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January 5, 2016

Food For Thought
0

Why are we so sick?

Autism prevalence is now at 1 for every 68 children. It has more than doubled since 2010. Autoimmune disease incidence is increasing at a staggering rate of 19% per year. And between 2006 and 2010, there were 4,600 new cases of cancer in children 0–14 years of age in Canada.

Clearly, there’s something going on here. Something has changed over the last hundred years.

I specifically want to hone in on the early years of life, the time when we are most vulnerable, a time when we are at the mercy of our environment and what goes in us and on us. This responsibility goes to the parents, caretakers, and industry and government.

Before you continue, I want to ask you not to feel in anyway responsible for not knowing this information. Parents shouldn’t need to be chemists to keep their children safe, but that is the way the system has developed. All we can ever do is our best with what we know in the moment.

That you are reading this shows that you are seeking more information and that you care deeply. These are probably answers to questions that might have been on your mind for some time. Or maybe this is the first time you are being exposed to this type of information. Whatever the case, your eyes are about to be opened, and at the same you are going be empowered that there are options available.

Let’s follow the first year of a babies life from preconception to about 1 year old to help us understand why so many of us are getting sick.

Pre-Prenatal

Exposure to various chemicals can begin even before a baby is born. Lets go way back. Further than you might think. Think about your grandmother and what she might have been exposed to. When your mother was a fetus in your grandmother’s belly, by the time she was in the third trimester, all of your mother’s ova had been formed. Thus, half of your genes were already exposed to whatever your grandmother was exposed to.

We now know that there is a generational epigenetic effect on health outcomes. This means that genes are influenced way before you are even born, and this can make you more susceptible to certain diseases.

Maybe we need to update the old adage, “you are what you eat” to “you are what your mother’s mother ate”.

A baby will go through 5000-8000 diapers before being toilet trained. Many diapers are bleached with chlorine, and contain fragrance, dye, and lotions.

Prenatal

Epigenetics

Whatever chemicals the mother is exposed to, the fetus will be exposed to as well. This includes both exogenous chemicals (from outside the body) like heavy metals, plastics, and drugs, as well as endogenous chemicals (from inside the body) like stress hormones. Stress hormones can influence the nervous system of the fetus and predispose them to emotional issues in their life.

Ultrasound

Ultrasounds are a standard procedure carried out on nearly all pregnant women. Although most people have never considered them not being safe, they have been shown to have risks. In fact, the FDA warns that ultrasonography should only be prescribed when there is a medical need, as the procedure “can heat tissues slightly, and in some cases, it can also produce very small bubbles (cavitation) in some tissues.” We still don’t fully understand the risks, and the benefits of ultrasounds are still being questioned.

What you can do

  • Limit your exposure by opting out of routine ultrasounds to check the size of the baby or take pictures. Carefully research and weigh your options based on your case. Most non-high risk cases may never need an ultrasound.

Birth

Birthing

The birthing process has morphed over the years from a natural process to a medical procedure. I do not deny the medical advances in this area, and the importance of medical intervention in certain cases. But have we strayed too far from the path?

In 1965, US cesarian section (C-section) rates were about 4.5%. Now, they are about 32%. In Martin Blaser’s book Missing Microbes he outlines the issues with the overuse of C-sections.

Before a baby is born there is no bacteria on or in them. During a vaginal birth, the bacteria from the mother gets transferred to the baby’s skin and oral cavity. These beneficial bacteria then go on to inhabit the whole digestive tract, all mucous membranes, and the entire outer skin. This process protects babies from cradle cap, colic, eczema, psoriasis, allergies, and many more immune issues.

When a baby is born via C-section, they miss the opportunity to be exposed to these beneficial bacteria. Instead, they build their microbiome from other sources in the environment. It has been shown that babies born via C-section have a much different microbiome than vaginally-born infants. This predisposes them to the conditions mentioned above. Many mothers who deliver via C-section are opting to re-seed their babies using swabs of vaginal secretions.

What you can do

  • Sometimes cesarians are medically undoubtedly essential. Using a high quality infant probiotic to help populate your baby’s gut with beneficial flora has been shown to mitigate the effects.
  • You might also want to ask your doctor about inoculating the baby with vaginal swabs.

Antibiotics

One of the first things that happens to a baby when it is born, is the application of antibiotic eye drops. This is a practice that has become mandatory to prevent blindness. What would the baby get blind from? Gonorrhoea or chlamydia. Both of these infections however can be tested in the mother, and then an informed decision can be made based on the results. Instead, right from the start,  babies microbiomes are being affected– whether they were born vaginally or by C-section.

What You Can do

Vitamin K injection

A major source of vitamin K comes from the production by gut bacteria. Some mother’s do not make enough and thus do not transfer a large enough dose to the fetus. In addition, the gut of a fetes is sterile, so they aren’t making any vitamin K. As a result, about 1% of babies can experience a hemorrhagic disease. Since 1961 the Committee on Nutrition of the American Academy of Paediatrics has made the recommendation of vitamin K injections.

What You Can  Do

Infancy

Vaccines

Fifty years ago children would have received 6 vaccines. Today, that number has jumped to 36. Whether vaccines are necessary or not is not the focus here. What we do know, is that these vaccines do have certain adjuvants that add to the total toxic load that I am discussing in this article. These adjuvants can pose a problem to some children.

What You Can Do

  • If you do opt to have your child vaccinated, work with a qualified natural health care practitioner to improve immune health, and aid with detoxification.

Diapers and Wipes

Immediately after a baby is born, they are put into diapers. A baby will go through 5000-8000 diapers before being toilet trained. Many diapers are bleached with chlorine, and contain fragrance, dye, and lotions. The presence of chlorine can create dioxins, which are known carcinogens. Fragrance, dye, and lotions often contain parabens and phthalates, which are known endocrine disruptors, and possible carcinogens. To compound the issue, many parents use baby wipes, which have nasty chemicals like benzyl alcohol and phenoxyethanol, both known to disrupt the immune system.

A baby will go through 5000-8000 diapers before being toilet trained. Many diapers are bleached with chlorine, and contain fragrance, dye, and lotions.-2

What you can do

  • Safe options are easy to find these days. Health-conscious companies are offering products that have the consumer’s best interest in mind.
  • Opt for cloth diapers. A quick Google search shows a number of companies throughout Canada and the U.S. that offer organic cotton cloth diaper services. Cloth diapers are free of chemicals and because they’re reusable, there is less waste for our landfills.

Circumcision

Recently, my eyes were opened regarding this surgical procedure. I had taken it for granted, and never thought twice about its implementation. You might be surprised to know that there is no medical benefit in getting circumcised, and the reason it was originally implemented had nothing to do with health at all. I can not do this topic justice in this short summary, so I urge you to listen to this interview, and check out Dr. Ronald Goldman’s site.

Formula

The most perfect food on the planet is breast milk. It contains every nutrient a baby needs in order to grow and thrive (unless the mother is deficient). Formula is an attempt to mimic this perfect food. Unfortunately, many food companies fall short. The most popular formulas are loaded with sugar, additives, synthetic vitamins and minerals, and rancid fats. And if that’s not enough, they are often served in plastic bottles/containers which are laden with endocrine disrupting chemicals like bisphenol-a and phthalates.

What you can do

  • If using your own breast milk is not an option, there are organizations that connect you with people in your community to women who are willing to share their breast milk. Check out Eats on Feets and Human Milk 4 Human Babies to find donors in your area.
  • You can also make your own formulas. The Weston A. Price Foundation has a number of nutrient dense recipes for homemade infant formulas to ensure your baby is getting the nutrition it needs to grow.

Cribs

A baby will sleep up to eighteen hours a day in the first three months. That amounts to a lot of time spent in a crib. You might be thinking, what’s wrong with a crib, it’s just a bunch of foam and bedding? Yes, it is just a bunch of material, but this material has been doused in flame retardants. The history of these chemicals might surprise you.

In the documentary, Merchants of Doubt, they outline how flame retardants ended up in our beds, couches, chairs, cars, and almost everything. It was a strategy carried out by big tobacco. There were many fires occurring due to cigarettes, and authorities wanted cigarette companies to reformulate their cigarettes to automatically extinguish after a period of time. They refused to do this, and instead paid off the firefighting associations to assist them in laying blame not to the lit cigarette, but to the items the lit cigarette ignited. As a result, it became law to add flame retardants to almost everything, including cribs.

These flame retardants are highly toxic. They are carcinogenic (cause cancer) and can greatly damage thyroid activity. And get this…they don’t actually prevent fires.

What you can do

Final Thoughts

This article is not intended to scare you, or make you feel bad about past decisions, or even situations you couldn’t control. It’s meant to help answer the questions “why are so many people sick?”, and “why is it happening earlier in life?”.

The first year of life alone can be a mine field that many are walking through blindly. I hope that this information has brought to light some of the ways in which we can prevent disease in our young ones, bolster their resilience, and give them the best chance at life possible. Perhaps you are a parent or guardian to a child. Perhaps you are a teacher, or health care practitioner. I believe it is our responsibility to give the next generation the foundation they need to thrive. By bringing the issues outlined to light, we can get one step closer to this outcome.

(I do not have any affiliation or financial interest in any of the companies linked to in this blog.)