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Activism Green Living Healthy Living Kids & Family Raw Dairy Real Food

Reducing Your Child’s Risk of Autism And Other Disorders: Conception, Pregnancy, And The Newborn Infant, Part II

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This post is Part II of our accompanying companion piece to our vaccination series – Vaccines: A Choice or A Mandate.  In the first part of this series, the topics of pre-conception, pregnancy, and labor were discussed. We learned some important steps to take to help protect our unborn children from toxins and other factors that could lead to the development of disorders like autism and other related problems.

As compared to just 5 decades or so ago, we have a much higher concentration of toxins and chemicals in our water, soil, air, food system, and in many of the things we do and come into contact with on a daily basis.

In Randall Fitzgerald’s The Hundred Year Lie: How to Protect Yourself from the Chemicals That Are Destroying Your Health, he mentions the science journal Public Health which states, “the incidence of brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and major neuron disorders, was found to have tripled in nine Western countries, including the United States, during the period of 1974 to 1997. The most likely causes researchers identified were exposure to pesticides sprayed on crops, synthetic chemicals from the processed foods we consume, and industrial chemicals used in almost every aspect of our modern lives.”

Just like autism, Alzheimer’s disease as well as other disorders have been found to be connected to high levels of mercury in the body. Everything you can do to reduce your child’s toxic load from environmental sources will help prevent or reduce the severity of health issues from occurring – from his or her environment in the womb to after birth.

Here are some ways to keep your child’s health safe during newborn infant stages, including some information from Pathways To Family Wellness by Maureen McDonnell, RN:

  • Bond with your baby as much as possible. You will need your sleep, so rest when you can. But be sure to hold and talk to your infant as much as possible. Co-sleeping is an option many parents are adopting to ensure continued contact with their babies. Some parents need the separation time from their children, but know that if you do decide to take the co-sleep option, your child will not be sleeping with you forever, and separation will occur when the time is right.
  • Breastfeeding is one of the best ways to not only provide optimal nutrition, but to ensure there is a good amount of time to bond between you and the baby. While breastfeeding, keep up excellent dietary habits by eating plenty of healthy fats and proteins (olive oil, coconut oil, butter, lard, tallow, fermented cod liver oil, grass-fed meats and poultry, pasture-raised eggs, and raw dairy from a clean source), fresh fruits and vegetables, naturally fermented foods like home-made yogurt, sauerkraut, lacto-fermented vegetables, and sprouted/soaked/fermented grains. Also be sure you are drinking plenty of filtered water with minerals – either use real sea salt or add unsweetened cranberry juice not from concentrate to your water intake.
  • Wear your baby as often as possible. Close contact provides emotional support and frequent motion. These factors all strengthen and support neurological development in your baby. Find a good baby-wearing device that is comfortable for you and your baby to use. Here is a good resource for information on babywearing – Babywearing International.
  • Because birth is strenuous on both the mother and baby, consider having care by a qualified chiropractor shortly after birth. Spinal alignment is essential for healthy recovery and continued stamina. Your baby’s cranial and spinal development will affect his or her nerve system function for the rest of life. Early care supports strong nerve and immune system function.
  • Minimize toxins and pollutants in your baby’s environment. If you haven’t already, consider natural, non-toxic, organic, and sustainable products and living with your baby.  A great resource for how to do this and stay within your budget is the book The Eco-Nomical Baby Guide Down-To-Earth Ways For Parents to Save Money and the Planet – written by two mothers who went green for less than a thousand dollars (I can’t verify this, but apparently the average parents spend an average of $7000 on each newborn child). There are ways to do it even cheaper through hand-me downs, DIY, yard and garage sales, and trading.
  • Although it is an added expense, if possible purchase an organic crib and/or bed mattress. It is a good idea to be aware of bedding and clothing treated with flame retardants and heavy metals in the dye used for these items. They contain high levels of antimony and other toxic substances that can be harmful to your infant (and you).
  • Consider non-toxic and/or organic clothing and other supplies/toys for your baby. Remember that clothing and other items come into direct contact with skin, and anything in those substances can potentially be absorbed into the bloodstream even faster than foods that are digested.
  • Avoid using plastic-ware and bottles for your baby. These substances are not bio-degradable and many contain toxic chemicals like BPA that leech into food and drinks. Good alternatives include bamboo, stainless steel, glass (for some uses), wood, and ceramic. Here are some useful links: Green Your for a list of non-toxic and safe baby dishes and utensils, and Passionate Homemaking’s review of safe cookware for your family.
  • Use non-toxic substances on your baby’s skin for personal care and bathing. Castille soap diluted in filtered water, coconut oil, olive oil, cocoa butter, shea butter, aloe vera, and natural herbals without foreign ingredients are good choices. Avoid personal care products containing ingredients you are unfamiliar with – shampoos, skin creams, baby bath soap or gel products, and others. Become a label reader and if you don’t make your own mixtures at home, learn which brands are safe to use. Consult with the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database for individual product information and ingredients review.
  • Consider diapers carefully. Cloth diapers are good for your baby, but they do require more effort and water for washing than disposable diapers. Organic diapers can be expensive, but commercial diapers may contain ingredients that are undesirable for contact with your baby’s skin.  Here is a review of two eco-friendly brand diapers. And here is a good resource for everything you want to know about cloth diapering.
  • Consider dishwashing and clothing detergent options. Eco-Nuts and Soap Nuts are great for laundry and economical. They can be used multiple times for clothes washing. See The Family Homestead for recipes to make your own detergent.  DIY Natural has a good home-made dish detergent recipe as well. Good brands for dish detergent include Biokleen and Nature Clean.
  • Avoid keeping electronic devices near where your baby sleeps. Clock radios, cell phones, computers, and other equipment that emits electro-magnetic radiation.
  • Continue taking a good quality, whole food-based, organically sourced vitamin supplement, and also fermented cod liver oil. Extra nutrition is always needed to support the health of mom and breastfeeding to provide the best nutrition possible!
  • Avoid all medications and vaccinations until the child is older and you can research and make an informed decision about  the potential affects to your child’s immune, digestive, and neurological systems. Remember that a good health foundation with a healthy environment and nutrient-dense foods are going to take your child a long way in building up a healthy immune system.
  • If for some reason you are unable to breast feed, avoid commercial baby formula. Commercial formulas contain synthetic fillers, chemicals, and nutrients added in, as well as dangerous industrial chemicals such as melamine – a synthetic chemical product that forms hard resins when combined with formaldehyde – and Perchlorate, a hazardous chemical used to produce rocket fuel. Many commercial formulas also contain soy (even those not marketed specifically as soy formula), and processed, industrial soy is one of the worst things you can feed your child. Soy has been linked to neurological, reproductive, endocrine, and thyroid problems. Our family has avoided it for years ever since I became aware of the numerous dangers to our health.

I wish I had known about real food options for my son when he was born. I was unable to breastfeed due to a serious infection I sustained due to a ruptured appendix during my 7th month of pregnancy. Read my story here. If I had known you could make nutritious, home-made formulas for babies, I would have definitely given this to my son!

Here are two of the best recipes I’ve found for nutrient-dense, home-made baby formula, from the Weston A. Price Foundation (see this link for more information):

  • 2 cups whole raw cow’s milk, preferably from pasture-fed cows
  • 1/4 teaspoon acerola powder
  • 1-7/8 cups filtered water
  • 1/4 cup homemade liquid whey (See recipe for whey, below) Note: Do NOT use powdered whey or whey from making cheese (which will cause the formula to curdle). Use only homemade whey made from yoghurt, kefir or separated raw milk.
  • 4 tablespoons lactose
  • 1/4 teaspoon bifidobacterium infantis
  • 2 or more tablespoons good quality cream (preferably not ultrapasteurized), more if you are using milk from Holstein cows
  • 1/2 teaspoon unflavored high-vitamin or high-vitamin fermented cod liver oil or 1 teaspoon regular cod liver oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon high-vitamin butter oil (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon expeller-expressed sunflower oil
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons Frontier brand nutritional yeast flakes
  • 2 teaspoons gelatin

Milk should be raw, from pastured cows. If you cannot get raw milk, use organic whole milk (not ultra-high temperature pasteurized – UHT). Cod liver oil should be fermented, best brand is from Green Pasture. Real food can be fed to your baby as early as a few weeks after birth, but it needs to be in liquid form. All ingredients should be from organic or sustainable sources, if possible.

Here is the liver-based formula, which is hypoallergenic for babies who have a true lactose intolerance:

  • 3-3/4 cups homemade beef or chicken broth
  • 2 ounces organic liver, cut into small pieces
  • 5 tablespoons lactose
  • 1/4 teaspoon bifidobacterium infantis
  • 1/4 cup homemade liquid whey (See recipe for whey, below)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon unflavored high-vitamin or high-vitamin fermented cod liver oil or 1 teaspoon regular cod liver oil
  • 1 teaspoon unrefined sunflower oil
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon acerola powder

Recipe for whey (makes about 5 cups):

Homemade whey is easy to make from good quality plain yoghurt, or from raw or cultured milk. You will need a large strainer that rests over a bowl.

If you are using yoghurt, place 2 quarts in a strainer lined with a tea towel set over a bowl. Cover with a plate and leave at room temperature overnight. The whey will drip out into the bowl. Place whey in clean glass jars and store in the refrigerator.

If you are using raw or cultured milk, place 2 quarts of the milk in a glass container and leave at room temperature for 2-4 days until the milk separates into curds and whey. Pour into the strainer lined with a tea towel set over a bowl and cover with a plate. Leave at room temperature overnight. The whey will drip out into the bowl. Store in clean glass jars in the refrigerator.

Nutrition matters!

Contrary to popular belief, babies should not be made to wait to eat real food until they are 4 – 6 months old. This proposterous myth which has been propagated by the conventional medical system causes great harm to your infant’s digestive tract. Feeding foods like grain-based cereals (including rice) promote digestive issues in a big way, causing drowsiness and longer periods of sleep, and detached behavior.

By withholding nutrient-dense foods like fats and proteins early on from your baby’s diet, you are contributing to a variety of issues besides digestive disorders including the onset of food allergies and intolerances, weight problems and various others.  A diet high in carbohydrates this early in an infant’s life lead to the development of insulin resistance and an underdeveloped digestive tract not able to handle digestion of grains as the small intestine does not produce amylase – which is necessary to absorb grains.

According to The Environmental Illness Resource, children with abnormal gut flora due to poor diet and whose biological background foundation is also weak (from the parents)  “testing reveals some typical nutritional deficiencies in many important minerals, vitamins, essential fats, many amino-acids and other nutrients. The most common deficiencies, recorded in these patients, are in magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper, calcium, manganese, sulphur, phosphorus, iron, potassium, vanadium, boron, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, C, A, D, folic acid, pantothenic acid, omega-3, 6, 9 fatty acids, taurine, alpha-ketoglutaric acid, glutathione and many other amino-acids. This usual list of nutritional deficiencies includes some most important nutrients for normal development and function of the child’s brain, immune system and the rest of the body.”

In Gut and Psychology Syndrome, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, M.D. elaborates on the connection between a pathogen-filled, imbalanced environment in the gut and behavior abnormalities and autoimmune problems appearing in children.  She firmly believes “the child’s digestive system hold the key to the child’s mental development.”

Feeding your baby

After your infant has been consuming breast milk and/or home-made, nutrient dense formula, he or she can start eating more solid foods at ages 4 – 6 months.  Baby-led weaning is very important, so follow your baby’s needs. A great starter food is a egg yolks or soft-boiled egg from chickens on pasture. Babies need healthy fats, proteins, and cholesterol for growth and development. Eggs provide Omega 3s which are critical for brain and neurological development, as well as cardiovascular maintenance.

Children over age 6 months can start eating mashed up raw liver from a healthy grass-fed meat source combined with the egg. You can also introduce butter, raw milk, or home-made yogurt, kefir, or sour cream from raw milk.  If dairy is an issue for your baby (perhaps a casein allergy), try cultured veggie juices and pureed, fermented vegetables made at home after your infant has reached 6-8 months of age.

Making your own baby food at home is best, and foods your other family members eat can be utilized in various stages if they are pureed or mashed. After your baby has started eating some solid foods, be sure to include vegetables and mix them with butter, olive oil, ghee, or coconut oil for good fat-soluble vitamins to help your baby absorb nutrients in vegetables.

Wait until your infant is over age 10 months to introduce complex carbohydrates such as starchy vegetables like potatoes. Allowing his or her digestive system to mature and become healthy from consuming nutrient-dense foods like raw milk, yogurt, liver, grass-fed meats, and healthy fats like coconut and olive oil and butter will help prepare the body for digestion of other foods.

Soups and broths are extremely nutritious (broths more so in the stages where your child doesn’t yet have teeth) and can be a great vehicle for including a lot of nutrient-dense items like vegetables, other healthy meats like beef, pork and lamb, gelatin from a clean source (we use Bernard Jensen), and home-made yogurt, kefir, or home-made sauerkraut or other lacto-fermented vegetables.

Beverages

Continue to give your child raw milk and filtered water, and home-made broths.  These beverages are healthy and provide not only hydrate your child but contain nutrients. Juice is nutritionally empty for the most part and should be avoided. Consuming too much juice – especially the commercial variety – can cause weight gain and digestive issues (again, think insulin spike) unless you are juicing your own creations at home and with no added sugar and serving them only on occasion.

Other beverages which are good to try and extremely nourishing are fermented drinks like water kefir, kombucha, dairy kefir (if your child tolerates dairy), home-made infusions and herbal “teas” such as nettles, chamomile, and ginger. Here is a link to Susun Weed’s site showing how to prepare infusions. Probiotic beverages provide needed friendly bacteria or probiotics to your baby’s digestive tract and immune system as well as increase the nutrient value of the drinks your baby consumes. Herbal infusions have medicinal as well as nutritive properties and are a good source of minerals and some vitamins.

Make a smoothie for your baby, and you can add in a variety of wholesome ingredients that really pack a nutritional punch!

Grains

Grains are difficult to digest and should always be properly prepared when they are introduced to the diet of a young child. Humans lack the enzyme amylase before the age of about 28 months in the digestive tract.  Soaked and sprouted grains have had the phytic acid (a naturally-occurring anti-nutrient) neutralized to allow for greater absorption.  If possible, delay serving grains to your child until at least the age of two years.

Consuming grains too early and not properly prepared can cause numerous digestive problems – bloating, insulin spiking, weight gain, flatulence, abdominal cramping, picky eating preferences, constipation, and loose stools. It is common for parents to buy packaged crackers, cereals, breads, bagels, snacks comprised of grains, and other similar foods when their babies are very young.  But these foods are not properly prepared, are nutritionally empty, and are geared for convenience. They are processed as can be and have had their nutrients stripped out with synthetic added back in. Even organic varieties of these same foods sold at the store should be avoided.

Digestive symptoms such as colic, pain, bloating, and flatulence should not be considered normal, and to keep your infant’s digestive tract and overall health profile optimal, feeding nutrient-dense foods at an early age is critical. Foods like wheat and rice can both cause allergies and health issues as they easily penetrate the delicate lining of the underdeveloped intestinal wall which is not mature enough to digest these substances. The result is toxins dumping into the blood stream, which cause myriad health problems – from noticeable digestive issues, irritability, ADD, and ADHD to full-blown autism.

Build a good foundation for your child!

A healthy foundation really can help you and your child avoid illness, colds, flus, digestive, endocrine, immune, and behavior disorders. Although there is no guarantee anything we do in this life will keep our children from ever getting sick or making sure they live to be 100, taking steps to do what we can to help prevent future problems and provide our children with the best possible chance to have a healthy future is really at the heart of what we do have control over as parents.

Please read Part I of this companion series if you missed it last week.

Please read our Vaccination Series – A Choice or A Mandate, Part I, and Part II.


Activism Green Living Healthy Living Kids & Family Real Food

Is Cheap Food Really Cheap? The Hidden Costs of Industrial Food

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Do you go to the grocery store and purchase whatever is on the shelf, or do you think about what’s in the food you eat and how it is produced?

Where your food comes from is just as important as making something at home from scratch. The ingredients and how they are produced say a lot about just how healthy that food really is.

When you go to the grocery store or out to eat at a restaurant, consider the following about the majority of food sold and served:

  • Most grocery store and restaurant meat comes from factory farm environments where the animals are confined and live in less than optimal. Shoved together in small and sometimes filthy, unnatural spaces,  surrounded by waste lagoons, are administered hormones, steroids, and antibiotics. Animals are fed  cheap and unnatural feed including genetically-modified corn, grain, and soy, and renderings of bio-waste products. The waste generated by factory farm facilities contaminates our air, soil, and ground water, which places nearby residents at risk for exposure to pathogenic bacteria like E.coli and others.
  • Factory farms can be small or large in scale, but are highly specialized, and function like a factory (hence the term “factory farm”). These facilities use fossil fuel, pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals, and synthetic fertilizers derived from oil. Small-scale, organic farming operations have been shown to use 60 percent less fossil fuel per unit of food than conventional industrial farms (Norberg-Hodge, Helena , Todd Merrifield, and Steven Gorelick. Bringing The Food Economy Home: Local Alternatives to Global Agribusiness, 2002.)
  • Conventional produce is grown with pesticides and herbicides, and increasingly more from genetically-modified and engineered seeds, and with modern farming methods which are as harmful to the landscape. This type of farming, called mono-cropping, is damaging and strips the soil of its nutrients – substances which are vital to the nutritional density and flavor of the foods you eat. The over-use of chemicals like insecticides and pesticides has caused rapidly-developing resistance in pests which has rendered these chemicals increasingly ineffective. The production of herbicide tolerant (HT) biotech crops, particularly Monsanto’s RR crops, has resulted in the development of superweed strains that are nearly impervious to even conventional methods. Biotech info discusses how cross-pollination techniques, a method employed by GM companies like Monsanto, lead to further and further resistance in these superweed strains.
  • Conventional produce contains higher amounts of water and less nutrition. From Sustainable Table: “A comparison of the nutritional content between organic and factory farmed, conventional vegetables showed that organic produce has higher nutritional value. Organic lettus had 29 percent more magnesium, organic spinach had 52 percent more Vitamin C, organic carrots had 69 percent more magnesium, and organic cabbage had 43 percent more Vitamin C, 41 percent more iron and 40 percent more magnesium.”
  • Processed foods contain chemically-laden “food-like substances” which contain carcinogenic ingredients, hydrogenated and highly processed oils, MSG and other excitotoxins, are synthetically fortified and contain little to no nutritional value. The result is less nutrition and more toxins.
  • Vegetarian and vegan diets don’t necessarily support sustainable agriculture. Many vegetarian and vegan products on the shelves including vegetables, fruits, grains including corn, soy, and legumes come from conventional sources and their growth, production, and sale damages the environment. The majority of soy and much of the grain produced in the world comes from genetically-modified sources.
  • These crops are responsible for damaging farmlands and are destructive to topsoil and biodiversity because of the methods employed in their farming. These farming efforts are known as monocropping – planting the same strains year-after-year, which destroys beneficial organisms and bacteria essential to health. They also use toxic chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. Monsanto has over 250 million GM acres worldwide. Sustainable farming doesn’t need harmful chemicals to control pests and weeds, but instead uses nature to manage its land and crops.
  • According to Sustainable Table, “Factory farms also threaten our health by incubating infectious diseases that can spread to the human population. Sometimes diseases are transferred directly from animals to humans. In cases of direct transmission, a worker who comes in contact with a diseased animal or its manure can contract the disease and pass it on to their family and community.”
  • Industrial food has the appearance of a “cheaper” price tag on the shelf, but the hidden costs are almost endless. Conventional food is subsidized by the government to “keep prices down”.  Who pays for those subsidies? Every tax payer in the U.S. You’ll spend more time in the doctor’s office and hospital, paying for drugs, surgery, and other procedures to “cure” your ailments. The sick joke is that these will never cure your health problems, only keep you coming back time and time again for more appointments and medications.

Supporting industrial farming keeps corporations going.  The result is damage to health and environment, and your dollars aren’t supporting smaller, family-owned farms whose goal is to bring you healthy food that preserves our health and the environment.

Benefits of small-scale, sustainable farming and food

When you buy sustainable food from small-scale producers, you are supporting local communities and healthy farming practices. The amount of fossil fuels used to transport these products is reduced, and the overall CO2 emissions into the atmosphere are lowered as well.

Although conventional medical recommendations tell us to stay away from saturated fats and red meat, grass-fed beef, eggs, and dairy do not clog our arteries. Unlike their factory counterparts, pastured animal foods contain CLA (conjugated linoleic acid, an important antioxidant), Omega 3s, minerals, Vitamins A, D, E, and K2. Read an interview with Dr. James Carlson, M.D., a board-certified family physician, osteopath, and clinical biochemist from the Weston A. Price Foundation site.

The process of grazing a herd of cattle on open land and moving them around from pasture to pasture on a day-to-day basis allows regeneration of the land as well as replenishment of nutrients in the soil and grasses. This type of farming actually encourages the health of top soil – one of the most critical areas of the environment which has a profound effect on health. When farmers work with the land to encourage natural biodiversity and development of microrganisms, the result is a win-win situation for all involved, the land, humans, and animals. Organic Grass Fed Beef Info thoroughly explains the vast differences between how  grass-fed animals and grain-fed animals are raised.

Scientific research shows that sustainable, pasture-raised, and organic foods provide significant health benefits for consumers. In addition to being raised without synthetic hormones, antibiotics, pesticides and chemical fertilizers, sustainable meat is more nutritious than meat produced by industrial agriculture for the reasons discussed above.

A recent report by the French Agency for Food Safety (AFSSA) revealed that organic foods are higher in both mineral and antioxidant content than their conventional counterparts. Another study from The Journal of Applied Nutrition found that the overall mineral content of organic foods sampled was higher than conventional – apples, potatoes, pears, wheat, and sweet corn. Mercury levels in the organic foods were found to be 27 percent lower than conventional.

From a joint study conducted by CDC scientists, the University of Washington, and Emory University, results reveal that pesticide levels in test subjects dropped to undetectable levels upon switching to an organic diet. When the subjects switched back to a non-organic diet, pesticide residues almost immediately became detectable. (Schafer S., Kristin, et al. “Chemical Trespass: Pesticides in Our Bodies and Corporate Accountability.” Pesticide Action Network of North America, May 2004)

Many health problems have been attributed to the consumption of these so-called foods, and yet the distinction is seldom made. Toxins and chemicals in our food supply are responsible for the appearance of earlier degenerative diseases than in the historical past.  Body Ecology provides a description of toxins in the products we eat and drink and those both in and outside of our bodies.

What are the hidden costs of cheap food?

Here is a comparative analysis of several processed foods versus a real, whole food free from chemicals and other toxins typically found in industrial food from Windy Ridge Poultry, in Alfred, NY:

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Switching to natural, organic, and grass-fed foods seems expensive on the surface, but when you consider health problems that can occur as a result of consuming processed foods, not to mention costs incurred on health care, environmental, and tax systems we pay for directly out of our own pockets, doesn’t it seem worth it to spend more now and save later?

Industrial food may have a cheaper price tag at the store, but the long-term repercussions of eating this way for an extended period of time will amount to a higher price tag in the future in more ways than one: you’ll pay with your pocketbook and your quality of life.

To learn more about factory farms, visit The Food & Water Watch web site. And here’s the factory farm list for every facility in the country by state.

Join up with the Millions Against Monsanto Campaign to help preserve the environment and health.

Want to read more?

Proof that real food doesn’t have to cost a bundle, is nourishing, and satisfies!

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Waste not, want not: tips for saving money in the kitchen

Can you afford not to eat healthy?