 1970s. Other PBDEs have been taken out of use, either voluntarily or by regulation, as evidence of their adverse environmental and health impacts – as endocrine disruptors and possible carcinogens – has grown. Deca- was initially thought to be safer than other PBDEs, but evidence of its adverse effects has also grown, including its ability to break down into smaller more hazardous compounds that can adversely impact thyroid hormones, neurological and immune systems. In Europe, PBDEs, including deca-, are no longer allowed for use in electronics.

PBDEs themselves came onto the market after some of their predecessor flame retardants – among them PBBs (polybrominated biphenyls) and perhaps most notoriously a compound known as “Tris” that was used in children’s pajamas was linked to cancer in animal studies.

While agreeing to the phase-out, PBDE producers continue to maintain their product safety. “While hundreds of science-based and peer-reviewed studies have shown decaBDE to be safe in use and one of the most efficacious flame retardants in the world, Albemarle [one of the two U.S. deca- producers] is committed to delivering safe and effective products with increasingly smaller environmental footprints,” Brian Carter, global business director of Albemarle’s flame retardant group told Chemical and Engineering News.

Concern about PBDEs’ health effects has, in the absence of any federal regulation, prompted a number of U.S. states to ban their use – including that of deca-. How this phase-out will influence legislation remains to be seen but Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME) has introduced a bill to ban deca- and ensure its replacement with safe alternatives.

PBDE producers say they are working on environmentally friendly alternatives. Exactly what they are and how they behave remains to be discovered – although at least one is yet another brominated compound. Flame retardants already widely in use as alternatives to PBDEs, among them chemicals known as HBCD and tetrabromobisphenol A, or their breakdown products have been identified as environmentally persistent and are turning up in water, soil, wildlife, people and food samples.

One of the big challenges will be getting behind the websites depicting ladybugs and grassy meadows to find out how “green” this next generation of flame retardants actually is. Right now all we have is the manufacturers’ word.

Elizabeth Grossman is the author most recently of Chasing Molecules: Poisonous Products, Human Health, and the Promise of Green Chemistry. She writes from Portland, Oregon. This was originally published by The Huffington Post.

A Healthy Home for Healthy Kids

I’m not sure what it is about this month but I’ve had a lot of people asking me how they can achieve a less toxic environment in their home. I’ve had five people purchase the Shaklee Get Clean Kit and their feedback has been amazing so far (best clean I’ve had in a long time, doesn’t burn out my nose hairs as I clean (I love that one!), doesn’t make my skin hurt, etc). One family decided to make the switch from Seventh Generation, one from what they called ‘traditional’ cleaning products that they would buy at Costco and three from a mix of ‘green’ and ‘traditional.’

When I came across this article today on Healthy Child Healthy World, Raise Healthier Kids with a Healthy Home Cleaning Routine, I thought I would share as it seems like an extension of the conversations I’ve been having. You can read the full article here. I’ve highlighted the pieces that really stood out to me: