I’m an avid couponer, and I was struck by something on a coupon that I found to be pretty sad for our kids. The coupon was for “Any General Mills Kids Cereal”, and the list included all the sugar cereals like Trix, Cocoa Puffs, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. They didn’t include any of the Cheerios, Wheaties, or Total varieties.
It made me wonder why the most unhealthy and sugar-laden of the cereals were the “Kids” cereals. Why aren’t we choosing the most healthy foods for our kids? Their brains and bodies are growing and developing. They need good nutrition way more than we adults do.
So, I started thinking about the bulk of what a typical American kid will eat:
Kids’ sugar cereals
mac and cheese
white bread sandwiches with processed meat and cheese
white bread PBJ (the peanut butter is good, at least)
Ok, I had to do it. FYI – One McDonald’s cheeseburger, medium fries, and small soda = 300+380+150 = 830 calories, of which 31 grams is fat (8.5 saturated) That’s more than half the total calories a kid should have during the entire day (about 1500).
The list goes on and on and is so bereft of whole grains, whole foods, fruits and vegetables. This diet is so empty of nutrition that the only vitamins in it are the ones added after the fact to the cereals, milks, and other processed foods.
The results are a generation of kids with the highest rates of childhood obesity ever seen – as many as a third. It’s being called an epidemic. And extreme obesity is also reaching crazy levels: This study found that 7 percent of boys and 5 percent of girls were extremely obese. And even the babies are in trouble: more than 2 percent of all children under 5 years old were extremely obese!
They die sooner: The co-author to the extreme obesity study, Corinna Koebnick, says, “Without major lifestyle changes, these kids face a 10 to 20 years shorter life span and will develop health problems in their 20s that we typically see in 40-to-60-year-olds.”
I have to admit, I remember something delicious about that first bite into a hot dog, the fluffy bun, all the toppings, the smell of the grill. We wouldn’t eat them if they didn’t taste good.
But, there’s a pretty dark and dangerous side to meat, and processed meat in particular. Check out this new study about processed meat specifically. It’s a meta study that analyzed a whole bunch of other studies and then put all the data together.
What they found will make you think twice before serving your kids meat from the danger list: hot dogs, bacon, salami, sausages and processed deli meats.
I love breastfeeding my kids. As a doctor, I know the science shows the health benefits of breastfeeding to be almost miraculous. And as a mom, it’s a bonding time, a time to just take a break to hold and love my babies. I guess both reasons are why I’m still nursing my almost 2-year-old. He’s my last, and we both enjoy the time together, especially when he’s sick, tired, or just needs comforting. I feel bad for my mom who had fight public opinion to breastfeed us when we were kids (the 1970′s). Back the, many considered formula to be more scientific, cleaner, and perfect.
Well, the number crunchers finally put together a new pediatric study to figure out how much money we could save if 90% of mothers would breastfeed for the first 6 months of life. They added up the costs of all the illnesses that could be decreased by breastfeeding, along with the loss of lifetime earning from the almost 900 babies a year whose lives would be saved by breastfeeding. The answer = 13 billion dollars.
Here’s their list of illnesses that are decreased or prevented by breastfeeding.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
I guess my point is that while many consider breastfeeding a lifestyle choice, we should be more aware of the phenomenal health benefits it offers. How much is that worth to you and your baby? And even if a mom initially has trouble breastfeeding, a lactation consultant or the experienced advice from a La Leche League member can make all the difference.
Before you object, I know there are some who are unable to breastfeed. I’m not criticizing them. It’s just that many women who choose formula simply for convenience or personal preference have no idea the health benefits they are giving up.
Benefits of breastfeeding: A few, but by no means all of them:
Babies are more resistant to disease and infection.
Babies have a 3 times lower chance of being hospitalized with a severe lung infections.
Babies have 3-4 times lower incidence of diarrheal diseases.
Babies have lots fewer ear infections, which means less antibiotics and all their side effects, like thrush and diarrheal problems.
Babies have less type 1 diabetes.
Less eczema and allergies. It especially helps babies whose parents have allergies.
Childhood cancer is eight times lower in babies breastfed exclusively for 6 months.
Less disease = less likely to die.
Breastfed babies develop fewer cavities over their lives.
If you’re breastfed exclusively for the first 3 months of your life, you are 20 – 30% less likely to become obese. (in America only about 12% breastfeed exclusively for 6 months)
Breastfed babies have higher IQ and increased cognitive development.
Babies have fewer psychological, behavior, and learning problems.
You’re less likely to have heart disease and you’ll average a lower blood pressure if you were breastfed as an infant.
Mothers are less likely to develop osteoporosis later in life.
Mothers are more able to lose pregnancy weight.
The hormone released during nursing, oxytocin, helps mom’s uterus return to normal size more quickly, which decreases postpartum bleeding and hemorrhaging.
Mothers have a lower risk of breast, uterine, endometrial and ovarian cancer.
It helps mom’s emotional health, building a stronger connection to baby, and fewer feelings of anxiety.
It’s cheaper! About $800 a year, cheaper.
It’s cheaper for society – one study showed a group of nursing babies having $4,000 in health care costs versus $68,000 for an equal number of formula-fed babies.
It’s really an amazing list! Did you have any idea? I know I didn’t. Do most women? I wish more women and more doctors knew this information and would share it widely.
What do you think about breastfeeding? You’re welcome to leave a link to something you’ve written on the subject.
If you’re curious about the health benefits of switching to a whole foods, vegetable-based diet, but don’t want to wade through all the science and clinical evidence in The China Study, you’ll probably really enjoy this movie coming out this summer.
Check out the trailer for it:
Have you tried changing your diet? Do you have questions about how to do it? Let me know. I’m happy to answer questions!
Reading The China Study was probably the big turning point in our family’s diet and health a little over 3 years ago.
We had big reasons to be looking for ways to be more healthy.
Here are 3 of them:
1. Tom was looking at open heart surgery to replace a congenitally defective heart valve along with replacing a section of his aorta that went past the arteries up supplying the brain = they would freeze him down and stop blood flow to the brain for a time while they fixed both problems = very scary to both of us and our 4 young children. He would then have an artificial valve that was only supposed to last 10 years or so before needing to be replaced. He also has genetically high cholesterol.
2. I had severe heartburn that had increased with each pregnancy. The GI scope showed damage and the specialist said I should increase my once a day prescription to twice a day.
“For how long?” I asked. (What do you think he said?)
“For the rest of your life,” he said. (I was in my mid-30s)
“Is there anything else I can do? Any diet or lifestyle changes?” (What do you think he said this time?)
“Nope. With a severe case like yours, you need to take 2 pills a day, for the rest of your life.”
3. Tim, our 4th, had been rushed to the hospital only able to breath by screaming non-stop. He had viral-induced asthma. So, any time he got a cold, it would move to a cough, then his airways would swell, he would have trouble breathing, we would give him Albuterol, which wouldn’t work well enough, so he would be put on steroids. After the hospital and 2 repeat episodes of the above sequence, they put him on a once a day asthma drug . . . indefinitely. The doctor said he might outgrow the condition when he was 5 or so. He was still a baby.
We switched to eating predominantly a vegan diet with an emphasis on whole foods - brown rice, whole wheat flour, fruits, and vegetables, etc.
Tom’s cholesterol dropped significantly the first few months. His new heart valve is doing very well and we hope that on this diet it will last longer than the average of 10 years.
I’m off ALL my heartburn prescriptions. I occasionally need an antacid after eating tomato or chocolate (or the now and then pizza)
After being vegan for a while and a few colds without breathing trouble, I stopped giving Tim his medication and he’s never had trouble since. When I mentioned to the doctor that diet might be why he was doing so well, she said our success was probably because we hadn’t been through the cold and flu season yet. He was 1 then. He’s 4 now, and still not a single whiff of lung trouble since. That’s 3 cold and flu seasons.
A few of the things that stood out to me the first time I read The China Study:
A study where they gave a peanut mold toxin that would cause liver cancer to 2 sets of rats. One they fed on veggie protein and one of dairy protein. The dairy group developed liver cancer while the veggie group hardly did. And even more amazing, they switched the diets and the cancer shrunk in the previously dairy group and began to develop in the previously veggie group.
The comparison of poor versus rich diets = veggie/grain versus meat/dairy and the poor versus rich illnesses = diarrheal/infections/etc. versus heart/cancer/diabetes.
An image in the book of a before-and-after image of a man’s artery - very clogged and then incredibly open. He was a man who didn’t accept that his heart disease diagnosis was forever and all he could do was take handfuls of pills for the rest of his life. He discovered the whole foods/vegetable based diet, stuck to it despite considerable ridicule from those around him, and reversed his heart disease. A drug doing this kind of thing would be hailed as a miracle saving millions of lives from the #1 killer in America. It’s DIET guys, NOT drugs!
The studies. The studies. The studies.
I know some may have objections or disagree with portions of The China Study, but really, where’s the possible harm? If it even has a tiny chance of helping with the big killers in our society, why wouldn’t you give it a try? Are we really so attached to eating meat, dairy, and eggs?
I believe the science supports eating this way. Common sense supports eating this way. Our family’s results support eating this way.
I just wanted to share and hope this would help encourage others to take the leap and see how it helps their health.
Peppermint is a wonderful herb for relaxing a ‘twisted’ stomach (gas, bloating, cramps) and is simple to grow and to use:
Grab a pair of scissors
Cut enough to fill a quart mason jar
Rinse it clean and pack it into the jar.
Pour boiling water over the peppermint until the jar is full.
Cover and let it steep for 10 minutes or so – (longer if you want it stronger)
Strain, add your favorite sweetener, and enjoy the fresh, spicy smell and taste as it soothes your tummy.
It’s easy to grow and could be called ‘robust’ if you’re in a good mood or ‘invasive’ if it’s making its way across your lawn. So, contain it if you’re worried. It does make mowing the lawn a more fragrant business. And it always comes back.
. . . and now DocMisty is too :-) I’ve been busy the last little while, developing a blog for one of my other passions: Homeschooling.
But, now that winter is over and I’m back digging into my garden and herbs, I plan on blogging over here a little more. I’d like to write some posts on herbs that are easy to grow and how to use them – ideas that are simple for anyone to use for common ailments.
Is there something you’d like to see me write about? Alternative or herbal questions you have? Just let me know and I’ll do my best.
We’ve all had one of those days with kids screaming, trying to make dinner, scouts or soccer practice in 30 minutes, and in desperation, you turn on the TV. Sometimes it’s almost a miracle. The kids’ eyes whip over to the screen, they stop moving, sit down, and peace descends on the house and you’re able to get some work done.
However, like many parents, I try to encourage my kids to be well rounded, some TV, but definitely time to work together, play games, build legos, etc.
What I didn’t realize was how much TV watching may impact our babies under age 2. Check out this article by LiveScience: “TV Causes Learning Lag in Infants“. A new study shows that babies in front of the TV get a lot less interaction time with the adults around. They said that for every hour the television was on, a baby heard over 700 fewer words from adults. So, it isn’t just the baby watching the TV, but the fact that we don’t interact as much with our children when we’re distracted by the television. And when a baby’s brain is tripling in size during those early years, they really need interaction and language to develop.
In our age of electronic media, a study like this is a call for us to pay a bit more attention to interaction with our kids. That’s how they learn. Maybe we can work on returning to ‘old style’ entertainment like catch, Uno, hide and seek, and the like . . . Just not when I’m trying to make dinner
Your 5-year-old falls at the park again after attempting something insane, like jumping from the top of one picnic table to the other. He runs to you sobbing with his hand holding the side of his head, and all you can think is, “He knows better!” You interrupt your first adult conversation of the day to give him a hug only to see blood gushing out from between his fingers. After suppressing the urge to laugh hysterically, you switch to emergency mode, apply pressure, snag a piece of ice from another mom’s cooler, all the while making soothing sounds and saying, “You’re OK,” over and over.
Many parents have been there before, except for those rare creatures whose kids always make ‘good choices.’ For the rest of us, the next big question, after making sure he’ll live, is, “Do I really have to take him and my four other kids to the hospital and pay a $100 co-pay?”
This was me last Friday. Plus, my 3-month-old baby woke up because of all the shrieking and wanted to nurse. And my three other kids, 8 and under, were playing at the park and didn’t want to leave, “RIGHT NOW!”, and get in the car.
TIP : Find the closest urgent care clinics covered by your insurance before the next emergency. The co-pay is usually half what the ER costs. There’s no time to do this when the blood is gushing – I know! Make sure to give them a call and ask specifics: do they place stitches, have an x-ray machine, cast broken bones, and have a nebulizer or ‘breathing treatment’ machine? You don’t want to arrive, only to find out it’s a geriatric urgent care.
So, I’ll share my hard-won knowledge with this quick and practical ‘How-to’ guide on wounds and stitches:
How many layers deep is the cut?
If the cut goes through multiple layers of skin, it usually needs stitches to keep the wound edges in the right place while it is healing. Not to be gross, but if you can see something besides skin, like bone or yellow bits of fat, deep in the cut, then you should get stitches. In general, a cut more than a ¼ in. deep should get stitches.
How long is the cut and does it gape open?
The longer the cut, the more the wound edges can move around and heal ‘crooked’ or with bunched up areas of skin. Also, if it gapes open it will likely heal that way with a wider area of scar tissue. A good rule of thumb is to get stitches if it is over ¾ of an inch long.
Are the edges clean or ragged?
A small cut by a kitchen knife is a great example of a cut that doesn’t need stitches. The straight edges of the wound will heal with almost no scar. An impact wound that has pulled the skin apart leaving ragged edges will have a hard time healing well. The ragged edges need to be trimmed smooth before stitching so they don’t bunch up while healing or die off providing a nice spot for an infection to take hold.
Are there possible serious complications?
This may seem like a no-brainer, but if the wound is near anything important, you should get medical treatment. This would be anywhere with important nerves, like cuts to the face, hands and feet. Also cuts deep and close to joints should be stitched for two reasons: One, they are a pain to keep from opening up every time you bend the joint, and two, an infection that gets into a joint can be very serious. Plus, make sure you have an updated tetanus shot if there are any suspicious objects involved in causing the wound.
Where is the wound? (ie. Do you want a scar or not?)
Ok, if you really don’t care what it’s going to look like afterwards, or you enjoy using the occasional scar as a conversation starter, then you really don’t need to get stitches for minor injuries. Your body will just fill in the area with scar tissue. Your main goal, in this case, is to clean the wound and keep it from getting infected.
If you decide to stay home (and save the copay)
Start by cleaning the wound out well. Irrigate gently with lots of water and make sure to get any particles, rocks, slivers, etc., out of the wound.
Put on an initial antibiotic treatment – ointment, first aid wash, etc.
Use a bandage to hold the wound closed in the way you want it to heal.
If you’re using a bandaid:
Get a good quality one that will stay on well – the fabric ones seem to work best on my kids.
Attach the bandaid to one side of the wound, pull the skin and wound closed, as straight as possible, and stick down on the other side.
Start at one edge of the wound and work your way to the other (or the middle and work your way to the edges). Don’t be afraid to use plenty of bandaids. If you leave any of the wound gaping, it will heal that way. Try to keep the bandages protected and dry so they keep the wound edges together for at least the first 3 days or so. The less you disturb the wound, the less it will scar, and the more likely it will heal the way you bandaged it.
If you’re using ‘closure tape’ or ‘steri-strips’, which you can order from medical supply stores:
(For those who have lots of crazy, ‘no-fear’ little boys, and want to plan ahead)
Paint a bit of Benzoin Tincture on either side of the wound without getting it in the wound – think ‘glue stick’. You can buy this at the ‘old school’ pharmacies in most areas – call around. It really helps the closure tape stay stuck for days instead of hours, but you can do without it in a pinch.
Ditto above: Apply the tape to one side and pull the wound closed as straight as possible and stick it to the other side. Continue until the entire wound is pulled together as straight as possible.
Good luck and if you’re curious to see how our picnic table adventure ended, see my next post on how to remove stitches.