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Just Say No to Splenda on Your Private Parts!

Yesterday I took my baby boy out to run a bunch of errands with me.  We went to Whole Foods, Costco, Ross Dress for Less (yes, the Filipino half of me literally cannot drive by a store that has “dress for less” in the name without stopping and I did buy a pair of bright orange baby board shorts for the boy for only $1.99 so it was a successful trip), and finally to Long’s Drugstore.

While at Long’s, I was in the baby section browsing for baby spoons since Mr. Milk is almost 6 months old, at which time he will become Mr. Milk and Poi as we begin to introduce solid foods.  Appropriately, the birth control and sexual health products are located directly next to the baby products.  This may seem strange to some, but when Mr. Milk started fussing because he was fed up with being in his stroller, the thought of a rapid-fire sibling arriving drove me to thoughts of birth control…which conveniently was right there!

And here’s where this blog ventures into the TMI category, which my husband does not appreciate but he understands why I write about such things because if I don’t then who will?  Most couples with a young baby realize that there is very little time for intimacy (please agree with me here other parents lest I think it is just us!) but I thought maybe I’d buy something fun in faith that we would soon have opportunity to use it.  While browsing over the sexual health products I noticed that KY’s new highly touted product – KY Yours and Mine – was on sale for almost half off.  I tend to prefer natural products such as natural lubricant by Emerita but Yours and Mine has such exciting commercials that I thought I’d at least read the label to see what was going on.

And here is where I discovered the wrongest of wrong placement of artificial sweeteners – peppered in among other slippery chemicals is Splenda (to see for yourself check out the ingredients where Splenda is listed under it’s chemical name, “sucralose”).  Splenda is an artificial sweetener that is similar in structure to table sugar, with the exception of a chlorine molecule where half a water molecule used to be.  This substitution makes the product taste a lot like sugar, but the body can’t break it down the same way so it is not processed as sugar.  My main issue with this is that chlorine in that form is not something that people (especially children) should be exposed to because chlorine competes with iodine, a nutrient in the body that is vital for growth and hormone balance.  Anyone who has heard me lecture knows that I have a personal vendetta with Splenda more than any other artificial sweetener because its creators freely market their product to children, whereas most other artificial sweeteners have enough self respect to stay in products targeted for adults.  And now KY has gone a step further and made Splenda available to our children before they’re even conceived.

It’s a sad day in TMI blog land!  So please, don’t make the next generation swim through a Splenda bath on their way to new life.  Just say no to Splenda on your private parts!

June 24, 2010   5 Comments

Feeding Mr. Milk…nursing tips for new moms

This weekend will be my first mother’s day!  As I revel in my new role as a full-time milk cow my thoughts turn to all the other new moms out there who are also learning how to be the provider of love, warmth, shelter, adoration, and of course…milk, to their wee bundles of joy.  Here are a few things I have learned that I hope can help you also.  Feel free to post more info that you may have learned in the comments section – we milk cows have to help each other out!

  • If you find that your milk production is low, make sure you’re eating enough healthy fat (I recommend the Weston Price diet for pregnant and nursing moms) and drinking enough water.  Some women have to double their water intake from what they were drinking before nursing just to keep up with milk production!
  • If you will be separated from your baby for an extended period of time (going back to work, medical reasons, etc.) use milk producing herbs such as fenugreek to keep milk supply up.  I recommend 2-3 cups daily of Traditional Medicinals Mother’s Milk Tea which can be purchased at most health food stores.  If tea doesn’t work for you, you can usually buy some form of herbal tincture that is indicated for breast milk production and use that in water or juice (just follow package instructions for dosing).
  • Pumping may be useful also if you really want to get milk production going so you can freeze extra milk for later during those times that you have a sitter or are going to be at work.  In my case, I don’t have too much extra to pump since Mr. Milk wants milk on the hour every hour until he finally passes out into a 4-hour milk induced coma by early afternoon.  However, it is really nice to know that I have 2 bottles of breastmilk in the freezer that I pumped a couple weeks ago and stored for the occasion when I need a break from being on call for milk duty.
  • If you decide to pump, please, for the love of milk, make sure that the nipple flange on your pump is the correct size for you.  Most pumps come with a 25 mm flange that works for most people, but those of us with larger milkshakes may need to bump up to the 27 mm flange size.  And no, you don’t have to have National Geographic nipples to need a larger flange size.  If you experience any pain or discomfort while pumping that is not alleviated by rubbing a little bit of coconut or jojoba oil on the flange to allow for lubrication, you may need the larger flange size.  They’re around $15 and can be purchased at Target or online and are WELL worth the investment if you need them.  Your nipples will thank you.
  • If you find that your baby has trouble latching on and this is not relieved by working with a lactation consultant, you may want to consider having your baby’s head, neck, and spinal alignment evaluated by a chiropractor or an osteopathic physician.  In fact, even if your baby doesn’t have trouble latching on this would be a good idea as the birthing process is pretty intense for you and for baby!  For the first couple of months after my son was born I was producing way more milk on my right side than my left.  I had heard this was normal and figured it was okay, except for the inconvenient thought of having to wear two different bra sizes if things didn’t normalize.  My son’s head was perfectly round after birth due to a relatively easy labor and his small size so I didn’t think his nursing would be at all affected by spinal alignment.  However, when I took my son into our chiropractor for his first evaluation at about 8 weeks of age, he had a little bit of misalignment in his neck that may have made it harder for him to nurse on the left side.  The doctor gently manipulated it out – no cracks or pops (photo of my ridiculous smiling boy getting his first adjustment below).  That evening after nursing a few times during the afternoon, I noticed that I was completely even!  And I’ve stayed that way.

  • Once your baby is accustomed to latching on, I highly recommend trying the side lying position for nursing.  It is great for middle of the night feedings if your baby is near you and can be easily brought into your bed to nurse.  This helps make up for the lack of sleep!  It’s also nice for mid-day feedings just to give both of you some time to lie down and rest together.

That’s it for now.  As I said before, moms everywhere should feel free to post advice in the comments section to keep others from having to learn what they learned the hard way!  Also, please include Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding in your reading list of new mom materials.  It is an excellent book that’s easy to read and is sure to provide useful info for even experienced milk cows.  In fact, everything I have read so far by Ina May Gaskin has been wonderful.  I would definitely include her on my list of “people I haven’t met but if we knew each other in person we would be BFF’s” along with T-Pain and Patti Stanger.

Happy mooooooooooooooooo-ther’s day!

May 7, 2010   4 Comments

Nutrition for Pregnancy: 27 weeks

Pregnant woman

I’ve decided to start a new series on my blog having to do with the nutrients needed for pregnancy as a baby develops week by week. If that is a snoozefest for some of you readers, please know that I will continue to post the same random health information you have come to know and love on this blog in addition to the pregnancy series! And I won’t let it go 2 months between posts like I did for the past 2 months (I have so many good excuses though, maybe I can do a blog devoted solely to excuses in the future).

My inspiration for this idea is for one of my good friends who is entering her 27th week of pregnancy this week. It is very special to me that she and I are pregnant at the same time since we’ve been friends since we were teenagers and at one point we were even roommates. Maybe I can somehow work our fond memories into this blog, such as the times that we were both unemployed and would lay on the couch watching such classics as This Is Spinal Tap over and over. I really credit my success in life to what I learned in those days. This may be dedicated to her, but I’m sure she’s not the only woman out there who will ever be 27 weeks pregnant and looking for nutrition info on the internet, so here goes!

At 27 weeks, your baby weighs a little under 2 pounds and is about 14 1/2″ long.  Around this time (usually right at week 27) your baby’s eyelids open for the first time!  During this time, his retinas – the light sensitive portions of his eyes- mature in preparation for him to be able to see all of the amazing baby Einstein toys that you got for him at your baby shower (okay maybe there are more important things to see than that, but either way his eyes are maturing).  Even in the womb, he may be able to see the difference between light and dark if you have light shining right on your belly (which I tend to have since I live in beautiful Hawaii and swim around in a bikini while many of you readers are living in the frozen tundra that is the mainland – ha!).  During this week, make it a point to eat foods that will nourish your baby’s eye tissue – namely foods containing DHA and Vitamin A.

DHA stands for Docosahexaenoic Acid and is a fatty acid that makes up 30% of the fatty acids found in the retina (and the brain and in sperm, but we won’t worry about your grandkids right now – we’ll just focus on the bun already in the oven).  It can be found in several foods including fatty fish and egg yolks.  For vegans or others who can’t eat fish or eggs, blue-green algae is a good source of DHA.  Cod liver oil is an incredibly rich source of DHA that can also be incorporated into your diet as a super food.  If you can’t handle the taste of cod liver oil on a spoon, try taking it in capsules.  A teaspoon or 2-4 capsules of cod liver oil daily is usually what is recommended during pregnancy.

Vitamin A is extremely important for eye health and a deficiency in Vitamin A has been strongly linked to poor eyesight and impaired night vision.  Vitamin A is an integral player in the process of seeing, as it is part of the chain of events that happens between light hitting the retina and the brain registering and interpreting that image.  Vitamin A can be found in its active form in egg yolks and butter (especially from grassfed cows).  It is also present in large amounts in cod liver oil.  Vitamin A can be found in another form – Beta Carotene – in orange and yellow vegetables such as pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and carrots.  This form requires some conversion by the body before it is active, but it’s still very important.  Beta Carotene is a fatty nutrient, so eating healthy fat such as butter or olive oil with vegetables containing Beta Carotene helps to increase absorption.  Enjoy!

NOTE: This blog is not meant to replace the advice of a qualified healthcare practitioner.

(c) 2009 Jessica Forbes, MS CCN.  All rights reserved.

December 7, 2009   2 Comments

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

3 Ways to Boost Fertility

In a little over a week I will officially be 6 months pregnant with a healthy baby boy.  As this pregnancy was a completely happy surprise in the middle of a busy move from Iowa to Hawaii, I sometimes feel like the theme song of this chapter of my life is the Talking Heads song “Once in a Lifetime” when the singer asks, “How did I get here?!” 


The conversations that come up with people when you are a pregnant nutritionist have made me acutely aware that for many couples nowadays, pregnancy is not a “How did I get here?!” moment but something they work and plan for which still may take years to achieve.  Out of that I wanted to share with you some nutritional tips that I have learned through working with women in my practice (as well as what I have learned personally) to help boost fertility for those who are planning to conceive in the future or who are actively trying.

1. Drink more water.  As obvious and non-scientific as this may seem, it is one of the most amazing and simple ways that I have seen women become pregnant when other interventions weren’t working.  I usually tell people to aim for a gallon of purified water a day, and if this is too much (it was too much for me, a 5’3″ 120 pound person – 3 quarts was plenty) then adjust it down to what you can comfortably drink in a day without feeling like your eyes going to pop out of your head.  For others, such as my husband, you may need more than a gallon a day depending on your size and activity level.  A pinch of Celtic or sea salt added to each glass of water will help with absorption.  I was only able to find one study on this topic which showed that properly hydrated cervical mucus is more likely to allow sperm to pass through, but from my own biochemical reasoning I would think that properly hydrated men will be more likely to make quality semen.  And, from what I have heard from female friends and clients, when they increase their water intake as noted above, many of them experience the clear, glassy, stretchable cervical fluid that is a symptom of hyperfertility.

2. Reduce or eliminate gluten from your diet.  Gluten is an allergenic protein found in wheat and also in other less commonly eaten grains such as barley and rye.  Not everyone has an actual allergy to gluten, but due to modern farming practices and the genetic manipulation and hybridization of wheat, the gluten content of the wheat we eat every day is much higher than what our ancestors would have eaten.  Gluten is a large molecule that is difficult for many to digest.  This lack of digestion allows it to create inflammation in the intestines and in the rest of the body.  In my opinion, Americans in general eat too much gluten so I think we could all benefit from a reduction in our diets.  For couples having difficulty conceiving, especially those in which either partner has Type O blood, and for women who suffer from anovulatory infertility, going gluten-free may be a key to enlarging your family.

2. Do a Vitamin C flush.  Vitamin C is an antioxidant that keeps sperm cells from being damaged by excess free radicals in the body (common in athletes and those under high stress).  It also plays a part in keeping the consistency of cervical mucus “loose” to allow sperm to swim through to the egg.  On a microscopic level, cervical mucus actually looks like a web with tiny channels to allow sperm through.  If Vitamin C levels are too low, the web will be very “tight” so that sperm have a hard time navigating their way to where they need to go.  I recommend doing a Vitamin C flush instead of giving an actual milligram amount because everyone has different needs for Vitamin C based on stress levels, dietary intake, and whether they have been exposed to cold or flu viruses recently.  As an added side effect, Vitamin C flushes have a cleansing effect on the bowels which helps to get rid of stored toxins in the body that may be affecting fertility.  As happy as that sounds, please don’t plan a Vitamin C flush on a day when you can’t make multiple trips to the bathroom or when a gurgling, rumbling gut would not be a welcome addition to the party.

With all that said, I have to end this blog by saying that nutrition is very important for conception but I think that being in a happy mental state and not letting stress overwhelm you is probably even more important.  Maybe this is why so many people tell me that the key to them getting pregnant was deciding to put “trying” on hold and buying a puppy!  Of course, the last puppy I had was a heel-biter and a compulsive basement-pooper, but you know what I mean – the puppy was a fun diversion that distracted them from the stress of their daily lives and/or the stress of not being able to get pregnant.  If you’re having trouble conceiving, I hope the above tips combined with your own excitement and joy about the fact that your life is so happy that you want to bring another human into the world will help you find yourself in a “How did I get here?!” moment.


September 14, 2009   3 Comments

The Amazing Benefits of Coconut Oil


Anyone who knows me or has heard me lecture knows that I am a little over the top in my excitement about the amazing healing properties of coconut oil.  That said, it should come as no surprise that when I suffered two minor life-threatening injuries last week (I burned my thumb while trying to devour shrimp scampi directly out of a hot pan and then cut the other thumb while filing paperwork) I immediately turned to coconut oil to help me recover.  For each dramatic (and did I mention life threatening?) injury I dabbed a little bit of coconut oil onto the burn or cut after I had washed it with soap, put a bandaid over it (a Tinkerbell bandaid, to be specific) and within 24 hours I had completely soft skin with no blisters or scars.  Don’t act like you’re not impressed!

When eaten, coconut oil offers benefits including improved thyroid function, weight loss, anti-viral and immune support, and liver detoxification (for more info, see the book The Coconut Oil Miracle (Previously published as The Healing Miracle of Coconut Oil).  In addition to all of these benefits, coconut oil can also be used topically for:
  • First Aid to prevent scars and infection
  • Prevention of stretch marks 
  • Diaper rash
  • Sexual lubricant (this works really well for menopausal women or those on non-latex forms of birth control but please don’t use it if you’re relying on latex for birth control since any kind of oil will cause latex to degrade)
  • Curly hair or dry ends (keep away from roots unless  they are extremely dry or you’re looking for that “haven’t showered for 10 days” greasy look)


What I do is buy coconut oil online in bulk so I can use it for cooking and other household needs.  It doesn’t need to be organic (coconuts don’t need a lot of pesticide application to grow) and if you don’t particularly like a coconut flavor in cooking, then don’t buy the extra virgin variety.  This is the first press of coconut and will have more of that flavor than the later presses.  The only thing you really need to watch out for when buying coconut oil is that you aren’t buying a hydrogenated product, which will pretty much negate any benefits of coconut oil because it has been processed to contain trans fats (I’ll post a scientific rant on trans fats and some point on this blog).  It should say on the side of the bottle whether the coconut oil is hydrogenated or not.  Any brand of coconut oil will do as long as it is not hydrogenated – just look around and see what you can find for a good price.  Here is a nice and inexpensive one I found online:  

 

Once I get the coconut oil in, I divide it out into small jars or other screw-top containers and leave them around the house as needed for moisturizer or lip balm (melt it and add a few drops of essential oil in for a nice smell) and for first aid for situations like the ones I found myself in last week.  I know my injuries were not as exciting as they could have been, but I have known people who had 2nd degree burns and were able to heal with no scars by using coconut oil on the burn site.  No kidding!  

If you have a coconut oil story to share, I’d love to hear it!  Please post it in the comments section.


June 3, 2009   13 Comments