Herbicide and Pesticide residue on fruit and vegetables has been linked to a long list of health problems including certain cancers, symptoms of ADHD, autism, and Parkinson’s.
US-based Environmental Working Group has released its annual list of those foods most (and least) affected by herbicide and pesticide residue. The lists are based on studies into American produce but illustrate the need for us to take care in choosing produce whether imported, or produced on conventional farms using toxic chemicals.
Despite claims by a spokesperson at Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) that Australia uses DIFFERENT herbicides and pesticides and that levels are strictly set, I would suggest many mamas ‘on the ground’ would attest to these chemicals causing childhood problems like rashes, allergies and asthma.
Of the few studies done into herbicide and pesticide use on Australian produce, a Friends of the Earth study found 125 pesticides on various fruits and vegetables including chlorpyrifos, fenitrothion, difocol and dimethoate which are highly toxic.
Often ‘safe’ levels of these highly toxic chemicals are discussed but when the possible problems include disrupting the endocrine system, ADHD, lowering IQ’s, learning and behavioural problems and possible increases in Lymphoblastic Leukemia in children, any mama would be wise to question whether ANY level is truly safe.
If you are committed to nourishing your family with wholesome foods but are struggling to swallow some of the prices for organic products here is a list to help you choose foods that are safer when organic and those that are OK to buy conventional.
Remember, Farmers Markets are a great place to buy produce that may not be certified organic but will likely be chemical free. Check with the market stallholder and enjoy the savings on delicious wholefoods. Home delivery fruit and veggie boxes are another way to ensure you’re getting good quality produce at reasonable prices.
(Also mentioned in recent years: Blueberries, Lettuce, Cucumber, Broccoli, Carrots, Kale and zucchini)
(Also mentioned in recent years: Watermelon, Sweet Potato, Grapefruit, Mushrooms)
Friends of the Earth: http://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/foe/legacy_url/378/TheDoseMakesThePoisonFeb2012_0.pdf?1471404362
Environmental Working Group:
Sustainable Gardening Australia:
You may have read or heard that gut health impacts our entire health. Recent research does in fact show a link between a strong digestive system and overall vibrant, good health.
You may think that poor gut health reveals itself as bloating, heartburn or a bit of gas but a compromised digestive system can cause numerous and far reaching health problems including impaired immune and nervous system function as well as impacting hormonal function and balance.
There are two closely related facets to gut health. Firstly there is our gut bacteria or microbiome known as ‘gut flora’. Our unique gut microbiome promotes digestive function and regulates metabolism, protects us from infection and makes up more than 75% of our immune system.
Secondly, there is our intestinal barrier or gut lining which when damaged causes permeability or ‘leaky gut’. Leaky gut occurs when large protein molecules escape the intestinal tract and enter the bloodstream. Proteins don’t belong outside the gut so the body responds but mounting an immune response to attack them.
According to Chris Kresser (www.chriskresser.com) it is not only the digestive issues that suggest leaky gut because other symptoms are many and varied.
If you have any of the following symptoms, it’s likely you may have leaky gut (seeing a naturopath or functional doctor is advisable for confirmation):
- Digestive issues like bloating, gas, diarrhea or heartburn
- Food allergies or sensitivities where you react negatively to certain foods
- Anxiety and/or depression
- Mood swings and irritability
- Skin problems like eczema, psoriasis or rosacea
- Autoimmune Disease like Graves or Hashimoto’s
- Frequent infections
- Poor memory or concentration, brain fog, ADD or ADHD
Causes of compromised gut health are:
- Poor diet choices like eating refined carbohydrates, sugar, bad fats, excessive caffeine and alcohol
- Antibiotics and other medications like birth control which destroy good bacteria in the gut
- Parasites, viruses and fungal infections
To heal a damaged gut, a program called the 4R Program developed by Jeffery Bland PhD and Associates at the Functional Medicine Institute has demonstrated consistently positive results. There are 4 steps to the program:
- REMOVE – offending foods and toxins. Processed foods, gluten, dairy, corn, soy, eggs and sugar are inflammatory foods so an elimination diet can identify if they have a negative impact on you. Take inflammatory foods out of the diet for 2 weeks and reintroduce one at a time to see if they effect your system. Parasites, yeast and bad bacteria can be identified with a stool analysis and treated with herbs, anti-parasitic, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial supplements by a naturopath or functional doctor.
- REPLACE – essential ingredients for proper digestion like digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid and bile acid. Often heartburn and indigestion are blamed on too much stomach acid when in fact often the opposite is true. Instead of depleting your gut of acid by taking antacids, consider discussing digestive enzyme supplementation with your health care professional.
- REINOCULATE – Restore beneficial bacteria in the gut. If you don’t have a yeast problem you can eat fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut easily and cheaply made at home. If taking a probiotic supplement, forget store bought yoghurt or liquid probiotic drinks that are full of sugar and invest in a probiotic for a dose of 25-100 billion good bacteria a day. Consume foods rich in prebiotic that feed the good bacteria and are high in soluble fibre. These include garlic, onion, leeks, asparagus, banana, cabbage, yacon Jerusalem artichoke and dandelion greens.
- REPAIR – Bone broths are very healing to the gut lining and a diet rich in nutrient dense wholefoods is the best way to repair your digestive system. Slippery elm and aloe vera are particularly restorative to the gut.
We all want to enjoy life with energy and exuberance so starting with our gut health is of vital importance. If you are planning a pregnancy, remember your baby’s gut flora is possibly picked up in the womb and definitely through the birth canal during birth. Passing on a healthy microbiota is a great start for your bub.
Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride (author of the Gut and Psychology Syndrome) states that those with damaged gut flora will crave the very foods that support the survival of unhealthy bacteria often at the refusal of others. If your child is starting to demand processed carbohydrate foods and refuse a balanced diet, it might be best to find healthier alternatives for the long-term health of your family.
Gut and Psychology Syndrome – Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride
As a new mum (or any kind of mum) it’s so important to energise yourself with nutritious food and an active lifestyle incorporating self care but it’s often the hardest thing to achieve.
Your life has changed dramatically and suddenly you are responsible for another human life – a pretty helpless and needy one!
A severe lack of sleep night after night can lead to extreme exhaustion which combined with hormonal changes can lead to food cravings for sugar and processed carbs.
For your own health and the health of your bub though, your body and your baby require a steady supply of vitamins and minerals to recover and fuel you through the busy months (and years) ahead.
So here are some tips for keeping on top of YOUR health so you can be the mummy your bub needs you to be.
- Hydration – drink plenty of good quality water. Coffee, alcohol and soft drinks aren’t great choices. (If you are deeply attached to your caffeine hit, try to enjoy it in the morning in a relaxed setting). Breastfeeding is thirsty work. As well as plenty of water include raspberry and nettle tea to aid your recovery and aid lactation.
- Attempt to eat with 2 free hands. I deeply believe in close contact with your bub but where possible eating while not holding your bub is preferable. The first few weeks and months can be so engulfing but being present and mindful when eating will help your health and digestion.
- Make a wholesome brekkie a priority to the start the day well. Avoid sugary, processed cereals and opt for organic eggs, sautéed kale and spinach, wild mushrooms, nitrate free bacon and avocado. If you’re rushing to get out of the door a wholesome shake can be a great quick option. You can include things like leafy greens, berries, fruit, chia seeds, flaxseeds, maca root or whatever tastes great and makes you feel great too.
- For lunch and dinner choose foods like GREENS, GREENS, GREENS, sweet potato, organic chicken, wild caught salmon, vegetables and seaweed. If grains work for your body go for quinoa, brown rice, oats, amaranth and millet or buckwheat. Eat lots of healthy fats like avocado, coconut oil, flaxseed, chia seeds and olive oil (unheated). Bone broth (chick, lamb, beef) is so nutritious and healing for the gut. Make your own. Use herbs and spices like cumin cardamom, fenugreek, ginger, mint and fennel seeds. Activated or raw nuts and seeds are great for snacks as are berries.
- When breastfeeding the following foods are best to avoid: dairy, citrus fruits, peanuts, spicy foods, beef, raw garlic and onion, soy products, wheat/gluten and cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower.
- Fitness – Often new mums want to lose the baby weight quickly but being a new mum is a time to rest, recover and to nurture yourself and the new person in your life. My advice would be to have your midwife, doctor or women’s health physio check you for abdominal separation and/or pelvic floor weakness. Your core muscles will need to be strengthened after the pregnancy and birth so physio Pilates can be very beneficial.
- Walking is the best way to get moving in the early days after having a baby. Ensure your wrists are in line with your hands when pushing a pram or use a baby carrier that distributes the weight evenly you’re your hips to prevent injuries. Running should only be introduced at 4 months post partum if no pelvic floor weakness is present.
- Finally, while your whole life has changed and you are totally consumed by your new angel, don’t forget to make time to care for yourself as well. YOU are a top priority too. Remember, your baby will do well if you are doing well.
Beauty product labels and advertising make some pretty radical claims about how they will make us look and feel younger but if the products you are using are full of chemicals and toxic ingredients they could likely be doing the opposite of what they claim – and worse!!
The beauty industry is MASSIVE and the dollar amount companies spend on advertising to get you to buy their products astronomical. But in an industry with loose regulations, the products you buy claiming to reduce lines, wrinkles and spots could be aging your skin AND your whole body causing far worse health problems than just your smile lines!
Your skin absorbs the chemicals and toxins found in beauty products, in fact it takes just 26 seconds for them to reach your bloodstream. Keep your beauty routine clean and natural for the health of you and your family.
I have 3 easy, natural and economical beauty tips for you below.
First though, know what to avoid:
Parabens: widely used preservative found in make up, deodorant, body wash etc. Associated with increased risk of breast cancer & organ toxicity. Known to disrupt our delicate hormone balance.
Fragrance: Found in such products as perfume, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, moisturizers and others. According to the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Database, fragrance mixes are associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential negative effects on the reproductive system.
Phthalates: Found in many deodorants, perfumes/colognes, hair sprays and moisturizers. Known to be endocrine disruptors and linked to an increased risk of breast cancer and birth defects.
Triclosan: classified as a pesticide by the FDA. Found in toothpastes, antibacterial soaps and deodorants. Known as a skin irritant and endocrine disruptor particularly thyroid and reproductive hormones.
Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)/ Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES): Found in a huge percentage of foaming personal care and cleaning products including shampoo, body wash, mascara and cleansers. Known to be skin, lung and eye irritants and possibly a carcinogen when combined with other chemicals.
Toulene: Found in nail polish, nail treatments and hair colour. It’s a petrochemical and a powerful solvent that can irritate skin and cause nausea and respiratory problems. Can cause damage to a developing fetus so pregnant women should avoid exposure.
Sunscreen chemicals: Protection from the sun is important but using sunscreens full of chemicals may also cause cancer cell formation and cell damage. Avoid products with ingredients like benzophenone, PABA, avobenzone, homosalate and ethoxycinnmate. Use natural sunscreen as an alternative and a hat and clothing when spending hours in the sun.
Three Natural, Effective and Economical beauty alternatives:
1. Coconut oil is great used on its own as a moisturizer as well as an effective make up remover even for eye make up. Keep a jar in your bathroom.
A simple moisturizer recipe is:
½ cup coconut oil
1 tsp vitamin E oil (or pierce 2-3 capsules and squeeze)
5 drops of lavender oil or tea tree oil
Mix together in a bowl. If the coconut oil is hard in the cooler months use a hand blender to combine until smooth and creamy.
(recipe by wellnessmama.com)
2. Rosehip oil for dark eye circles – apply a few drops by patting tips of fingers under your eye.
3. Vitamin C serum (lasts for 3-5 days so make in small batches)
1 tsp vitamin C powder (use a pure form free from additives)
1 tsp purified water
1 tsp glycerin (optional) (use organic vegetable glycerin. I found mine on iherb)
¼ tsp Vit E oil (or capsule) (optional)
Mix in a small bowl until granules are dissolved. Add a tsp of water if you don’t use glycerin and Vit E.Transfer to small dark glass bottle.
Apply to skin on face at night after cleansing and apply moisturizer as usual. Apply to backs of hands as well.
Tingling is normal but if you feel burning wipe off immediately. Adjust recipe with more water and/or glycerin so that it suits your skin.
(Recipe from primallyinspired.com)
Remember, your skin and your family’s skin is precious. The best way to promote youthful, glowing skin is to use natural and safe personal and cleaning products, eat wholefoods and minimize processed food in your diet and to enjoy an active lifestyle. LIVE YOURSELF YOUNG from the inside out!
There is often discussion and mention of hormones in women’s health but do you know what they are, what they do and if yours are imbalanced or healthy?
As I’m not a doctor or scientist I’ve rounded up the work of Dr Chris Kresser (drchriskresser.com), Dr Josh Axe (draxe.com) and Dr Christine Horner (Institute of Vibrant Living) to give you my simple interpretation on the role hormones play.
HORMONES are your body’s chemical messengers and assist practically every physiological process in your body including:
- Immune system
- Menstrual cycle
The endocrine system is the control centre for hormones, and the brain, specifically the hypothalamus and pituitary glands play an integral role in regulating all hormone production in the body.
Our hormones are secreted by various glands and organs including the thyroid, adrenals, ovaries and pancreas. There is a complex interplay between different hormones so hormonal imbalance could mean that having too much or too little of one hormone will affect the performance of other hormones. Even a slight imbalance can cause major health problems so balance is vital for our body to function properly.
Hormonal imbalance could be caused by a number of factors including poor diet, elevated omega 6 oils (found in processed and packaged food), lack of exercise, inadequate sleep, elevated stress, long term use of birth control pills, genetics, and environmental toxins like heavy metals, mould, pesticides and chemicals like BPA in plastics.
So how do you know if your hormones are unbalanced?
Symptoms are many and varied but some signs include the following:
- Infertility and irregular periods
- Weight gain/weight loss (with no change in diet)
- Depression or anxiety
- Low libido
- Changes in appetite
- Digestive issues
- Brain fog
- Hair loss/thinning
The good news is that balancing hormones is achievable naturally by making some tweaks to diet and lifestyle choices.
To balance hormones naturally:
- Eat healthy fats like avocado, nuts, olives and olive oil (unheated) or coconut oil (heated & unheated)
- Balance your intake of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fats by consuming good quality wild caught fish, cod liver oil, sardines, mackerel etc as well as adding chia, flax and hemp seeds and walnuts to your diet while avoiding processed & packaged foods containing vegetable oils high in omega 6.
- Improve gut health by consuming a nutritious diet of wholefoods incorporating bone broth and fermented foods if possible and lots of leafy greens.
- Eliminate toxic kitchen, beauty and body care products from your home replacing them with safe and natural alternatives. This includes bake ware and pans with Teflon coatings and all makeup, skincare and perfume containing chemical ingredients.
- Exercise – any exercise that you enjoy and can stick to is great but HIIT (high intensity interval training) is best.
- Reduce and/or manage stress as high cortisol levels can wreak havoc on the body.
- Take adaptogen herbs to regulate hormone function. For example Ashwagandha (for thyroid, adrenals), Chasteberry (for PMS) and Maca root (for stamina, stress relief).
- Get more sleep and improve the quality of it by following a sleep routine.
- Watch caffeine and alcohol intake
- Back off birth control pills as they deplete the body of zinc, magnesium, B6 and other nutrients.
We can also help our kids grow up with healthy hormones by following the same lifestyle tips. We need to ensure they get enough sleep (without screen time before bed which will disrupt their circadian rhythms) and try not to overschedule them with too many activities and classes that could increase cortisol levels.
We all want the best health for our families so setting them up with healthy hormones is a great start. Our aim is to have our hormones working in harmony so balancing our own hormones is a fantastic way to get our groove back and feel our absolute best.