Monthly Archives: October 2013

Is your nursery toxic?

Source: Fantastic4design.com

There is nothing more exciting than waiting for the arrival of a new baby. Most parents spend a significant amount of time and money getting the nursery ready for the baby once it makes it arrival. Did you know that the average nursery harbours over 300 harmful chemicals floating in the air? That’s a lot for a little body to deal with.

Ways to have a healthier nursery.

  1. If you decide to redecorate and paint, choose non VOC, solvent-free paint. Conventional paints can off gas for years after the paint has dried and they contain toxic volatile substances that are known carcinogens. Look into other options to decorate the nursery that doesn’t require painting such as wall decals.
  2. Choose a solid wood crib with non toxic finish. If you do purchase or accept a second-hand crib, make sure to ask about the finish and avoid composite wood. Remember that in a few months, your baby is going to be chomping on the crib while they teeth.
  3. Avoid carpet in the nursery. Hard wood flooring with a carpet that is washable is much better.
  4. Purchase an organic/Greenguard certified mattress. Yes, it is more expensive but so are hospital bills and a lifetime of neurological and behavioural problems. Conventional mattresses contain flame retardants, anti microbial and water proofing finishes. These are all substances that are detrimental to a developing brain and respiratory system.
  5. If you must purchase a changing pad, make sure if it does not contain foam or PVC material. Wool and cotton filled pads will do the job. Foam changing pads are most likely loaded with flame retardants.
  6. Beware of phthalates, BPA, PVC, lead and cadmium in toys, diaper bags and teething products. Wooden teethers and PVC free teethers are available. Be cautious of old toys passed down since the paint finish may be questionable and it may be loaded with lead.
  7. Purchase organic baby care products or better yet make your own. If the product does not say certified organic, then it most likely isn’t. Beware of companies trying to green wash their toxic products by calling it natural. Read labels to check ingredients or visit the EWG website to see if the product you are using is safe.
  8. Opt for chlorine free diapers or better yet purchase cloth diapers and use reuseable cloth wipes.
  9. Ask yourself if it is absolutely necessary to purchase all this furniture and toys for your new-born.

Lifesaving Probiotics

Picture courtesy of Smitten Kitchen

Yes, you read that right, I believe probiotics are lifesaving. A few weeks ago, I got into a heated debate with two other people on wellness mama’s blog site.  I felt as if I was in a political race with all the mudslinging and name calling that was going on. Somewhere in cyberspace there is a person who goes by Captain Obvious who vehemently said that there is no proof that probiotics ever saved anyones’ life.

Well Captain Obvious, whoever, wherever you are, I am here to tell you that obviously you do not know the world of probiotics. I started reading a very interesting and great book on probiotics by Dr. Gary Huffnagle called The Probiotics Revolution this past week. According to Dr. Huffnagle, pre and probiotics are not optional additions to our diet but an essential food group that provides nutrients that are just as important to our health as vitamins and minerals.

What are Probiotics and how do they work?

Probiotics are friendly bacteria that live inside our intestines. Each individual person is host to one hundred trillion microbes . These microbes have important functions to our health and include species such as Lactobacillus, E. coli, Bacteroides, Candida albicans, Clostridium difficile, Streptococcus and Klebsiella to name a few.  Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are the two most commonly known friendly microbes in our body that protect us by competing with harmful bacteria within our body and enhancing our immune system. Problems arise when the balance between good and bad microbes is disturbed.

The research on the role of probiotics have been mixed. Some studies have  shown probiotics to help with diseases such as asthma, allergies (food and environmental), eczema, autism, H. Pylori, IBS, IBD (Chron’s, Ulcerative Colitis), peptic ulcer, rheumatoid arthritis, constipation, diarrhea, urinary tract infection, autoimmune disease, cardiovascular disease and the list goes on. Probiotics have even be shown to help decrease the incidence and severity of the common cold and flu. Probiotics have such a far-reaching effect because they help to modulate the immune system, quench inflammation, curb the stress response and keep bad bacteria in check.

How Can I get probiotics?

I am a proponent of getting your probiotics from your food. The reason the research results have been mixed is because single strains are used for reasearch. However this may not be a true reflection of what happens in our intestines when we eat whole foods. Fermented foods are a great way to increase the probiotic content in your gut. Every single culture in the history of human kind has eaten some kind of fermented food. The two biggest modifications that have affected the levels of probiotics in our system has been our diet and the introduction of antibiotics. A low fiber, highly processed diet enables the bad bacteria to grow in numbers that cause health problems while antibiotics disturb the delicate balance of the good vs bad microbes in our systems be killing the good ones.

Foods such as kefir, yogurt (look for a brand that added back the probiotics after pasteurization), kombucha, kim chee, miso, pickled vegetables, sauerkraut, naturally aged cheeses are all good sources of probiotics. It is equally important to have a high fiber diet full of fruits, vegetables, some whole grains that act as prebiotis which is food for the probiotics in our system.  Making your own fermentables is a great way to boost your health and that of your family and it is much cheaper than taking a supplement.  When at all possible choose organic produce for your fermentables. Please be cautious when you are fermenting your own food and avoid giving it to very young children who might easily get sick.

I usually recommend probiotic supplementation when a medical condition needs to be addressed and getting probiotics through food alone is not enough. Buyer beware when purchasing probiotic supplements. Not all brands are created equally and when at all possible keep your probiotic supplement refrigerated.

What are your experience with taking probiotics?