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Healthy, Nut-Free Snacks for School and for Improved Focus

29 Aug

kidsnacksstarbucks

Greetings! It has been some time since my last post, and I hope this one contains some timely information you can put to use today, for the benefit of your children (and for you, too!). The new school year has begun, and many of you might have children with nut allergies, or like me- have children who share classrooms with other children who do.

Below is an updated re-post of one of my prior articles. I just unearthed this to review some ideas on snack prep for my daughter, and thought you might also find it useful:

Original full article: Healthy, Nut-Free Snacks for School and for Improved Focus

FYI- these are also some great examples to support kids specifically for better focus and mood while at school. As always, feel free to pass on this information to others you care about. Feedback is always welcome, I love to read comments from other parents about my articles!

Cora Rivard, N.D.

Plastic Water Bottles: How Safe Are They?

20 Mar

plastic bottles

by Cora Rivard, ND

(This is a referenced article from my previous post regarding the health concerns with using k cups/single serve coffee pods, for those who wanted more information about safety of plastics used for beverages and food items. I have relocated this previously written article to my blog, due to a faulty link on the prior referenced location.)

The bottled water industry has enjoyed booming growth in the recent decade as an increasingly health conscious population sought the convenience and perceived “purity” in purchasing bottled water. Aside from questions about the source of many bottled “spring” water brands, (some of which simply come from filtered tap water), fewer required tests for contaminants as compared to municipal sources, and the greater expenses and environmental impact of increased plastic waste, another important question has surfaced in recent years: how safe are these plastic containers for our health?

Most bottled waters and sodas are contained in a type of plastic called, polyethylene terephthalate (PET). While widely deemed safe for human consumption as single use containers by industry standards, it is known that this form of plastic degrades over time with use. What is not widely known is that this type of plastic has been found to leach carcinogens, such as antimony and other toxins, into mineral water samples after only two to four weeks of storage at room temperatures.1,2,3 These levels are enough to cause genetic mutations in the roots of plants watered with these samples. Exposure to sunlight and increased temperatures significantly increases the level of mutagens leached into water. 4

In addition, many plastics include a chemical called, Di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP), which helps to keep them flexible. It is present in plastic bottles, as well as many food storage plastics and plastic wraps. This chemical has been shown to be harmful to reproductive organs in rat models when consumed in high levels, as well as damaging to fetal development.5 The effect of long term, low level exposure to these chemicals is unknown.

What about those clear, hard plastic bottles? The plastic used in making many types of hard plastic bottles, most baby bottles, liners within food and beverage cans, as well as the large sized water cooler jugs in many offices, is called polycarbonate. In recent years it has been found that this type of plastic leaches small amounts of bisphenol A (BPA), which is a neurotoxic, estrogen-like chemical that can disrupt natural hormone functions in animal studies.6 When used at normal temperatures, leached amounts of BPA fall far below what is deemed toxic for human exposure. However, it has been found that when these plastics are exposed to hot water, through washing or storing hot liquids and foods, they can leach up to 55 times as much of this chemical! Because these plastics are everywhere in our environment, and studies have not been able to control for the compounded effects of low dose, chronic exposure to these substances over many years, it seems wise to reduce exposure as much as possible. Especially at a time when environmental contaminants which mimic estrogens could be contributing to our increasing incidences of cancers in reproductive organs, lowered sperm counts in men, and overall increase in endocrine disorders.

So how can you limit the exposure of potentially dangerous plastics to your family?

It is best to use glass or stainless steel bottles instead of plastic. When you do use plastic bottles, never store in hot temperatures or sunlight (don’t leave them in the care!), and don’t reuse- dispose the bottle into the correct recycling bin after a single use.

When shopping for baby bottles, make sure to purchase bottles labeled as “BPA-free.” Examples of brands which make BPA-free bottles include, “Born Free” and “Medela.”

With food storage, try to avoid purchasing items covered in plastic wraps or plastic containers. Hot temperatures and fatty foods in direct contact with the plastic will cause higher migration of contaminants. Some brands, like, “Saran Wrap” and “Glad Wrap” have changed their product so that they no longer contains BPA. Never put a plastic container into the microwave unless specifically designated as microwave safe. Taking these guidelines for use into consideration, the plastics least likely to leach when used as recommended, are numbered: #1, 2, 4 and 5.

References:

1. Evandri, M., Tucci, P., Bolle, P. “Toxicological evaluation of commercial mineral water bottled in polyethylene terephthalate: a cytogenetic approach with Allium cepa.” Food Additives and Contaminants. 2000, Vol. 17,(12)1037-1045

2. De Fusco R, et al. “Leaching of mutagens into mineral water from polyethyleneterephthalate bottles.” Sci Total Environ. 1990 Jan;90:241-8.

3. EPA website on the health effects of antimony
http://www.epa.gov/ogwdw/contaminants/dw_contamfs/antimony.html

4. Westerhoff, P, et al. “Antimony leaching from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic used for bottled drinking water.” Water Res. 2008 Feb;42(3):551-6. Epub 2007

5. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Department of Health and Human Services: Toxicologial Profile for Di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) Sept. 2002
http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp9.html

6. Le, H., et al. “Bisphenol A is released from polycarbonate drinking bottles and mimics the neurotoxic actions of estrogen in developing cerebellar neurons.” Toxicology Letters. 2008 Jan 30;176(2):149-56.

3 Tips to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

23 Feb

carbon monoxide

Last week, we sadly had another tragedy near our town with multiple deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning. And we still have a couple months of cold weather ahead.  I have also seen patients who have suffered from both acute and chronic exposures of carbon monoxide poisoning. Please take a moment to read the following 3 simple steps to prevent poisoning from happening, and how to recognize symptoms from it. And please protect the people you care about by passing this on, especially those who:

* use propane or natural gas for heating and/or appliances

*use a wood stove

* have a garage attached to the home

* own a generator

* travel in a camper or RV

Here in New England- almost 100% of us are included in at least one or two of these categories!

1. If you meet any of the above conditions, get carbon monoxide detectors! Not this week or next month. NOW. Best picks are ones that plug into the wall, and run on batteries as back up in case of power outage (this greatly prolongs battery life).

This is the model I selected after doing my research, we’ve used them for years and have plugged them in some of our families’ homes as well:
Kidde KN-COPP-3 Nighthawk Plug-In Carbon Monoxide Alarm with Battery Backup and Digital Display

Make sure to replace them in time intervals recommended by the manufacturer (both batteries and the whole unit need to be replaced every few years or more)

For a starting point for more information, here is Consumer Reports buying guide:

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/co-and-smoke-alarms/buying-guide.htm

2. Most important! When running a generator, never, NEVER run it inside. Not even in your garage with the garage door wide open, and not even outside NEARBY the open door of your garage. This is because the fumes will still seep into the home. Carbon monoxide poisoning can kill in a matter of seconds. Always operate it outside, away from the home with the exhaust pointed away and downstream of any windows and doors that might be opened.

3. Follow manufacturer installation guidelines carefully. I originally purchased our first unit from a well known home store, and several different professionals there assured me that they should be installed high up, no-no- low to the floor, no- somewhere in the middle.

Here are some specific guidelines from the manufacturer, FirstAlert, on placement issues:

http://www.firstalert.com/faqs/co-alarm/where-should-i-install-carbon-monoxide-detectors-what-is-proper-carbon-monoxide-detector-placement

Finally, leaks from an improperly vented clothes dryer, stove or indoor heater happen on occasion. People with attached garages should be aware that seepage does occur in small amounts. Carbon monoxide poisoning can manifest as flu symptoms, headache, dizziness, weakness and nausea.

Be aware that pets and children may be more sensitive to the effects, even at low exposures. Make sure to have detectors in all floors of your home and basement, and wherever people are sleeping, particularly in bedrooms or home gyms adjacent to attached car ports.

Have a safe and enjoyable finale to the winter! (or will this winter ever end?)

The Mommy Illuminati

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