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Category — Zinc

Nutrition for Pregnancy: 29 weeks

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

Flu Shots – You do what you want!

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!”

Here is some info that I hope is helpful to you.  In no way am I trying to tell you to get or not get the vaccine, I just think it’s important to at least know what you’re doing when your place of work is requiring you to inject or sniff something into your body (I still don’t quite understand how it’s legal to require these things, but whatever).  Also, many people may not be required to be vaccinated but may still choose to be due to all of the news coverage on swine flu.  It’s your body and you have to do what feels right to you.  I just want to provide information to help you figure that out.

Vaccines in general
  • 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.

I’m in the process of getting ready for an online seminar I’m teaching for Marilyn Farms on immunity which will take place October 24th.  I’ll get into more detail on vaccines and ways to support the immune system during this talk.  If you’re interested in registering, please click here.

NOTE: This blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of a qualified healthcare practitioner.  If you are on prescription medications or are being treated by a doctor for specific disorders, please consult your doctor prior to following any of the supplement suggestions listed above.

September 30, 2009   1 Comment

Winning the Epic Battle Against Stretch Marks

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.  

Everyone is prone to stretch marks, especially teens and people who are in quick phases of growth or weight gain.  Men get stretch marks too – especially those who are on workout programs that cause them to build muscle fast.  Of course, male stretch marks on their arms because their arms just got too big for their body way too fast are still more charming than the stretch marks many of the women I know (myself included) share because hormones just made our thighs get bigger faster than our poor teenage skin could handle.  But it’s worth it because like my mom used to say, “You’ll never be in a rap video if certain body parts don’t grow so fast that it creates microtears in your skin.”  Okay, she didn’t say that but I hope I’ll be the kind of mom that says that to my teenage daughter.
Stretch marks are caused by microtears in the second layer of the skin created when it stretches too rapidly.  Hence the name stretch marks.  When these tears heal and repair, they sometimes leave silvery lines of scar tissue or if tiny amounts of blood leaked into the tears, the healing scar tissue may be a dark or purplish color.  Here is some of the information I have found for preventing and even reversing existing stretch marks:
  • 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.   
So that’s my research.  Hopefully it will help you in the fight against stretch marks.  I should design a ribbon or one of those ridiculous rubber bracelets for the Stretch Mark Awareness fund.  Maybe a rubber band would do – they’re stretchy!  And then I can charge you $10 to buy my rubber band bracelet to help support stretch mark awareness worldwide.  Feel free to mail me a check if you want to participate and I will send you back an old and tired rubber band.  It is my birthday, after all!

September 23, 2009   24 Comments