Monday, June 12, 2006

Living in a Toxic World - Children's Nutrition


If you have children or know people with children, this article can serve as a good source of information on how to use preventive health for children.

Living in a Toxic World - Children's Nutrition

I just read an article about a study that compared the health of Americans with those of Britons of the same age and ethnicity ie caucasian, of course the Americans won hands down in ill health. The article wondered why with all the money that we spend on health care over here, we are more unhealthy. They were saying that maybe we spend less on preventive health care etc. As a physician that has practiced medicine on two continents and being married to one that actually practiced in England for 5 years I can vouch for the fact that we practice more preventive medicine here than anywhere in the world. The problem lies somewhere else. As a country USA has more chemicals insidiously pervading in every aspect of our lives than any country in the world. No wonder with all the money in the health care system we are so unhealthy.

One of my patients, recently showed me a hamburger that she had bought from a fast food joint 6 years ago. It looked maybe a day old, thats how stuffed with preservatives it was! How can the body handle food like that. Food is meant to be broken down into basic building blocks for the body to use. Anything that is not food is sent to the liver to handle or stored elsewhere or excreted by the kidneys and so on.

So, as a parent what are you to do? How do you protect your children given this environment? Its not easy. You do need extra effort but you cannot afford not to! Consider the fact that according to a study published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, household chemical and pesticide exposure doubled childhood leukemia risk! The authors described the links as "significant" and said that preventive action should be taken to make sure that the risks to children were as small as possible. A group of pesticides known as carbamates present in plant treatments, lice shampoos and insect sprays were most commonly linked to leukemia. Did you know that essential oils that are obtained from natural plant sources can be used as insect killers and lice treatments! You don’t need to subject your children to dangerous pesticides.

So, lets start with the lunch box. Many lunch boxes that you buy in stores contain lead. There is no safe level of lead for children. You can buy lead free lunch boxes or use brown bags. Next, the plastic wrappers. Some of them contain additives like bisphenol A and phthalates that are cancer causing. Paper wrapping is safer like parchment paper, brown bags etc.

Next, read labels. You will find that baked goods that are imported from europe, by and large will have 3 or 4 ingredients. Flour, butter, sugar and eggs. Go check out some of the baked goods produced here. The ingredient list is so long that if I listed it, it would use up the remaining space for my article! Monoglycerides, diglycerides and long chemical names that most people cannot even pronounce!

Then we have the class of compounds known as excitotoxins, the most infamous of which is monosodiumdiglyceride or MSG. I am amazed at the number of products that contain it! Soups, chips, crackers, noodles, instant rice and the list goes on and on! How many chemicals can a child's small body handle!

Some of the juices and sodas that are marketed to children contain both ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and either sodium benzoate or potassium benzoate which when mixed together produce the cancer causing substance – benzene. Don’t buy poison for your children and monitor what they buy in school!

Milk has gone from being a health food to a toxic drink. It is stuffed with hormones, antibiotics and other chemicals. On the top of that homogenization turns a natural food into an unnatural substance that makes the body work harder to deal with it! Buy organic and buy non homogenized.

Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats damage your child's brain. They cause the cell membrane to become rigid and inflexible. They are toxic! Please read labels for the sake of your and your family's health. The coalition for healhier schools has a "Back to school checklist" that you can check out at Organic The state of Minnesota has recommended that schools use Integrated Pest Management to reduce toxic threats to children. They also passed legislation to reduce unnecessary school bus idling to protect children from dangerous diesel fumes.

Dr. Mark Hyman, author of Ultrametabolism says “We live in a culture that makes it nearly impossible to make healthy food choices. A number of food industry and political factors keep us sick and fat. In supermarkets 25% of the square footage is devoted to selling sugar. Political advice focuses on personal responsibility, not the effects of a toxic food environment, it focuses on individual choices instead of public health initiatives. And it makes things way too complex (like the new food pyramid) instead of focusing on simple principles like eating whole, organic foods, with lots of fibre and consuming a diet plentiful in fruits and vegetables and omega 3 fats, and low in sugar and junk food.

His suggestion :- and I could not put it better myself!

- Buy around the perimeter of the store (that’s where the healthy stuff is)
- Don’t go down aisles (that’s where most of the junk food is)
- Don’t buy food in a box
- Or with more than 5 ingredients
- Or with ingredients you can’t pronounce
- Or with a cartoon on the package.

Dr.Aruna Bakhru is Board Certified in Internal Medicine. Additionally, she was awarded a Fellowship from the American College of Physicians. She has been listed in the millennium edition of Marquis Who's Who in America.Visit her website at
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