Sunday, December 31, 2017

Make This New Year's Resolution about Abundance and not Dieting

With a slight tap of the keyboard, that which harms us looks shiny and bright.


As the new year looms over the horizon, many of us turn to a renewed focus on our physical wellbeing, especially though diet and exercise. And with that focus comes the dizzying array of new diets, new MLM supplements, new exercise commitments, and new minimalism protocols in your home. I want to urge you to make a radically different change this time around. This year, instead of once again embarking on the process of purging, eliminating, restricting, and removing... consider switching to an abundance script that focuses on mindfulness and acceptance.

We all know that eating disorders are steadily increasing, even cropping up in males and in young children. Not only is the incidence increasing, but the variety is, too. Professionals want to add specific forms of eating disorders to the list, including one that involves natural living and one that involves children.

Besides concerns about eating disorders, parents also have valid concerns about childhood obesity and poor food quality in our country. Parents typically respond to their fears about obesity and food quality by policing a child's eating habits. This makes sense, since most parents also attempt to restrict and police themselves on their own diets. The language is negative, what I call restrictive. Stop for a moment here and think about it, and you will see what I mean.

We call some food junk. We constantly look for the "bad" ingredients but don't spend as much time looking for the "good" ingredients. We focus on fear, anxiety, purging, cutting, depriving, eliminating, and eradicating when it comes to food. Our exercise is supposed to be grueling, confusing to the body, painful, and routine. We talk about ways to keep pushing when we don't want to do it anymore, instead of asking why our bodies and minds are protesting. All of these restrictions end up bleeding into our family environment, developing what I call a Culture of Scarcity.

This Culture of Scarcity doesn't have good outcomes. Scientists have researched the various ways that parents teach children about food, about eating, about body image, and about physical activity. And the evidence shows over and over again that behaviors such as food policing, food restricting, forced exercise, and food judgment are harmful. Not only are they harmful, but they actually cause the child to eat more of the condemned foods, even resorting to lying and stealing.

To put that another way, when a parent attempts to govern a child's eating, place judgment on food decisions, push exercise, and focus on body image even out of health concerns, it results in the child sneaking and lying to get around the parent, showing more interest in the forbidden foods, and showing increased negative awareness of body image issues.

For the sake of our children's health and wellbeing, it's time to step off the purge train, walk away from the judgment, and say goodbye to policing. This might sound extreme, even absurd, until you look closely at the medical literature to see that parental behaviors have serious outcomes when authoritarian parenting is mixed with food and love. As Maryann Jacobsen, MS, RD, founder of the family nutrition blog Raise Healthy Eaters says, "Restriction is the feeding practice most associated with higher weights in children."

This is found quickly in the medical literature. For example, a study published in the Journal of American Dietetic Association studied girls ages 4-6 years old, looking at their self-evaluation and how it was associated with parental food policing. These researchers confirmed that when parents restricted certain foods, the young girls were more likely to eat those foods when given the free choice to do so, even when not hungry. At the same time, this increased negative self-evaluation in the children. In other words, starting at a very young age, children who were food policed showed more attraction to the prohibited foods, ignored hunger cues, and internalized shame. This is extremely distressing research!

Researchers confirmed the same outcome in several of their studies that focus on young children, parental restriction, and snacking. In one study, scientists conclude, "Results confirm that the use of restriction does not reduce children’s consumption of these foods, particularly among children with lower regulatory or higher appetitive tendencies." This one is really worth paying attention to because it is a common parenting mistake to think that if a child is failing more in one area, it requires even more parental judgment and policing. Yet, this study shows us that a child who has trouble regulating intake combined with strong authoritative parenting turns out to be the perfect storm that causes the most damage out of all the parenting methods observed in the studies.

The damage of that parenting mistake is seen again in this study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Scientists found that not only does restrictive parenting lead to the children eating more of the restricted foods, it also is associated with heavier weight later down the road. They call it EAH: Eating in the absence of hunger. When they studied these young girls at age 5, 7, and 9 years old, they found that girls at age 5 who had mothers with the most restricted eating methods also had the highest EAH levels at age 9 and were more likely to be overweight.

This internal tension is a common downside noted in debates about parenting methods in general. When children have less self-control and are still developing impulse control, such as young kids ages 4-6 years old, they have the cognitive ability to recognize parental judgment and parental expectations, but they might not be able to make reasonable decisions within a severely restricted environment, resulting in a feeling of shame and even self-loathing. Parenting gurus call it setting the child up to fail. And when it comes to food, it also means associating negative scripts with food. A child's sense of being loved, being approved of, being accepted, and even the child's entire self image might become firmly attached to non-verbal beliefs about how and what to eat.

In addition to the tension created by restrictive and authoritarian parenting, another issue is that of modeling. When parents model certain scripts and behaviors surrounding food, they are passing on an actual food culture. This food culture is implicitly taught, meaning it is non-verbally absorbed by the child simply through living it out in the home. When it comes to serious situations such as a parent suffering from orthorexia, this means children are learning to exhibit an eating disorder with facets of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and generalized anxiety. Researchers discovered that, "...children are picking up orthorexic tendencies from their parents. Kids who watch their parents becoming obsessed with certain food types may mimic that behavior."

These life long scripts tend to stay with the child into adulthood under the binge-purge cycle. Some call it yo-yo dieting. Others call it hoarding and then spring cleaning. Soon enough, these adults with their binge-purge cycle have children and then the cycle begins again.

It's clear that while parents need to educate their children about the numerous issues in our food industry, we also need to provide a mindful, uplifting environment so that the child feels empowered instead of anxious or ashamed. Scaring the child, restricting and policing, exhibiting obsession and judgment, and modeling disordered eating patterns provides the child with a damaging foundation for life.

So this new year, as you begin to watch the trees awaken and the days become warmer, make a new commitment. Instead of focusing yet again on a new purge, reach outside of this cycle. Give yourself permission to let go of the old patterns focused on restricting, denying, judging, purging, eliminating and suffering. Consciously move to an abundance script, where you encourage your children to be mindful of their eating and to feel a sense of abundance and nourishment instead of a sense of scavenging and scarcity. Mindfulness here is about focusing on what is, without judging it or condemning it. When we do this slowly and calmly with young children over food choices, we often find more information.

A child who is constantly asking for sugar might need more calorie-dense and carb heavy foods for a brain that is going through a growth spurt. A child who refuses to eat vegetables might need more fatty foods, or have an aversion to goitrogenic vegetables due to an underlying thyroid condition. Numerous vitamin deficiencies and mineral imbalances present with food aversions or reduced appetite and could indicate a need for testing and treatment. Exposure to heavy metals such as lead and arsenic disrupt methylation, cause stomach pain, and reduce appetite. Once you let go of the policing, you begin to unearth the real issues and find ways to resolve them.

Slowing down to be mindful gives us a better picture. Instead of rushing to judgment, which causes us to respond with parental policing, we can sit back to assess and to try to find out what is happening under the surface. It doesn't mean all things are equal. It doesn't mean junk food suddenly is the same as good food. What it means is that we can show our children a path to health and happiness without overly focusing on the negative. If your child likes a particular snack, find out why. Find out what healthy product exists that is similar. Brainstorm ways to emphasize wellbeing and abundance without ripping things away. This can also provide parents with more solutions. Something as simple as providing more macronutrients or different food groups might bring a child out of a rut. Or, it might show us that a valid medical condition exists beyond the child's control, that can now be identified and treated instead of the child growing up to think it was an inherent defect of her personality.


Let's leave the Culture of Scarcity and walk confidently towards the Culture of Abundance. Choose today to break the cycle. For your children. And for you.



References

The Center for Mindful Eating website: [http://thecenterformindfuleating.org/]

1. Birch LL, Fisher JO. Parents' restrictive feeding practices are associated with young girls' negative self-evaluation of eating. J Am Diet Assoc. 2008; 100(11): 1341-1346. [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2548290/]
2. Rollins BY, Loken E. Effects of restriction on children's intake differ by child temperament, food reinforcement, and parents' chronic use of restriction. Appetite. 2014; 73: 31-9. [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24511616]

3. Fisher JO, Davison KK. Learning to overeat: maternal use of restrictive feeding practices promotes girls' eating in the absence of hunger. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003; 78(2): 215-20. [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12885700




Thursday, December 21, 2017

Why Washing Lead Won't Work

One of the middle-ground debate points in the discussion about removing contaminants from the home environment is to say they'll keep the contaminated products but be "extra careful" by cleaning frequently and washing hands after touching the items. This is a common response when parents receive education about lead sources in the home and balk at the idea of removing the sources quickly.

Around this time of the year, the most common situation is not wanting to remove contaminated artificial Christmas trees, wreaths, boughs, candles, string lights, and ornaments. These items are often viewed as expensive investments and also develop sentimental value over time, which makes parents reluctant to remove them or replace them with a cleaner alternative.

Once the parent is convinced that lead is indeed a pervasive, damaging toxin that harms every part of the child's development, the hard part is removal. This is when the half-isms crop up for this topic. Instead of removing the lead-contaminated item, they'll just keep the home extra clean!

Unfortunately, lead residue and lead dust is not fully removed by normal hand washing, natural washing machine detergents, vacuuming, and mopping. It actually requires specific chemicals to break down and remove from your environment. Although wiping and washing will remove some degree of lead, it will not remove all of it. In fact, using a household vacuum or washing things down with a rag or mop could actually spread the contamination. And when it comes to children, this is actually that big of an issue because any amount of lead causes damage to children, period. Here is just one of many, many studies on the topic that confirm even low levels of lead exposure can injure children for years down the road:



This is why I encourage parents to research things for themselves instead of stopping short by reading quick guidelines or ideas from social media stars. I sincerely believe as always that ALL people can be science-literate. Don't shy away from it and don't let any scripts shut you down. When you read articles saying it's fine to buy partially-leaded Christmas trees provided you wet mop, that's not the full story. When you read articles saying to be sure you wash your hands with soap and water after hanging leaded lights, that's not the full story. YOU can get the full story by taking a few minutes each day to pick out a substance, read the MSDS on it, read the CDC pages on it, read a textbook or online tutorial on it, read a few studies on it, etc. And within the week, you'll be connecting the dots and making healthier choices for your family. That's all it takes in any topic to be responsible for your family's wellbeing.

The NUMBER ONE WAY to "treat" toxic exposure is to ELIMINATE the exposure. Removing lead from your home and car will never be as easy and cheap as simply preventing lead from coming into your home in the first place. When you realize that lead requires special cleaning products and special cleaning methods, you'll realize that removing the lead source immediately is the most convenient option instead of trying to compromise with increased basic cleaning.

As the CDC points out:

"Use an effective lead removal product to clean your hands. Washing skin with standard soap and water is not enough to remove lead residues." (Click to read.)

For lead dust, you must also use a special HEPA vacuum cleaner with a closed system. If you use a regular vacuum cleaner, you risk spraying fine particulates of lead into your home, along with contaminating your vacuum cleaner. These special vacuums have to be rented from a health department/organisation or purchased.

For wiping and mopping hard surfaces, you must first spray down the entire surface with a detergent that will clean lead residue before wiping down the surfaces. Afterwards, you have to bag everything and dispose of it. Simply pulling out your steam mop with a reusable cloth wiper or using your swiffer mop is not enough to remove lead from your home and might even spread the contamination around from room to room.

When using your washing machine to clean linens, clothes, shoes, etc that might be lead contaminated, you cannot use natural detergents. They will not break down lead particles. You must use the right detergent, in the right amount, and also make sure you clean your washer and dryer after exposure.

Please remember to drop off your contaminated items at a hazmat recycling center. This might be a local hardware store with signage over a large bin. It can also be at your city's recycle center. Contact your local city hall if you're unsure of drop off areas where you live. Don't just place contaminated items into the regular trash!

If you're reading this and feel betrayed because you heard others saying it's safe to keep lead-contaminated items in your home as long as you clean, you're not alone. This myth is a common one on social media and sounds reasonable on the surface. Don't beat yourself up! Just start to identify lead sources and carefully bag them up while wearing nitrile gloves, then recycle them at a hazmat site. 

You can find companies that sell multiple products to effectively remove lead residue. I like the look of this one, as they have products you can put into your gear bag, actual soap dispensers for every day hand washing, wipes to quickly wash down surfaces, and larger spray bottles for general cleaning. Keeping their wipes on hand in the car or by the front door might even be a reasonable idea so you can periodically wipe down the floorboards and foyer where lead dust tracked in on shoes accumulates.

Visit their amazon store here. Please note that I do not make any money from amazon and do not receive any kickbacks, referrals, incentives, etc from anyone. I'm simply providing an example as a starting point for parents who are asking, "Now what?"

And please, now that you've learned about this pitfall, step in when you hear other parents or social media gurus promoting the idea that normal cleaning methods will eliminate lead exposure risks. Now you know, so pass it onto others. You don't have to share my blog; bookmark the CDC link. The way to combat myths and inaccurate science online is to speak up frequently. Here are a few generic statements I've heard:


"We have an artificial tree, but I keep the kids away from it." Still an exposure!
"We have a reusable tree, but I use a wet mop under it every night." Still an exposure!
"I let the kids hang the decorations, but I make sure they wash their hands really well afterwards." Still an exposure!
"My kids help hang the lights on the house. It's a tradition. I just make sure to wash their hands." Still an exposure!
"Double layer with nitrile gloves just to hang lights? Geez, ever heard of soap and water?" Still an exposure!
"I keep my husband's work clothes in a separate bin and wash them on their own." Still an exposure!
"I vacuum every night to collect any lead dust." Still an exposure!
"I squirt hand sanitizer onto their hands after playing at the park." Still an exposure! (Alcohol-based hand sanitizers will not remove lead residue, either!)
"I have the kids wipe off their shoes on the grass before coming inside." Still an exposure!
"I vacuum out the car weekly." Still an exposure!


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Why I don't buy Megafood and why you should avoid them, too

Do you ever get tired of going over company after company in an industry, all with the typical excuses and little defensive explanations that don't stand up under scrutiny?

I've been doing this for years, but it wasn't until I discovered the mind boggling continued loyalty to Standard Process that I decided to go somewhat public about my findings.

Here is another company, once again inspired by a newly pregnant mom desperately trying to make sense of a convoluted, unethical, and unregulated industry. She asked about the brand megafood. I took a quick look at their prenatal and immediately knew what I was looking at, but as with Standard Process, I decided to be thorough and to reserve judgment for as long as possible.

Take a look at the megafood prenatal label. For those who are new to this process of investigating supplement companies, I'll try to explain. The label is missing a lot. BUT. The dosages are standardized to the RDA. The implication of the wording on the website and the advertisements on the actual product labels imply that you are about to consume a whole foods product. You're given the idea that it's all natural, derived straight from healthy food! The ingredient label is suspiciously devoid of details that most other companies readily provide, and the ingredients are all standardized, meaning they are all listed on the label with specific dosages. This is a difficult thing to do when the product is truly derived or cultured with whole foods. The way these companies overcome the issue of low dose extraction is by adding additional vitamins and minerals to their formula.

So we have a company claiming that they offer a superior, all natural, whole foods-based product, but somehow the variation of nature perfectly aligns onto a label for standard labeling purposes.




Did you catch that? If a product is completely natural and derived from foods, every single bottle would be different. But, their labels are standardized.

This means they are adding vitamins and minerals to their products. Now, this is a very common step for companies who culture their derived nutrients on yeast or soy. New Chapter is another company that does this as a quick example. Some of you might recall a scandal a little while ago about Green Pastures and their cod liver oil. They were exposed and boycotted for the same reason. Despite claiming their oils were all natural, they were still refining their product and adding extra vitamins during manufacturing to have standardized dosages.

What is the problem? I'll skip over the many arguments for or against this process of adding more vitamins and minerals to a product to focus on the main concern: what is the form and quality of the added ingredient? 

In other words, are they adding a cheap, often toxic form of the vitamin or mineral? When they list zinc, is it something such as zinc oxide, which has low bioavailability in the body and should really never be consumed? Or are they spending more time and money to secure higher quality ingredients? We don't know. Because megafood does not disclose the chemical forms of their vitamins and minerals.

Unfortunately, it's hard to give any benefit of the doubt to a vitamin company making strong claims about being all natural and having superior nutrition while refusing to disclose the most basic information on their labels. Experience has taught me that every single time I come across a company doing this, they are using cheaper ingredients. It's hard not to reasonably conclude this, since if they were intentionally sourcing healthier, safer, and higher quality ingredients, they would proudly list this all over their labels and website.

Instead, I was taken on a fun trip with a representative over the last few days that involved logical fallacies and trying to explain away very basic industry practices. It was such a prolonged and unproductive conversation that I can't even realistically share the entire conversation here.

As a consumer, you would expect an ethical, honest, and high quality "natural" company to simply tell you what they are using, right? Almost every single other company out there does this automatically. Take a look at a totally cheap junk prenatal brand off the Target shelf to see what I mean. I wouldn't feed this to anyone. But, they still tell me what's in it upfront and openly! Megafood won't do that. Even if you ask.





Things started off as normal as you'd hope for when you have already been through this song and dance with several other so-called natural companies. I messaged them to ask what they use. At that moment, I could've received a simple list in response.



I later received an extremely long, overdone description of their culturing process, which is a standard industry practice that several other companies use. It is not unique, and I didn't need the 101 lesson. It didn't answer my questions fully, but it had clues that started to confirm my concerns. For example, the person clearly explained that after they "cold mill" their oranges, they add more vitamin C to the tank of goop. That is a big red flag that they are enriching their formula, and it confirmed that I needed to know what they were using to standardize their labels. So although the person word vomited to avoid answering my simple question, I was starting to get a picture of the situation already.



But still, I persisted. I asked again. Will Megafood simply tell me the basic information that almost every single company out there readily provides on the label for consumers?



And then things started to really veer away from simple evasion into the whacky world of unregulated, unethically manufactured vaccin---I mean, vitamins. Vitamins. Megafood said they don't have such a thing. They also said that their products are not held to the confines of science as we know it on this planet. (For those still drinking their coffee: nutrients in food still have chemical names!)



Things get weirder when the person starts to think the "data sheet" is a real piece of paper that will somehow be handed to me through the screen. Except, the person can't do that b/c it would hurt Mother Nature. The first time this excuse is used on me, I was taken aback and couldn't help thinking the person had a comprehension problem. The excuse of them being too green to give me basic information was used repeatedly, and later on seemed to be a clear technique, as if the person thought I would be proud of a green company and accept it as a reason they couldn't spit out an answer for me.


The person is allegedly misunderstanding the information I'm requesting! The most basic of information that almost every single other company automatically provides on the bottles of what they are selling. They have a youtube video. They have live cams into their factory. They discuss their typical process of culturing on yeast. They just won't tell me what in the world is in their all natural vitamins!

Since apparently companies that are transparent, honest, and natural can't just provide a basic answer to a basic question, I have to go on another prolonged waste of time with this person. (For the record, I also attempted to use their web contact form and didn't receive a response during any of this. I do NOT call on purpose so that everything is documented. It's happened before that reps will say whatever they want on the phone.) The remaining conversation is hilarious as much as it is deeply troubling, but it's so long that I don't find it reasonable to place it into a blog post. The tone changed dramatically, which led some friends to believe a "higher up" might have traded places to finish the process of refusing to answer my question. The level of "mansplaining" and "scientific garbling" increased exponentially. After going back and forth about the benefits, I decided to post the screenshots as an album here: https://www.facebook.com/guggiedaily/posts/1553339778065143

Although I'd love to disseminate the logical fallacies and techniques used in the messages for my other pet project (disordered personalities/psychological games), I'll keep to the point here.

I do not buy Megafood products. And I hope you avoid them, too. Take your hard earned money and your natural-consumer buying power and please go spend that money and use that power on another company. One that has zero issue listing the chemical forms of their vitamins on the label. One that can politely and efficiently answer your questions when you contact them. One that doesn't play mind games or talk down to female consumers as if we don't have valid questions or a grasp of how the industry works.

Vitamins are a massive, profitable industry with very little regulation or accountability. Don't fall for the gimmicks, buzzwords, and feminine font or soothing colours from these companies. Go to the label. Read it. You have a right to understand what is on the label. You have a right to know what you are placing into your body and your children's bodies. If a company can't provide the most basic of information, stay away from them. They've told you all you need to know.


It appears others have discovered misleading or concerning information about Megafoods, which is made by FoodState.

This article here discusses some issues with Megafoods:

"In fact, if you delve deep into this companies website, which you wouldn’t be able to do if you were shopping at the health food store, you will discover this very honest statement from their medical director:
“… regardless of whether the supplement is “whole food” or “food based”, a USP vitamin or mineral will be part of the process. From my perspective as a Naturopathic Doctor, that’s a good thing. This assures a standardized form of a nutrient, and guaranteed potency… What makes a whole food vitamin or mineral unique is that it is actually delivered in a whole food. What does that mean? As an example…our whole food vitamins and minerals…are made with whole foods to provide vitamins and minerals that are easy-to-digest and gentle on the body, even when taken on an empty stomach. Right on the label you will see that Vitamin C is delivered inwhole oranges, Folate is delivered in broccoli…”
Did you catch that?  They are telling you outright that this “whole food” multivitamin takes synthetically produced, standardized USP vitamins, like those they have been telling you to avoid like the plague” and deliver them in a whole food base."

This article here discusses how the company was misleading people about vitamin D, and how they lack any studies/trials/proof about their claims:

"They say that their vitamin d3 is from S. cerevisiae, and technically it is- however, they actually take regular old vitamin d made from sheep lanolin that anyone can buy in stores, and they 'feed' this vitamin d3 to the yeast in order to 'Biotransform' the vitamin d3..."Unfortunately, the truth is that they admit to having done NO bioavailability studies and have done no studies to see if Vitamin D Levels in the blood are actually raised when humans ingest their vitamin d3. So, in fact the company is outright lying saying that THEIR vitamin d3 is an effective bioavailable form of vitamin d!!"

More recently and more illuminating is this public news release announcing a new Vice President of Regulatory affairs. This just happened in September. It's very interesting to read the statement and see between the lines in the context of their ongoing issues. Here are some snippets:

"Sara joins FoodState from New Chapter of Brattleboro, Vermont, where she was the Senior Director of Sustainability. Prior to her twelve years at New Chapter..." (New Chapter, now owned by P&G, has a similar production process using soy instead of yeast.)

"
She will ensure that all actions by FoodState live up to the company's high standards of ecological stewardship, from ingredient supply chain transparency and packaging to the company's efforts to improve lives and inspire others."




Thursday, September 14, 2017

Why I don't buy Standard Process and why you should avoid them, too

Standard Process vitamins have been around forever. They reach back far enough to coast through several natural cultures, even old-school hippies. The brand retains a level of authority and a look of quality due to their high cost and due to being primarily available only through the official channels of chiropractor offices and Applied Kinesiology clinics.

Although I'm familiar with the brand name and look, and had a slight impression of them being reputable and expensive, I've never dealt with them directly and subsequently I had no opinion on them.

So imagine my surprise when a friend mentioned their products to me in regards to pregnancy and I went to google to research them. Right away, I caught several red flags, such as the "whole foods" buzzword, a focus on animal glandulars from unpastured and non-organic sources, and soy and glutamic acid in their products.

But, I came to a complete halt when I scrolled past one of their products and noticed a terrible phrase.

"Folic acid."

Surprised, I literally spoke aloud to an empty room, "What?"

Now, I know if you're reading my blog that you know why folic acid is dangerous. It's associated with an increased risk of cancer, particularly colon cancer. And most recently, lung cancer. It's also associated with an increase in death from all causes in studies. Unmethylated (bio unavailable) vitamins are hard for the body to absorb properly, convert properly, and use properly. In some cases, they are bound with harmful materials, too, such as the case with unmethylated B12, called cyanocobalamin. It's b12 bound to a cyanide molecule. Companies like this because this makes it a cheap, easy, stable substance.

(Edited to add a short collection of studies and websites related to the dangers of folic acid and unmethylated vitamins in general.)

"CONCLUSIONS:
We suggest that high folic acid consumption reduces MTHFR protein and activity levels, creating a pseudo-MTHFR deficiency. This deficiency results in hepatocyte degeneration, suggesting a 2-hit mechanism whereby mutant hepatocytes cannot accommodate the lipid disturbances and altered membrane integrity arising from changes in phospholipid/lipid metabolism. These preliminary findings may have clinical implications for individuals consuming high-dose folic acid supplements, particularly those who are MTHFR deficient." (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25733650)

"
Dr. Young-In Kim, a physician and researcher at St. Michael’s Hospital, said his lab has shown for the first time that folic acid supplements in doses 2.5 to five times the daily requirement “significantly promotes” the growth of existing pre-cancerous or cancerous cells in the mammary glands of rats.
His research was published today in the online journal PLOS One.
“This is a critically important issue because breast cancer patients and survivors in North America are exposed to high levels of folic acid through folic acid fortification in food and widespread use of vitamin supplements after a cancer diagnosis,” Dr. Kim said. “Cancer patients and survivors in North America have a high prevalence of multivitamin and supplement use, with breast cancer patients and survivors having the highest prevalence.”" (http://www.stmichaelshospital.com/media/detail.php?source=hospital_news/2014/20140121_hn)

"Conclusions: FA-supplement use was associated with modestly higher breast-milk total folate. Detectable breast-milk UMFA was nearly ubiquitous, including in women who did not consume an FA supplement. Breast-milk UMFA was proportionally higher than 5-methyl-THF in women who consumed >400 μg FA/d, thereby suggesting that higher doses exceed the physiologic capacity to metabolize FA and result in the preferential uptake of FA in breast milk. Therefore, FA-supplement doses >400 μg may not be warranted, especially in populations for whom FA fortification is mandatory." (http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2017/03/15/ajcn.116.137968.abstract)


"Men who took high doses of vitamin B6 and B12 supplements had a higher risk of lung cancer, and the association was highest among current smokers, according to a study published Tuesday." (http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/22/health/vitamin-b6-b12-lung-cancer-study/index.html)

"
"A large majority of the mothers in the study reported having taken multivitamins—which would include folic acid and vitamin B12—throughout pregnancy. But the researchers say they don't know exactly why some of the women had such high levels in their blood. It could be that they consumed too many folic acid-fortified foods or took too many supplements. Or, they say, it could be that some women are genetically predisposed to absorbing greater quantities of folate or metabolizing it slower, leading to the excess. Or it could be a combination of the two." (https://hub.jhu.edu/2016/05/12/too-much-folate-pregnant-autism/)

I know sometimes, extremely rarely, companies have mixed up chemical names for products. Sometimes, they even do this because they have a poor opinion of the scientific literacy of their consumers, so they think they have to use folic acid to entice pregnant women to buy their products. I've seen that two times in my entire decade of activism.

For the most part, companies that use high quality mineral forms such as zinc orotate, or high quality, methylated vitamins such as adenosylb12 will always, always loudly disclose this to their consumers because they know they have a superior product and can market it that way to gain consumer attention.

With a growing awareness of a tough situation as my other friends chimed in about their love for Standard Process, I realized I had to research fully and reserve judgment despite what I already knew from investigating vitamins for years now.

I went to the Standard Process website. They had nothing, so far as I could see, that explained or expanded on their vitamin forms. This was another sure sign that the company was not selling quality product. They also used the term chelated for minerals pretty freely but I did not see mineral forms explained. At this point, my heart was sinking because I absolutely know what that means for a vitamin company and I was going to have to be the unpopular mom with my friends again.

Still not giving up hope, I went to the Standard Process Facebook page. I posted publicly as a visitor on their wall, neutrally asking for the data sheet that explains the vitamins and minerals they use in their product. I copied the post and sent the same question to them as a private message, too.

The next morning, I got on to see that they deleted the public visitor post. I then received a series of messages sending me in circles and finally telling me to talk to my health care professional. The representative for Standard Process refused to discuss in any way the vitamin forms or vitamin names, which is a common response from companies when I request the information because they know their product is inferior and do not want to confirm that in written word that can be shared online. (I've been through this many times, most recently with Garden of Life.)

So, I just wanted to make this blog post right away as an official confirmation that I am not associated with Standard Process. I have never been associated with them in the past. And I most certainly have never recommended them to my family, friends, clients, and general audience. 

Based on the classic techniques of obscuring clear consumer information on their ingredient labels and website, along with the way the representative replied to me, I would never use their products. BUT! That doesn't even matter, because their products contain unmethylated B vitamins and unknown forms of minerals. So no one should be using their products anyways, regardless of epigenetic polymorphisms.

Because remember! Unmethylated B vitamins increase the risk of cancer for ALL populations. People with MTHFR or other methylation issues are not the only ones who need to avoid these cheap, burdensome vitamins.

Please, take your hard earned money and spend it on a company that discloses their ingredients freely and that has entered 2017 with higher quality vitamins and minerals. If you are unsure about what a company uses in their products, ask them. If they can't tell you, return their products for a full refund and stay away from them.

Be a savvy consumer. Pay attention to the way companies obscure lower quality vitamins and to the way they distract you with unregulated buzzwords such as, "Whole Foods Based." It might feel daunting, but I firmly believe that all women can become literate in science and can tear apart an ingredient label to defend their health and the health of their babies. Look twice, google thrice, and stay well.



(The representative read my message, but declined additional response.)


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

What's Better than Farting by Sexy Man? Svelte Firefighter Thinking You're Fat


You thought, "The Day I farted in front of Sexy Man at the Park" was stellar. 
Now, I bring to you, "The Day a Svelte Firefighter Thought I was too Fat to Ride."
Yes, this wonderful moment is brought to you because my children saw a ladder ride at a local festival. Better yet, it was free. For the price of free, we could stand in line for what I quickly sized up to be about 50 minutes and get to ride on a firetruck ladder for about 90 seconds.
Enthused, my children ran at break neck speeds straight to the line while shrieking that they had to do this or their little lives would be disrupted and I'd have to add an additional bonus to their Future Therapy Funds.
As my children tried to lick the ground, stomp on bugs, bite each other and generally be a nuisance for 50 minutes in line, I couldn't help paying attention to the process of preparing for this ride. A firefighter living up to every woman's Harlequin Romance Fantasy was helping each family prepare by adjusting harnesses onto the children and large belts onto the adults, similar to what you'd wear while rock climbing or using heavy machinery.

Several moms in front of me, all of similar size and build, were instructed by Svelte Firefighter to wear a children's harness as the large adult belt wouldn't fit them.
Once it was our turn, I intended to reduce the level of soul-wrenching stress caused by 4 small children climbing into harnesses to beat a 90 second ride by jumping quickly into the harness like the other women.
This is when Svelte Firefighter became concerned. Scrunching up his gloriously handsome face, he turned to me and loudly said, "Ma'am. That harness is for children. I'm going to need you to wear this belt."
Now, this is fine. Besides the pressure of 4 piranhas vibrating like charged electrons behind me, I also am pretty satisfied w/ my round, amorphous blob of a body. So, to hurry up this awkward interaction, I quickly replied, "No, no! It's ok! I know!"
What I meant: I know, I'm fat. I'll gladly shove this large belt on if it means my demon spawn can get into this ride faster after standing here with an audience for almost a solid hour. Let's do this!
What Svelte Firefighter thought I meant: No, I'm not fat. I know it's ok for me to wear this children's harness. Go away so I can disobey you.
So in a louder voice, he goes, "Ma'am. You really cannot wear it. It is way too small for you."
At this point, I've already shed the harness and am over at the large, grey belt, wrapping it around my massive midsection. I pause, look up while one of my crotch fruits is head banging my butt, and quickly say, "It's ok! I know! I got this."
All these loud voices draw the attention of what appears to be Stocky Firefighter Leader. Puffing, he quickly runs over to resolve an argument that doesn't exist. He raises his hands at me and says, "Ma'am, don't worry. He knows what he's doing. Just listen to his instructions."
I smile at him, hoping to disarm this so I don't end up on national news. At this point, others in the line are making faces and chittering noises because everything is odd. I'm pretty sure another woman in the line calls out something like, "If she's fat, I'm Oprah Winfrey." But, hey, 4 kids, a ladder descending rapidly towards me, lots of harnesses, and sexy firefighters kind of reduced the blood flow to my brain at that moment so I can't be sure.
"I appreciate it. I'm totally fine and doing as he says. See? I have the grey belt on now."
Stocky Firefighter Leader walks over to inspect the belt around my midsection and says, "Let me loosen that for you. I don't think it fits you."
At this point, another woman in the crowd actually makes a disgusted sound. As if suddenly realizing he's surrounded by enough female apex predators to tear him limb by limb, he freezes, bent over towards genitals, hand frozen near my chest. It would've made an amazingly compromising viral meme. I burst out laughing. And then I made the mistake of the decade. Forgetting how it must be for Firefighters as Fine as Frog's Hair who have many outrageous girlfriends, I looked down at him and said, "It's totally fine, really! Everything is fine."
The Secret Girl Word uttered, both firefighters turned crimson red and started to hyperventilate. Every man w/ an unstable female partner or mother in his life was now staring at me in horror.
The ladder arrived. Muscle Firefighter, unaware of all that had transpired in roughly 90 seconds, shouted out to me, "Going up?"
I jumped on, not looking behind me. We quickly put some altitude between us and the Awkward First World Problem of the Decade. I turned to Muscle Firefighter and beamed at him. He beamed back at me and said, "You look pretty darn cute for a mom to 4 kids, did you know that?" All I could do was coldly stare at him for 90 uncomfortable seconds.
And so, the moral of the story is to never go on a ladder ride with your piranha demon spawn crotch fruit.

At least their Future Therapy Funds don't need an immediate balance transfer.




*It goes w/o saying, but since this is the internet, YES. This really happened. YES, the firefighters WERE that sexy. YES, it WAS pretty awkward. 


 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Move Over Folic Acid, Choline is Here! NMM

Move Over Folic Acid, Choline is Here!

If you live in the United States, you were taught that folic acid, also known as B9 or folate, is a necessary and important vitamin for pregnant women. You were probably told that studies show taking it during pregnancy reduces the risk of Neural Tube Defects (NTD).

Over time, we've since learned that synthetic, unconverted folic acid is detrimental for all people. It increases the risk of cancer, and it is harder for the body to absorb and utilize, resulting in what researchers call a pseudo deficiency. This is where the body is receiving tons and tons of folic acid, but cannot convert it or use it in the methylation cycle, so it remains deficient. This tends to cause high serum levels of folic acid on blood tests, so doctors reassure their clients that they are not deficient.

This caused educated people to begin avoiding folic acid, and all unconverted B vitamins. They moved to methylated vitamins, which are bioavailable and easier to use in the body. This is also important for all the mothers who might have MTHFR or related genetic polymorphisms, to make sure they get enough B vitamins even though their bodies find it harder to absorb and use them.

With all that being said, as the constant drum roll to take tons of folic acid continues and as the fight for methylated B vitamins marches on, what we all need to do is take a look at another nutrient called Choline.

What is Choline?

Choline is typically not considered a vitamin or mineral, but a water-soluble nutrient grouped in with B vitamins. And it's a huge piece of the puzzle that all pregnant and breastfeeding women need to know about right now.

Choline is an important part of the methylation process. So, just like folate, it's necessary to make hundreds of functions work properly in the body. Without choline, homocysteine cannot properly convert to methionine for mental health. Without choline, the liver cannot detox the body properly. Without choline, the brain cannot function or grow properly.

What evidence do we have about Choline's importance?

The importance of choline for pregnant and breastfeeding women is shown in the available medical literature. For example, this study
(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25956258) found that MTHFR defects, folate deficiency, or choline deficiency caused organized cell death in the brain and short term memory deficits in offspring.

Another study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26700730) found that not only does a low choline diet for the mother increase the risk of NTDs, it also alters the way the cerebral cortex grows. Even worse, the lead researcher noted that there appeared to be a "sensitive window of time" during neurological development and that even if exposed to adequate choline later down the road, the original damage does not change.

Researchers are also learning through this study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3319504/) that choline deficiency is connected to the mechanism of cancer development. These researchers observed that choline deficiency seems to alter the repair of DNA and increase the rate of genetic mutations, which is considered a pathway to cancers.

The evidence is piled up when it comes to this nutrient. But, the most important points for childbearing women include:

Choline is part of homocysteine conversion. High homocysteine levels are associated with increased risk of miscarriage and heart defects.
Choline is necessary to build neurological connections and to balance brain growth for the baby during pregnancy, and after birth in the breastfeeding infant. Choline deficiency is associated with memory problems, lower test scores, depression, and more. It is needed throughout the entire brain, so the problems that can happen here are staggering.
Choline is necessary to build a healthy midline through the brain and spinal cord. Choline deficiency is associated with increased risk of NTDs and midline defects.
Choline is necessary for neurochemical balance in the brain. Altered metabolism of this nutrient is implicated in things such as anxiety and depression. A study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2687891/) found that altered levels of it in certain parts of the brain are associated with pediatric depression, even when age and sex matched.
Choline is absolutely vital for healthy liver function, so a deficiency during pregnancy could be associated with several common complications such as pre-eclampsia, HELLP syndrome, and cholestasis.
Choline is excreted in the milk after birth, and continues to support healthy brain growth and methylation during childhood.

With all the focus on folic acid, our society forgot that nutrition is multi-faceted. What's worse is that researchers didn't show much interest in choline, and since it is present in a variety of foods, many health officials still believe that a regular diet is good enough to get ample choline during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

What they didn't realize is that just like the MTHFR genetic mutation, a large portion of women also have choline mutations. Surzenko, the lead researcher in the study short term memory problems from choline deficiency, laid out this problem succinctly when she said,

“Around 45 percent of women carry a polymorphism in the gene required to produce choline during pregnancy as a response to estrogen, which makes them vulnerable to choline deficiency. Without enough dietary choline, the developing fetuses in these mothers are at a risk for hindered brain development.”

These PEMT mutations could be in a majority of the population, meaning even if women are eating ample amounts of healthy, varied foods, they might not be absorbing enough choline. And for those women who avoid certain foods such as eggs and animal livers, their overall intake might already be severely restricted.

What could be worse?

So, this nutrient is necessary during pregnancy to protect the child from NTDs and to grow the child's brain adequately. It helps to run the methylation cycle, so it's connected to every major system in the body including the immune system, excretion (detox) system, and neurological health. It's vital for liver health and a deficiency can increase the risk of things such as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and glucose imbalance (PCOS, diabetes, hypoglycemia, etc). A lot of women might have polymorphisms that make it harder for them to obtain this nutrient from food. What could be worse?

Choline is connected to gallbladder health!

How many women are feeling some puzzle pieces slamming together right now? Gallbladder attacks, stones, and pain are so common during pregnancy that it's almost considered a normal pregnancy scenario. Many women are constantly watching their diet to avoid painful attacks, and many more go on to surgically remove their gallbladder for relief. Why? Why would pregnancy seem to trigger a gallbladder to go insane? Choline deficiency starts to create a working picture here. As estrogen creation and usage is increased through things such as pregnancy, it increases the need for methylation to break down this hormone and excrete it from the body.

So conceiving, birthing, and breastfeeding can represent large burdens on the gallbladder and liver through the methylation system. As methylation is disrupted and the body begins to run out of necessary methyl donors such as folate and choline, it switches to a glucose system called glucoronidation. Sugar cravings and hormone swings, a liver that's dying and a finicky gallbladder...is anything sounding familiar yet?

This sticky, substitute bile can't be excreted thoroughly, so it starts to stagnate inside the gallbladder. It basically reduces down until it crystallizes into gallbladder stones.

So, pregnant women who develop gallbladder stones are literally looking at a red flag that they are choline deficient, B vitamin deficient, and have a disrupted methylation cycle. This should be considered somewhat of an urgent crisis and a call for careful, bioavailable supplementation! Instead, women are told to restrict their diet and wait it out!

Choline does not have a well established RDA, as it's been fairly neglected in the medical world until recently. It does not have a very potent toxicity. Massive dosages such as 16,000mg daily are associated with vomiting, odor, and sweating. Various converted forms such as acetylcholine and phosphatidylcholine are now easily available online. It used to be that most companies only offered the precursor and only derived from soy, but these days people can purchase lecithin supplements derived from sunflower seeds.

It's time to spread the word on choline, how it functions in the body, and how it's absolutely vital during the childbearing years. When you hear women complain about joint pain during pregnancy, tell them about choline. When women are worried about pre-e, HELLP, and liver conditions, share a choline link. If you hear of a woman suffering from gallbladder issues, make sure she hears about choline. The doctors likely won't tell anyone about this, so it's up to us to use our tribe to share the information and to empower each other to restore our own health.




Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Touch of MIDAS: Discerning Venom and Poison in Relationships



Are you familiar with the way to determine what is poisonous and what is venomous? The ole rule of thumb goes:

If it attacks you, it's venomous
If you touch it/eat it, it's poisonous

Moved to human relationships, the difference between a venomous person and a poisonous person is that one person attacks you and one person is poisonous simply by being around them. (And both forms of toxicity are important to pay attention to and to protect yourself from regardless.)

Sometimes, it's difficult to discern when a person is struggling versus being passively poisonous, versus being aggressively venomous. I like to use the MIDAS system to help clarify the situation. You can apply the MIDAS system to any relationship or interaction in your life. It does not have to be hetero-romantic. Coworkers, friends, relatives, neighbors...any of them are applicable here.

MIDAS stands for:

Mistake: A rare event, often out of character and related to stress, sickness, loss, etc
Imperfection: A personality flaw, bad habit, or other ingrained deficit that isn't dangerous or violent
Dysfunction: Scripts and worldviews often related to childhood modeling, trauma, and miseducation
Abuse: Activated dysfunctional scripts
Sociopathy/Narcopathy: Sadism, torture, abuse simply for the sake of abusing others

The touch of MIDAS is all about determining how your life on every metaphysical plane (physically, mentally, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, financially, etc etc) is touched by other people. Whether passively poisoned, or actively injected with venom, how other people act in your relationships does leave an impression on you. Recognizing how and why can help you to build healthy boundaries and make choices that either repair the relationship to a functional level, or help you to escape the relationship.

You know you've been touched by MIDAS when you feel:

Anxiety
Confusion
Resentment
Cycles of hope and disappointment
A sensation of being used
Anger coming out in odd or misdirected ways
A lack of purpose or direction in life
Impatience and irritability when others need you (touched out)



Going off a previous conversation I had with SAHMs (Stay At Home Moms) I will use the example of a hetero-romantic relationship where the male partner tosses his dirty laundry on the ground next to the hamper. Notice that this is a fairly minor, non-violent incident. Toxicity doesn't have to be outrageous to still represent dysfunction, abuse, or sociopathy. That's why it's important to look at all the pieces of a relationship instead of trying to gauge health by seriousness alone.

Is it a Mistake? Perhaps he was late for work, not feeling well, distracted by the dog?
Is it an Imperfection? Perhaps he just isn't a good housekeeper, is easily distracted, has choline mutations, ADHD and despite being a great guy, will just never be good at laundry?
Is it Dysfunction? Was he raised to believe the other partner is supposed to do it? Does he think that's lowly work and he's above it?
Is it Abuse? Will he come home angry if you didn't clean up after him? If you complain, will he verbally lash out, give you the cold shoulder, punch the wall?
Is it Sociopathy? Is he playing mindgames, gaslighting you in sneaky ways that others can't see, denying it, making you doubt reality? Do you feel as if you're trapped, drowning, lost, but if you mention anything to others, they think you're unstable or complaining?

In each scenario, the issue was the same, but the toxicity was incredibly different. Recognizing these differences is important to avoid codependency, enmeshment, or other harmful issues from long term exposure to toxicity. Using the same laundry example, how might a person respond differently in each scenario? You're still trying to maintain a long term, loving relationship with mercy and forgiveness, but you don't want to fall into being a doormat or ignoring consistent boundary issues.

If it's a Mistake, it might be a great opportunity to practice love as a verb. To pick up that laundry, to let complaints slide. To text an extra I love you and make sure he's okay. We all have bad days. Now's the chance to show that support to a loved one.

Maybe it's a noted Imperfection, a constant struggle in the household, and even an annoying habit that quietly eats away at relationship balance. In that case, it's time to clarify boundaries and voice frustrations. In such a situation, maybe both people will agree that it's ok to just chill about laundry on the floor, provided he is the one who takes responsibility and cleans it up on designated laundry day. Notice how it involves two people compromising, but still sticking to boundaries. It's his responsibility to clean up after himself just as it's her responsibility to release expectations that might not matter overall. An imperfection tends to be resolved when both people clarify boundaries and grow as individuals.

When it comes to Dysfunction, the most charitable thing to do is to call it out. Being loving in the face of dysfunction is refusing to accept those unhealthy scripts. A case of dysfunction means it's time to involve third parties for mediation and monitoring (such as doctors and therapists.) It's possible for people to carry dysfunctional scripts but not act directly abusive, and that is exactly the right time to begin counseling to see if the relationship can be salvaged.

In cases of Abuse, the most common pitfall is wrongly identifying abuse as an imperfection. This is especially easy to do when comorbid issues are involved, such as substance abuse and mental illness. It can be tempting to dismiss abuse as the person having a hard time, or suffering. If you're aware of your partner's background, you might feel sympathy. "He was raised by an abusive mom, of course this is triggering for him." "He's battling depression and lost his job, his temper is just on edge right now." Imperfection is passive and not related to dysfunction. Violence, including non-physical violence such as emotional and verbal attacks, are Abuse, not imperfection. Working individually with a therapist can help you to discern this clearly so that you can leave the relationship.

Sociopathy seems to be the easiest of all of them, yet it can often be the most difficult to recognize and the hardest by far to resolve. Narcissists, psychopaths, and sociopaths are often quite clever and very obsessed, weaving webs for their victims that can take years to untangle. Always involve third parties (therapists and doctors) individually, for you. Beware of the sociopath's ability to triangulate (use therapists, family members, and doctors against you). Building a personal community away from the sociopath is important to escape.

Keep in mind that even when it comes to Mistakes and Imperfections, they can passively poison you. Depending on the situation and seriousness, these incidents might require healing and counseling. A one time Mistake might be entirely innocent, but can still cause a lot of hurt. In healthy, functioning relationships, Mistakes and Imperfections aren't excused, but resolved openly with both sides working together. If you notice a consistent history of one person constantly having a mistake, or attributing things to imperfection, along with a lack of apology and change, you've moved into sneaky Abuse. 

I hope to add more to this concept with later writings. Thanks for reading!

©Guggie Daly