Category — Vitamins and Minerals
Congratulations! You’re officially into your third trimester. Your baby weighs about 2 1/2 pounds and is over 15″ long – about the size of a butternut squash. It is quite appropriate, by the way, that your baby’s size is compared to food because once he is born he will likely be so cute you want to eat him up! This week begins a state of rapid weight gain as your baby packs on muscle tissue and all his other body systems continue to develop (especially the lungs and brain). It’s especially important from now on that you eat several small meals throughout the day to keep the nutrition flowing to your baby as he grows and also to keep you nourished as your body prepares for the amazing and intense work of delivery. Be sure to obtain plenty of zinc in your diet during this time. This important nutrient helps your baby to properly develop muscle tissue and proper zinc levels will help you to make a complete and speedy recovery after childbirth. Foods that are rich in zinc include grassfed beef, wild-caught seafood (especially oysters, but make sure they’re from unpolluted waters), pastured egg yolks, sesame seeds or tahini (sesame butter), raw almonds, pumpkin seeds, and – appropriately – roasted butternut squash seeds.
April 5, 2010 No Comments
One of my great friends (whose idea it was to start this blog in the first place) told me today that flu vaccination is mandatory at her workplace. They have a choice between the flu mist or a thimerosol-free flu shot and she wanted to know my opinion on both. I figured that many of you out there are in similar situations and could use some objective information when you’re faced with the same decision. If nothing else, you can just stall and be like Cartman on South Park, telling your boss who is requiring you to get the shot, “Whateva, I do what I want!”
- Vaccines work under the premise that small exposure to viruses, bacteria, or pieces of other infectious particles makes the immune system recognize these invaders as foreign and then provide immunity from them when and if you are exposed again.
- The flu vaccine is an interesting one because every year the flu virus mutates into a slightly different strain which is similar to but not quite the same as last year’s virus. This is why some people get the flu every single year, even after their bodies have experienced and (hopefully) become immune to last year’s virus. This is also why some people are vaccinated for the flu but still end up getting a bad case – the current year’s flu vaccine is not guaranteed to protect against the current flu virus due to the fact that it is mutating and may not be an exact match. As a side note, the ability of the flu virus to mutate quickly is the major reason that the swine flu is dominating the media – everyone is watching to see if the current strain will mutate into a more harmful version.
- Vaccines in general are a current source of political angst and hot debate because they contain ingredients that may be harmful, especially to growing children and people with weak immune systems. Ingredients commonly found in vaccines include MSG, sugar, aluminum, and mercury. Mercury (in the form of thimerosol) is used in vaccines as a preservative, but recently has been dropped from many formulas due to public outcry. A solid scientific link has not been established, but there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that correlates mercury in vaccines to the increase in autism in our children. One explanation that I found for this which I would agree with from a biochemical standpoint is that some children are more sensitive to the mercury in vaccines because they don’t have enough healthy bacteria in their body (which could be due to overuse of antibiotics, stress, or other factors). Healthy bacteria provides a barrier that detoxifies heavy metals, but if this barrier is absent then the mercury will be more likely to get into the brain and cause problems.
Flu shot vs. Nasal spray
- The flu shot has used to be the only way to vaccinate for flu until the recent invention of a flu vaccine nasal spray. While the vaccines may not be 100% effective, some studies show that they may be helpful in preventing flu. Of course, other studies show that they may do more harm than good but I’m not going to get into either side on this blog – the subject is just too huge.
- The benefits of the flu spray are that it does not contain heavy metals (at least from what I could find – it is instead preserved with MSG and sugar, so maybe don’t double up on fast food the day you get it) and it doesn’t require injection. Possible disadvantages are that it contains live flu virus (from what I found it contains 5 different strains of flu) which may be more likely to replicate in the warm, moist area that is your nose and actually give you the flu. There is also some question as to whether injecting live viruses right into your nose is a good idea for your brain since it is in such close proximity.
- The benefits of the flu shot are that it normally contains inactivated virus, so it is less likely to actually give you the flu and it is injected right into the bloodstream so it gives your body a better chance to filter and detoxify the preservatives found in it rather than spraying it up your nose where it may get stuck and replicate. The disadvantages are that it is more likely to contain heavy metals along with MSG and other questionable preservatives.
If you’re getting the vaccine
- Avoid sugar and drink plenty of water for the week prior to getting vaccinated so that your immune system is strong and ready to imprint on whatever form of vaccination you choose.
- Take a double dose of a good multivitamin and a normal dose of probiotics for at least 5 days prior to the vaccine to build up your levels of minerals and boost your ability to detoxify preservatives in the vaccine.
- The day before, the day of, and the day after vaccination take a large dose of vitamin C (at least 1,000 mg but whatever you can handle) and a dose of zinc (about 20 mg – you can get this in the form of zinc lozenges at most drugstores) to keep your immune system strong.
- Avoid aspartame and other artificial sweeteners for 1 day prior to getting vaccinated, as aspartame has been found to react negatively with vaccines and may damage nerves.
- If you decide to get the shot, add a heaping scoop of chlorella or some other kind of green drink to a smoothie that morning to help boost your ability to detoxify heavy metals.
- If you decide to get the nasal spray, wash out your nose with a neti pot the evening after the vaccine to make sure you don’t have any remnants left up there.
If you are refusing the vaccine
- This may not be an option for you depending on where you work, but most employers will make allowances for religious exemption (meaning it is against your beliefs to be vaccinated) and egg allergy (because the flu vaccine is grown in eggs).
- Be sure to live a healthy lifestyle that promotes natural immunity: sleep 7-9 hours per night, drink plenty of water, avoid white sugar, avoid processed foods, eat lots of produce, eat adequate amounts of protein for your personal needs, and exercise.
- Be sure you are getting enough of the key immune-supporting nutrients: vitamin C, zinc, and vitamin D (from sunlight, fatty foods, or supplements). Needs vary for each individual, so I would suggest working with a nutrition minded practitioner if you have questions.
- Eat cultured foods (yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, etc.) and/or take a probiotic supplement to boost your levels of healthy bacteria.
- Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your eyes or nose during flu season.
- Regularly use a neti pot to keep your nasal passages clean and less likely to allow viruses to reproduce.
September 30, 2009 1 Comment
Tomorrow is my birthday! I will be 29 years old and on that magical day I will also be exactly 6 months pregnant, which puts me into my third trimester (though I’m still confused as to how 40 weeks splits evenly into 3 trimesters, someone please enlighten me). For my birthday I decided (among several other more thoughtful and less superficial birthday wishes) that I want a pregnancy with no stretch marks. Which of course makes it hard for buying me a gift, but I’ve been doing research that hopefully will help more of you than just the “smug pregnant women” who may be reading this blog.
- Proper stretching and healing of skin is dependent on zinc. This is part of the reason that teens are so prone to stretch marks. Yes, they are growing really fast but they are also in a time of hormonal change, stress, and a tendency to eat more sugar and generally less nutritious food overall (at least when Mom is not looking) – all of which contribute to loss of zinc. Pregnancy is also a time of loss of zinc because that little parasite growing in your womb is taking it! In fact, over 80% of pregnant women worldwide are estimated to have inadequate zinc levels. Modern day low-fat and low-meat diets have greatly contributed to loss of zinc from the general population. To learn more about zinc and see a list of zinc rich foods, visit the Linus Pauling Micronutrient Information Center. If you are too lazy to do that, then I’ll just tell you that to get zinc in your diet, eat oysters, beef, and dark meat poultry. Vegetarians can include milk, almonds and spirulina but may want to think seriously about adding a zinc supplement or at least a multi that is rich in zinc (15 mg or more daily).
- Stretch marks can be prevented and reversed with topical zinc preparations. Most expensive creams and lotions intended for stretch mark and scar reversal usually contain zinc oxide as one of their active ingredients. Here is the beautiful thing I discovered last week at the drug store – Extra Strength Desitin, the diaper rash ointment, contains 40% zinc oxide! And it’s only like $6 for a tube. Needless to say, I bought a tube of it and have started using it on my belly to make sure the skin that is somehow going to stretch to unbelievable lengths will have enough zinc to do so. I haven’t gone super overboard on this, as the cream contains some preservatives that I’m not too excited about (namely BHT, which is also a food preservative so it can’t be TOO horrible) but half a teaspoon or less is plenty to get a good coat on. And the cream smells okay to me, but for my poor husband it just brings back memories of changing his little brothers’ diapers. Maybe not what you want to be associated with when you’re climbing into bed for the evening!
- Hydrated skin stretches more easily than dehydrated skin. I realize I am beginning to sound like Johnny One Note with my desire to make sure people are hydrated so I will just leave this bullet point at that. Hydrated skin stretches and is less likely to tear. So drink water.
- Coconut oil prevents stretch marks and helps fade existing stretch marks. I know – you are in shock and awe that I have worked coconut oil into this blog. But it’s true! I couldn’t find an actual study on coconut oil and stretch marks, but living here in Hawaii I have heard tons of anecdotal evidence from women of all shapes and sizes saying that coconut oil applied daily after showering prevented stretch marks. Also, several women had stretch marks from previous pregnancies and they noticed that these marks faded after using coconut oil. One reason coconut oil works better than other oils is that it is able to penetrate the skin to moisturize deeper layers of skin and prevent scar formation. Jojoba oil also has this property, but I prefer coconut oil personally because it is so heat stable (in other words, it can sit in my hot bathroom for months and I don’t have to wonder if it’s gone rancid) and it is less expensive per ounce than jojoba.
September 23, 2009 24 Comments
My husband puts up with a LOT and is very patient with his scientific nutritionist wife. He has pretty much come to grips with the fact that marrying me made him my eternal lab rat on which to perform nutritional experiments. And I love him even more for that! He is naturally a pretty healthy eater, but he hates taking nutritional supplements. Over the years I have discovered several methods to get him to do this. I thought I’d share these methods with all you ladies out there to help you take care of the men in your lives.
Method #1: Tell him it’s good for him. This doesn’t always work, but it’s a good start.
Method #2: Leave his supplements in a little dish on the counter with a glass of water near his keys, briefcase, or other work items. If he is not too fussy he may just make them part of his routine. If he’s especially motivated, you can forget the dish and just leave the bottles of supplements out for him to get himself. If needed, write his name and the number of pills/amount of powder he should take from each bottle so he realizes they are set out for him and not for your own enjoyment of having things on the counter.
Method #3: While he’s busy doing something else (watching tv, working on the computer, etc.) quietly hand him the pills and give him a glass of water. This works surprisingly well on my husband, which makes me a little nervous to know that I could easily poison him and he wouldn’t know the difference since he doesn’t even look up anymore when I give him a handful of pills. It is important to choose this method when he is doing something that puts him into a relaxing trance. Don’t try to give him pills to swallow when he is doing something that irritates him (like talking on the phone with customer service at the cell phone company) or if he is doing something not conducive to pill swallowing, like mowing the lawn or showering.
Method #4: Tell him that this is what the soccer players in Europe take. This doesn’t work for every supplement, but it does apply in the case of Wobenzym (Naturally Vitamins – Wobenzym N, 200 tablets) , which is a proteolytic enzyme supplement that calms inflammation in the joints. My husband loves European soccer and after knowing that those guys take Wobenzym (even if it was actually that one soccer player thought about taking it once) he is now so motivated to take it that he searches it out when his back hurts from lifting heavy things all day.
Method #5: Buy good-tasting vitamins, such as children’s chewable vitamins, Emergen-C powdered vitamin C (Emergen-C Vitamin C Fizzy Drink Mix, 1000 mg, Super Orange, 0.3 Ounce Packets (Pack of 36) ), and chewable fish oil gummies (http://www.marilynfarms.com/index.php?main_page=mfc_product_edible_info&cPath=66&products_id=127). Yes, it may seem juvenile, but if you keep good-tasting supplements around they are more likely to be eaten with less complaining and more enjoyment. Most chewables have lower doses of nutrients than their swallowable counterparts, but I think the lack of complaining increases absorption of nutrients so it all balances out in the end. My husband’s favorite along this line was CoQMelt which was made by Douglas Labs but is now off the market for some reason and was replaced with a less tasty version. If anyone out there knows where to find it I’d appreciate it!
Method #6: This was given to me by a friend last night as she and I were knitting and our husbands were watching (you guessed it) European soccer. Her recommendation is to “coat the vitamins in peanut butter and chocolate, sort of how you get a dog to take medicine”. She is funny.
Method #7: Tell him it’s good for his (insert your word for private parts here). This method is only to be used when all else fails – if it is used too often it will result in “the boy who cried wolf” factor. But, if he won’t take a supplement for any other reason and is especially resistant to it (including such classic reasons as “cod liver oil tastes like I’m licking a lemon scented fish”, “why do I have to drink something green”, “liquid glutathione makes my mouth taste like a dead raccoon”) then this method should work. Trust me – men may not care if something is good for their heart, helps their memory, or improves their mood but if something is good for their private parts then they will quietly take it without much complaining at all. I have proven this theory over and over with friends, family, and nutritional clients. I know you’re probably wondering how you can know which supplements are good for this, but I’m going to let you in on a little nutrition secret – nutrition is a lot like the Kevin Bacon game. It’s all related. For example, a multivitamin contains vitamins and minerals that support overall health and overall health includes the health of private parts. You just have to do a little research and eventually you’ll find the link.
If any of you dear readers have additional methods you’d like to share or questions about my methods, please type them into the comments section. Thanks for reading!
NOTE: Please talk to your physician before making any dietary or supplement changes. This blog is not intended to replace the advice of a qualified healthcare practitioner.
April 16, 2009 No Comments