We are more familiar with herbs when they are included in our culinary experience in restaurants we frequent or even at home. But years ago, these herbs were recognized by our ancestors as a solution for different ailments.
Thyme – This herb is recommended for respiratory diseases. Its most notable chemical compound, thymol, is recognized for its strong antiseptic action.
Calendula – The petals of Calendula are rich in flavonoids, a plant metabolite thought to provide health benefits through cell signaling pathways and antioxidant effects.
Motherwort – This herbal plant is effective in reducing dysmenorrhea pain, and correcting amenorrhea. It is also known for its stress and anxiety relieving properties.
Echinacea – Several benefits brought by these herb includes fighting off cancer, alleviating joint pain, stimulating the growth of blood cells, and improving the immune system.
Lavender –Lavender contains antioxidant properties that help in reducing inflammation.
Chamomile – Chamomile is very popular for effectively curing an upset stomach. Furthermore, it helps solve problems related to sleeping, morning sickness, skin swelling, and other skin problems.
Dandelion – Dandelion, a flowering plant, is known for being used as a detoxifying agent for the liver and the kidney. Dandelion can also help treat infections, minimizes swelling, balances blood sugar, and improves pancreas function.
Sage – Sage disinfects sores, heals ulcers, and cures coughs and hoarseness.
Peppermint – Peppermint is used to alleviate ailments such as dyspepsia, gastritis, intestinal colic, and spasms of the bile duct, gallbladder and GI tract.
Burdock – Burdock is useful for gout, arthritis, glandular swelling, canker sores, burns, skin wounds, and hemorrhoids.
Holy basil – This herbal plant is also known for having anti-fungal and antibacterial properties.
Spilanthes – This herb has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties making it a potent medicine for disinfecting wounds and curing ringworm infection.
Chickweed – Chickweed has high nutritional value and has astringent, diuretic, expectorant, laxative, and demulcent properties.
Lemon balm – Easy to grow, the lemon balm is popular for its anti-viral and relaxing properties. It can also be used to treat upset stomach, freshen breath, and treat sores.
Milk thistle –It is a herb rich in vitamins E and C. Milk thistle is also used to treat liver and gallbladder problems.
Aloe vera – It is widely used to heal wounds and various skin and hair conditions. Orally taken, and this herb can act as a laxative.
Yarrow – It has an active compound that acts as tryptic (stops bleeding), astringent (makes tissue contract), antiseptic (inhibits bacterial growth), vulnerary (helps tissue heal), anti-inflammatory, and possibly anesthetic. Several studies also show its benefits to ease menstruation for spasm and flow.
Feverfew – This herb brings down the temperature, thus lowering fever. It has a substance that acts similarly to as aspirin. It effectively treats pain by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins.
Bergamot – It’s essential oils help treat high fever, intestinal worms, and even malaria. It can also be used for aromatherapy and act as a tonic for the nervous system. Its scent can help alleviate stress, anxiety, tension headache, and depression.
People mostly associate the chemical BPA with the current controversy over plastic water bottles used for water here in the United States. Bottled water is so popular, in fact, that this country goes through some 1,500 plastic bottles every second, with about 80% of them winding up in a landfill. The waste is bad enough, but the problem is compounded because these plastics contain Bisphenol A (BPA) a chemical compound known as a xenoestrogen which has been linked to cancer in many studies. And water bottles are not the only sources of contamination. Read on to find out more about 5 other potential BPA sources that many are not aware of.
Wine in general is touted for its many health benefits, especially red wine which has been linked to the promotion of cardiac health. However, consumers need to be aware that wine can be laced with BPA if it is fermented in vats with plastic liners or if it is put inside a the plastic containers that are used in boxed wine. Not all companies who make boxed wine are guilty of this, however, and if they are BPA-free, it will generally say so clearly on the label.
In one study with profoundly disturbing implications, researchers in Denmark found that all but one of the toilet paper samples studied contained xenoestrogens, and found that BPA concentrations in the toilet paper are so high that they deemed it to be an important source of xenoestrogen pollution in wastewater. The long-term consequences of BPA exposure to such delicate parts of the body certainly warrants further research, but in the meantime, finding toilet paper made from BPA-free material like bagasse is certainly a safe alternative.
Researchers from the Mt. Sinai medical school in New York conducted studies on the sealants which dentists use to protect tooth damage and found that when these sealants are exposed to saliva, they can metabolize into BPA. The BPA can remain in the mouth for several hours after the dental procedure, but further studies should be done to determine what, if any, long-term health risks are associated with this.
Cash register receipts do not strike most consumers as being even remotely harmful, but after a study of BPA, the Environmental Working Group found that nearly 40% of receipts tested were on heat-activated paper and averaged around 3% BPA by weight. Damp laboratory paper was used in a “wipe test” and was able to easily pick up BPA from the coating on the receipts. This means it would likely be transmitted through casual human contact.
Another common source of BPA that many people may not be aware of is canned goods. In 2009, for instance, tests conducted on a number of common canned food products, including popular items like tuna, green beans, juice and soups, found that almost all of the 19 foods tested contained some level of BPA, and this was true for organic and nonorganic products, as well as for those labelled “BPA-free”.
In short, BPA is common in many more products than many consumers realize. It can, in fact, be hidden even in many of the common products listed above.
Coffee is more than just a drink – its warmth, invigoration, it brings people together, and it’s often the start of new things great and small – like starting ones day. Now, emerging research indicates that coffee’s potential benefits extend far beyond even these reasons; according to one study, coffee may even help prevent suicide.
Other recent studies show that coffee can even help protect against dementia, Parkinson’s disease, as well as a host of other serious conditions.
Coffee Consumption Cuts Risk of Suicide Almost in Half
The research on the affects of coffee on suicide was conducted by professors of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, and published in July 2013 in The World Journal of Biological Psychiatry.
The study, taking over two decades to complete and involved nearly a quarter of a million participants, shows that people who drink two to three cups of coffee a day are at much lower risk of killing themselves than drinkers of decaffeinated coffee and non-coffee drinkers. Incredibly, moderate, daily coffee consumption slashed suicide rates by almost 50 percent – a truly astounding figure. If a pharmaceutical antidepressant achieved this type of dramatic benefit, manufacturers would be shouting it from the rooftops. Turns out, antidepressants are a scam.
Of course, it almost goes without saying, we are not suggesting that people drink any of the popular brands from Starbucks and stores loaded with junk sweeteners and other horrible ingredients. As with anything you choose to consume, it should be of the highest quality sources to reduce the risk of toxicity from chemicals, something abundant in the coffee bean industry. Which is why we partnered with TheGreatAwakeningCoffee.com to provide gourmet and organic coffee to patriots with fresh roast on demand or whole bean options from around the world!
Back to the study: the results, were not surprising; past epidemiological studies have shown lower rates of depression among coffee drinkers. Researchers believe that coffee’s mood-lifting effects stem from the way it increases the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline. Think of how much physical work such as running that you’d need in order to get that kind of activity from your heart?
Warning: Ingesting Excessive Caffeine Can Still Be Dangerous
The research team added that drinking more than three cups of coffee a day – or ingesting over 400 milligrams of caffeine – carries no additional benefit, and can cause unpleasant side effects.
In fact, one Finnish study showed that those who drank larger quantities of coffee – eight and nine cups a day – actually had a higher suicide risk than moderate coffee drinkers.
According to Just-Released Research, Caffeine in Coffee Can Actually Help to Prevent Parkinson’s Disease
According to a separate Swedish study published in July 2014 in the scientific journal PLoS One, coffee – along with the presence of a certain genetic mutation – can actually help prevent Parkinson’s disease.
While both environmental and genetic factors play a role in the development of this neurodegenerative condition, researchers have found that variations in one specific gene – a glutamate receptor gene known as GRIN2A – can help to shield against it. Caffeine, which integrates with the dopamine receptor, works in conjunction with this genetic mutation to lower Parkinson’s risk.
Organic Coffee Has More to Offer Than Just Its Caffeine Content
Good coffee has wonderfully high levels of potent antioxidants, including trigonelline, catechol, and N-methylpyrinidium. Researchers say that an ordinary cup of coffee contains 1,000 different compounds. Further study is needed to explore the full effects of these beneficial substances.
Meanwhile, evidence of the link between coffee and longer life continues to accumulate.
In a study of 400,000 participants conducted by the National Cancer Institute and the American Association of Retired People and published in 2012 in New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that older adults who drank multiple cups of coffee (every day) – either decaf or “high-test” – had lower risk of death overall than non-coffee drinkers. Participants were less likely to die from stroke, heart and respiratory disease, infection, and diabetes, and were less likely to suffer fatal injuries and accidents.
Other studies have linked coffee drinking to better blood vessel health and to reduced risk of certain cancers, including oral cancer, liver cancer, and a lethal form of prostate cancer.
Still, coffee may not be appropriate for everyone.
According to Mayo Clinic, up to 400 milligrams of caffeine, a day is safe for most healthy adults. However, children should not ingest caffeine at all, and teens should not consume more than 100 milligrams a day.
Caffeine, which is classified as a stimulant, can cause adverse effects in some individuals, including anxiety, insomnia, irritability, stomach upset, and muscle tremors. Taking certain medications or herbs along with coffee can intensify the effects of caffeine. And, of course, people with anxiety disorders should avoid caffeinated coffee.
For maximum health benefit – look for fair trade, organic coffee that is free of pesticides and chemicals. From what the latest research tells us, a cup of fresh-brewed, flavorful organic coffee really is good to the last drop.
These ads are illegal in most countries but not in the US, where 27% of people spoke to their doctor about a medical treatment after they learned about it from an ad. Do you actually believe it’s there to help you?
Research from health care advertising technology company DeepIntent revealed that 27% of people spoke to their doctor about a medical treatment after they learned about it from an ad
Earlier data found that “pharmaceutical ads can empower patients to take a more active role in researching treatments” and “advertising influences patients’ decision to follow through in taking drugs prescribed by their doctors”
The most common action that people take after viewing a drug ad is to conduct research, and this research becomes the most important factor in medication adherence — even more than the person’s own previous experience taking the drug
Marketers intend to use increasingly targeted ads via your smart TV, cellphone and desktop computer to increase drug sales even more
DeepIntent CEO Chris Paquette said in a news release, “We have evidence that more relevant advertising drives real results for our clients”
Television advertisements for prescription drugs are illegal in virtually every country on the planet — but not in the U.S., where 80 such ads air, on average, every hour on Americans’ televisions.1 “Ask your doctor,” the narrators tell viewers, urging them to bring up the latest name-brand drugs at their next physician’s visit.
Prior to the 1980s, these types of direct-to-consumer (DTC) ads were unheard of,2 even in the U.S., but within a few decades they became among the most common public health messages seen by Americans.
This marketing shift turned out to be incredibly lucrative for Big Pharma, but its effects on public health — and individual health — are highly questionable, as the ads continue to drive consumers to request drugs from their doctors,3 whether they need them or not.
FDA’s Loose Guidelines Paved the Way for TV Drug Ads
Before the 1980s, pharmaceutical companies marketed directly to doctors, instead of to patients. Drug industry executives even told Congress at the time that they believed directly advertising drugs to consumers was not “in the public health interest” and “cannot safely be accomplished.”4
A cultural shift soon emerged, however, to empower patients to be more involved in their own health care, instead of solely listening to their doctors. Advertisers jumped on the trend but, still, drug advertisements to consumers only appeared in print ads, including in magazines, but not on TV.
This was due to the U.S. FDA’s requirements to include all drug risks and side effects in the ads, which could be done on pages of print but was much more difficult to accomplish on TV or radio commercials.
A strange loophole existed, however, which allowed drug ads to run without stating the risks and side effects, as long as it also didn’t mention the disease the drug was intended to treat.5 This is highly likely related to the industry finally capturing the federal regulatory agencies responsible for protecting the public.
Not surprisingly, this led to confusion, prompting a loosened requirement from the FDA in 1997, which stated that ads only had to include the drug’s “major” side effects and refer viewers to a source where they could find the rest.
Even if viewers do end up seeking out the full list of side effects, the info seldom scares patients away. Everything is designed to make you tune out the risks and view the drug in a desirable light, from actors who use an appealing voice tone to beautiful images and music choices.
The removal of the requirement to list all drug side effects in ads paved the way for on-air drug ads, and the rest is history. By 2004, annual spending on drug advertisements quadrupled,6 making name-brand drugs like Lipitor, Lunesta, Xanax and Ambien household names.
Patient Requests Have ‘Profound’ Effect on Doctors
By 2003, U.S. DTC advertising of prescription drugs had reached $3.2 billion.7 For comparison, it reached $6.58 billion in 2020, excluding social media.8 The profound way it influenced patients was recognized from the start, with critics stating that the ads led to over-prescribing of “unnecessary, expensive and potentially harmful medications.”9
By 2005, a randomized controlled trial had been published in JAMA to determine the influence of patients’ requests for directly advertised drugs, in this case antidepressants.10 Patient actors visited physicians, describing symptoms of depression in half of the visits and in the other half stating “they were feeling down,” a description of an adjustment disorder that doesn’t typically require immediate drug treatment.11
In some of the visits, the patients mentioned seeing a commercial for the antidepressant Paxil, while in others they didn’t mention any medications. Patients who mentioned Paxil were more likely to be referred for a mental health consultation and receive a prescription for an antidepressant, whether they were describing symptoms of depression or simply “feeling down.”
According to study author Dr. Richard Kravitz, “For us, it typified the double-edged sword which direct-to-consumer advertising represents.”12 Prescribing rates for the drugs were highest when patients made general requests for medications — 76% of such visits resulted in a prescription, compared with 31% of those in which the patient made no medication request.13
Targeted Smart TV Drug Ads Increase Drug Sales
DTC drug ads are getting “smarter” as the years go by, and now marketers are using targeted ads driven by your viewing habits, which are streamed directly to you via your smart TV. DeepIntent, a health care advertising technology company “built to influence patient health and business outcomes,”14 conducted research on consumer behaviors and ad-supported content.
The majority of “connected TV” (CTV), or smart TV, viewers (64%) said they would rather watch ads than pay more to view the content. DeepIntent surveyed 2,900 U.S. adults on self-reported viewing habits and compared it to data gleaned using “automated content recognition (ACR) technology,” which was developed in partnership with LG Ads Solutions, a provider of native ads to LG smart TVs along with “audience targeting data.”15
Their first finding was that while many people believe they’re watching TV via cable or satellite box, most are actually streaming the content via their smart TV — “meaning that more than half of viewers may be watching CTV content without even realizing it,” DeepIntent explained.16
The implication is that they have a greater number of viewers than previously realized to target with their ad campaigns, via not only smart TVs but other devices like your desktop computer and smartphone. According to DeepIntent, doing so is known to influence patient outcomes:17
“DeepIntent … announced its complete integration with LG Ads Solutions’ real-time ACR data repository covering more than 30 million LG smart TVs in the United States. DeepIntent is the first and only demand side platform (DSP) with this capability, offering healthcare marketers unparalleled targeting capabilities for all digital formats, including CTV, desktop, and mobile.
‘For too long, healthcare marketers have struggled to reach relevant audiences at scale. By combining the targeting power of CTV with ACR data, DeepIntent’s patented technology optimizes campaign audience quality and script performance in real-time,’ said DeepIntent Senior Vice President of Analytics John Mangano. ‘Consumer research has proven that this combination influences patient outcomes.’”
27% Asked Their Doctor About a Drug From an Ad
DeepIntent’s research findings revealed that 30% of people said pharmaceutical ads provide helpful information to someone in their household, and 27% spoke to their doctor about a medical treatment after they learned about it from an ad.18
The findings support earlier data from the company, which found that “pharmaceutical ads can empower patients to take a more active role in researching treatments” and “advertising influences patients’ decision to follow through in taking drugs prescribed by their doctors.”19
The most common action that people take after viewing a drug ad is to conduct research, and this research becomes the most important factor in medication adherence — even more than the person’s own previous experience taking the drug. They intend to use targeted ads to increase drug sales even more. DeepIntent CEO Chris Paquette said in a news release, “We have evidence that more relevant advertising drives real results for our clients.”20
Through their partnership with LG Ads Solutions, DeepIntent is using native ads to drive more sales. Another tactic is native content, also known as sponsored content or branded content, which is written by marketers but passes as real journalism. The sponsored content is a media response to banner ads that are widely ignored, ad blocking technology and readers’ almost universal dislike of pop-ups and screen takeovers.
It also fills webpages without the need to pay writers — instead, sponsors pay the media on whose site or in whose publication the content appears. Some of the content is innocuous and even amusing, but other native content like “Could Statins Cut Alzheimer’s Risk?” found on WebMD21 or “How Testosterone Benefits Your Body” is unabashed Pharma marketing masquerading as unbiased information.
Limitless Lobbying, Advertising Budgets
The marketing of prescription drugs, health services, laboratory tests and even disease awareness is big business in the U.S., and spending has been on a steady uphill climb since 1997. That year, spending on medical marketing was $17.7 billion, which rose to $29.9 billion in 2016.22
DTC spending increased the most rapidly, from 11.9% of total spending to 32%. DTC prescription drug ads accounted for $6 billion in spending alone in 2016, which amounted to 4.6 million ads, including 663,000 television commercials, mostly for high-cost biologics and cancer immunotherapies.
Disease awareness campaigns are another type of marketing campaign run by pharmaceutical companies geared at diseases treated by their drugs. Such campaigns rose in numbers from 44 in 1997 to 401 in 2016, with spending increasing from $177 million to $430 million over the same period.
DTC marketing for health services also rose from $542 million to $2.9 billion, with spending increases particularly notable for hospitals, dental centers, cancer centers, mental health and addiction clinics and medical services, such as home health care.23
Aside from DTC advertising, Big Pharma is still marketing directly to health professionals — an area that accounted for the most professional spending, according to a JAMA study on medical marketing in the U.S.24
“Pharmaceutical marketing to health professionals accounted for most spending and remains high even with new policies to limit industry influence,” the researchers, from The Dartmouth Institute’s Center for Medicine in the Media, noted. “Despite the increase in marketing over 20 years, regulatory oversight remains limited.”25
Annual lobbying on pharmaceuticals and health products has been on the rise since 2013,26 and in 2021 the pharmaceutical industry was the top lobbying group in Washington, spending far more than any other industry — $356.6 million.27 Among their top priorities in 2019 was fiercely opposing a bill that would reduce drug costs,28 and, another eye-opening statistic — nearly 60% of Big Pharma’s lobbyists are former government employees.29
So, when you see an advertisement for a drug on TV or your computer, resist the urge to believe that it’s there to help you and see it for what it really is — a marketing tactic with the sole purpose of increasing sales for the drug industry.
Glutathione is your body’s most powerful antioxidant and detoxifying agent, and it’s also something of a well-kept secret. Outside the wellness community, few people have even heard of it, but it’s now time to lift the curtain on this life-saving molecule that delivers incredible benefits, and even helps slow the aging process. Though glutathione’s not a magic health bullet per se, it comes pretty close, and getting more of it is absolutely essential to eliminating toxins from your body, keeping disease at bay, maintaining youth and sustaining wellness. Come up short and you’re putting yourself in the path of all manner of health problems, but get enough and glutathione’s health-supportive properties can be the difference between a vibrant, energetic life and one that’s anything but.
Here are some of the reasons why I prescribe glutathione – for both cleansing support and everyday use – and why I too take it every day:
So, Where’s It Been All My Life?
Though supplementation with glutathione has been around for years, few people were aware of it because, until recently, the only way to take it was through an IV. Oral forms weren’t very successful because they were poorly absorbed – the stomach would diligently break down about 90% of it, preventing most of the glutathione from getting to where it needed to go. Now, however, an easily absorbed version, known as acetyl glutathione, has been developed, and at last, the benefits of glutathione can be enjoyed conveniently in pill form, without the IV drip.
Glutathione Hoovers-up Toxins and Keeps You Young All Over
Comprised of three amino acids, glutathione is the single most powerful antioxidant your body produces and recycles. It’s made in the liver, the organ most responsible for detoxifying your body, so optimal liver function is absolutely essential. If your liver isn’t functioning well, glutathione production suffers, toxins overwhelm it and illness, both short term and long, are not far behind. Keep your glutathione levels high however and it:
Protects your DNA from damage and maintains optimal immunity
Protects against free radicals, tamps down inflammation and helps fend off heart disease, cancer, neurological decline, dementia and many more of the debilitating diseases we fear most
Neutralizes and clears heavy metals and toxins from the body
Keeps your mitochondria pumping out energy
Delivers powerful anti-aging benefits. In fact, low glutathione levels have been linked to every major aging process in the human body, so by fighting back with glutathione, you can help keep you energy levels higher, for longer.
In short, glutathione allows your body to detoxify itself and in so doing, helps keep you healthy for the long haul. It’s the ultimatehealth-supportive champ – and it’s the one you want in your corner.
Trouble Is, You’re Not Making Enough Of It
The not-so-great news is that the odds of having optimal glutathione levels much past the age of 20 are pretty slim. With aging, your body is fighting a bit of a losing battle, with natural production dropping by roughly 10% per decade. Do the math. By the time you hit 60, you’re working with a bit over half the amount you made during your college years. For many people, that translates to flagging energy, lowered immunity and a host of low-grade ills. And while aging is inevitable, feeling lousy while doing it is not. By boosting one’s glutathione levels, many people can slow the losses of the aging process and possibly stop some major health problems from setting up camp in your body.
You May Be Unwittingly Short-changing Your Supply
In addition to aging, there are other forces taking a bite out of your glutathione production. You’ll want to pay attention to the classic health-suckers: stress, unhealthy diet, lack of exercise and some prescription meds to name a few. Another major depleter: toxic overload, or heavy long term exposure to toxins and pollution, which not only contributes to glutathione depletion but also inhibits the liver’s ability to produce it.
Hey Doc, How Do I Get Some?
To optimize your glutathione supply, I recommend a multi-pronged approach, combining a nutrient-dense diet with stress-reduction, exercise and smart supplementation. Here are a few ways to top off your tank:
Exercise triggers glutathione production, so finding a routine that works for you is the way to go. If you’re just getting into a workout groove, start slow and build up over time. An overly aggressive exercise program right out of the gate can do more harm than good and inadvertently facilitate the production of those health-harming free radicals – so again, don’t over-do it!
Unmanaged, chronic stress depletes glutathione, so commit to getting it under control! Take stress down a few notches with calming practices like meditation, mindfulness exercises, yoga or tai chi.
Then there’s your diet. Be sure to include foods that support and stimulate glutathione production. Top picks include: garlic and onions, as well as asparagus, avocados, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, parsley and watercress.Cinnamon, cardamom and curcumin also offer benefits.
For smoothie fans, whey protein is also helpful – but just be sure to get the good stuff, meaning organic, non-denatured (un-heated) whey, from grass-fed cows, free of additives or sweeteners.
Another way to encourage glutathione production? Take steps to minimize your exposure to toxins. By doing so you’ll lighten your toxic load and reduce the strain on your glutathione stores. The easiest ways to cut down exposure: filtering your water; using gentler organic or homemade, natural cleaning products; reducing the use of personal care products; switching to glass for food storage and reheating.
To achieve optimal levels, I also recommend supplementation. When purchasing, make sure you’re getting acetyl Glutathione to ensure bioavailability – and reap maximum benefit.
If you’ve ever enjoyed treats from the farmers market on a Saturday morning, you know how enjoyable it is to eat locally. Eating local means enjoying fruit, vegetables, and other foods grown by farmers and producers within your community.
Here are 7 benefits of eating locally you might not have thought about.
1. Eat Local, Eat Fresh
Many of the foods in your supermarket are grown in different states or different countries. When you eat locally, the food is very fresh because it’s grown right where you live. You can taste the freshness because it was picked just a few days before you bought it.
2. Delicious and Nutritious
Processing, transportation, or sitting on shelves cause nonlocal foods to lose considerable nutrition. In fruits and vegetables, vitamin C and antioxidants decline almost right away. Since locally grown produce doesn’t spend time sitting around, there’s no chance for it to lose its valuable nutrients.
3. Widen Your Horizons
While at the farmers market, you might run into locally-grown food that you’ve never encountered before. Trying new things is a fun & interesting way to learn food history and agricultural techniques of your community. You might even find a new favorite flavor while you’re at it!
4. Going Green
You’re creating less pollution and a smaller carbon footprint since the food travels a much shorter distance to reach you when buying locally. It also cuts down on plastic packaging since you can purchase produce just as it comes. Shopping at a farmers market also supports your local ecosystems by maintaining green spaces in the area.
5. Boost the Economy
Your money circulates within the local economy when you buy local. This increases employment and income within a community, further promoting the local economy and opportunities.
6. The More You Know
The farmers market is a great place to connect with people who can teach you how food is grown. You can strengthen your relationship with your community and learn about sustainable farming practices all in the same breath.
7. It’s Easy!
All you have to do to start eating locally is check out your local farmers markets, co-ops, or farm-to-table restaurants.
Eat Great Food Locally
Eating locally benefits more than just your health. It also does wonders for your community morale, economy, and environment. Take a minute to stop by your local farmers market this weekend and enjoy fresh ingredients packed with nutrients.
If you have access to a television, chances are you have seen the commercials for the yogurt that claims to make you more “regular.” You might wonder how a yogurt can have this effect on the body. The answer? Probiotics.
Until modern times, most cultures incorporated some sort of fermented, probiotic food into their diet as a matter of course. Unfortunately, as we became more modernized, we learned about bacteria and, in fear, began sterilizing everything we come into contact with in our first world lives. We also began to shy away from foods that have been fermented, even though they had been eaten without a problem for generations. Maybe it was a matter of health concern, or perhaps it was a matter of convenience. After all, “modern” first-world eating often relies on shelf-stable foods that are highly processed and, as a result, lifeless. Removing the beneficial probiotic foods has left many people unarmed in the fight against bad bacteria and other flora in the gut. Yogurt products and others like them are an attempt to add probiotics back into the diet and get more healthy gut flora to help win the battle for good health.
Adding probiotics into the diet is one way to balance the good/bad bacteria ratio in the gut. When the good bacteria are on the winning side, the gut tends to function more normally. Additionally, the immune system is strengthened (did you know that about 85 percent of the immune system is in the gut?) and often upper digestive issues can be alleviated without the use of antacids or prescription drugs.
Where Do I Get Probiotics?
There are many avenues one can take to get probiotics into their system. You may purchase the advertised yogurt or the pills that make these health claims, or you can choose to make your own probiotics. Freshly made probiotics can be easy to make and cost substantially less than a similar product from the grocery store. Even more importantly, the probiotic foods you make at home will have far more beneficial live bacteria than products that have been sitting a long while at the store.
What Foods Are Considered Probiotic?
Some of the probiotic foods that you can make at home for little cost are yogurt, milk kefir, water kefir, and fermented foods such as pickles, sauerkraut, and kimchi. Another option for a homemade source of probiotics is kombucha tea.
When I first began learning how to make my own probiotics, I started with making yogurt. As a young mother of three, I found yogurt making to be a challenge. It is not particularly hard to make, but the timing and temperature gauging were hit-and-miss at times with children calling for my attention. I was relieved to eventually discover that there was an easier option—milk kefir—and I have made it instead of yogurt for a few years now.
Milk Kefir—It’s So Easy!
For the purpose of this article, I will share how I make my milk kefir, as I feel it is the easiest of the homemade probiotics that you can make.
Getting Started with Milk Kefir Grains
To make milk kefir, you will need to get your hands on some milk kefir grains. These may be purchased online, or you may be able to find someone local to you that can spare a few. I acquired my first kefir grains from an online friend. It doesn’t take many. I began my first batch with about a half-tablespoon of kefir grains. A tablespoon would have been better, but I just started using less milk than I would usually use.
Milk kefir grains resemble small cauliflower florets, as they are white, somewhat firm, and rubbery to the touch. The longer you make your milk kefir, the more your grains will grow, and you will have extra to either save for a later time, as backup in case something happens to your other grains, or to give to a friend.
The Secret “Survival Vitamin” You Should Buy And Bury…
Keep It Clean
Cleanliness is important, no matter what you are fermenting. Be sure to use clean dishes and utensils. You may reuse the jar you use to make kefir in, but it is wise to wash it every so often, as kefir tends to dry on the upper areas of the jar the longer when it is reused without washing. Also, be careful not to allow metal to come into contact with the kefir for any extended amount of time, as it can be reactive and cause an off flavor in the finished product.
How To Make Milk Kefir
Items you will need:
Clean quart size jar
Jar lid or a clean cloth and string or rubber band
Kefir grains (about a tablespoon, but more or less is fine)
Fine mesh colander (preferably not metal)
Container to strain kefir into
Place your kefir grains in the jar.
Pour two cups milk over the grains and gently stir.
Place lid on jar, but do not tighten. Alternatively, place a clean cloth over lid and secure it in place. The idea is to let air escape as the kefir ferments and to keep insects out.
Allow the jar to sit at room temperature for about twenty-four hours. The longer it sits, the sourer it will become. You can adjust the fermenting time to your preferences.
After twenty-four hours, the kefir grains should have had enough time to make the milk into kefir. If the grains were dormant, you might need to repeat this process before the kefir is truly fermented. The grains will “wake up” and start behaving normally now that they have a food supply. The first batch or two after the grains have been dormant may need to be thrown out.
Once your kefir grains have made kefir, follow these steps:
Place a colander over container.
Pour the milk kefir through the colander into the container, catching the kefir grains. Depending on thickness, you may need to stir the kefir or thump the colander a bit to make it strain through.
Return the kefir grains to the jar, pour in two cups milk, and cover as before.
Allow the jar to sit twenty-four hours to make kefir for the next day.
Your kefir in the container is ready to consume as is, or it may be refrigerated for later use. If you or your loved one has issues digesting lactose, the kefir may sit another twenty-four hours at room temperature without the grains in it. This will allow the existing bacteria to further digest the lactose in the milk kefir, making it much less likely to cause digestive issues.
I’ve Made The Kefir—Now What Do I Do With It?
Straight kefir can be too strong for some people. Try it and see if you like it. Some ways that I personally use my kefir are chilled and drank straight or with juice added, added to smoothies, and blended with fresh or frozen fruit and poured into popsicle molds. To get the health benefits of the probiotics, you will want to consume it in an unheated state. Heat will kill the probiotics.
Sometimes kefir will separate, and it is easy to pour off the whey to use to soak grains overnight or for fermenting other foods, such as oatmeal or pancake batter, before cooking in the morning. Soaking grains helps to boost their nutritional content and availability to the body as it aids in their digestion.
If You Have Extra Kefir Grains…
If you find that you have too many milk kefir grains and your kefir is ready too quickly, it is time to either add more milk than you usually use or to remove some of your kefir grains. Extra kefir grains may be stored in a jar with milk and placed in the refrigerator. The coolness of the refrigerator will slow the fermentation process. Check on it every few weeks and switch out the milk if needed.
Alternatively, you may dehydrate your extra kefir grains and keep them in a jar in a cool place until such time that you are ready to rehydrate them and begin again. Dehydrated milk kefir grains only have about a 40 percent viability rate, according to some sources, so this would be my last choice unless I had a ton of extra grains. To dehydrate, rinse grains with well water or spring water (do NOT use chlorinated water), then spread them on a clean paper towel to dry. When dry, the grains should be hard and yellow in color. They may also be dried in an Excalibur dehydrator on the absolutely lowest setting until completely dry. After they are dried, store in a cool place or in the refrigerator or freezer. Obviously, if they are dried, you will not have to worry about feeding them.
I would encourage you to try adding some type of probiotics to your diet. Pick a source and let us know if you notice any benefit. I suspect we might all benefit from a little bit more culture in our lives.
How to cleanse your pineal gland? How to detoxify your pineal gland?
As mentioned in the previous section (What is your Pineal Gland?), the primary goal of decalcifying your pineal gland is so that you can begin the process of pineal gland activation and begin the awakening of your third eye.
There are two parts to pineal gland decalcification. The first is to stop any further calcification of your pineal gland which is caused by any lifestyle habits or environmental factors, e.g. flouride, etc. The second step is to work on reducing and removing the existing calcification and help to further develop your pineal gland.
Below we will go through the methods you can take to achieve these two steps.
STEP 1 – Stop further calcification of your Pineal Gland
The key to stopping further calcification of your pineal gland is to firstly identify what causes calcification, and then secondly stopping these sources. Generally speaking, it is a person’s diet (food/drink) and lifestyle that causes calcification.
Below is a list of the primary causes of calcification:
Halides are chemical substances such as Fluoride, Chlorine and Bromide. They all seem to have similar effects on the pineal gland, so it’s important to remove these from your diet.
Fluoride is the most common and widespread in our diets. It is magnetically attracted to the pineal gland more so than any other part of the body. Here it forms calcium phosphate crystals which accumulate. Fluoride is present in toothpastes and tap water. It’s a heavy duty poison and should be avoided at all costs as it calcifies the pineal tissue and basically shuts the gland down. Switch to a fluoride-free toothpaste and drink spring water or filtered water (see ‘Tap Water’ section below for more information).
Recommended Product (US & Worldwide): Manina 100% Vegetable Base Neem Advance Toothpaste 6.42oz with Mint
Recommended Product (US & Worldwide): Kiss My Face Triple Action Natural Aloe Vera Toothpaste, Cool Mint Freshness, 3.4 fl oz (96 g) (Pack of 6)
Recommended Product (UK & Europe): TheraNeem Organix, Neem Toothpaste with Cinnamon, 4.23 oz (120 g)
Recommended Product (UK & Europe): AloeDent Sensitive Aloe Vera Plus Echinacea Fluoride-Free Toothpaste – Pack of 3
For research data on why fluoride is dangerous for you, please visit: FluorideAlert.org Fluoride Action Network
Calcium supplements – More and more research is showing that calcium supplements, containing calcium carbonate, are detrimental for our health. For more information, visit the following links:
Harvard Medical School: What you need to know about calcium
Why Calcium can be toxic to our body
This is one of the biggest causes of calcification, they don’t really work so if you’re taking them it’s recommended that you stop and look at other natural forms of calcium.
Calcium in food – Pretty much all processed food contains some form of calcium. These forms include calcium phosphate, calcium carbonate and dicalcium phosphate. Many supplements contain these as content fillers also.
The best form of calcium is the form that is contained in natural foods, like sesame seeds, chia seeds, leafy greens like spinach and kale, quinoa, oranges and broccoli. These will not only increase your ‘good’ calcium intake but will also provide you with a more balanced set of nutrients.
Tap water contains many calcifying substances (including fluoride as mentioned above) and it is important to your general health that you consume uncontaminated drinking water. Water is one of the most important substances for your body so you must ensure that you are drinking water that is pure and good for you! 🙂
Here are 3 methods/sources of clean water:
Osmio Water Filters:
Osmio Water sell some of the highest quality water filtration equipment in the world and are recommended for filtering out fluoride and other calcifying substances. To ensure that the community get the highest quality products at the best prices, we have negotiated a 5% discount when the community purchases their products.
For 5% off on all products, use the discount code “DPG” (can be used upper or lower case) at Osmio Water’s checkout.
These are the main types of Osmio filtration systems, which are listed below:
Drinking Water Filter (Point of use)
Recommended Product (Worldwide): Puricom Proline Plus 6-Stage Pumped Reverse Osmosis System with Alkaline Filter – Use 5% discount code “DPG”. Description: UNBEATABLE VALUE FOR MONEY, and very cost efficient, i.e. low running costs. Very easy to install 6-stage reverse osmosis system with alkaline filter removes chlorine, fluoride, lead, heavy metals, industrial chemicals, bacteria and toxins. Includes alkaline filter to restore minerals lost during filtration.
Recommended Product (Worldwide): Pure-Pro Quick Change 6-Stage Reverse Osmosis System with Alkaline Filter – Use 5% discount code “DPG”. Description: 6 stage filtration with alkaline filter built in, raises pH to 8.5-9.5, ionises water for optimum structure, ultra pure with beneficial minerals.
Recommended Product (Worldwide): Watts KWIK Change Reverse Osmosis System – Use 5% discount code “DPG”
Description: WQA Gold Seal & NSF Certified System, really easy filter changes, ultra pure water.
Recommended Product (Worldwide): Watts EZFITPRO-300 Undersink Water Filter Kit 15mm Push Fit – Use 5% discount code “DPG”
Description: No separate tap required, really easy fitting, high quality inline filtration, silver impregnation, all components NSF certified.
Whole House Systems Water Filter (Point of entry)
Recommended Product (Worldwide): Best for 1-3 Bedroom homes with 1 bathroom Ecopure Small Whole House Filter System with post sediment filter system – Use 5% discount code “DPG”. Description: 2 year long life main filter, removes fluoride, hormones and chlorine and much more, uses natural active ceramics. Only works effectively up to a maximum of 25 LPM (litres per minute) flow rate so only suitable for 1 bathroom homes.
Recommended Product (Worldwide): Best for homes with 2-3 bathrooms Ecopure PRO-II Whole House Water Filter System – Use 5% discount code “DPG”
Description: 3 year long life main filter, removes fluoride, hormones and chlorine and much more, uses natural active ceramics. Only works effectively up to a maximum of 40 LPM (litres per minute) flow rate so only suitable for 3 bathroom homes. Not suitable for undersink installation at point of entry (too big).
Alternative Water Filters
There are many varieties of filters and filtration systems and they are summarised below:
Pitcher/table top – Zen Water Systems Countertop Filtration and Purification System, 6-Gallon – This particular model is very powerful and makes the water highly alkaline and healthy.
Portable/manual water filter – Katadyn Pocket Water Microfilter – One of the longest lasting and most durable water purification method you’ll find, great for outdoors or if there is a power outage and local water cannot be pumped to your home, as it doesn’t require batteries. It is best to then store your water in a BPA-free container (Klean Kanteen Wide Insulated Bottle).
Adya Clarity – Adya Clarity 16 Oz – This natural substance is made from black mica extract, which comes from volcanoes and is in the same family where Natural zeolite powder is made from. It is a natural water purifier and body detoxifier of radiation, viruses, heavy metals, cancers and toxins in general. Add this to any water that you think may be contaminated with radiation, bacteria, viruses or other toxins.
Ionic filters/Ionized Water – Alive Water 7-Plate Water Ionizer – Best overall method for water purification, transforms ordinary tap water into healing and rejuvenating, deliciously hydrating water. These water ionizers purify your water of pathogens (viruses, bacteria and protozoa), change your water’s pH structure to alkaline, and transform your water into a powerful antioxidant. The quality of ionised water is proven through dozens of scientific papers and thousands of healthy, rejuvenated athletes and clients.
Water distillers – Waterwise WW1600 Non-Electric Water Distiller – Counter-top Water Distillation system are probably the easiest way to purify your water, and usually more portable. This type of water is the best for detox, however it doesn’t do as well as Reverse Osmosis or Ionized water for removing fluoride, and is highly acidic so will flush minerals out of your body. These systems are good for the short term (to remove excess calcium deposits, and clean your pineal gland) but not for long-term as it can make your bones brittle if you get rid of too much calcium in your body too fast. For long-term drinking water use Ionized Water.
Reverse Osmosis – Watts Premier 131150 Reverse Osmosis 5-Stage System – Uses pressure to push water through microscopic openings that trap harmful minerals and particles including fluoride and other contaminants. It’s really good for water purification, especially in emergency conditions.
PLEASE NOTE: After using a Reverse Osmosis system or Water Distiller, you should add some beneficial minerals back into the water (pHion Balance Alkaline Minerals), as it is acidic and it will have lost its natural structure (even a shake of sea salt to a gallon of water will help re-mineralize and alkalize your water). An AlkaPod (AlkaPod Portable Water Alkaline pH Enhancer (Ionizer)), a portable water alkalizer that makes ionic water and puts the minerals into it automatically, is a recommended no fuss way to clean alkaline water.
The safest and most healthiest choice is spring water, but analysis needs to be done to ensure that it isn’t polluted. For a site that can show you where your nearest natural spring is, please go here: http://www.findaspring.com – Remember, spring water is free and should be respected.
To test spring water, you will need a TDS and pH tester:
Recommended Product (US & Worldwide): Neewer Mini Digital PH Meter
Some pesticides are pineal toxins so foods grown using these pesticides should be avoided. Therefore, fresh organic food that hasn’t used chemical pesticides is recommended instead. Organic healthy food with a high ratio of raw foods (Raw Diet) is supportive to pineal detoxification
Due to the food chain passing these chemical pesticides on, certain meats can accumulate these chemicals. Some people recommend meat free diets also to protect your pineal gland from potential harmful substances.
Sugar, Caffeine, Alcohol and Tobacco (S.C.A.T.):
As a general point, a diet free of Sugar, Caffeine, Alcohol and Tobacco (S.C.A.T.) will not only flush the system, but it will also bring about the “kundalini” rising and ensure you have a great balanced mind/body. The diet must be maintained for at least 2 months. The longer you maintain the diet along with exercise, you’ll find that your energy level will increase and excess pounds will fall away leaving your brain clear from toxins. This gives you the capacity to focus on pineal gland activation.
STEP 2 – Remove existing calcification within your Pineal Gland
Removing the build up of years of toxic build up in your pineal gland can be achieved with some dedication and commitment.
There are a number of ways to decalcify your pineal gland, below is a list of them along with what you would need to do:
Organic Blue Ice Skate Fish Oil:
One of the most powerful natural substances you can take to decalcify your pineal gland. It contains a very powerful substance called “Activator X” discovered by Weston Price. See below for more information about “Activator X”.
Recommended Product (UK & Europe): Green Pasture Blue Ice Fermented Skate Liver Oil – 120 Capsules
MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is bioavaliable/organic sulphur, one of the most critical nutrients for our bodies to remain youthful and energetic. It is very powerful for general detoxification and decalcifying pineal glands, and has other great benefits including:
Improves skin health and complexion – MSM is necessary for collagen production and works together with Vitamin C to build new, healthy tissues. This means more collagen is produced to combat saggy, dry, wrinkly skin!
Improves flexibility – Research has shown that MSM is highly effective in improving joint flexibility, and helps produce flexible skin and muscle tissue.
MSM is naturally derived during the earth’s rain cycle. The sulphur is present in many natural unprocessed foods, but it’s quickly lost during the cooking process and as the body doesn’t store it, a constant source is required for the body.
Recommended directions for a MSM Superdose Cleanse:
Take 1,000mg per day of vitamin C (natural sourced Acerola Cherry powder is recommended) as it assists with the removal of toxins. Colloidal silver will also act as a detoxifier during this MSM superdose cleanse and is recommended too.
Start with 3,000mg of MSM per day with plenty of pure water. You can split this amount up if it’s easier and take it with meals.
Add 1,000mg to your daily dose each day until you reach 20,000mg per day of MSM. Stay at this dose for 3-7 days until you feel your body is flushed of toxins (you will know since you will feel GREAT!)
After 3-7 days, begin to lower the dose to 3,000mg per day for healthy maintenance and PH buffering. This can be adjusted depending on how much acidic foods/drink are consumer.
It is essential that you use vegetable sourced MSM, as some cheap MSM products are petroleum sourced.
Raw cacao is a great pineal gland detoxifier in high doses because of the high antioxidant content. It is also good as a pineal gland stimulant too, which can help to activate your third eye. See How to activate your pineal gland section for more information on pineal gland activators.
Raw lemon, juiced and consumed is very good at detoxifying your pineal gland. Citric acid also works, but raw lemon juice is recommended. It’s recommended that you take 3 tablespoons of citric acid or 7 organic lemons every day on an empty stomach for three weeks. You can also do this by mixing it with spring water as citric acid isn’t so good for your teeth.
Garlic is amazing for decalcification because it is able to dissolve calcium and acts as an antibiotic. Added benefits are it gives your immune system a kick start. Consume around half a bulb to two bulbs daily (or more if you like). To ensure your breath doesn’t scare anyone off, you can crush the garlic and soak in raw apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice to deodorise it. Make sure you put the used lemon juice or vinegar on a salad or re-use it for other foods later. Don’t let anything go to waste.
Also, black garlic is exceptional at detoxification and I highly recommend it. It is really tasty too, and great to cook with!
Recommended Product (UK & Europe): Black Garlic Tub 150g
Raw Apple Cider Vinegar:
Very good for detoxification of your pineal gland, as it contains malic acid as well as other natural minerals, vitamins and enzymes (it’s important you supplement your body with good minerals/vitamins when detoxifying as your body will begin removing unnecessary substances, hence why raw apple cider vinegar works well). A recommended brand is Braggs apple cider vinegar, and make sure it’s raw. Generally speaking, vinegars should be sold in glass bottles, so if it’s not in one, don’t buy it as you’ll be consuming plastic too! It’s best taken before meals, using 1-3 teaspoons in a glass of filtered water or even hot water as a tea. You can do this 1-2 times a day. It’s also great to put on your salad/food and tastes lovely.
Discovered by Weston Price, it is a super potent detoxifier, especially when mixed with Vitamin A and D3, and has many properties. It can reverse the process of arteriosclerosis, allowing the enzymatic balance to be restored. This then allows for the calcium to be removed from the arteries and other locations (i.e. pineal gland) and placed where it belongs, in the bone. It is also a potent catalyst for vitamin and mineral absorption.
The vitamin occurs naturally in two forms:
K1 (phylloquinone) is found in green leafy vegetables
K2 (comprised of menaquinones) is created by intestinal microflora and also obtained from food sources such as organ meats, liver (goose/chicken are best), egg yolks, fermented dairy products like cheese or butter (from cows eating rapidly growing green grass), Japanese fermented soybean dish Natto (the richest K2 food source), sauerkraut, marine oils, fish eggs and shellfish. Do not take K2 supplements if taking anticoagulant drugs (such as Warfarin) or other medications. It’s also suggested that taking Kefir makes homogenized milk digestible and provides the probiotics necessary for your own body to produce vitamin K2 in the gut.
Boron is another detoxifier and pineal gland cleanser. It also works well as a fluoride remover. It is present in beets and best consumed by eating organic beets or trying beet powder mixed with spring water or other liquids/foods. You could try adding 1/4 tsp of sodium borate (Borax) to your green teas. An inexpensive source of boron can be purchased in most supermarkets as common borax. Borax should be taken in very small quantities in pure water, with as little as 1/32 to 1/4 of a teaspoon of borax to one liter of water. This mixture should be consumed in small quantities throughout the day has been found to be safe and effective. About 1/8 of a teaspoon with a pinch of sea salt has been found to be effective too. Another alternative to common borax is food grade sodium borate.
Recommended Product (US & Worldwide): Boiron Homeopathic Medicine Borax, 30C Pellets, 80-Count Tubes (Pack of 5)
It has not been proven conclusively, but many believe that melatonin helps remove fluoride by increasing decalcification of the pineal gland which helps breakup the existing calcification. In addition to melatonin supplementation, plenty of daytime physical activity and/or exercise, a healthy diet, not overeating and meditation/relaxation exercises all contribute to higher melatonin production from the pineal gland.
Iodine has been clinically proven to increase the removal of sodium fluoride from the body via the urine as calcium fluoride. Most diets are deficient in this vital mineral and it is recommended that people take seaweed foods and iodine supplements that combine iodine and potassium iodide. However, eliminating fluoride with iodine also depletes your supply of calcium. It is therefore recommended that you increase your intake of organic vegetables to supplement the positive calcium that your body requires. To compliment the intake of iodine, it is recommended that lecithin is consumed too.
Recommended Product (US & Worldwide): LL’s Magnetic Clay Nascent Iodine – 1 Oz.
Recommended Product (US & Worldwide): Lugol’s Iodine Solution Made with 5% Iodine and 10% Potassium Iodide 1 Fl Oz
The pulp, bark, and leaves from the tamarind tree can be used to make teas, extracts and tinctures that will help eliminate fluorides through the urine. Tamarind is widely used in Ayurvedic Medicine and has many positive health properties.
Recommended Product (US & Worldwide): Franz Organic Pure Tamarind Paste – Seedless (400g. (14oz))
Recommended Product (UK & Europe): Steenbergs Tamarind (Pack of 3)
There is research to say that distilled water can help to decalcifying the pineal gland. For more information, please check out the following site: 24 Doctors with the courage to tell the truth about Distilled Water
Recommended Product (US & Worldwide): ZeroWater ZD-023 23-Cup Water Dispenser and Filtration System
Recommended Product (US & Worldwide): Sparkletts Distilled Water – Case of 6 Gallons
Recommended Product (UK & Europe): Water Distiller with Glass Collection Bottle
Recommended Product (UK & Europe): Distilled Water – 5.5 Litres
Recommended Reading: Your Own Perfect Medicine: The Incredible Proven Natural Miracle Cure that Medical Science Has Never Revealed!
Nigella Sativa (the black seed):
Nigella Sativa is a herb that originates from Western Asia. It gets its name from its deep black, sharp-cornered rectangular seeds (around 3 mm).
Over 200 studies have been carried out at international universities and articles published in various journals showing remarkable results supporting its traditional uses. The Nigella Sativa seed itself contains numerous esters of structurally unusual unsaturated fatty acids and the chemical composition is very rich and diverse. Apart from its active ingredient, crystalline nigellone, it contains 15 amino acids (including eight of the nine essential ones), carbohydrates, fatty acids including linolenic and oleic, volatile oils, alkaloids and dietary fibre, as well as minerals such as calcium, iron, sodium and potassium.
Recent research on the black seed has shown it to be a detoxifier, anti-biotic, anti-tumour, anti-inflammatory, anti-histaminic, anti-bacterial, anti-bronchial and immune boosting agent. This not only makes it a good pineal gland cleanser, but also an all-round health boosting product!
Recommended Product (UK & Europe): Black Seed Oil Capsules Pack (120 x 500mg capsules)
Natural zeolites are a major breakthrough in natural detoxification. It is a naturally occurring crystal, that is safe for people of all ages (as well as pets), and is frequently used during environmental disasters where time and power is of the essence.
The great thing about zeolites, it that they not only breakdown the calcium shells that form in the pineal gland, but they also remove the heavy metals (including radiation) that get stored in those calcium shells, and thus releasing heavy metals from the body.
It is also known to attach to cancerous cells and stop their growth. It is a heavy detox agent against viruses, bacteria and other pathogens and environmental toxins (including fluoride), and is a major natural immune system booster. Like the Nigella Sativa, it is a good pineal gland cleanser and all-round health boosting substance.
Recommended Product (UK & Europe): Pure Planet Fulvic Zeolite, 1 fl oz (30 ml)
The chaga mushroom is the most nutritionally dense of all tree growths, and is known by the Siberians as the “Gift from God”, the Japanese call it “The Diamond of the Forest,” and the Chinese deem it “King of Plants”. To survive in harsh climates, chaga concentrates natural compounds for its protection, and that is why it is so powerful. To strengthen the tree, as well as heal, it makes potent phytochemicals, including sterols, phenols, and enzymes, and research has found that people benefit by consuming these forest-source phytochemicals and nutrients. It also contains the richest source of melanin which gives us the pigment for our skin/hair/eyes and is a powerful antioxidant. Our pineal glands are hungry for melanin as it shields us from harmful UV light which then allows our pineal gland to regulate our circadian rhythms/cycles, thus regulating our sleep so we can heal. It directly feeds and nourishes the pineal gland allowing it to function more fully. A definite must for those looking to help activate their pineal glands as part of a holistic approach.
There are a number of yoga practices for decalcifying (and activating) your pineal gland. One highly recommended practice is the “Khechari Mudra” yogic meditation, or “Divine Nectar” as it is sometimes known. It may require years to clear the pineal gland completely as a stand alone exercise. It is done using the following two phases:
In a yogi-sitting pose with your eyes closed, concentrate on stretching the tongue back into the throat.
While doing this, place the tip of your tongue on the roof of the mouth, flexing it to eventually reach the main sinus cavity behind the roof of the mouth.
Once your tongue is flexible enough and can enter into the sinus cavity, it will go straight up and bump against an area that is linked to your pineal gland. This is the first phase of the “Divine Nectar” meditation and it could take weeks and months to achieve.
The second phase of this meditation is to decalcify the pineal gland by scraping the above area with the tip of your tongue. As this area is linked to the pineal gland, it helps break the calcium layer around the pineal gland and clear it, slowly and gently. As the pineal gland gradually clears up, you start enjoying an amazing taste of “nectar” secreted by the pineal gland unlike anything else known to the human taste buds. During the decalcifying weeks, you will also experience the opening of your Third-Eye.
It is a slow process, but it’s very safe and rewarding, and requires discipline and persistence. For more information, visit the following link: Wikipedia: Khecarī mudrā)
Making sure that your baby gets a healthy start in life is one of your biggest priorities. That means ensuring that your nutritional intake is at optimal levels.
The purpose of this article is to give you the absolute best and most current recommendations that I have culled from over three decades of being involved in health care. I know it is a major challenge to sort through all the confusion, so I am going to do the hard work for you and provide some simple, practical, and solid tips for helping you to bring the healthiest child possible into this world.
Some of the main things I will be discussing with you include the importance of:
Healthy daily doses of omega-3s
Optimizing your vitamin D levels
Eating for vitality and health
Just saying no to vaccinations
Removing your mercury amalgams
Treating severe gum disease
Minimizing pesticide exposure
Using the safest cosmetics
Avoiding exposure to phthalates
The Importance of Omega-3 Fats During Pregnancy
After reviewing many tens of thousands of articles on nutrition, I am convinced that the single most important dietary influence on your prenatal health is adequate omega-3 fats.1 Most women have major deficiencies of this fat, and given the statistics, it’s very possible you do too.
A study in March 1991 at the Mayo Clinic of 19 “normal” pregnant women consuming normal diets showed that all were deficient in omega-3 fats. Another study of Inuit (Eskimo) women, compared to Canadian women, revealed omega-3 deficiency in the milk of the Canadian nursing mothers.2
Omega-3 fat and its derivative, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), is so essential to a child’s development that if a mother and infant are deficient in it, the child’s nervous system and immune system may never fully develop, and it can cause a lifetime of unexplained emotional, learning, and immune system disorders.
While most people are seriously lacking in omega-3s, they are overdoing another type of fat: omega-6. The ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats is 1:1. Today, though, most Americans’ ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 averages from 20:1 to 50:1! 3
It’s very important to get your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio closer to the ideal 1:1. To do this, simply cut back on all vegetable oils (this includes those in processed foods, like cookies, chips, and crackers) and get a regular supply of high-quality omega-3 fat, which I’ll be telling you how to do, later on.
In the next few sections you’ll learn even more reasons why omega-3s are so critical to you and your baby’s health, and why I recommend that every pregnant woman maintain an optimal daily dose of omega-3s.
Omega-3s Provide Phenomenal Protection Against Prematurity
Optimizing your omega-3 intake will virtually guarantee that your baby will be full term. Prematurity is the leading cause of death during a baby’s first month of life, and serious complications can occur later in life for preemies who survive.4 Studies show that the earlier a child is born, the higher the risk of complications, including:
Respiratory distress syndrome
Bleeding in the brain
Less ability to fight off infection due to immature immune system
Vision and hearing loss.
The good news is that the DHA in animal-based omega-3 fats will prevent the vast majority of premature deliveries, 5 as well as the other complications listed above.
More Omega-3 Benefits for Mom And Baby
Omega-3s contain a powerhouse of nutrients to ensure that your baby will develop properly and reach its highest potential. These nutrients help to maximize the intelligence7 of your child, and protect your baby from brain injuries such as autism, pervasive developmental delay, and ADHD.
Studies have shown that sufficient levels of omega-3 fats optimize brain growth in children, especially during the third trimester.8
And in addition, omega-3 fats have been found to be highly effective in combating cardiovascular disease and depression. With hormones fluctuating so wildly during this time, you might find yourself dealing with some depression. It is a very common occurrence in pregnancy.
Research has now shown that low plasma concentrations of DHA, one of the main fats in omega-3 oil, are associated with low concentrations of brain serotonin. Serotonin has a calming effect on your brain and nervous system, so it is no surprise that a lack of it caused study participants to feel depressed and suicidal.9
However, in a British study, researchers found that women who consumed greater amounts of omega-3 fatty acids during the third trimester were less likely to show signs of major depression during pregnancy, and for up to eight months after the birth.10
Dietary supplementation with omega-3 oil concentrates has also been shown to reduce both the progression of cardiovascular disease and related mortality, including sudden cardiac death,11 so make sure you get plenty of this critical nutrient to protect you and your baby during this important time.
Another great benefit of adding omega-3 oils to your diet is that they will help prevent your child from developing diabetes later in life.18 This goes back to the role of omega-3 fats in helping you carry your baby to term. Studies show that premature babies have a greater risk of developing diabetes. Let me also add that studies link this tendency towards diabetes to a lack of sufficient vitamin D prior to birth.
Hopefully all this has convinced you how important it is to have plenty of omega-3s in your diet so you can be amply protected against these risk factors during pregnancy.
Finding the Best Sources of Omega-3s
In past years, I have recommended that the best way to obtain your essential omega-3 fats was to consume fish, but because of the ever-increasing danger of ingesting too much mercury, my current belief is that fish should generally be avoided. The mercury contained in fish has been well documented to cause a variety of neurological birth defects.12,13
Even the conservative FDA has warned that women should avoid most fish during pregnancy.14
Because of this issue, I recommend that you supplement your diet with a high-quality krill oil instead.15 Krill are small, shrimp-like crustaceans that inhabit the Earth’s oceans. The purest oil is made from krill that are harvested in the deep, clean waters of the Antarctic.16
The reason I prefer krill oil to fish oil is that krill oil contains potent antioxidants, whereas fish oil is weaker in antioxidant content.
The major drawback to taking fish oil is that, as you increase your intake of omega-3 fats, you actually increase your need for more antioxidants.
Why it this?
Because fish oil is quite perishable, and oxidation leads to the formation of those unhealthy free radicals. Therefore, you need to take antioxidants to ensure that the fish oil doesn’t oxidize and become rancid inside your body. But krill oil makes life simpler because you don’t need to pop extra antioxidants every time you take your omega-3s.
And the essential fatty acids DHA and EPA are also present in krill oil. At one time, fatty fish like salmon was an excellent source of these acids, but because of the mercury contamination mentioned previously, as well as PCB contamination17 and even more, it is no longer a safe choice.
All these contaminants outweigh the benefits you could get from their omega-3 content (particularly since you can get them from krill oil, which is purified of contaminants). And please note that your prenatal vitamins do not contain one microgram of DHA!
Another healthy source for obtaining omega-3 is beef fed exclusively on grass. If you can find a local producer, it would be wise to seek out this food source.
Are Plant Sources of Omega-3 Acceptable?
It is important to note that plant-based omega 3 fats do not provide the same benefits as animal-based, because most of us can’t convert the ALA in plant-based fats to the appropriate amount of DHA that is required.6
Flax seeds, walnuts, and other plant sources of omega-3 should not be substituted for animal omega-3s, as you will simply not receive the same benefits because they are not metabolized as efficiently. For more information and precautions about nuts during pregnancy, please see the section titled Limit Nuts.
Add Sunshine for Optimally Healthy Baby
Without question one of the single most important strategies you can have for a healthy baby is to make sure you have optimal vitamin D levels. There is about a 90 percent chance that you do NOT have healthy vitamin D levels for a variety of reasons.
If you work indoors a lot, it’s likely you don’t have sufficient levels of vitamin D, because sunlight is where most or all of our vitamin D comes from. Also, if you live in a northern latitudes where you don’t spend much time outdoors even when you aren’t working, there’s an extra good chance you may be D-deficient as well.
Your windows also screen out the vast majority of UVB rays from the sun shining through, so you will NOT generate significant levels of vitamin D by sitting in front of a sunny window. There are other benefits to doing that, but generating healthy vitamin D levels is not one of them.19
A recent study has shown that even in you live in more southern areas and spend more time outdoors, you may still be deficient in vitamin D. The study showed that adults in southern Arizona were found to be deficient in vitamin D, particularly those with darker skin which produces less vitamin D in response to sunlight.
More than a quarter of Arizona adults who were tested had dangerously low blood levels of the vitamin.
On top of that, most people don’t eat much vitamin-D rich fish, which these days is actually a good thing. While missing the vitamin D, you and your baby are also happily missing the high mercury levels that most fish contain,20 due to the ongoing pollution of our waters.
I believe the very best way to optimize your vitamin D level is with regular exposure of large portions of your skin to the sun. However, I realize that may be difficult if it’s snowing outside, so that’s why I recommend you get your vitamin D from an oral form of vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol).
Vitamin D3 comes from fish oil, and is the best and most effective form of oral vitamin D. Vitamin D3 is also found in eggs, organ meats, animal fat, cod liver oil, and fish. It is the equivalent to the vitamin D3 formed on your skin from UV-B.
However, you must have your blood levels checked before you begin any supplementation program. This is best done by a nutritionally oriented physician. The advantage of having your medical doctor perform the test is that it will usually be covered by your medical insurance.
It is also very important that you order the correct test.21 There are two tests with very similar names, so don’t be confused. They are 1,25(OH)D and 25(OH)D. The correct test is 25(OH)D, also called 25-hydroxyvitamin D.
Make Sure Your Doctor Uses the Correct Testing Lab
Recent developments in 2008 also made it clear that there are irregularities in the values obtained from different testing methods. So while you may get results from any of the three assays that are analytically accurate, they might not be clinically accurate, which is, ultimately, what matters.
Therefore, in order for the test to offer you clinically relevant results, I recommend using LabCorp. Their radioimmunoassay (RIA) method for measuring total vitamin D levels has become the gold standard, not because it’s more accurate than others, but because it’s the one used in almost every major vitamin D study, on which the blood levels for clinical efficacy are based. 22
As far as test results, you should strive for levels of 60 ng/ml. This is currently considered the optimal level for vitamin D.
Add Exercise to Your Daily Schedule
Exercise should be an important part of your health routine while you’re pregnant, as long as your doctor has not indicated otherwise. In fact, vigorous exercise has been shown to decrease the possibility of premature birth.23
In a study conducted between 1995 and 1998, close to 1,700 pregnant women were questioned about their leisure activity during the three months before pregnancy, as well as during the first and second trimesters. Of the women questioned, 22 percent exercised vigorously before pregnancy — 14 percent during the first trimester, and eight percent during the second. Vigorous activity included jogging or bicycling at a moderate to fast pace, swimming, or aerobic, fast-paced dancing.
Women who exercised vigorously during the first trimester were 20 percent less likely to deliver prematurely, compared with those who did not. Those who reported vigorous activity during their second trimester reduced their risk of premature, or pre-term birth, by 48 percent.
A later study indicated that women who exercised at the same rate throughout their pregnancies had larger placentas than their more sedentary peers. The volume of the placenta is a general marker of its ability to transport oxygen and nutrients to your baby. The study also indicated that a more intense exercise regimen may result in babies who weigh less at birth.24 However, none of the babies born to women who exercised moderately or intensely through the ninth month were considered unhealthy.
These findings indicate that regular weight-bearing exercise is beneficial for both you and your baby, and that the amount of benefit varies with the timing and amount of exercise.
Eating for Two
I’m sure you have heard the term “eating for two.” For many years, mothers-to-be were told that because they were pregnant, they must eat for two. But this is a very misleading statement. Some women gain far too much weight in the misguided belief that they must provide additional nutrition for their growing child.
Others may simply use this statement as an excuse to eat whatever they want. In either case, surveys now show that roughly half of all pregnant women are overweight or obese.25
The truth is, obesity can wreak havoc on your health, and that havoc will extend throughout your pregnancy and affect your unborn child. The side-effects of obesity include birth defects,26 infertility,27 heart disease,28 and much more. Studies also show that overweight or obese women have a greater tendency than normal-weight women to produce children who will also become overweight.29
So it’s important to your health and to your baby’s to keep your weight within reasonable parameters, so you can both avoid problems down the road.
Eating the Right Foods for Baby
While it is true that we should always strive to eat properly, remember that a precious cargo – your baby — is now sharing your food supply. His little body has no choice but to try to make good nutrition from whatever you eat, so it is more important than ever to choose the right foods so that he can be assured of a strong, healthy adulthood.
In general, choose fresh, organic foods whenever possible. And eat a well-balanced diet consisting of adequate protein, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables.
Be sure to include plenty of leafy green vegetables, because they are loaded with folic acid, a B vitamin that studies have shown reduces the chance of your child being born with neural tube defects. Neural tube defects are a type of birth defect that affects the brain and spinal cord, and includes spina bifida.30
You can find many good sources of locally grown organic vegetables and fruits at your neighborhood farmer’s market.31 A good way to make sure you are eating properly is to eat according to your Nutritional Type.™
There are basically three Nutritional Types™:
Protein types do better on low-carbohydrate, high-protein, and high-fat diets. Carb types normally feel best when the majority of their food is carbohydrate. However, I do not mean refined carbs, such as from commercial cakes, pies, cookies, and the like. They will only create more health problems. Getting most of your carbohydrates from vegetables is very important.
And, if your Nutritional Type™ is mixed, your requirements are between the carb and protein types.
Ascertaining whether you are a Protein, Carb, or Mixed Type will assure that you get the right balance of foods to nourish your particular metabolism. You can find out more about all of these Nutritional Types™ at Mercola.com.
Eggs — Powerful Pregnancy Allies
A very important food for pregnancy are raw eggs.33 Raw eggs are a rich source of protein, carotenoids, and choline. Eggs contain yellow or orange carotenoids called lutein and zeaxanthin. Studies have shown that high dietary intake of lutein and zeaxanthin is associated with a significant reduction in the risk for:
Cataracts (up to a 20-percent reduction)
Age-related macular degeneration (up to a 40-percent reduction).34
Other good sources of lutein and zeaxanthin are green vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli.
Choline, another important nutrient in eggs, has been shown to improve learning and memory in animals. Researchers say this data could mean that choline can boost human cognitive function, diminish age-related memory decline, and decrease toxic “insults” to the brain.35
Also, despite what you may have heard, the risk of salmonella from raw eggs is extremely low when you buy healthy, organic eggs. Salmonella infections are usually present only in traditionally raised commercial hens. If you are purchasing your eggs from healthy chickens, the infection risk reduces dramatically. Remember, only sick chickens lay salmonella-contaminated eggs. If you are obtaining high quality, cage-free, organically fed, omega-3-enhanced chicken eggs, the risk virtually disappears.
Other egg myths that should be debunked are that eggs increase cholesterol levels or are a causative factor in heart disease. The most recent research has clearly shown that eggs do not cause a worsening of cholesterol, nor do they increase the risk of heart disease.36
What researchers in previous studies never took into account, when studying the link between bad cholesterol and eggs, are the specific subclasses of LDL cholesterol. The smaller fractions of LDL are more dangerous and are associated with an increased risk of heart disease, while the larger ones are not dangerous. So rest assured, if you choose free-range, organic eggs, they are one of the healthiest, and safest, foods you can eat.
A few notes about breastfeeding. After you deliver your baby, you should keep the following points in mind when deciding about breastfeeding your infant. I strongly recommend breastfeeding because it strengthens your child’s immune system, protecting him against many physiological assaults later in life.
One of the reasons for this is that a healthy mother’s milk is high in essential fats, GLA, and other precursors to prostaglandins (potent, hormone-like substances that control a wide range of physiological functions such as blood pressure, contraction of smooth muscle, and modulation of inflammation).
However, cow’s milk is low in essential fats and other prostaglandin precursors, and high in saturated fats. For this reason, cow’s milk is not an adequate substitute for mother’s milk. Neither is baby formula.
At a recent international symposium on Dietary Omega-3 and -6 Fatty Acids, Dr. Neuringer, an authority on infant milk, stated that the low omega-3, high omega-6 content in infant formulas was of great concern because of the imbalance it causes among the prostaglandins.37 These imbalances can impair your baby’s immune system and predispose your infant to cancer and heart trouble later in life.
However, should you decide not to breastfeed, feeding your baby a few drops of flax seed oil daily will help to make up the deficiency of omega-3 essential fatty acids .
Are Vaccinations Really Necessary?
Many mothers may feel that vaccinations are beneficial, and without them, they or their baby might suffer harm. Nothing could be further from the truth.
First and foremost, vaccines contain mercury, which has been shown, even in low concentrations, to impair energy production, impair neurotubule stability (neurotubules are essential to normal brain cell function), and activate brain free radical production, among many other destructive things.38
To avoid these potentially grave effects, you should avoid all vaccinations while you are pregnant, as well as avoid having your baby get any vaccinations after birth.
The brain has one of the highest metabolic rates of any organ, and impairment of its energy supply, especially during your baby’s development, can have devastating consequences.
A study undertaken by Dr. Thomas Verstraeten, representing the CDC at that time, looked at data from the Vaccine Safety Datalink and found a significant correlation between thimerosal (49.6% mercury by weight) exposure in vaccines and several neuro-developmental disorders including tics, speech delays, and possibly even ADD.39
Despite the damning evidence that vaccines contained a potent neurotoxin, and despite recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and others that thimerosal be removed, five years after the Verstraeten study, in 2004, the CDC still insisted that there was no scientific evidence of harm from exposure to thimerosal-containing vaccines.40
Currently, California, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, New York, and Washington ban thimerosal in vaccines.41
Furthermore, children are getting mandated to have more and more vaccines at younger and younger ages. It has gotten so ridiculous, not to mention dangerous, for children whose immune systems are delicate and still developing, to have this many vaccinations.
Under the conventional schedule of immunizations, before a child reaches the age of two, he or she will have received 32 vaccinations, including four doses each of vaccines for Hemophilus influenzae type b infections, diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis — all of them given during the first 12 months of life. Seven vaccines injected into a 13-pound, two-month old infant are equivalent to 70 doses in a 130-pound adult!
In the wake of this, Dr. Donald Miller, a medical doctor and instructor of cardiac surgery at the University of Washington School of Medicine, has suggested a better approach, what he calls a “user friendly vaccination schedule.”
Dr. Miller states that the most rapid period of brain development begins in the third trimester, and continues over the first two years of extra uterine life.42 He believes that until randomized controlled trials demonstrate the safety of giving vaccines during this time of life, it would be prudent not to give any vaccinations to children until they are 2 years old.
Also, his user-friendly vaccination schedule requires that vaccinations, after the age of two, be given no more than once every six months, one at a time, in order to allow the child’s immune system sufficient time to recover and stabilize between shots.
For more details on Dr. Miller’s vaccination plan and other suggestions on how you can protect yourself and your baby from unnecessary vaccinations, please go to Mercola.com.
Remove Your Mercury Amalgams
Please understand that if you have mercury amalgam “silver” fillings, you are dumping the mercury from your fillings into your baby. Ideally, it would be best to remove your fillings BEFORE you become pregnant. But if you are already pregnant, it is probably best not to remove your fillings until after you deliver.
And if you have mercury amalgams, it would be wise to avoid chewing gum, because chewing liberates mercury vapors that can deposit in your child.43 And mercury vapor easily enters breast milk, so this is an ongoing issue after birth as well.
Studies have already shown that mercury in the mother can cause birth defects in her child, but the orthodox medical community has remained slow to accept this, until just recently.
The FDA reluctantly admitted last year that the mercury contained in amalgam fillings “may have neurotoxic effects on the nervous systems of developing children and fetuses.”44
At least two studies have shown that elemental mercury accumulation within a developing baby increases with time, so that the levels of mercury in the fetal organs are significantly higher toward the end of the pregnancy than during early pregnancy.45
And it is now confirmed that mercury levels in a baby’s brain reach even higher levels following birth, despite an end to exposure from the mother’s mercury. Researchers think this is due to a redistribution of the mercury from the fetus’ liver to its brain.
This transfer of mercury from a mother to her child has been confirmed in at least two human studies as well.46 Another case involved a female surgeon exposed to 0.05mg/M3 mercury vapor at work, who bore a baby with severe brain damage. The baby’s blood mercury was shown to be elevated.
The study stated that these levels of mercury can easily occur when a pregnant mother has a large number of dental amalgam fillings, chews gum, and is exposed to hot food and drinks.
Therefore, if you have mercury amalgams, not only avoid gum chewing, but also try to let liquids and food cool down before eating, so they do not liberate more mercury.
There are some other steps that you can take to help protect your baby from mercury toxicity, and diminish possible harm. Vitamin C and selenium are both helpful when it comes to protection from the toxic effects of mercury. For example, we know that vitamin C detoxifies oxidized fat, and that it can also protect your body against DNA damage.47
Selenium, a trace mineral found in fish, meat, eggs, and some other foods, helps your immune system defend against viruses. Selenium has also been shown to bind with mercury, and logically, should cause it to be excreted from the body.
If you decide to take a selenium supplement, be sure to choose inorganic selenium rather than organic, since the organic form can build up in the tissues, while excess inorganic selenium is excreted automatically.48
Both of these natural aids, as well as eating a properly balanced diet with plenty of green, leafy vegetables and fresh, organic foods, should help afford protection for you and your baby until you deliver and are through with breastfeeding. At that time, I recommend that you have your mercury amalgams removed by a dentist licensed in mercury removal protocols.
Protect Your Child from Pesticide Exposure
Alarming statistics have been coming to light daily about the dangers of exposure to pesticides and other chemicals. A 2007 article in the Los Angeles Times reported that women who lived near California farm fields that were sprayed with organochlorine pesticides might be more likely to give birth to children with autism.51
The autism rate was highest for children whose mothers lived closest to the fields, while it declined as the distance from the fields increased.
Another study, conducted in 2008, found that pregnant women who worked at a Denmark greenhouse reported that their sons had a higher incidence of reproductive abnormalities than had been preciously reported in that area, and their blood hormone levels differed significantly from normal.52
Additional studies have found that exposure to chemicals has been believed to be a causative factor in miscarriages,53 childhood learning problems,54 and even fetal death.55
This indicates how critical it is to make sure you safely dispose of any pesticides around your house so you do not come in contact with them, and preferably, have someone else do it so you won’t risk further exposure.
And, if you have a job that potentially could expose you to hazardous chemicals while you are pregnant, consider taking a leave of absence or otherwise distancing yourself from the source of the chemicals.
Dangers Lurking Inside Your Home
The previous studies just concerned chemicals outside the home. But with the increasing use of all types of commercial household cleansers, even your home can be an unsafe place.
A recent study involving almost 14,000 children was conducted to see if there was a link between prenatal exposure to cleaning supplies and asthma. The children in the study were followed until they reached 3-and-a-half years of age. Results from the study revealed that the babies who were exposed to these chemicals most frequently were the ones most likely to develop persistent wheezing as young children.56
Some of the chemicals most likely to be used in the home by pregnant women include:
Dry Cleaning Fluid
Paint or Varnish
Toilet Bowl Cleaners
So, how can you protect yourself and your baby from these dangers? Here are some guidelines:
The easiest way is by not introducing these kinds of chemicals into your home in the first place. Especially if you are pregnant, they could potentially be harmful to your unborn child.
Consider getting rid of your existing towels, sponges, rags, and other conventional tools you clean your home with, as they are some of the top sources for illness-causing germs in your home. They also do a very poor job of cleaning the biological and toxic aspects of dirt in your home.
Make dietary changes to strengthen your immune system, as I describe in the section, Eating The Right Foods For Baby.
So What Should I Use to Clean My House?
I have discovered that a safe and inexpensive way to clean your house and to avoid the effects of harmful chemicals on your baby, is by using either vinegar alone as a cleaning agent, or with the addition of hydrogen peroxide.57 This combination works exceptionally well both as a disinfectant and a sanitizer.
And it’s economical as well. For example, it only takes a half-cup of white vinegar to make a quart of this simple, all-purpose cleaner.
Other economical and effective cleaners that are equally safe to use inside your home before and after pregnancy, can be made from ingredients such as white vinegar, baking soda, salt, and lemon juice. These items should be readily available in your kitchen or easily purchased, and have been proven effective as cleaning ingredients for generations.
There are also home cleaning “recipes” you can make that are safe to use during your pregnancy, such as those found at ems.org. These will help you create cleaning products that will also be environmentally safe, so they are a good investment for the future of our planet as well.58
Beautify Yourself Safely
While you are being careful to protect your baby from the potential chemicals in many areas, be sure to consider the toxins in your everyday cosmetics. Over time, the chemicals in these products can impact both you and your baby’s nervous systems, reproductive systems, and cause other health issues.
Most cosmetics, such as hair dyes, hair sprays, facial make-up, and fingernail polish are composed of a dizzying array of chemical compounds. The Toxic Chemicals Laboratory of New York State College studied many of the chemicals and found them to be mutagenic (having the ability to damage genes and chromosomes).59
Recent studies have confirmed that these neurotoxins can easily pass through your blood and affect your unborn child. Unlike an adult, your growing baby does not have a functional blood-brain barrier to protect itself from toxic insult. This lack of a natural defense allows chemicals into your baby’s brain with the potential to cause serious harm, such as a disruption in the delicate brain growth process.60
In another study, a University of Nijmegen, Netherlands student investigated 306 mentally retarded children and their mother’s job occupations. Results showed a 3.7 times increased risk of women cosmotologists having a mentally retarded child after being routinely exposed to hair care products or dyes during her pregnancy.61
However, you can avoid exposure to these chemicals by avoiding commercial cosmetics and hair care products, and seeking out natural items from your local health food store.62 You can also purchase safe cosmetics online.
EWG has a safe cosmetic site where you can purchase cosmetics, lotions, and other products that can keep you and your baby safe from harm. Find out further information at Mercola.com by entering the keywords “three green beauty” in the search window.
Halt Gum Disease
It’s clear from numerous studies that pregnant women who suffer from dental disease have an increased risk of premature birth. One study found that the worse the gum disease is, the more likely a woman is to have a pre-term birth.63 While scientists are still studying the biological mechanisms, animal research has shown that periodontal infections impair fetal growth.
So what can you do to minimize the risk? A number of things. Recently, studies have shown a strong correlation between increased vitamin C use and healthier gums.
In one such study, researchers analyzed the vitamin C intakes and periodontal disease indicators in over 12,000 adults, and found that patients who consumed less than the recommended 60 mg per day (about one orange) were at nearly one-and-a-half times the risk of developing severe gingivitis as those who consumed three times the RDA (more than 180 mg).64
And in a 2005 German study, people with gum disease who ate two grapefruit a day for two weeks showed significantly less bleeding from their gums.65
Lack of vitamin C has also been linked to premature deliveries and preeclampsia (pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, protein in the urine, and swelling due to fluid retention).66,67 Women with preeclampsia were found to have lower blood levels of vitamin C than women without the condition.
So my best recommendation is that you increase your consumption of vitamin C-rich foods. These include citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruits, as well as kiwi fruit, cantaloupe, strawberries, tomatoes, cabbage, sweet red peppers, and broccoli. You should eat these foods fresh rather than canned, as canning destroys most of the vitamin C, and drastically reduces most of the other vitamins as well.
If you have diabetes, blood sugar abnormalities, or other conditions that might limit your intake of citrus fruits, which are some of the foods highest in vitamin C content, you can supplement with vitamin C in the form of Ester-C. This form of vitamin C has been shown to absorb significantly better and faster than regular ascorbic acid.68
But just how much vitamin C is enough? Dr. Linus Pauling, a leader in vitamin C research for many years and the author of a number of books on the subject, suggests that adults take at least 2 grams of vitamin C daily.
While that’s well over the recommended R.D.A., Dr. Pauling states, “There is much evidence about increased health with 2 grams a day, and of course even more with 4 or 6 grams a day.”69
Other vitamins that play a role in improving your periodontal health include folic acid and vitamins A and E. In one study, patients with normal plasma folate levels ingested 2 mg folic acid or a placebo twice daily for 30 days, under double-blind conditions. The folate increased the resistance of the gingiva to local irritants, leading to a reduction in inflammation–even though plasma folate levels were unchanged.70
Vitamins A and E have been linked to a marked reduction in periodontal inflammation during pregnancy,71 so be sure you get plenty of these in your diet.
Vitamin A is plentiful in beef and chicken livers, mangos, apricots, carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, spinach, and kale.
Vitamin E-rich foods include mustard greens, chard, sunflower seeds, spinach, and almonds.
But along with loading up on these vitamin-packed foods, be sure you greatly decrease or stop your intake of sugary foods and sweets. Excess sugar in your diet worsens gum disease. Once eaten, sugar becomes gooey, sticks to your teeth, and is difficult to remove. It forms plaque, which, if allowed to remain on your teeth for even a short time, can cause dental decay and periodontal disease.72
That’s why my personal preference for optimizing oral hygiene is the use of a dental scaler, the instrument that dental hygienists use. It seems to be one of the most effective ways to remove the plaque and help prevent dental and gum disease.73
This must be used carefully, however, as you could damage your gums and teeth otherwise. I also enjoy using a hydro-floss, a magnetic water pik, which can also remove scale on your teeth.
Can Plastic Hurt Your Unborn Child?
Exposure to phthalates, a chemical commonly used in plastics, could cause you to be at risk for birth defects, as well as for a shortened pregnancy. A recent study researched various chemicals, nicknamed “gender-benders,” that have been released into the environment, and found that the chemicals are causing male animals and male humans to take on feminine characteristics.
As I’m sure you’ll agree, this is a very alarming trend! But is it really true? Are males slowly “disappearing,” morphing into females?
Well, many studies now indicate these toxins may indeed be wreaking silent havoc within our male population. Male infertility is on the rise,74 and about 250,000 fewer boys have been born in the last 30 years in the United States and Japan.
Scientists are linking these phenomenon to a body accumulation of these types of gender-bending toxins.
In Britain, scientists found that 50 percent of the male fish in lowland waters were growing eggs in their testes. Hermaphrodite polar bears have also been born.75 Their disturbing findings are also relevant for humans, because all vertebrates have similar sex hormone receptors.
Another study reported that women exposed to phthalates gave birth more than one week earlier than women who were not exposed to them.76
Exposure to phthalates is extremely common among pregnant women. These chemicals are added to numerous products including moisturizers, nail polishes, hairsprays, insect repellants, and more. They are also added to plastic products such as food containers, to add flexibility. The chemicals are known to leach out of these products and into the environment.
It was previously thought that exposure to phthalates occurred primarily through ingesting contaminated foods. But researchers have now found that phthalates can be inhaled and even absorbed through the skin, significantly increasing your exposure.
There is another chemical I want to warn you about, and that is Bisphenol A, or simply BPA. This chemical is used in hard, clear plastics such as baby bottles, food-storage containers, and the lining of soda cans. Every year, over 6 billion tons of BPA are used to make polycarbonate plastics.77
This chemical can mimic hormones and cause birth defects. BPA can leach out of plastic products into food, and it is also a danger in baby formula cans.78 Studies indicate it can also lead to early puberty.
Yet another plastic I recommend you avoid at all cost is Teflon, also known as PFOA. Manufactured by DuPont, this common, non-stick substance coats many cooking implements – frying pans, cooking pans, bake ware, even utensils. It is also found in anything from clothes to stain repellents, food packaging, and once again, cosmetics. 79 In addition, DuPont uses Teflon in other products such as firefighting foam and phone cables.
In a study conducted by DuPont itself, it was found that employees exposed to PFOA had elevated levels of total cholesterol and fats called triglycerides, which can increase the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke.80 However, in typical fashion, common to most companies whose products are their livelihood, DuPont denied that there was any association between exposure to PFOA and the employee’s symptoms.
And in infants, preliminary findings of a study at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have linked PFOA to lower birth weights among newborns. The study sampled the blood of 300 newborns and looked at the levels of a variety of fluorinated chemicals in relation to their birth weight, head circumference, and other developmental markers.
The results? The higher the infants’ level of exposure to PFOA, the lower their birth weight and head size.81
I previously ran a news item detailing the dangers of using products coated with Teflon.82 Specifically, the article reported that Teflon has been appearing in people and animals worldwide — one study even found that in 23 states, 96 percent of 598 children tested had traces of the chemical in their blood!
The Environmental Protection Agency later made a statement, based on a risk assessment study done on animals, that exposure to PFOA creates a potential risk of developmental and other adverse effects, and they fined DuPont $16.5 million for hiding data on PFOA toxicity for more than 20 years.83
Because of these dangers, I would strongly suggest you avoid contact with these chemicals as much as possible by choosing natural care products. This is also a powerful motivator for choosing a place to live that is minimally polluted, so your developing child and others in your family will be protected from harm.
Other Pregnancy Do’s and Don’ts
Eat a healthy breakfast
Get plenty of sleep
Avoid anti-bacterial soaps
Limit cell phone use
Get a Good Start with Breakfast
You have certainly heard the statement that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and there’s a good reason for that. According to a 1992 study, eating breakfast appears to have beneficial effects on appetite, insulin resistance, and energy metabolism.84 Spanning eight years, this study followed the breakfast habits and risk factors for heart disease in over 2,800 adults, black and white, between the ages of 25-37.
The findings showed that obesity and insulin resistance syndrome rates were 35 percent to 50 percent lower among those who ate breakfast every day, compared to those who frequently skipped it. And eating a good breakfast makes sure that your baby is amply supplied with all the nutrients it needs for proper growth and development.
So when you plan your breakfasts, or other meals, make sure your baby doesn’t share in any former junk food habits of yours, or be exposed to foods that can later cause allergic reactions, diabetes, or other lifelong problems. You should therefore immediately exclude:
Waffles and pancakes
Bagels, toast, and cereals (usually even whole-grain, organic types).
While there are some people who can tolerate whole grains and even thrive on them, others cannot. It is safe to assume that you should avoid them if you:
Have high cholesterol
Have high blood pressure
Have food allergies to wheat, oats, rye, or other grains.85
If one more of these factors are present, you will best be served by avoiding these foods.
However, if you are a Nutritional Type86 that is carbohydrate-oriented (this is only one-third of people) and you don’t have any of the above problems, then grains are a possible option for you.
If you abide by these guidelines, you will find that your health will improve and you will have fewer pregnancy-related problems.
Get Your Zzzzzzzs if You Want a Healthy Baby
Sleep plays as dramatic a role in your overall health as do proper nutrition and regular exercise. Without sufficient sleep, your body will be challenged to reach its optimal state of health, and your baby’s wellbeing will also suffer. So getting sufficient sleep should be a priority in your life.
Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes talked with sleep researchers across the country and found out some interesting things. For example, you can die from sleep deprivation, just like you can die from being deprived of food, and sleep deprivation can cause changes in your brain activity similar to those experienced by people with psychiatric disorders.
Further, sleep deprivation puts your body into a pre-diabetic state, and makes you feel hungry, even if you’ve already eaten. And consistent sleep deprivation can also raise your blood pressure and make you a prime candidate for a heart attack or stroke.87
Your body depends on your biological clock (circadian rhythm) to steadily regulate your sleep/wake cycles. But when this process gets thrown off balance — which is, unfortunately, very easy to do — it can wreak havoc on you and your baby’s health.
So how much sleep is enough? Sleep research indicates that if you are getting less than 6 hours a night, you are not getting enough sleep.88
Although there is little or no data on how sleep deprivation in the mother affects her baby, since sleep deprivation affects your immune system, you can be sure that it also affects your baby’s. And it is logical that when you lose sleep it can also affect your baby adversely, so to be safe, maintain good sleep habits.
Studies show that sleep deprivation can also leave you susceptible to many diseases, including diabetes,89 obesity,90 and even cancer. 91
Pregnant women often need several hours more sleep than usual during their first three months of pregnancy.92 A good rule of thumb to follow is that if you feel tired when you wake, you probably aren’t getting enough sleep.
But don’t despair. There are ways to erase that sleep debt. Here are a few tips for a better night’s sleep:
Get to bed as early as possible. Our systems, particularly the adrenals, do a majority of their recharging or recovering during the hours of 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. In addition, your gallbladder dumps toxins during this same period. If you are awake, the toxins back up into the liver, which then back up into your entire system and cause further disruptions.
Don’t drink any water, or just a minimum, within 2 hours of retiring. This will reduce the likelihood, or frequency, of having to get up and go to the bathroom.
Avoid before-bed snacks, particularly grains and sugars. This will raise blood sugar and inhibit sleep. Later, when blood sugar drops too low, you might wake up and not be able to fall back asleep.
Sleep in complete darkness, or as close as possible. If there is even the tiniest bit of light in your room, it can disrupt your circadian rhythm and your pineal gland’s production of melatonin and serotonin. There also should be as little light in the bathroom as possible, if you get up in the middle of the night.
Keep your feet warm. Wearing socks to bed can keep you from waking up in the middle of the night. A study has shown that wearing socks to bed reduces night wakings because feet have the poorest circulation, so they often feel cold before the rest of the body.
Keep the temperature in the bedroom no higher than 70 degrees F. Many people keep their homes, and particularly the upstairs bedrooms, too hot. This interferes.
Another thing you should be sure to avoid is either TV or the Internet 30 minutes prior to bed. The blue light coming from your television and computer monitor have been shown to “power up” your brain and alter your biological clock. Be expecially careful to avoid video games, because these can keep you hyper for hours after you’re done.93
Visit Mercola.com for many other tips to help you get a healthy night’s sleep.94
Use Good Bacteria to Optimize Your Intestinal Health
Probiotics could turn out to be an expectant mother’s best friend. They are referred to as “friendly” bacteria, and are responsible for a number of important biological functions. Some of these include assisting with digestion, keeping other harmful bacteria at bay, and stimulating the immune system.95
A number of studies have proven their many health benefits. Specifically, they have been useful in the prevention or control of:
Food and skin allergies in babies
Inflammatory bowel disease
Recurrent ear and bladder infections
Researchers in Finland used a type of bacteria found naturally in the gut called Lactobacillus GG (Lactobacillus rhamnosus), to try to prevent allergy development in at-risk infants. This type of bacteria is a safe and effective treatment for allergic inflammation and food allergies in babies.96
Avoid Anti-bacterial Soaps
Antibacterial soaps can be very hazardous to your baby’s health as well as to yours. There was much hoopla over these soaps some years ago, yet tests show that they offer little protection against the most common germs — but more importantly, studies show they actually form a carcinogen when mixed with water.
In a study published in the March 2, 2004 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, participants who used antibacterial soaps and cleansers developed a cough, runny nose, sore throat, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and other symptoms just as often as people who used products that did not contain antibacterial ingredients.97
Further, many traditional medical circles now accept the “hygiene hypothesis,” which centers on the idea that children need to be exposed to some bacteria in early childhood in order to strengthen their immune systems. Children who are not exposed to common bacteria, which are wiped out by antibacterial soap, may be more prone to allergies and asthma.98
But a more critical problem is that antibacterial soaps contain triclosan, which can react with chlorine and form a carcinogen.99 Triclosan, which is a widely used antibacterial ingredient in hand sterilization products, breaks down rapidly when exposed to chlorinated water, producing a number of toxic chemicals, including chloroform.
This finding was based on two studies that produced similar results, and researchers concluded that anyone using these products would be exposed to chloroform levels 40 percent higher than that found in tap water.100
Another serious problem with these soaps is that they contribute to the problem of antibiotic-resistant germs, a growing threat to everyone’s health.101 When disinfectants are used in low levels, researchers found that they actually make certain bacteria more resistant to antibiotic treatment. This is true in hospital settings, and certainly applies to the low-level disinfectants you may use around your home.
Last but certainly not least, antibacterial products are endocrine disrupters that can contaminate human breast milk, and certainly can also be absorbed through your skin.102
Because infants are so much more susceptible to chemicals than adults, especially in utero, if you have any antibacterial soap or disinfectants in your home, please remove them to avoid harming yourself or your child.
Use Serious Precautions When Using Your Cell Phone
A study by top research scientists concluded that women who use mobile phones when pregnant are more likely to give birth to children with behavioral problems. This study included more than 13,000 children. Pregnant women using the handsets only 2-3 times a day was enough to raise the risk of their babies developing hyperactivity and difficulties with conduct, emotions, and relationships when they reached school age.
The likelihood is even greater if the children themselves used the phones before the age of 7.103
This study is far from being the first showing that the electromagnetic radiation from cell phones poses a hazard to a developing fetus. Animal studies have also shown that electromagnetic fields in that frequency range can affect their liver enzymes, glands, muscles, hormone balance, and heart and bone marrow.
In fact, the cellular stresses caused by information-carrying radio waves have been shown to cause DNA damage to the brain cells of rats,104 and this means they have the potential to alter the DNA structure of a baby in utero.
Aside from the startling findings of this study, I believe that the increase in cell phone usage is also one of the primary causes of the autism epidemic.105
Over 1 billion people who use cell phones on a regular basis are putting their health at risk, along with the health of their children and those waiting to be born, so be sure to keep cell phones away from your baby and other children.
The density of children’s skulls is far less than adults’, and their brains are more susceptible to damage from information-carrying radio waves. A child in the womb may be near defenseless against this damage.
Here are some tips to minimize the harmful effects of cell phones and other electrical devices on you and your baby:
Do not use a cell phone while pregnant, and don’t allow your children to use them.
Limit the amount of time you spend on a cell phone or cordless phone.106
Use a wired headset to limit your exposure. Ideally, an air tube headset that conducts sound but prevents any radiation from traveling up the wire to your brain. Also, make sure the wire is shielded, which prevents it from acting as an antenna that could attract more information-carrying radio waves directly to your brain. Wireless BlueTooth headsets should be avoided.
Limit your exposure to WiFi routers. Find out where they are located in your work environment and stay away from them.
If you have any land-based (non-cellular) portable phones, do NOT use anything other than the 900- MHz phones, as the Gigahertz phones stay on continuously, blasting you with information-carrying radio waves 24/7.
Use the speakerphone instead of putting the phone to your ear; this is probably one of the single most important steps you can take other than not using your cell phone.
Limit calls inside buildings.
Use your cell phone only where reception is good. If reception is poor, your phone has to work harder, and therefore emits a much stronger radiation signal.
Critical Items to Avoid During Pregnancy
Fluoridated or chlorinated water
Soy products are perhaps the most hazardous of the Don’ts, even when you are not pregnant. But they should be avoided as much as possible during pregnancy, because a diet high in soy during pregnancy and breastfeeding can have a subtle, but long-term impact on the development of your child.
Soybeans contain compounds called phytoestrogens or isoflavones, which have been found to produce a variety of hormonal actions within your body. These hormones can adversely influence the way your baby’s brain develops, the way the reproductive organs and cells grow, and even the way immune function develops. 107
Infants exposed to excess amounts of phytoestrogens in utero, or after birth in the form of soy formula, risk a variety of health complications, including early puberty, learning disabilities, and behavioral problems.108 They also are at greater risk for developing severe allergies.
One study has linked soy consumption to brain damage and cancer.109 For more information about the dangers of soy, including its impact on fertility and fetal development, I recommend you check out Kaayla Daniel’s excellent book, The Whole Soy Story.
I’ve been warning about the dangers of caffeine to pregnant women for years. It has always been my position that no amount of caffeine during pregnancy is safe.
A recent study on caffeine, conducted in 2008, shows that one dose of caffeine — just two cups of coffee — ingested during pregnancy, may be enough to affect fetal heart development and reduce heart function over the entire lifespan of the child.110 Take note: that’s the equivalent of two cups of coffee during the entire pregnancy – not two cups of coffee per day!
Caffeine is an addictive, stimulant drug that passes easily through the placenta to your developing baby. It is also transferred through breast milk. In babies (newborns and unborn), the half-life of caffeine is extended. It stays in your baby longer, and a developing infant has no ability to detoxify caffeine.
And never, ever — drink coffee from a Styrofoam cup. The heat draws toxic chemicals from the cup, and you will drink those along with your java.111
Additionally, most coffee contains pesticides, something you definitely don’t want in your baby. Pesticides have been linked to stillbirths and miscarriages.111 Also remember that caffeine is not just in coffee, tea, and chocolate, but also in colas and energy drinks, and a number of other beverages. Make sure you carefully check the labels on any beverages before you buy them.
You can do your baby and yourself a favor by swearing off caffeine for your entire pregnancy. And since breastfeeding is the best start you can give your child in life, do your baby another big favor and remain off caffeine for the duration of your breastfeeding as well.
Recent research has found that regular consumption of nut products during pregnancy raises the odds of your child having asthma symptoms by nearly 50 percent.
About 4 percent of American children have food allergies, and roughly 3 million people in the U.S. are allergic to peanuts or tree nuts. It’s already recommended that children under three not be given nuts or nut products, because their immune systems are still developing and may be more susceptible to allergens.
I think it’s important to note that while DAILY consumption of nut products increased the odds that a child would develop asthma, the researchers did not find an association between rare or regular consumption of nuts.112 So this warning is really aimed at those of you who indulge in nut products on a daily basis.
Use Natural, Not Artificial, Sweeteners
To put it frankly, artificial sweeteners are very dangerous for both you and your unborn child. I’ve written an entire book on the topic of artificial sweeteners, but let me take you through a brief look at these dangerous drugs posing as sweeteners.
After pouring over countless literature from the FDA, plus medical and scientific studies, I am more convinced that ever that artificial sweeteners such as NutraSweet® (aspartame) and Splenda® (sucralose) can ruin your health, and that you should stay away from them. They are present in numerous foods, from baked goods, to yogurt, to soft drinks.
Artificial sweeteners can cause depression, migraines, and even brain tumors.113
A seven-year study on aspartame (also known as NutraSweet® or Equal®) has linked it to high rates of lymphomas, leukemias, and other cancers in rats.114 The rats were given the equivalent of four to five bottles of diet soda a day for a human. The carcinogenic effect of aspartame was found at levels as low as about 20 milligrams a day for humans. This is far less than current daily limits in America, which is 50 milligrams.
And if you are using Splenda® because you think it is a safe alternative to sugar or other artificial sweeteners like Nutrasweet, then you are in for a big surprise. Splenda® is marketed as a “healthful” and “natural” product since it is derived from sugar, however, its chemical structure is very different from sugar. Sucralose is actually a chemical substance.115
Studies have shown its use has resulted in reduced growth rate in newborns (and adults) at levels above 500 mg/kg.day, decreased red blood cells — a sign of anemia (at levels above 1500 mg/kd/day), thyroid abnormalities, and aborted pregnancies.116
I think you must realize by now that having a drink or other product sweetened by one of these artificial sweeteners is just not worth the risk to your baby. Nearly every month I receive a report from someone who has had an adverse reaction to Splenda. You can see many of them posted on my site.
Thankfully, there are a few really safe and natural sweeteners on the market today. Stevia and xylitol are both tasty and healthy sweeteners that you can use instead of either sugar or artificial sweeteners. Some people have complained of a metallic, bitter taste to Stevia, but this comes from the processing method.
Check out different brands and you’ll see this does not apply to all Stevia products. Stevia is currently available in the United States only as a nutritional supplement, while the FDA reviews its safety.117
It’s ironic that although Stevia extract is approved as a food additive in a dozen countries including Japan, Brazil and China, it can only be sold in the U.S. as a dietary supplement. However, compounds from the Stevia plant can be legally used as a “natural” sweetener. The no-calorie sweetener Truvia is one such example.118
Truvia is not made from whole Stevia, just two of the sweetest compounds. This raises the question: Is it still safe once you remove all the other compounds inherent in the original plant? So far, no one knows. Therefore I would advise you to avoid sweeteners made from Stevia compounds such as Truvia, until its safety has been ascertained.
Xylitol is another great, all-natural sweetener made from birch trees. Xylitol has been shown to provide health benefit in more ways than just as a sweetener. According to scientific research studies, regular Xylitol consumption can result in fewer cavities, improved gum health,119 a reduction in nasal and sinus infections, and stronger bones.
In studies in Finland in 1994, Xylitol was shown to maintain bone density in rats that had their ovaries surgically removed. Without ovaries, estrogen levels in the rats plummeted, as did the bone density in the rats that were not given Xylitol. However, in the rats that were given Xylitol, bone density actually increased.120
Xylitol also is said to be effective against H. pylori, the microorganism implicated in periodontal disease and gastric ulcers.
Nevertheless, if you struggle with insulin issues, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or extra weight, I suggest you avoid sweeteners altogether. Most sweeteners can also decrease your sensitivity to insulin.
Cleanse Your System with Healthy Water
It’s so very important for you to drink pure water, especially if you are pregnant. Avoid tap and distilled water, and choose spring or filtered water.121 Tap water should be avoided because it contains chlorine, arsenic, and frequently fluoride, all toxic substances that can have dire consequences for your baby and you.
Further, researchers from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Geological Survey have found traces of antibiotics‚ birth control drugs‚ anti-depressants, and other drugs in many water samples taken across the country.
According to water quality expert Robert Slovak, from the fetus-forming stage of a child up to his or her teens, the sensitivity to the effects of toxic chemicals in water is tens of thousands of times more than in an adult. This means you should be drinking the best possible water to protect your baby, because this is where the damage begins and where it can’t be reversed.
Some water has even been found to contain lead.122 In the early 90s, lead was an ingredient in brass. So if you happen to live in a house that still has fixtures from the early 90s, there’s a very good chance they are brass. That means you could have lead leaching into your water.
The way this happens is that water sits on these fixtures overnight, and that means it can absorb and dissolve the lead that’s in the brass faucets.
And water can dissolve quite an astoundingly high amount of lead, especially if your water has certain aggressive tendencies, such as low pH and low alkalinity. So for the well being of your baby, if you have these pre-1990 fixtures, you should have your tap water tested for lead contamination. A lead test costs about $25.
An alternative solution, if you simply have no other water option at present, would be to allow the water to run for a few moments first, which can drastically reduce the lead concentration. But until you’re sure your water is safe and free from harmful contaminants, you should totally avoid tap water and find a purer source of water.123
In addition, there are two other very dangerous substances in tap water you should be aware of, and these are formed by the municipal water disinfection process itself, according to water quality expert Slovak. These chemicals are trihalomethanes (THMs) and halo acetic acids (HAAs). They are called disinfection byproducts, or DBPs for short.
THMs have been linked to liver, kidney, and nervous system problems, in addition to cancer. The HAAs are primarily related to an increased risk of cancer.
So, removing fluoride, chlorine, DBPs, and some other toxic chemicals from your drinking water are critical requirements for any water, or house water filtration system, that you choose. You need to ensure that it will adequately protect you and your unborn child from the chemicals and pollutants found in tap water.
Complicating matters further, the environmental watchdog group, Natural Resources Defense Council, (NRDC), says there is no easy way to determine whether bottled drinking water is really pure or just rebottled tap water.124 They suggest carefully checking the bottle label and even the cap. If it says “from a municipal source” or “from a community water system,” this means it’s derived from tap water.
Of course, it is still unclear whether or not the water has been refiltered since it left the tap.
And the jury is still out on distilled water as an effective form of water purification, so until more research is done, I would not use it unless no other form of purification is available to you, and only for short term use. Spring water is a good source, if you can be sure that it is as pure as claimed. Some bottled spring water has been found to simply be bottled tap water.125
Charcoal filters are another option, but make sure you read the box carefully, so you know which toxins it filters out. Make sure at very minimum it removes chlorine, fluoride, lead, mercury, and arsenic, and try to choose a filter that meets NSF/ANSI standard 53. While certainly not all-encompassing, this standard gives you some assurance that the filter will at least reduce the levels of some common pollutants.
The pros for carbon filters are that they are simple to install, relatively economical, and depending on micron level, will filter out the most deadly of contaminants, such as Cryptosporidium and Guardia.126
The cons are that carbon filters gather the ‘garbage’ in your tap water, and the organic component of this garbage is quite capable of rotting. Also, carbon filters may be susceptible to mold attacks if left unused for extended periods. Further, they cannot filter out all possible contaminants, but only those they say they do.
Some charcoal filters are enhanced with activated nano-silver, which provides some extra antibacterial protection, killing around 650 known types of organisms. Also, if sediment is a problem where you live, you should consider adding a second, separate sediment prefilter. Otherwise, if you buy a more expensive charcoal filter, it can become clogged up long before its normal lifespan.
But these filters are not totally effective in filtering out all the contaminants and carcinogens in your water that could cause you harm, so I would suggest, for the health and welfare of your baby, to only use one until you can afford a more effective option, such as a Reverse Osmosis system.
I believe the most complete and sure method for removing toxic elements in your drinking water is a Reverse Osmosis (RO) system. This system has the ability to remove both THMs and arsenic from the water, as well as chlorine, fluoride, and a wide array of other additives and contaminants. An RO system probably removes the broadest spectrum of toxins of any water system that I know of.127
This is the same technology used to make the purest bottled water, and it is the only technology capable of desalinating sea water and making it into drinking water The units either fit on top of your kitchen counter, or you can get a unit that goes under your kitchen sink. While RO units generally cost a bit more than most charcoal filters, the water purity makes it well worth the price.
But whatever method of filtration you use, if you store any of your water for later use, be sure to store it in either clear polyethylene or glass containers, because the one-gallon plastic (PVC) containers transfer far too many chemicals into your water.128
Also, if you plan to use baby bottles after your delivery, you will most certainly want to consider using glass bottles in place of plastic ones for similar reasons. Studies have shown that even extremely low levels of a common chemical used in plastics, BPA, produced genetic abnormalities.
BPA has the ability to mimic hormones, and in fact, it was invented in the 1930s during the search for synthetic estrogens, so it is not something you want in your drinking water!
If you want further details on water filters, you can check out the notes at the end of this article for more helpful buying hints, and also visit my site at Mercola.com.
Hopefully, all these tips, plus the other information I have provided here, will help to ensure a safe and happy pregnancy for you and your baby, and will also guarantee that your child has a healthy foundation to grow to full adulthood, able to meet all the challenges that life brings.
39 PEDIATRICS, November 2003, 112:5,1039-1048, Safety of Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines: A Two-Phased Study of Computerized Health Maintenance Organization Databases, Thomas Verstraeten, MD, Robert L. Davis, MD, MPH , Frank DeStefano, MD, MPH, Tracy A. Lieu, MD, MPH, Philip H. Rhodes, PhD, Steven B. Black, MD, Henry Shinefield, MD, Robert T. Chen, MD, http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/112/5/1039, (Accessed January 29, 2009)
104 Medscape, June 26, 2000, George L. Carlo, PhD, MS, JD, and Rebecca Steffens Jenrow, MPH, Scientific Progress – Wireless Phones and Brain Cancer, http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/408066_5, (Accessed January 28, 2009)
126 Environmental Working Group, October 2008, Olga Naidenko, PhD, Nneka Leiba, MPH, Renee Sharp, MS, Jane Houlihan, MSCE Bottled Water Quality Investigation: 10 Major Brands, 38 Pollutants, http://www.ewg.org/reports/bottledwater, (Accessed January 29, 2009)
Organic raw (non synthetic, freshform plant) milk thistle. – Liver support/Boost (Suggested by midwife after blood test)
Although this trace mineral is not often emphasized when it comes to nutrition and vitamin supplements, it plays a key role in fighting prostate cancer and in the body’s metabolism, and it’s classified as an essential nutrient.
Selenium is found in the soil, lending itself to water and many other foods.
However, due to modern farming techniques and other issues, humans have stripped much of the minerals from the soil, meaning many people do not get enough selenium in their diet without supplementation.
This trace mineral is well known for its powerful antioxidant properties, which help protect the body from free radicals and cell damage and may help prevent most types of cancer.
Studies have also shown that men who take at least 200 micrograms per day are at a decreased risk for developing prostate cancer.
Although more research is still needed to come to a firm conclusion, many experts believe that selenium can actually help or prevent thyroid disease.
Getting enough selenium is also thought to help prevent the cognitive decline in elderly people, keeping their memories sharper and leaving them generally more alert.
Some diseases, such as HIV and Crohn’s disease, can actually be associated with low levels of selenium. It is also noted that Keshan’s disease, which is a congestive cardiomyopathy, is caused by not having enough selenium in the diet.
The name of the disease derived from Keshan county in Northwestern China where the disease was, at one time, rampant.
With daily selenium tablets, it has mostly disappeared.
Selenium can be obtained both through food as well as supplements.
It is most prevalent in Brazil nuts, but can also be found in most animal products, particularly meat and cheese.
It also naturally occurs in bananas, potatoes, peas and peaches.
It is recommended that adults over the age 14 receive 55 micrograms of the trace mineral each day.
Pregnant women should up their intake to 60, and those breast feeding should consume 70 micrograms per day.
iodine – How Nascent Iodine Works
Nascent iodine was designed to be a supplementary form of iodine with the intention being to provide the body with a way to maintain optimal iodine levels. This is particularly important in the thyroid, which relies on iodine for the production of critical hormones. These thyroid hormones are responsible for things like metabolism, brain development and function, and even the body’s ability to produce energy. Because nascent iodine is able to be absorbed and utilized more readily than common dietary forms of iodine, it is easier for the thyroid to maintain homeostasis. This means that it will have the appropriate amount of iodine for carrying out its basic physiological processes.
Fresh smoothies (need greens)
Probiotic – Floralife by infowarsstore.com
Calcium (fresh raw egg shell source, just save shells!)
Chlorella – heavy metal detoxer, source of iron (suggested by midwife) Is Your Vitamin Natural or Synthetic?
How do you know if your synthetic multi is as good as its advertising says it is?
Are you gambling with your health by taking “their” word for it? If you are taking a multivitamin, this is something you definitely want to find out.
Please don’t make the mistake of shopping for supplements at discount stores or large chains like Wal-Mart or Walgreen’s. In my opinion, these are classic examples of companies that primarily use cheap synthetic supplements.
Synthetic alternatives to whole foods are known as “isolates”. Your body will only absorb a small percentage of an isolate form of vitamins and minerals — and utilize even less (Your body absorbs much more of the whole food form.) On top of that, there may be side effects, depending on the quality of the isolate.
Don’t sell yourself short! Many retail outlets and online sellers are primarily interested in your money, not your health. Supplements are not their specialty.
You wouldn’t go to your local burger joint for a nice filet mignon, would you? The same attitude should apply to your health products.
Consider these items when choosing a supplement:
If the ingredients were all natural, it would say so — very prominently — on their label.
If the product went through vigorous quality control, you can bet that it would be mentioned — many times.
If there were no additives or major potential allergens in the product, they would definitely tell you all about it.
Pregnancy diet: Focus on these essential nutrients
A healthy pregnancy diet will promote your baby’s growth and development. Understand which nutrients you need most and where to find them.
By Mayo Clinic Staff
There’s no magic formula for a healthy pregnancy diet. In fact, during pregnancy the basic principles of healthy eating remain the same — get plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats. However, a few nutrients in a pregnancy diet deserve special attention. Here’s what tops the list.
Folate and folic acid — Prevent birth defects
Folate is a B vitamin that helps prevent neural tube defects, serious abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord. The synthetic form of folate found in supplements and fortified foods is known as folic acid. Folic acid supplementation has been shown to decrease the risk of premature birth.
How much you need: 400 to 800 micrograms a day of folate or folic acid before conception and throughout pregnancy
Good sources: Fortified cereals are great sources of folic acid. Leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, and dried beans and peas are good sources of naturally occurring folate.
Folate or folic acid content
Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28
3/4 cup (15 to 60 g) ready-to-eat cereal
100 to 700 mcg — choose a cereal that’s 50 to 100 percent fortified
1/2 cup (95 g) boiled spinach
1/2 cup (89 g) boiled Great Northern beans
4 boiled spears (60 g)
1 small orange (96 g)
1 ounce (28 g) dry roasted
In addition to making healthy food choices, taking a daily prenatal vitamin — ideally starting three months before conception — can help ensure you’re getting enough of this essential nutrient. All women who might become pregnant should take a daily vitamin supplement containing folic acid.
Calcium — Strengthen bones
You and your baby need calcium for strong bones and teeth. Calcium also helps your circulatory, muscular and nervous systems run normally.
How much you need: 1,000 milligrams a day; pregnant teenagers need 1,300 milligrams a day
Good sources: Dairy products are the best absorbed sources of calcium. Nondairy sources include broccoli and kale. Many fruit juices and breakfast cereals are fortified with calcium, too.
Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28
1 cup (20 to 60 g) calcium-fortified ready-to-eat cereal
100 to 1,000 mg
1 cup (237 mL) calcium-fortified orange juice
1 cup (237 mL) skim milk
6 oz. (170 g) low-fat fruit yogurt with low-calorie sweetener
1 oz. (28 g) part-skim mozzarella cheese
3 oz. (85 g) canned pink salmon with bones
1/2 cup (95 g) boiled spinach
Vitamin D — Promote bone strength
Vitamin D also helps build your baby’s bones and teeth.
How much you need: 600 international units (IU) a day
Good sources: Fatty fish, such as salmon, is a great source of vitamin D. Other options include fortified milk and orange juice.
Vitamin D content
Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28
3 oz. (85 g) cooked sockeye salmon
1 cup (237 mL) skim milk with added vitamin D
8 oz. (237 mL) calcium- and vitamin D-fortified orange juice
1 large hard-boiled egg (50 g)
Protein — Promote growth
Protein is crucial for your baby’s growth throughout pregnancy.
How much you need: 71 grams a day
Good sources: Lean meat, poultry, fish and eggs are great sources of protein. Other options include beans and peas, nuts, seeds and soy products.
Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28
1 cup (226 g) low-fat, 1% milk cottage cheese
3 oz. (86 g) boneless, skinless grilled chicken breast
3 oz. (85 g) canned pink salmon with bones
1/2 cup (99 g) boiled lentils
1 cup (237 mL) skim milk
2 T (32 g) peanut butter
1 large hard-boiled egg (50 g)
Iron — Prevent iron deficiency anemia
Your body uses iron to make hemoglobin, a protein in the red blood cells that carries oxygen to your tissues. During pregnancy, you need double the amount of iron that nonpregnant women need. Your body needs this iron to make more blood to supply oxygen to your baby.
If you don’t have enough iron stores or get enough iron during pregnancy, you could develop iron deficiency anemia. You might become fatigued. Severe iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy also increases your risk of premature birth, having a low birth weight baby and postpartum depression.
How much you need: 27 milligrams a day
Good sources: Lean red meat, poultry and fish are good sources of iron. Other options include iron-fortified breakfast cereals, beans and vegetables.
Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28
1/2 cup (40 g) quick oats fortified with iron
3 oz. (85 g) roasted lean beef tenderloin
1/2 cup (90 g) boiled spinach
1/2 cup (88.5 g) boiled kidney beans
3 oz. (85 g) roasted dark turkey
Prenatal vitamins typically contain iron. In some cases, your health care provider might recommend a separate iron supplement.
The iron from animal products, such as meat, is most easily absorbed. To enhance the absorption of iron from plant sources and supplements, pair them with a food or drink high in vitamin C — such as orange juice, tomato juice or strawberries. If you take iron supplements with orange juice, avoid the calcium-fortified variety. Although calcium is an essential nutrient during pregnancy, calcium can decrease iron absorption.
Supplements — Ask your health care provider
Even if you eat a healthy diet, you can miss out on key nutrients. Taking a daily prenatal vitamin — ideally starting at least three months before conception — can help fill any gaps. Your health care provider might recommend special supplements if you follow a strict vegetarian diet or have a chronic health condition. If you’re considering taking an herbal supplement during pregnancy, consult your health care provider first, as some herbal supplements might be harmful to your pregnancy.