Eating Salmon is Good for Pregnant Women & their Babies

A healthy diet is important for everyone, but even more crucial during pregnancy. Fish is a great choice, and here’s another good reason to add it to your menu: Eating two servings of salmon a week during pregnancy is beneficial both for the mother and child, according to University of Granada researchers (Medical News Today).

This study showed that the intake of salmon increases omega-3 fatty acid levels both in the mother and child and improved their antioxidant defenses.  It should be noted that the salmon used in this study was reared in a fish farm under a controlled diet including special ingredients (vegetable oils and food as algae and zooplankton); through this diet, salmon became rich in omega-3 fatty acids and presented high concentrations of antioxidant vitamins – as Vitamins A and E – and selenium; in addition fish contained very low contaminant levels.

Read more about the study here.

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Looking Beyond the Label: Family Health & Nutrition

When you are shopping for food and snacks for your family, do you see words like “pure” and “natural” and “contains real fruit” and toss it in the cart, thinking it’s a healthy choice?

Don’t be so quick to judge a package by it’s label! Many of these appealing descriptions are simply misleading, and it’s always advisable to get out  your reading glasses and try to decipher the list of ingredients on the back of the package (they do put some of those lists in tiny letters, don’t they?!).

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While the labels usually don’t outright lie, they can use tricky terms that stretch the truth more than you’d believe. As a parent it’s especially important to ignore the hype and be aware of the following trendy terms:

  • Pure: Well, you don’t want contaminated food, do you? But “pure” actually has no regulated meaning in food labeling and doesn’t tell you about things in the package that perhaps should not be there.
  • Natural: It sounds so appealing, but is probably the least trustworthy term. Consumers think it means that this food is as good as freshly picked off the tree… but it really says nothing about the nutritional quality or safety of the food.
  • Made From… The food may have started out with whatever is printed on the label, but who knows to what extent the food is then diluted, processed, or hydrogenated. It may be quite far removed from the actual food it is originally “made from.”
  • Made with real fruit/veges: The law does not require the label to say how much real fruit is in the product. So you may have a tiny percentage of fruit in a product that is mostly sugar.
  • Made with whole grains: Check the list of ingredients and you may be surprised to see that the product contain mostly refined flour with just a small amount of whole wheat added.
  • Fat Free: Suppose a food is labeled 95 percent “fat-free.” This means that five percent of the total weight of the food is fat, (which may not seem like much), yet a single gram of fat contains nine calories – compared to four calories in a gram of protein or carbohydrates. Five grams of fat in 100 grams of dark-meat turkey represents one-fourth of the calories in that serving.
  • Enriched: This often means that after doing something to the food that removed many of it’s nutrients, another process was required to put some of the good stuff back in. For example, enriched white bread is not as healthy as its whole wheat counterpart.
  • Smoked: This term legally describes the flavor of the food. So while you might imagine your food being smoked in an old-fashioned smokehouse, it could actually be artificially or chemically smoked, or just contain smoked flavoring.
  • Fruit drinks: These may contain little or no real fruit juice, and might be mostly sugar and water. If it says “high in vitamin C,” it may have added vitamins but still be a long way from real orange juice.
  • Organically grown, organic, pesticide-free, all natural, and no artificial ingredients: None of these terms say much about the nutritional value or safety of the product. Trust only labels that say “certified organically grown, which means that the food was grown without chemical fertilizers and pesticides, in soil free of these substances.

For more information on family nutrition and being label-savvy, visit AskDrSears.com, or click on one of the following links!

Energizing Foods for Pregnancy

Being pregnant… it’s exhausting! And in the early months, when there’s not much to show for it, your hard-working body may not get much appreciation or relaxation.

But what is making you so tired? How can that tiny little growing being inside you be sapping so much of your energy? To fuel the baby-making, your body is producing more blood, your heart rate is up, your metabolism is working overtime, and you’re using up more nutrients and water. It also takes four months until the baby’s placenta  is complete. So it’s no wonder you are always fighting fatigue!

So when a nap is not an option, and the show must go on, what kind of energy boost can you hope for?  Sugar and caffeine may give you a temporary high, but after the initial surge in blood sugar you’ll plummet lower than before. What you need are some nutritious, energy-boosting foods to help you get through the day.

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Grazing (eating 5 or 6 small meals instead of 3 big ones) may be the best way to eat while pregnant. You’ll keep your energy levels even and avoid the nausea that may accompany a too-large meal. And be sure to drink plenty of water.

And while you’re not literally “eating for two,” your body does need about 300 extra calories per day.  Bon appétit!

Protein: Recommendation for pregnancy: 75 grams of it per day. Helps keep you energized and aids in the development of your baby’s rapidly reproducing cells.

  • milk, cheese, and yogurt
  • eggs
  • lean meat and poultry
  • fish and seafood
  • beans, lentils, split peas
  • quinoa
  • nuts and seeds

Complex Carbohydrates:

  • whole-grain breads, crackers, and cereals
  • fresh, dried, and frozen fruits
  • fresh vegetables
  • baked potatoes with skin
  • dried beans and peas

Iron: Fatigue can be related to iron-deficiency anemia, especially in pregnant women. Iron-rich foods will keep your irons stores elevated and help pump up your energy level.

  • dried fruit
  • spinach
  • soy products
  • lean red meat
  • duck
  • cooked shellfish
  • cooked dried beans
  • oatmeal
  • iron-fortified cereals

Putting it all together: Here are just a few meal and snack ideas to help you get that little extra energy-lift.

  • Sandwiches of whole-grain bread filled with grated cheese, tuna, lettuce and tomatoes.
  • Salads with fresh veges and feta cheese
  • Low-fat yogurt with dried fruit and granola
  • Hummus with bread or vegetable sticks
  • Fresh fruit
  • dried fruits and nuts
  • Hearty soups with veges, beans, legumes, chicken or meat
  • Oatmeal or unsweetened breakfast cereals
  • Fruit-shakes and fresh-squeezed juice
  • Chicken breast with baked potato and steamed veges
  • Whole-grain pasta topped with grilled veges and salmon

THE GREATER GOOD: Making Vaccination Safer for your Child

The Greater Good is an award winning documentary that offers a fresh look at what’s behind the sharply polarized vaccine debate in the U.S., and offers the opportunity for a new, more rational discussion about how to create safer and more effective public health policies to help our children stay healthy.

I watched it and I recommend that all parents or parents-to-be watch it too. Although you may have wonderful, caring doctors and friends who generally give good advice, when it comes to this controversial topic it is worthwhile to get the facts for yourself.  It’s so important to educate yourself in order to make the best possible choices for your family’s safety and health.

The producers of this powerful film are allowing a full and FREE preview through November 5th!

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THE GREATER GOOD looks behind the fear, hype and politics that have polarized the vaccine debate in America today.

The film re-frames the emotionally charged issue and offers, for the first time, the opportunity for a rational and scientific discussion on how to create a safer and more effective vaccine program.”

This film recently received the 2nd annual “Koroni Award for a documentary feature addressing an issue of importance to public health” at the Sidewalk Film Festival.

It also received the Cinematic Vision Award at the 2011 Amsterdam Film Festival.

From my point of view, this film couldn’t be more timely and if you have any interest in the vaccine controversy is a must see.

I sincerely hope you will share this article with family, close friends and social networks while free viewing of the film is still available, and urge everyone you know to take the time to watch it.

Barbara Loe Fisher summarizes the purpose of the film rather succinctly when she says that the issue of vaccines, “has become so polarized—you’re either pro-vaccine or you’re anti-vaccine.

When you take a centrist position, like the National Vaccine Information Center, you are automatically put into the category of being anti-vaccine.

But the truth is, we’re just trying to make vaccine policies and vaccines safer.” (Dr. Mercola)

Click on this link to watch the film: THE GREATER GOOD


Benefits of Probiotics Found in Breastmilk

There’s been a lot of talk over the past few years about the importance of probiotics, and specifically the probiotics found in breastmilk. But what exactly are they, and what benefit do they serve us and our children?

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What are probiotics?

Probiotics are live bacteria that live in our gut and benefit us in various ways. Humans carry around about ten times as many bacterial cells as there are actual cells in our bodies, and most of them live in the digestive tract. They help digest food, absorb minerals and other nutrients, and help with synthesizing vitamins. Probiotic therapy is being used to treat a range disorders including irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, yeast infections, asthma, allergies, and other inflammatory responses.

According to the Harvard website: “An estimated 100 trillion microorganisms representing more than 500 different species inhabit every normal, healthy bowel. These microorganisms (or microflora) generally don’t make us sick; most are helpful. Gut-dwelling bacteria keep pathogens (harmful microorganisms) in check, aid digestion and nutrient absorption, and contribute to immune function.”

Where do they come from?

Babies are actually not born with any of this beneficial bacteria in their intestines, but they quickly become colonized with exposure. Babies born via vaginal delivery tend to have more beneficial bacteria (which they get from their mother as they travel through the  birth canal), and so do babies that are breastfed. Probiotics are found in breast milk, and due to the growing body of research showing their benefits, they are also being added to infant formula.

You can also get your probiotics in supplement form or better yet, by eating fermented foods like yogurt, fermented cabbage and fermented soy products. Certain foods called prebiotics are also helpful in rejuvenating your body’s colony of flourishing intestinal flora, by feeding the probiotics that live inside you. These foods include oats, bananas, berries, greens such as kale, chard, leeks, asparagus, whole grains, almonds, flax, onions, and honey.

How probiotics benefit your baby

Breastmilk contains the probiotic lactobacillus reuteri (l. reuteri) which is passed from mother to baby.  Studies have show that the consumption of probiotics by children and infants may:

  • shorten bouts of diarrhea and acute viral gastroenteritis
  • lessen side effects of antibiotics
  • reduce the severity of symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)
  • significantly reduce colic in newborns
  • promote oral health by killing streptoccocus mutants which cause tooth decay
  • avoid skin problems such as eczema
  • avoid or delay the onset of asthma
  • contribute to the development and functioning of baby’s immune system
  • lessen doctor visits, fewer sick days, and better overall health

A  nursing mother who consumes probiotics and prebiotics is not only benefiting herself, she is also passing along the beneficial bacteria to her baby.

Prenatal Vitamins Help Prevent Autism

Another huge reason for taking prenatal vitamins! In addition to warding off birth defects and assisting with proper fetal growth, a new study shows that taking prenatal vitamins may help prevent autism and autism spectrum disorders, reducing the risk by some 40 percent.

According to researchers, the three months before conception and the first month of pregnancy are the most vital times for taking prenatal vitamins. So women who want to or may become pregnant should be particularly vigilant during this time frame.

Folic acid is one of the essential ingredients in prenatal vitamins, and plays a major role in healthy fetal development.  Talk to your doctor about a healthy diet and appropriate prenatal vitamins.

Summer Pregnancy Health: Water, Water, Water

Long periods of time in the sun and heat can take a toll on anyone, but pregnant women should be extra vigilant about drinking enough water. Don’t run the risk of dehydration this summer… read on!

Why We Need Water

A woman’s body is made up of about 55% water, and a newborn baby’s body is about 75% water! Water is a vital part of many bodily functions: it  flushes waste products from the cells, aids in liver and kidney function, regulates body temperature, protects joints and organs, and generates healthy skin. Because blood is made mostly of water, it’s especially important to drink a lot during pregnancy, as mom’s blood volume increases significantly.

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What Happens When You’re Dehydrated

When your body starts running low on fluids, you may experience fatigue, constipation, blood clots, preterm labor, and, in severe cases, miscarriage. It is also dangerous because it can compromise your baby’s nourishment. Proper hydration is important for producing adequate breast milk, too.

Signs of Dehydration

Sweating in the summer is one way your body cools itself off, but it can cause you to lose a significant amount of water. Here are some signs to look out for:

  • Dry mouth and thirst
  • Cool or pale skin
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Rising pulse
  • Feeling dizzy, weak, or lightheaded
  • Bad headache that doesn’t improve with acetaminophen
  • Abdominal cramping lasting 15 minutes or more
  • Fever of 102 degrees F. or higher
  • Feeling confused or disoriented

If you experience any of these symptoms, stop immediately to rest in a cool place and drink water. If the symptoms don’t subside within 30 minutes, call your doctor. You may need to be put on an IV to rehydrate yourself.

How Much Should I Drink?

To prevent dehydration, you should try to drink at least 8-12 eight-ounce glasses of non-caffeinated fluids every day. Caffeine can actually dehydrate you. Fruits and vegetables count too, since they contain substantial amounts of water. You may not always feel thirsty, but try to drink at regular intervals throughout the day anyway.  If it’s very hot or you are exercising, increase your water intake. Your urine should be light yellow, and you should need to go to the bathroom a few times a day.

Is Baby Oil Safe for Your Little One?

I never gave a second thought to the safety of baby oil… after all, if it’s called “baby oil” it must be fine to use on babies… right? Not quite.  Baby oil is generally just straight mineral oil, plus some fragrance. And mineral oil is made from refined petroleum (as in, the stuff you put in your car). Instead of soothing and moisturizing baby’s sensitive skin, it will actually dry out skin and clog pores. And that’s just the beginning of the potential hazards.

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Watch what you put on your skin!

Remember, whatever you put on your skin is absorbed and circulated throughout your body. Infants, whose brains and nervous systems are not fully developed, are particularly vulnerable to substances absorbed by the skin. Dr. Mercola is fond of saying, “Don’t put anything on your body that you wouldn’t eat if you had to…”  When we eat something harmful, at least there are enzymes in our saliva and digestive systems to break it down and flush it out. But when something harmful permeates our skin, there is not much to stop it from entering the bloodstream and accumulating in delicate organs.

To make mineral oil, crude petroleum is heated in order to remove the gasoline and kerosene. Then hydrocarbons are removed by using sulfuric acid, applying absorbents, and washing with solvents.

It doesn’t sound pretty, but is it really that bad to dab a bit on after the bath?

The problems with Baby Oil (Mineral Oil)

  • Mineral oils can can cause sensitivity reactions over time, in the form of headaches, arthritis and diabetes.
  • Mineral oils interferes with the absorption of nutrients in your body.
  • Mineral oil dissolves the skin’s natural oils, thereby increasing water loss (dehydration) from the skin.
  • Mineral oil may increase the skin’s sensitivity to sunlight and has been linked to an increased risk of skin cancer.

There was even a segment on Oprah about a baby who died from ingesting baby oil. He inhaled some of it, which became trapped in his lungs, killing him. (Note to caretakers: Even seemingly harmless toiletry items can be dangerous. Keep everything out of children’s reach!)

So what should I use instead?

Safe alternatives to baby oil would be: all natural, edible, unscented, unflavored fruit or vegetable oils that you’d cook or bake with. Some great all-natural moisturizers are pure emu oil, and pure coconut oil, grapeseed oil, and safflower oil. You can also find many organic skin oils and lotions these days.

Moisturize from the inside out by staying hydrated. Drinking lots of plain old water is a great way to keep your skin soft and supple. Baby’s skin usually doesn’t need that must moisturizing in the first place. If his skin seems dry or irritated, check into the soaps, detergents, creams, and diapers you are using first– he may be having a reaction to something else.

Be careful what YOU use, too!

Many body oils, cosmetics, and moisturizers that adults use are based on mineral oils as well. Be aware of what you put on your breasts, which can pass through your breastmilk to your baby.

Read more here.

Postpartum Depression for Dads

Lots of attention has been given to postpartum depression, which happens to moms soon after birth. But many are surprised to learn that fathers can and do experience postpartum depression as well! A study by the University of  Michigan, published in the March 2011 issue of Pediatrics, found that a significant number of fathers with babies under a year old (about 7%) were clinically depressed. Fathers with infants 3 months to 6 months old were most likely to be depressed; in this category one in four dads was found to be depressed.

The results of this study are aimed at making doctors aware that just as they screen new mothers for depression, fathers should be screened for Paternal Postnatal Depression (PPND) as well.

Depression in dads is not something new, it has just been swept under the rug. Men’s hormones actually change too when their wife has a baby!  A new father may feel resentment at the arrival of a new baby, or irritated by the many changes in his life as a father. He may be short tempered, snappy, and feel like smacking that little bundle of joy that won’t stop crying.

Yet many men never admit that they are depressed, and never seek the help deserve. They are taught to hide their personal issues and be strong. And the signs of depression in men are different than in women (anger and aggression rather than tears and helplessness), and many never realize that what they are feeling is really depression.

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But like any medical issue, depression is not something to be ignored. Children need a stable, positive father for healthy development and well-being. Women need a supportive husband who can be a partner in raising the kids. And men need to feel inner peace which enable them to live happy, productive, enriching lives.

Symptoms of Men’s Depression:

  • Becoming irritable, angry, or confrontational
  • Feeling stressed and discouraged
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Violent behavior
  • Working or studying obsessively
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Impulsive or risky behavior, such as reckless driving and extramarital affairs
  • Physical ailments: Headaches, digestive problems, pain
  • Lack of concentration, lack of interest in work, hobbies, sex
  • Thoughts of suicide

Who is at risk:

Any man can be at risk for PPND, but there are some factors that make it more likely:

  • Family history of depression
  • Preexisting marital discord
  • Lack of sleep
  • Unemployment significantly ups the incidence of PPND
  • Men who’s wives suffer from postpartum depression are more likely to have it as well.

A man who’s depressed may experience only a few of the symptoms, or many. How bad they are may vary too, or get worse over time. It is important to remember that admitting you are depressed is a sign of strength and hope, not weakness! Depression is a treatable condition and should not be suffered in silence. Ignoring it will not make it go away, in fact if left untreated it tends to get worse. After all, if you had a broken ankle you wouldn’t just ignore the pain and keep walking around on it! Counseling and regular exercise can be very helpful, and sometimes medications will be prescribed.  Look for a qualified therapist who has experience in treating men with depression.

Every family deserves a happy, loving father, and every man deserves to feel worthy and capable of handling life’s day-to-day ups and downs with confidence. Don’t suffer alone. There are many resources online, or through your doctor. Get help today!

Brachial Plexus Injuries: A Preventable Newborn Injury- Please Read!

Three out of every 1,000 babies born in the USA suffer from injuries that could have been prevented. More children are inflicted with Brachial Plexus injuries at birth than suffer from Down’s Syndrome, or Muscular Dystrophy, or Spina Bifida.  The terrifying reality is that Brachial Plexus injury is a doctor-cause damage, occurring when a baby’s head is tugged or twisted in order to pull him out of the mother, damaging the delicate nerves in a newborn’s neck.

Symptoms may include a limp or paralyzed arm; lack of muscle control in the arm, hand, or wrist; and a lack of feeling or sensation in the arm or hand. The tragedy is that most of these birth-related injuries are preventable.  Like many of today’s problems, a little bit of education can go a long way.

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The problem is that a baby’s shoulders can become lodged behind the mother’s pelvic bones. Some practitioners panic and start pulling on the babies head. They call it “gentle traction” but it is hardly gentle.  In order to help shift the baby’s position, the mother needs to change positions, and this will help the baby to “slide out like a little fish.”

How? Laying flat on your back during labor is the WORST position for childbirth.  Although it is deemed most convenient for doctors, it narrows the birth canal by up to 30% and makes it much harder to push the baby out. Simply rolling over on your side, standing up, squatting, kneeling, or getting down on all fours will help. But never, never, never let anyone pull on your baby’s head.

C-section babies can also be injured.

Why aren’t more people aware of Brachial Plexus injuries?

The United Brachial Plexus Network explains that the reasons are complicated and include the following:

* Since there is no mandatory reporting or tracking of this injury, the widely stated assumption that the injury is usually transient cannot be validated.
* Misconceptions exist regarding the life-long implications and disabilities associated with this injury.
* Birthing practitioners do not want to take responsibility for enabling these injuries through medicinalized labor protocols.
* Medical providers are resistant to the idea that this injury is often preventable.
* Birthing practitioners have succumb to the belief that brachial plexus injuries are an unpreventable and acceptable risk of vaginal childbirth.
* Patient’s guardians often feel the injury is minimized by hospital personnel and are usually told the injury will go away after a few days or weeks.

Please watch this 5-minute video and visit the United Brachial Plexus Network website for more information. A full-length 25-minute video is available there.

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