Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Your Top Pregnancy Questions Answered!

I have been slowly cataloging all the pregnancy questions I received while pregnant…what prenatal vitamins I took… whether I’m vaccinating my baby… what foods I avoided… how did I prevent stretch marks…did I do a birth plan? I answer all these questions (and more!) This list will be updated regularly so if you have more questions, please ask in the comments below and I’ll update this list and let you know! 

My sweet Harley at one week old 

Photography by Little Nest Portraits

What preparation did you go through before getting pregnant?

I have been on a journey for over 10 years to get my health back on track, which helped to prepare my body for pregnancy. Over the years, acupuncture has helped tremendously to balance my hormones and heal my body. I also stopped taking birth control pills years ago, because they were preventing my body from doing what it is naturally supposed to do. I’ve restored my gut bacteria back to normal with a whole foods diet, supplementing with effective probiotics, and eating fermented food daily. 

My book The Food Babe Way will show you how to provide the cleanest foods for your body to prepare it for pregnancy – it includes a 21 day plan that includes all the healthy habits I follow. Another great book that I love and read (twice!) was How to Conceive Naturally: And Have a Healthy Pregnancy after 30 by Christa Orecchio, a member of my advisory council. This book is spot on about the nutrition you want to put into your body if you are trying to conceive. 

What foods did you avoid while pregnant?

Overall, I stuck with the same diet that I had before pregnancy full of whole nutrient-rich foods with a few indulgences into those cravings – organic grilled cheeses and pizza to be exact! However, there are a few foods that I didn’t eat during pregnancy…

  • Sushi – especially Tuna (and other high-mercury fish): You are supposed to limit it due to mercury content, so it’s not worth the risk. Although I ate fish during pregnancy, I stuck to lower mercury varieties of fish such as wild salmon. Other high-mercury fish to avoid are halibut, sea bass, swordfish, shark, marlin, orange roughy, and mackerel.
  • Processed foods: Anything that comes in a package or box or container, I ate way less of! I wanted to stay away from all the packaging chemicals that food can be exposed to when it is processed – stuff you do not see on the label. Also once a food is processed, nutrients are degraded – I wanted to the get the maximum micro-nutrition out of all my food to make sure there are plenty of nutrients the baby could assimilate. 
  • Soda and sugary drinks: Sugar in general is bad, but it goes down way too easy when you drink it! 
  • MSG, yeast extract, hydrolyzed proteins, natural and artificial flavors: In the second trimester, your baby can actually start to taste the food you are eating! Knowing that gave me serious motivation to stay away from controversial food additives and processed foods that screw with your sense of taste or satisfaction. You don’t want them tricked by food industry before they’re even born! 
  • Processed and cured meats like sausage, ham, and deli: These are more likely than other foods to be contaminated with listeria, which can cause a miscarriage or infect your baby. 

Did you drink raw juice while pregnant?

Yes, smoothies and juices made with mostly vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals that help to keep your immune system strong during pregnancy. As always, I take care to thoroughly wash my vegetables before making a juice and fill up my blender or juicer with greens like romaine lettuce, spinach, turnip greens, mustard greens, parsley, and collard greens. I tried not to overdo the beet juice though! I did that once in my first trimester and let’s just say it did not stay down! It’s always good to remember natural foods when juiced can be very potent too.

What did you do about cravings for bad food?

I’ve never had such a roller coaster of cravings before in my life (I know you other pregnant women can relate!). Read more about that here. One of my obsessions was frozen grapes to curb that sudden sweet tooth. I took my commitment to staying on track with my eating principles even more seriously while pregnant, even while indulging in the occasional treat. I’d indulge – but I made sure the ingredients were organic. If I wanted cookies – I’d eat them, but they need to be organic first to avoid any unnecessary toxic pesticides and chemical additives!

What strict pregnancy guidelines did you adhere to? Did you eat soft cheese? Have a glass of wine? Etc.

I didn’t drink any alcohol, but did have some soft cheeses on occasion when I knew they were either heated or pasteurized. I continued my habit of drinking lemon water with cayenne pepper first thing in the morning, drank kombucha on occasion, reduced the amount of caffeine I used to have in half (from 8 ounces of coffee or tea to 4 ounces), and tried to eat fermented foods everyday (See more important info on pregnancy habits from my advisory council member Dr. Amy Shah here).

Can you give us a breakdown of what you ate on a daily basis while being pregnant? What are some things that are completely off limits aside from the obvious foods? 

As always, my diet consists mostly of plants like fruits, vegetables, seeds, beans and nuts, but there are some specific foods that I ate more of during pregnancy. This is such a big topic that I wrote an entire post about it with links to my favorite recipes! Check it out here

Did you drink that awful glucose drink to test for gestational diabetes?

These drinks (also known as “Glucola”) are essentially sugar water with hazardous artificial colors and preservatives for a VERY LONG shelf life. They are no better than most sodas on the market – and truly not something you’d want to consume while pregnant. While it’s certainly important to monitor your blood glucose during pregnancy, there are safer alternatives to drinking this toxic sugar water. I simply asked my doctor what my options were and she was ready with 5 alternatives! I was able to monitor with simple blood tests and it was reassuring to see that my blood sugar was on track. Specifically, I took my blood sugar two times a day for 3 days over one week and reported the results back to her. Be sure to ask your health care provider for options! In my opinion there is no way in hell any doctor could convince me to drink something with flame retardant, artificial dyes made from petroleum, controversial preservatives and GMOs, pregnant or not!

Did you wear nail polish while pregnant?

Only on my toes since it lasted longer and I didn’t need to paint them as often. I am generally doing the same thing while breastfeeding and handling my newborn as well – although I do occasionally paint them for events and here is a link to some safer nail polish brands I’ve used.

How did you handle being around a computer and wireless phone all the time?

One of the things that I absolutely could not live without during pregnancy was my Belly Armor Belly Blanket. I worked from my laptop almost every day, but knew that it wasn’t safe to expose my baby to all of the radiation that emits from laptops and wifi. Radiation exposures during pregnancy can increase risk of miscarriage and are also linked to developmental issues – and there was no way I was willing to take that risk. So I found an amazing solution! I just placed this Belly Blanket over my pregnant belly whenever I was working at my computer or using my phone for an extended period of time. The blanket is made with special fabric that neutralizes electromagnetic waves and blocks the radiation from reaching my belly, keeping my baby safe. This really gave me peace of mind! Now that she is born, I continue to use my Belly Blanket to protect her while I’m on my computer. As a new partner of Food Babe, Belly Armor is offering you a special deal:

Get a free baby hat ($19 value) if you spend $50 or more in their online store with the code “foodbabe” at checkout. (Note: the code will only work once you have the baby hat in your cart! These are found in their “Nursery” section.)

How did you handle the exhaustion?

Before getting pregnant, I couldn’t remember the last nap I took! But once I became pregnant, I needed at least a 30 min – 1 hour nap almost every day, otherwise I would fall asleep at 8pm.  Your body needs more sleep during pregnancy, so don’t fight it. I also drank unsweetened iced tea or kombucha to perk myself up on occasion! 

What do you recommend for prenatal supplements and vitamins?

I didn’t take prenatal supplement formulas because the ones available on the market are one-size-fits-all and not everything in those supplements work well with my body. I worked with my doctor to come up with a supplement regimen that worked for me. I took a whole food based organic multivitamin with no fillers and synthetics, following these guidelines. I also took extra probiotics, calcium, vitamin D, magnesium – which helps with sleep. Of course, I also eat The Food Babe Way and have been limiting the amount of sugar in my diet.

What did you do to help you sleep?

I was able to sleep pretty well throughout my pregnancy, which I’m thankful for. The vitamin and mineral supplements that I took (see above) were helpful, but I also took nightly baths with epsom salts. This really helped me to relax and ease discomfort! I did not buy any special pillows, I just used a king size pillow between my legs while I slept on my side. 

How did you handle heartburn naturally?

This simple remedy worked wonders for me: 1 tsp apple cider vinegar with 8 ounces of water. Take up to 2 doses, as needed. I also slept at an angle propped up on two pillows and took a 10 min walk after eating to help prevent heartburn. 

What did you do for exercise?

Getting out in the fresh air makes a huge difference in everyday life! Although I didn’t go at it as hard as I did before I was pregnant, just doing a little bit of something improved my mood. I kept it part of my routine and made sure to get up and go – showing up to my exercise class every day, whether I could do everything or not! For example, I took a pilates barre class (Hilliard Studio Method) all the way up to my due date. I loved spinning in my first and second trimesters. And I lifted heavy weights with my trainer and took long walks the entire pregnancy. 

What did you do for your nausea?

I drank ginger tea, woke up and ate first thing in the morning and had smaller meals spaced out through the day. Exercise always helped too!

What did you do to prevent stretch marks?

I found the most effective thing to do to avoid stretch marks is eat lots of fruits and vegetables and avoid processed foods while your tummy is growing. All those vitamins and minerals strengthen the skin’s elasticity! I also used organic coconut oil and/or sesame oil on my body every day. 

Did you take the flu shot during pregnancy?

I don’t normally take the flu shot because it has shown to be not effective (so I don’t take the risk) and I would personally never consider it as a pregnant woman. I want my body to react naturally to the environment and to fight viruses on its own. I take steps to prevent the flu – wash hands often, reduce stress, exercise, drink lots of filtered water, eat fermented foods, and avoid industrial toxins. I believe that living a healthy lifestyle sets you up for a healthy pregnancy.

Did you have a natural birth?

Yes, you can read my birth story here. 

Did you encapsulate your placenta?

No, I did not. I discussed this with my doctor and doula, researched options and there was not enough convincing evidence for me, although I have heard it does benefit some women. 

Did you do something for your baby shower registry to specify “no plastics”? If so, how did you make those requests known?

The awesome women throwing me the shower put my preferences on the invitation. I had an eco baby shower, for example, instead of bringing a card with a gift, they requested guests bring an inscribed book instead. I also registered for a lot of eco-friendly items at Sprout San Francisco

What was your Birth Plan?

My birth plan is below, this is highly personalized and you should talk about these choices with your family and health care providers before determining your own. 

This list is intended to express our preferences under normal conditions.

Labor Preferences:
A Natural Birth. I will use natural pain relief techniques. Please do not offer any medication, I will ask if needed. I have an adverse reaction to most pharmaceuticals.
Interventions only following opportunity to discuss options with husband and doula.
I prefer minimal internal exams. A vaginal exam only when I ask to be checked.
I prefer to move freely during labor and eat and drink as needed.
I prefer only intermittent monitoring when needed.
I prefer to have no IV but will consent to a saline lock, if medically necessary.
I prefer no induction of any kind. I prefer the bag of waters to break on its own.
I would like perineal support with massage, hot compresses and various positions to avoid a tear.
I prefer no episiotomy unless required for baby’s safety.
I prefer that no vacuum or forceps are used.

Birth Preferences:
Please place baby on my bare chest immediately.
Please do not cut cord for 15 minutes or until it stops pulsing. Father will plan on cutting cord.
Please allow placenta to expel on its own.

Newborn Preferences:
Please conduct newborn procedures in arms, at least 2 hours after birth.
We have chosen to DECLINE: erythomycin, Hep B vaccine (baby will follow up with Pediatrician), and Vitamin K shot (baby will be taking liquid Vitamin K per Stanford University Protocol).
We consent to: newborn screening (including PKU), necessary emergency treatment. Please conduct all in room. Father will accompany baby for hearing test.

Afterbirth Preferences:
Baby will be breastfed exclusively. Please do not offer sugar water or formula.
I wish for baby to remain with me following birth. Father will accompany baby out of room if needed.
I do not wish to receive any medication post labor, including stool softener.
I prefer to leave the hospital as soon as possible after birth.
Should a transfer be necessary for baby, please allow me to accompany baby.

In case a Cesarean becomes necessary:
Husband and doula present in operating room.
Father holds baby immediately for skin-to-skin and stays with baby continually.
Doula present continually during recovery.
Newborn reunited with mother as soon as possible.

Did you take any classes?

Yes! I did the Mama Natural Birth Course from start to finish and loved it so much. This is a digital course that you watch from home on your own time, and on your own schedule. It is super informative and I left each lesson feeling empowered and confident. I can honestly say that I don’t believe I’ve ever enjoyed an online course as much as this one. You can sign up here for free and Mama Natural will send you weekly pregnancy updates and you can find information on the Mama Natural Birth Course here.

Are you going to vaccinate your child?

The most powerful thing you can do for your health is become educated about everything you put in your own and your family’s bodies – whether it be the food you eat or the pharmaceuticals you inject. Vaccines are not one-size-fits-all and I feel that is way too simplistic of a view – and my doctor agrees. Not all vaccines are created equal. It is really important to recognize that what can help one person, has the ability to hurt another. Each vaccine needs to be evaluated individually for its benefits and risks relative to your personal situation.

Understand that I’m not an expert on vaccines recommended by the CDC for children, but now that I’m a parent I feel that it is my obligation to become as educated as possible on the subject… so I’ve been doing A LOT of reading! I have checked out or ordered just about every vaccine advice book under the sun and am doing a thorough personal investigation to become as educated as possible about my choices. I have also been taking the time to talk to my own doctors and trusted advisors to make the best decisions. I encourage you to do the same and make the decision for yourself as to what you feel comfortable with. Here is one of my favorite books I read about the topic.  

What type of meal plans can I follow to help get me ready to become pregnant or while pregnant? 

Join us in the Food Babe Eating Guide Program. I’ll stick with you day after day to get rid of the food additives, chemicals and extra baggage that can weigh us down in this over-processed food world. If you are looking for more help in the kitchen or are struggling with figuring out what to eat, the best brands to buy, and how to follow a non-GMO, organic diet, then this program is the perfect fit for you. Sign up and download your guides here: http://foodbabe.com/eat 

For more…

While I was pregnant, I did a pregnancy Q&A on Facebook Live with my great friend and doula Latham Thomas of Mama Glow – you can watch the entire video here

Please share this post with all your mamas and mom-to-be friends!

I’m so excited to share my pregnancy journey and now on to motherhood with you. This has been the most amazing time of my life. Remember to follow along on Instagram at thefoodbabe & foodbabemama to see all my fun antics and pics!

Xo,

Vani

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The Importance Of Gut Bacteria In Pregnancy (and how we destroy it with modern practices!)

This is a guest post written by Dr. Amy Shah, a member of my Advisory Council.  Dr. Shah is a practicing physician, specializing in Allergy & Immunology and Internal Medicine. Dr. Shah is also a mom, and as we were recently discussing my pregnancy she brought up a topic that I believe will be very helpful to all of the other mamas-to-be out there! How can you nurture the bacteria in your gut to protect the future health of your child?

gut bacteria in pregnancy

{Photo credit: Brad Olson photography}

Nurturing bacteria in pregnancy and childbirth may be the key to unlocking the mystery behind the modern American crisis of diabetes, autoimmunity, asthma, allergies, obesity and more!

Here is how we in medicine think this happens…

There are 2 basic arms of the immune system: Th1 and Th2. These are white blood cells known as T-helpers that recognize and combat pathogens. Th1 fights bacteria, and viruses; Th2 takes on parasites, allergies and, we think, does not have much of a role these days.

During pregnancy the body is weighted towards Th2. The hypothesis is that is so the body does not activate the immune system against the growing fetus. When the baby is born it is also predominantly Th2.  

Because of the lack of bacteria (good and bad) and viruses in the modern world, the baby stays weighted towards the Th2 immune side instead of shifting back to Th1 side. This, we think, is why we have seen such an increase allergy, asthma and autoimmune disease!

So what is the take away?

Improve your baby’s life (and yours) by nurturing the bacteria around you. Our bacteria stand as an army blocking or helping things pass through into the body.

I know it’s hard to believe, but there is more bacteria in our body than our cells! Here’s what you can do to grow your gut garden:

1. Avoid hand sanitizers and cleaning products when pregnant!

I can’t tell you how many times I see new mom’s slather hand sanitizer over themselves and anyone who comes close to their little one. The logic is there – of course you don’t want pathogens near your sensitive newborn. But – AND A BIG BUT – is this sterilization may be doing more harm than good by blocking the colonization of nurturing bacteria.

More concerning – ingredients in hand sanitizers are known endocrine disruptors that adversely affect sex hormones, especially in infants and new mothers. Endocrine disruptors are also found abundantly in common triclosan-based cleaning products. Use natural cleaning products when possible (or have someone else clean!)

Tip: Don’t let sick people go near your newborn but for others gentle washing with natural soap and water is preferred.

2. Avoid C-sections when possible.

Of course this isn’t always possible and a C-section is necessary, but if it can be avoided, it should be. Immense difference has been reported in the microbiological constitution of babies born vaginally vs. C-section babies. C-section babies don’t get microbes from the birth canal, which are different than those colonized by the skin, nipple and milk.

A diverse microbiome is significant, as a less diverse microbiome means more chance the immune system will stay in the TH2 – meaning a higher probability of asthma, allergies and obesity related immune disease later in life.

Tip: If C-section is absolutely medically necessary, don’t fret – skin to skin contact, breast feeding, and other techniques to improve baby’s microbiome exist.

3. Avoid antibiotics – and that includes the food you eat!

Again, of course, sometimes antibiotics are necessary and can’t be avoided but we may be overly reliant on them as a panacea for every ill. Generally avoid antibiotics for gut health, but especially for your infant and when pregnant or breastfeeding. They wreak havoc on the gut garden, destroying good bacteria with the bad, decreasing bacterial diversity and even creating a leaky gut and mood disorders.

Foods containing antibiotics can be assumed to have the same effect. Avoid conventional meats and dairy and instead look for products labeled organic – federally regulated to only come from animals never given antibiotics.

4. Play with dirt and animals.

You may have heard of the so-called Hygiene Hypothesis that speculates children raised in overly sterile, germ-free environments develop hypersensitive immune systems. Though it may sound counter-intuitive (and gross), exposing infants in their first year of development to pets, household germs, microbes found in soil, rodent dander and roach allergens appears to lay foundations for a robust immune system, lowering risk of asthma and allergies, according to research from Johns Hopkins.

However, after the first year, the protective effects of exposure to dander, germs and droppings disappear. Playing in the dirt, on the other hand, seems to improve gut health no matter what age you are, so don’t be afraid to be a little dirty!

5. Breastfeed instead of formula feeding.

Don’t be too quick to wean off breast milk and introduce formula or solid food. Colonization and proliferation of an infant’s microbiota can be distressed when exclusive human-milk feeding is stopped. Formula especially incorporated into the diet while breastfeeding can undesirably alter the structure of baby’s gut.

6. Practice Kangaroo Mother Care.

Skin to skin contact, especially right after birth (even for preemies), exposes the newborn to the mother’s bacteria, creating a more diverse gut garden.

Kangaroo Mother Care – basically oodles of naked baby skin on skin exposure several hours a day – has a myriad of additional benefits for baby’s overall health. For example, breastfeeding maybe easier as it aids baby to seek out and latch on to mom’s nipple, reducing soreness.

Studies suggest that babies deprived of skin contact can contribute to mood issues like depression and learning disabilities later in life.

7. Your diet is KING for yourself and your baby.

Obviously diet is top on the list of effectors to the intestinal microbiome. Sugar and processed, chemicalized, artificial foods don’t just upset gut equilibrium but can lead to leaky gut, IBS and other digestive issues you don’t want.

Best course of action for a diet to improve gut health:

  • Eat an organic whole food diet rich in nutrient dense foods like vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats.

  • Steer clear of GMOs, artificial sweeteners, ibuprofen/NSAIDs, preservatives like TBHQ, etc.

  • Eat and drink an abundance of superfoods like algae, seaweed, aloe vera, and cacao.

  • Get plenty of probiotics and fermented foods like kefir and sauerkraut as well as prebiotics like tubers and alliums.

The healthier your gut flora while pregnant and breastfeeding, the healthier your baby’s constitution – establishing their health now and for the rest of their life.


Amy Shah, M.D

Dr. Amy Shah is a specialist in Allergy & Immunology and Internal Medicine. She pursued her medical training at Columbia University Medical Center, Beth Israel Deaconness/Harvard Medical School, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and Cornell University. Prior to graduating with honors in research, she worked in the Channing Laboratory at Harvard University looking at the health effects of heavy metals on the body. She is now in a private medical practice. To learn more about Dr. Shah, visit amyshahmd.com.

 

 

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Are Infrared Saunas Beneficial?

feature_saunaLast month, I installed an infrared sauna in my house. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been following a new bedtime ritual: a half hour in the sauna, a cold plunge in the pool, bed. The reasoning is that after warming up my tissues in the sauna, I drop them back down to prepare for sleep. So far, it’s working. I wasn’t exactly starting from a deficit—my sleep has been consistently good ever since I changed how I consume alcohol—but I’m really happy with the new setup.

Why infrared?

A traditional sauna heats the air around you. An infrared sauna uses infrared light to penetrate your skin and warm you directly without affecting the ambient temperature. This makes them great for home use.

Okay, but do they actually work? What good is heating your skin with infrared light?

I’ve covered the benefits of traditional saunas before—they’re great and many of them apply to infrared saunas—but today I’ll discuss the unique advantages of infrared saunas.

Heart Health

Perhaps the most robust evidence for the benefits of infrared saunas concern their effects on various measures and determinants of heart health. For decades, the Japanese have used an infrared sauna protocol called Waon therapy to treat heart disease and heart failure patients.

In patients with an elevated risk for heart disease, Waon therapy (spending 15 minutes a day for two weeks in the infrared sauna) reduced urinary levels of a prostaglandin linked to oxidative stress. It also reduced blood pressure.

In another group of men with an elevated risk for heart disease, the same protocol also improved endothelial function—how well the arteries hold against stress.

In men recovering from heart failure, the same protocol boosted their endothelial function and improved how well the heart performed its duties.

In people with heart failure, Waon therapy also increased exercise tolerance by improving endothelial function.

Infrared sauna therapy has also:

Pain

Proponents make big claims about the ability of infrared saunas to reduce pain of all kinds—chronic, arthritic, (as you’ll see later) fibromyalgic, post-workout. Any truth?

For people with chronic pain, adding infrared sauna therapy to a grab-bag of exercise, cognitive behavioral therapy, and rehab was better at reducing pain than the grab-bag alone.

In another study of both rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis suffers, infrared sauna therapy reduced stiffness, pain, and other clinical symptoms of the respective diseases.

Later on, you’ll see that infrared saunas can improve fibromyalgia symptoms.

Kidney Disease

Clinicians aren’t sending kidney disease patients down to the local infrared sauna spot, but they are using localized infrared radiation.

In hemodialysis patients, infrared therapy improved blood flow and reduced the incidence of arteriovenous fistula (AVF) malfunctions (AVFs are artificial connections between arteries and veins often surgically created in dialysis patients).

Another study in hemodialysis patients found that infrared therapy accelerated maturation of AVFs after surgical creation.

Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia

Chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia are terrible to experience. What’s worse, the two—crushing, unending fatigue and constant, unjustified pain—often go together. Luckily, it seems that infrared saunas might be able to help.

In one study, researchers placed CF patients on Waon therapy (15 minutes a day in the sauna) for five days a week, 4 weeks. They didn’t report many changes during the sessions, but after four weeks they all showed improvements in depression, mood, fatigue, anxiety, and performance. An earlier study had similar results, with some patients even able to discontinue medication.

A single session of Waon infrared therapy was enough reduce fibromyalgia-related pain by 11-70% in 13 female patients with fibromyalgia.

Pre-Gaming

By pre-gaming, I’m not talking about drinking cheap plastic bottle vodka with your friends before hitting the bars. I mean preparing your body for certain stressful situations. Evidence suggests that infrared saunas can improve your resilience and performance in the face of several different kinds of stressors.

Decompression stress: Pretreatment with infrared sauna can help free divers prepare for deep dives. Those who hung out in an infrared sauna for a half hour before diving were more resilient in the face of decompression stress.

UV stress: Pretreatment with infrared light can help sunbathers improve their resistance to the damaging effects of UV radiation. This is probably an evolutionary adaptation to ancestral sun exposure patterns—early morning sunlight, rich in infrared wavelengths, preparing us for the hotter, more UV-rich midday sun.

Training stress: Rugby players who exposed themselves to infrared lights (with prior consent, of course) before training showed enhanced performance and accelerated recovery. Infrared light applied before lifting weights may also reduce post-exercise strength loss. Applied during activity, it increases time to fatigue.

Nursing stress: Breastfeeding mothers who used infrared saunas enjoyed increased milk production. Many of the subjects were having trouble producing enough milk, and infrared application allowed about half to successfully nurse until weaning.

Speculative (But Plausible) Benefits

Folks make a lot of big claims online. Sometimes they cite literature, sometimes not. And many times the literature they do cite isn’t really relevant. But not always. I’ve sifted through them to pull out what look to be the most plausible yet speculative benefits.

Mitochondria: Near-infrared light—which penetrates human tissue— triggers mitochondria to produce more ATP.

Cancer: Near-infrared light may be able to target cancer cells.

Any way to replicate this without a device?

It won’t equal the power of a targeted infrared sauna, but the morning sun is rich in infrared light. Get up in time to bask in it.

The one I have comes from Clearlight. There are less expensive options, too, like the dome tents.

All in all, infrared saunas seem very promising. I certainly enjoy mine, and the scientific literature is quite persuasive and expansive—especially for an “alternative” therapy like infrared saunas. For those who have the means and the need for help with some of the conditions infrared may treat or a desire to see how it affects their recovery and resilience to stressors, I can heartily recommend either buying one or signing up for a few trips to the local infrared sauna spot.

Anyone else an infrared sauna devotee? I’d be interested in hearing from people who have been doing it for a long time—what benefits have you noticed?

Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care.

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Chicken and Peaches- Local Production meets Local Consumption!

We’ve got chickens in the brooder, tomato starts indoors and buds on our peach trees. Barring a severe cold streak between now and June, there will be a copious amounts of these ingredients available here in East Tennessee fresh and ready for our tummies. If you have the slightest green thumb or backyard chicken bone in your body, it is about to be the most spectacular time of year. Not to mention all the fantastic fun that comes from watching the children interact with our animals and the daily tasks that come with their care and preparing the garden.

Baby chicks on their first morning at the farm.

Nothing beats fresh and seasonal fruit. Peaches, strawberries and blueberries are coming soon. We have a variety of tomatoes awaiting the last frost before we take them outdoors. Our chickens are the Cornish Cross industry bird, raised on pasture and non-GMO feed. These birds are ready to eat in 8 weeks (kind of nutso). It’s a little insane watching them outgrow our laying hens (now nearly 26 weeks old) in two months.

Chicken with Peaches, Basil, and Tomatoes

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 1/2 to 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 shallot, sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
3 peaches, pitted and sliced
2 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
6 to 8 ounces arugula

Directions:
1. Heat a large cast iron or stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat and add the coconut oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper. When fat is shimmering, add the chicken and sear, undisturbed, on the first side until golden brown, 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove chicken to plate.
2. Reduce heat to medium and add the shallot to the pan. Saute until slightly softened, then mis in the garlic and ginger and saute a minute more.
3. Stir in the peaches, tomatoes, chicken stock and 1 tablespoon of basil. Return the chicken to the pan, spooning some of the juices over the chicken.
4. Cover and simmer the chicken until cooked through, about 10-15 minutes.
5 Serve over arugula, with the sauce poured over like a dressing, and garnish with the remaining basil.



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It’s Not Just You: Stress and Fat Are Linked

In times of stress, many of us turn for consolation to sugary, fatty, high-calorie foods. Macaroni and cheese? Meatloaf and mashed potatoes with extra butter? A massive hunk of buttercream-frosted cake? They don’t call them “comfort foods” for nothing.

“I often see unmanaged stress lead to overeating and binging with my clients,” says Kara Lydon, RD, LDN, RYT, author of Nourish Your Namaste e-book and blogger at The Foodie Dietitian. “When we push away our basic needs for self-care — relaxation, spirituality, fun, sleep — we wind up feeling overexerted, depleted and stressed and turn to food as a way to fulfill an unmet need. Overeating because of stress often leads to more stress and anxiety and it becomes a vicious cycle.”

Given that, the results of a recent British study that found a link between long-term stress and obesity may not come as much of a surprise.

The study, conducted by researchers at University College London and published in the journal Obesity, looked at hair samples representing about two months of growth from more than 2,500 men and women age 54 and over participating in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing to determine the levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress, present in the hair. The researchers found that those with higher levels of cortisol, which plays a role in metabolism and fat storage, were more likely to be overweight or obese – to have a larger waist circumference, weigh more and have a higher body-mass index.

Although the study found only an association and not evidence of cause or consequence, the study is important in light of the dangers of excess abdominal fat, including heart disease, diabetes and early death, lead author Sarah Jackson, a research associate in the department of epidemiology and public health at University College London, maintains.

“I think the take-home message from our study is really to try and maintain awareness of healthy lifestyle habits during times of stress,” Jackson tells Healthy Eats. “When we’re stressed out we may find it more difficult to find the motivation to go for a run or resist unhealthy foods, and that’s when it is easier for weight to creep on.”

The study also underscores the need to find ways of curtailing stress or dealing with it in ways that don’t involve food, Jackson says.

Lydon agrees. She recommends that, when you feel compelled to binge or overeat in times of stress, that you pause and ask yourself the food you’re about to tuck into is really what you need. “Often times, taking a walk outside to connect with nature or taking a warm candlelit bath is enough to fulfill an unmet need and the craving subsides,” she says.

Because everyone is different, Lydon suggests making a list of non-food-related things that help you combat stress – and keeping them handy. “Things like yoga, deep breathing, meditation, going out with friends, coloring, venting to a loved one, or getting a hug can all release some stress,” she says.

And unlike that buttercreamy hunk of cake, a hug, while equally sweet, is calorie-free.

 

Amy Reiter is a writer and editor based in New York. A regular contributor to The Los Angeles Times, she has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Glamour, Marie Claire, The Daily Beast and Wine Spectator, among others, as well as for Salon, where she was a longtime editor and senior writer. In addition to contributing to Healthy Eats, she blogs for Food Network’s FN Dish.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.



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Family Extravaganza

I’m so excited to share the photos from our weekend full of family fun! On Friday night my parents stopped in Cville on their way up to Maryland. I hosted a dinner with Thomas’s family so they could (finally!) meet. They’ve already been friends online, so it was like they had already known each other. I love his family, so I was glad for my parents to finally get to spend some time with them. The night went wonderfully!

My mom brought these cute frogs for Mazen and Thomas’s nephew as party favors.

I put out cheese and crostini with fig spread for appetizers.

Thomas grilled BBQ chicken, which was delicious.

And my mom made her famous mac and cheese that was the hit of the night!

I also procured some of that amazing kale caesar salad from Whole Foods for the group since we all love it!

Yum yum!!

For dessert we had a buffet of ice creams with sprinkles:

On Saturday morning we were up bright and early so we could caravan to Crofton, Maryland for even more family fun. My sister, Matt, and baby Emerson flew in from Texas, and we all met at Matt’s parents’ house. This was Thomas’s first time meeting my sister et al, so that was fun and exciting too!

I couldn’t get to get in some big snuggles with my little niece who is five months old!

She is such a happy baby, always smiling (and always drooling!)

Matt’s parents had a wonderful lunch prepared. His mom is an R.D. so I loved her pepper plate and dip!

And BYO sandwiches are my favorite : )

We took as many cousin photos as we could! Mazen didn’t have any interest in holding his cousin – I think he was a little scared of her!

Doesn’t Mazen look HUGE here!? When he saw this picture he actually said “Which one is you because you and Aunt Larbs look the same!” HA!

Of course all the grandparents were in seventh heaven.

Thomas, Mazen and I stayed in Annapolis, and we had high hopes of walking around the water all afternoon, but it was FREEZING! The wind was the worst.

It was beautiful though, and I hope to go back!

Brrrrr!

We went to Blackwall Hitch for drinks and dinner, and it was FABULOUS! We had such a great experience!

Crab dip!

Autumn arugula salad:

Thomas’s sea bass special:

And my crabcakes, which were totally epic!

We shared this deep dish chocolate chip cookie for dessert that was gooey and warm inside – OMG!

We were all so full!

The next morning we had brunch back at the Allen’s. So much great food! Baked egg casserole with homemade hash browns and bacon inside, fruit salad, homemade muffins, and a homemade cheese apple danish.

It was sad to say goodbye to Emmy – I won’t see her again until July!

And that’s a wrap!

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Episode 359 – Dr. Ken Brown – SIBO

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Today’s guest is Dr. Ken Brown. He is a practicing Gastroenterologist, clinical researcher, SIBO expert, and creator of SIBO treatment Atrantil. Listen in as we talk all about SIBO, how to treat it, gut issues, and more!


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Guest: Dr. Ken Brown

Atrantil: https://atrantil.com/

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30 Day Guide to the Paleo Diet

Want some extra help? Have you been trying Paleo for a while but have questions or aren’t sure what the right exercise program is for you? Or maybe you just want a 30-day meal plan and shopping list to make things easier? We’ve created a getting started guide to help you through your first 30 days.

Buy the book

 

Wired-to-Eat-RenderDon’t forget, Wired to Eat is available for pre-order now!

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