Saturday, November 29, 2008

Healthy Child Healthy World

Here is a great resource to pass along to anyone interested in creating a safe environment for their kids. (As well as passing along the link to my blog!)

Healthy Child Healthy World is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating people about environmental hazards in our children's worlds. They have initiated the Blue Butterfly Program, a simple five-step plan for parents, preschools, and other child care providers to follow. It's worth looking at.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

What a wonderful holiday! I hope that you are enjoying your family today. I am! I have a quick comment about thankfulness. You know, thankfulness does a heart good. Ours and our children's. While we invest our time and our thoughts in laying healthy foundations for our children's future, we also need to invest in their hearts. I encourage you to be thankful. Speak about the things you are grateful for. In doing so, you'll nurture your children's hearts and lift yours up in the process!

Happy Thanksgiving from me...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What are you cooking for Thanksgiving? (Revisited)

I'm curious. What are you all creating in your kitchen for tomorrow's holiday meal? If you've got any healthy additions to your Thanksgiving Turkey, post it as a comment and share it with the rest of us! Especially post if you've got something excitingly fresh or something that puts a healthy twist on an old-favorite...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What are you cooking for Thanksgiving?

I stopped by our local health food store last week to put in my order for a "real" turkey. While there, I enjoyed a sample of some yummy sweet potatoes made with marmalade. Since then, I've had an insatiable craving for all things orange-y. So, this evening for a festive and seasonal treat, I made some Orange Cranberry Muffins. Do you want to try them?

2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 Sucanat (Rapadura or other non-refined sweetener)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup "real" milk
1/2 cup orange marmalade (You can buy the kind sweetened with fruit juice.)
1/2 cup melted butter
1 farm fresh egg
1 cup chopped cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Mix the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix the melted butter, milk, egg and marmalade. Mix the dry and wet ingredients together. If you were making this according to the recipe, you would fold in the cranberries and walnuts, spoon into muffin cups and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. My husband happens to not like cranberries. So, I divided the batter into two parts and put mini-chocolate chips in one part and the cranberries in the other. The Orange Cranberry Muffins are like a comfort-food. However, the Orange Chocolate Chip Muffins were a surprising hit. I don't know which one we liked best. You could make both. Have the Chocolate Chip ones for a dessert and the Orange Cranberry ones for breakfast!

Note on Whole Wheat: If you are just now considering making the switch to whole wheat, let me say a few things. First, it is worth it for your family's health! Second, I know that white flour habits die hard. Third, it is worth it for your family's health! Fourth, try making the adjustment by degrees. First use 25% whole wheat until your family gets used to it. Then, step it up to 50/50. Here's the final thing though: when you do make the switch to 100% whole wheat, keep in mind that the store bought whole wheat tastes a lot heavier than fresh ground. Once you get your family eating 50/50 0r even 75/25, consider buying a grain mill. Your family will enjoy the lighter flavor. (Wanna hear more about Grain Mills? Comment to let me know!)

Note on other ingredients: This world is crazy with debate about which foods are good for us. I hesitate to use any new-fangled food like butter or sugar substitutes. I use three principles from the book What the Bible Says About Healthy Living. This is my rough paraphrase: Eat what God made. Eat it as close to how He made it as possible. Eat everything in moderation. (Have specific questions about why I use certain ingredients? Comment to ask them!)

Technical Glitch!

There seems to have been a malfunction with my email address recently. If you sent me an email that bounced back, please retry. If you still get a returned notice, please post a comment here to let me know. I don't want your comments and questions to disappear in to the vast world wide web!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Part Two of Children and Cleaning Chemicals

Did you know that by the year 2006, over 80,000 new chemicals had been registered with the EPA? And did you know that less than 20% of these have been tested for toxicity even now? Amazing, huh? And, this is what really gets my attention: hardly any of these have been tested in conjunction with one another. (Sources: U.S. EPA, New Chemicals Program; Landrigan, P.J., et al, (2006).)

What will the cumulative effect of all of these toxins be? Our children are at great risk here. They are more likely to have earlier and more prolonged exposure to these new-fangled chemicals than adults. Pediatrician Herbert L. Needleman said, "We are conducting a vast toxicologic experiment in our society, in which our children and our children's children are the experimental subjects."

"Children are highly vulnerable to chemical toxicants. Pound for pound of body weight children drink more water, eat more food and breathe more air than adults. The implication of this is that children will have substantially heavier exposures than adults to any toxicants that are present in water, food or air." (Source: Landrigan, P.J. & Garg, A. (2002). Chronic effects of toxic environmental exposures on children’s health. Journal of Toxicology: Clinical Toxicology, 40(4), 449-456.) Children have more immature metabolic pathways for detoxifying and excreting toxins, while they also have an increased metabolic rate which speeds up the absorption of chemicals. This puts them at increased long-term risk.

Infants and toddlers are even more vulnerable because they have a greater percentage of fatty tissue in which to store these toxins, they crawl on the floor where pesticides and other chemicals are tracked in from outside, and they put their toys in their mouths.

And this isn't even the tip of the iceberg! I enjoy science and research, but many of you may not. I want to keep this blog light yet thought-provoking reading. So, if you are interested in reading more about the science behind our children's exposure, email me:

ae at healthbeginswithmom dot com

I will send you a 12 page pdf file that is chock-full of all the nitty-gritty facts. Just put "12 Page PDF" in the subject line...

And, lest you think I am going to leave you hanging, I will post a Part Three to this series so that I can tell you a simple, cost-effective way to replace ALL the hazardous chemicals in your home. Part three will not be the end, though... I will revisit this topic often as it is a hot-button for me. The way I see it, we can't really do a lot about how much toxic exposure our kids are getting from outdoor air pollution or hazardous cleaning products in their schools and preschools. BUT, we can create a safe, clean home for them where their bodies can rest from the toxic overload they experience.

Until then, take a tour of your home to see what toxins may lurk in your cabinets.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Part One of Children and Cleaning Chemicals

Here is the first installment in "Children and Cleaning Chemicals." This is a huge topic, so I thought I would just start with the story of how I first became aware of the possible hazards.

Being a concerned mother of four, I do care about the wellness of my family and the toxins in my home. But this concern has taken different action over the past years. When I had Rainbow, I gave cleaning products a great deal of thought and tried to make as many as I could using earth friendly ingredients and recipes I found online. Then, after the arrival Spiderman, I needed convenience and so I tried some of the green cleaners found at health food stores. This was expensive so at times I had to just use the chemicals that choke you in the cleaning aisles of grocery stores. And finally, after Witzy joined the famliy, I needed maximum convenience and minimum price. So I started to use Clorox wipes, among other things.

Unfortunately, I was doing more harm than good. A friend of mine suggested I watch Toxic Brew, a news segment produced by a Canadian news station. After watching this, the reality of what I was bringing into my home began to dawn on me. Particularly eye opening to me was how long chemicals stay suspended in the air.

Only a month or so later, I heard of the work of Dr. Doris Rapp, who researches the effects of harmful chemicals on children’s health. In one of her studies, she tested the effect of bleach fumes on six-year-olds’ handwriting. I looked at the printed results, and was amazed at the evidence. Before a bottle of bleach was opened, students wrote their names fairly well. Then, with just an opened bottle of bleach in the room and the fumes wafting through the air, the children wrote their names dramatically different. Some wrote messy, some too small to read, and one even wrote backwards.

Being the devil’s advocate that I am, I thought: "Well, they just printed up the worst case scenarios. Certainly it wouldn’t effect my kids this way." So, I determined to do the same test at home. I didn’t tell my kids what I was doing. I only told them to write as neatly as they could. They printed their names on a sheet of paper. Then, I told them to hold up their papers while I wiped the table off with a Clorox wipe. As soon as it was dry enough, I had them put their papers down and write their names again. I was shocked! Rainbow's writing was visibly messier; instead of letters being tight and connected, they were loopy and crooked. Spiderman was completely distracted by something while he was writing his name! This is uncharacteristic of him. He has no attention difficulties. When he realized that he was talking about something else, he stopped mid-sentence and said: "Wait, I’m supposed to be writing my name!" The next letter he wrote was upside-down, which my son had never done before.

I took it to the next level and had my children move to another room where there were no Clorox fumes. They wrote their names again and proved that without being "under the influence" they could write just as neat as the first time. I could clearly see that the chemicals were affecting both writing ability and focus.

There is more to come on this topic! Take the time to watch Toxic Brew and I will post the more thought-provoking evidence soon.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Upcoming Posts

Yesterday afternoon as I was driving Rainbow to ballet, my children were eating their power snack. I thought, what a great thing... I'll make a weekly recipe entry starting with this very wonderfully healthy treat.

My mind is also swimming with answers to questions like: "Do I really need to take supplements?" and "Are they worth the money?" and "What do I do when my child appears to be coming down with something?"

Then this morning, as I was making yogurt, I got to thinking I that need to write "a novice's guide to making yogurt" AND I need to write a post about the beneficial connection between probiotics and our immune system.

BUT THEN, I got an email question from a friend in South Africa. She had heard me talk about the link between toxic cleaning product fumes and a child's focusing ability. She asked me for any links I could give for further information. I decided to put the answer to her questions on my blog. This way, all of you can benefit from it as well. All the other posts - and more - will come in time. Thank you for returning to this blog often!

And one more thing before I start the hazards of cleaning chemicals post: if you have a question, chances are others are asking it too! So, email me or post your question in a comment. I will gladly take a look at each of them.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Body Burden Quiz

Have you heard about Sloan Barnett's book Green Goes with Everything? It has been on the New York Times bestseller list. In it, she talks about our Body Burden. Interesting thought. As Sloan reports in her book, “Most Americans, and especially children, have dozens of pesticides and other toxic compounds in their bodies, many of them linked to health threats. A source of many of these toxins? Common, everyday, run of the mill household products. Experts call the total amount of chemicals and pollutants that are present in our body at any given time, our “Body Burden”."

While the body burden test run by a medical professional takes a dozen vials of blood and urine, you can take a quick look at what your Body Burden might be by taking the Body Burden Quiz on her website. It may be enlightening. It may help you decide just what your first steps toward a healthier life should be.

And, watch this video. Sloan herself can tell you what this book is all about.

Monday, November 17, 2008

So what is health anyway?

I want to help you. I want to provide good information in order to encourage you to make informed decisions about your health. Really, our kids depend on us to lay a healthy foundation for their future. It's up to us to create healthy habits that will serve them as they grow independent.

But, first things first. What is health anyway? This is a pivotal question. We have to answer it before we can make sound decisions about which health trends to follow and which to leave behind.

First, let us look at the miraculous design of our body. Did you know that our bodies have over 4 trillion cells? Some scientists estimate there to be as many as 4 times that amount! That is a huge number!

Now, did you know that these cells are continuously reproducing? The skin cells that you have today you will not have in seven days. You will completely regenerate a new layer of skin! Some cells take longer to reproduce than skin and blood cells. For example some cells like bone cells take nearly seven years. Every day, our cells are hard at work copying themselves! In an adult’s life, all the cells in a body are entirely new after seven years! For a child, it is as short as one single year.

Where do these new cells come from? What are they made of? This is a very key thought. Cells need a consistent supply of building materials. Each new cell is made, according to the stored DNA, using vitamins, minerals, proteins and water. If a cell has these building materials accessible, it will regenerate itself as a vibrant, healthy cell. However, if some nutrients are absent, it will have to make a weaker version of itself.

Here is another key thought: Because of the amazing DNA coding, a weakened cell still has a blueprint to regenerate itself stronger, as long as the proper building materials are present! This is totally amazing. Think about it! We can, through poor diet and malnutrition, starve our cells and loose our vitality. Or, on the flipside, we can get healthier from year to year as we rebuild what has been weakened over time.

Without a doubt, I am healthier today, four babies later, than I was ten years ago. I think this is amazing – definitely worth sharing!

May I be so bold as to ask where your body is headed? Will you through a solid foundation of nutrition provide your cells with ample building materials? Are you ready to find out what steps you can take to improve your health? It all starts with thinking on the cellular level.

Here's My Setting

If you want to know exactly what this blogging experience is like on my end, this is the picture: Rainbow is making very imaginative people using play dough. She is also humming the Christmas (already!) music we listened to while making lunch. Spiderman is outside, raking the fallen leaves off his bike trail through the woods. Witzy is using cookie cutters to make lions and tigers and bears with her play dough. Tickle is still napping. And there you have it... It is a very beautiful fall afternoon and I have my laptop facing the window so that I can see Spiderman and the richly decorated leaves on the ground all around him.

It will take me a bit of time to get all my preliminary thoughts onto this blog. Please come back again to hear how you can make a healthy difference for your own family. I hope that my experience and my insights are an inspiration to you. Bit by bit they will come out on this blog. In the meantime, introduce yourself to me! I'd like to meet you...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

You'll want to come back.

I'm in the middle of posting some very exciting content. You'll want to read it. Bookmark this blog! In the meantime, check this out.