Thursday, August 6, 2015

So…parents can expect more improvement in literacy and numeracy?

“Australia's curriculum authority has said parents have the right to expect more improvement than what is being shown in the nation's annual numeracy and literacy skills report.

NAPLAN test results that were released this morning (August 05 2015) showed that in the seven years since the tests were introduced in primary and high schools, most measurements show no major improvement.”

I’m not a big fan of testing kids’ literacy and numeracy nor am I a fan of putting the whole responsibility for these aspects of learning in the schools’ courts, instead here’s another idea.

If parents can indeed expect more improvement in literacy and numeracy, they might consider the very significant steps that they can take.

Let's start with the time before conception … most effective place to ensure optimal mental health in the offspring. Sure, this needs some foresight, planning and commitment on the part of two prospective parents, but the payoff is huge! Most important outcome as far as this subject goes is a truly healthy, bright child. 

Then, once the optimal physical and mental health of the child is assured, parents can get rid of some popular parenting practices (e.g. controlled crying, separate sleeping quarters and formula feeding) and embrace responsive, attached, nurturing practices that also nurture optimal mental development. 

The research is clear on both counts! For almost forty years, Foresight Association UK, renowned epidemiologist Professor David Barker from Southhampton University and many others have proposed that two optimally healthy prospective parents will give their child the best chance of a lifetime of optimal physical and mental health. Furthermore, the findings of interdisciplinary studies at University of Notre Dame are clear. “Breast-feeding infants, responsiveness to crying, almost constant touch and having multiple adult caregivers are some of the nurturing ancestral parenting practices that are shown to positively impact the developing brain, which not only shapes personality, but also helps physical health and moral development.”

Yep, there’s no doubt. If all parents were to fully embrace these opportunities for more enlightened parenting practices, they’d be rewarded with a great deal more than kids who do better on their NAPLAN tests.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Breastfeeding your baby? Take Vitamin D3 every day or get daily sun exposure.

Until recently scientists haven’t appreciated the fact that breastfeeding mothers need daily Vitamin D3. Nursing mums could have 50-60 ng/ml of measurable 25(OH)D (a metabolite of Vitamin D3) in their blood but no measurable Vitamin D3 in their breast milk. Why? After Vitamin D3 has been turned to 25(OH)D it cannot enter the breast milk. Vitamin D3 has a half life in the autocrine system of roughly 24 hours, so in order for it to have a meaningful impact on cellular functions, you need a new supply of it every day. The only way to get Vitamin D3 in breast milk is by dosing daily - either by sun, diet or supplementation. The latest research of Grassrootshealth and Dr. Bruce Hollis, Professor of Pediatrics, College of Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina indicates that 6,400 IU/day is necessary for breast feeding mothers to attain sufficient vitamin D (to the value of 400 IU/day for the infant) in their breast milk. More on appropriate daily sun exposure in Healthy Parents, Healthy Baby and Healthy Parents, Healthy Toddler.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Big Pharma has a grip on EU legislation

Looks like Big Pharma’s grip on EU Legislators tightens! After three years before the courts the plea from the UK Health Food Manufacturer’s Association (HFMA) and their Dutch counterpart (NPN) to annul the current health claims list has been rejected. This means that the restrictive list of health claims (which do not accept 'tradition of use' for supplements and botanicals - rather looking for pharmaceutical-type trials) remains. The current list outlaws hundreds of well-established health claims on all foodstuffs including drinks, food supplements and foods. 

Just one example of hundreds of such claims is the failure to authorise the claim “dietary fibre helps maintain a healthy digestive system.” 

Looks like they’ll be wrangling over this for years to come. Meanwhile consumers and manufacturers of natural medicines, supplements, nutraceuticals, functional foods - the products that informed consumers are turning to in preference to pharmaceuticals - are losing out. The official statement from HFMA says “this was never about the right to make claims that could not be substantiated, but was always about the freedom of consumers to access responsible information that is supported by robust scientific evidence appropriate for nutritional products rather than pharmaceutical drugs.” No prizes for guessing who might drive this sort of decision …

Friday, May 22, 2015

Our bacteria affect our brain function

Been bleating about importance of the gut microbiome for ages, but here’s a new connection that should give seniors cause for pause - our bacteria affect our brain function.

Of course, this is not exactly related to Better Babies, but if you’re worried about those increasingly frequent senior moments - a forgotten word or phrase, a face you can’t put a name to, no recollection of what you did yesterday - listen up!

If you want the Better Babies version of the microbiome story - the infant gut and skin are inoculated with good bacteria during the baby’s journey down the birth canal, and with exclusive breastfeeding until at least six months. Then an organic whole food diet, purified water, probiotic supplementation and no antibiotics, are other factors needed to ensure an optimally healthy microbiome in the child, which should be well-established by the age of two or three.

Lots more details in both my books

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Getting iron levels up to speed ... before pregnancy

Yet another one of those hugely frustrating studies that leaves me wondering how many more years must pass before the importance of preconception care is shouted from every rooftop and promoted by every health care professional worldwide! 

For thirty years I’ve been promoting serum ferritin levels as the test of choice for iron status and of establishment of optimal iron levels well before conception. It’s simple, if the mother begins her pregnancy in an iron-depleted state, no amount of supplementation can make up for the deficit. End of story! Oh actually, not quite …

When supplementing to restore iron status, iron must be in an organic form (not the cheap and ever-popular ferrous sulphate) and must be accompanied by all the other trace minerals and co-factors such as vitamin C. While the authors are talking about the need for personalised nutrition, I hope they recognise and promote the vital importance of an all-organic, whole food diet. Much more in my easy to read mini ebooks.


Thursday, April 9, 2015

Zinc for optimal immune function

I often talk about scientists re-inventing the wheel, but this latest research into the role of zinc in immunity is unbelievably frustrating. Have the researchers been living under a rock? I’ve been trumpeting the benefits of zinc for more than 30 years. When I wrote my first book, which will be 20 years old next year, there were already several thousand published papers on zinc and its multiple roles. The research around the effects of zinc deficiency was also very well-established, and even back then zinc deficiency was touted as the most widespread in the Western world!

Compromised zinc status has been linked to a multitude of issues, including both depression and poor taste sensation. Compromised zinc status can affect every aspect of reproduction from how fertile you are to how easily your baby will settle. It’s involved in brain formation and function and of course in immune formation and function. Zinc deficiency is linked to a multitude of chronic degenerative conditions. We’ve known these facts and much more about zinc for a long time! 

If you think you might be zinc deficient (about 2 billion individuals worldwide at recent estimates) there’s a very simple, inexpensive test for zinc status - and you'll find all the details about natural food sources (oysters are fabulous, the placenta is even better) and appropriate supplementation (if placenta stew isn't on your menu) in Healthy Parents, Healthy Baby. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Endocrine disruption anyone?

Talk about closing the door after the horse has bolted! Recent news item advises us that the European Commission will consider 700 chemicals for endocrine disrupting status. 

The irony is, endocrine disruptors are already out there in agriculture, in the food and water supply, in multiple products from multiple manufacturers, they’re especially prevalent in skincare products, they’re also in our systems - bigtime! Their ubiquitous presence has huge potential impact on unborn generations. 

While the move by the European Commission could be applauded as a positive (albeit belated) one ... the only way to avoid the effects of these chemicals (effects which are often synergistic), is to be super-diligent about eating and using organic, chemical-free everything and by taking natural hormone-balancing products, whatever your age or life-stage!