GMO FACTS

What are GMOs?

GMOs (or “genetically modified organisms”) are living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering, or GE. This relatively new science creates unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacteria and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.Virtually all-commercial GMOs are engineered to withstand direct application of herbicide and/or to produce an insecticide. Despite biotech industry promises, none of the GMO traits currently on the market offer increased yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition, or any other consumer benefit.Meanwhile, a growing body of evidence connects GMOs with health problems, environmental damage and violation of farmers’ and consumers’ rights.

Are GMOs safe?

Most developed nations do not consider GMOs to be safe. In more than 60 countries around the world, including Australia, Japan, and all of the countries in the European Union, there are significant restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs. In the U.S., the government has approved GMOs based on studies conducted by the same corporations that created them and profit from their sale. Increasingly, Americans are taking matters into their own hands and choosing to opt out of the GMO experiment.

Are GMOs labeled?

Unfortunately, even though polls consistently show that a significant majority of Americans want to know if the food they’re purchasing contains GMOs, the powerful biotech lobby has succeeded in keeping this information from the public. In the absence of mandatory labeling, the Non-GMO Project was created to give consumers the informed choice they deserve.

Where does the Non-GMO Project come in?

The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit organization with a mission of protecting the non-GMO food supply and giving consumers an informed choice. We offer North America’s ONLY third party verification for products produced according to rigorous best practices for GMO avoidance Our strategy is to empower consumers to make change through the marketplace. If people stop buying GMOs, companies will stop using them and farmers will stop growing them.

Do Americans want non-GMO foods and supplements?

Polls consistently show that a significant majority of North Americans would like to be able to tell if the food they’re purchasing contains GMOs (a 2012 Mellman Group poll found that 91% of American consumers wanted GMOs labeled). And, according to a recent CBS/New York Times poll, 53% of consumers said they would not buy food that has been genetically modified. The Non-GMO Project’s seal for verified products will, for the first time, give the public an opportunity to make an informed choice when it comes to GMOs.

How common are GMOs?

In the U.S., GMOs are in as much as 80% of conventional processed food.

Why does the Non-GMO Project verify products that have a low risk of containing GMOs?

Some ingredients that seem low-risk may have less-visible high-risk ingredients. Take, for example, dried fruit. Raisins and similar fruit are sometimes packed with a small quantity of oil to keep them moist. This oil, when used, is sometimes high-GMO-risk. As such, it is critical that we do take the time to look carefully at ingredient spec sheets during the verification process, to ensure that risks like this are effectively mitigated, even in apparently low-risk products.Contamination incidents have occurred with seemingly “low-risk” products (rice, starling corn, flax). Non-GMO Project Verification supports manufacturers in being able to quickly and proactively respond to unexpected contamination issues.Verifying only high-risk products puts a heavy burden on consumers to know what products are at risk of containing GMOs. Many people, even in the world of Natural Foods, don’t know what a GMO is, let alone which crops and processed ingredients are high-risk. As such, labeling only products that contain high-risk ingredients could give an unfair competitive advantage to products that contain ingredients containing corn, soy, etc. Taking the cereal aisle for our example, if we verified only high-risk products, a shopper might see the seal on a box of verified corn flakes, but not on the wheat-based cereal box next to them, produced with the same high standards by the same company. This could leave them thinking the corn flakes were non-GMO, but that they should avoid the wheat product, even though there’s no GMO wheat on the market. Given the lack of understanding of the issue, this presents some serious issues.

Through verifying low-risk products, the Non-GMO Project’s work builds consumer interest and industry investment in Non-GMO, even for crops that aren’t genetically engineered yet. Biotech is constantly working to patent and commercialize new organisms (salmon, apples, etc.), and the more companies that have committed to Non-GMO production, the more resistance these new developments will see prior to release.

What are the impacts of GMOs on the environment?

Over 80% of all GMOs grown worldwide are engineered for herbicide tolerance. As a result, use of toxic herbicides like Roundup has increased 15 times since GMOs were introduced. GMO crops are also responsible for the emergence of “super weeds” and “super bugs:’ which can only be killed with ever more toxic poisons like 2,4-D (a major ingredient in Agent Orange). GMOs are a direct extension of chemical agriculture, and are developed and sold by the world’s biggest chemical companies. The long-term impacts of GMOs are unknown, and once released into the environment these novel organisms cannot be recalled.

How do GMOs affect farmers?

Because GMOs are novel life forms, biotechnology companies have been able to obtain patents with which to restrict their use. As a result, the companies that make GMOs now have the power to sue farmers whose fields are contaminated with GMOs, even when it is the result of inevitable drift from neighboring fields. GMOs therefore pose a serious threat to farmer sovereignty and to the national food security of any country where they are grown, including the United States.

How can I avoid GMOs?

Choose food and products that are Non-GMO Project Verified

The Best Way To Do A Cleanse?

Sticking To Fundamentals And Avoiding Fads Will Increase Your Energy And Improve Your Health(And Why You Want To Avoid Juice Cleanses...)

What Is A Cleanse?

A cleanse is simply when you increase the ability of your body to detoxify itself.

The most important thing to understand is that the best cleanse is not a product you buy. Rather, it is a series of steps you take, over time, that get you to a place where you feel much better. It is a process that you take that cleans and detoxifies your body. At its best a cleanse is a sustained period of focus which will help to lead you to a place of better long term balance and improved habits.

Of course there are products which will help support this process, and we will outline what we have seen to be "best in class" in this area. But first we need to outline some fundamentals of cleansing and detoxification that many different leading health experts are in agreement on.

Fundamentals of a "Cleanse"

1. The most important fundamental of a cleanse is something that a nutrient dense or nutrient rich diet. If you are like most people, you eat on the run and eat a diet rich in processed foods. You also get fewer than 10% of your total calories from plants. This diet is highly toxic and is the main reason people turn to "cleanses" for relief. A growing number of people are now choosing to dramatically increase the vegetable content of their diet, which has the opposite effect.

When you increase the vegetable content of your diet, you take a lot of stress off your body. People can argue that meat, dairy and processed foods are healthy or not healthy, but you cannot argue that they are easier to digest than plants. More importantly, vegetables are rich in micronutrients, which are calorie free vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. There is a massive body of evidence that links micronutrient intake to better health, improved energy, and weight loss. Your body simply works better with high micronutrient intake.

Macronutrients are carbs, protein and fat- which contain calories. Most people get plenty (usually too many!) of these macronutrients. When you make a real effort to invert your micro and macronutrient intake, good things happen, if you are out of balance. This is the absolute #1 fundamental principle of cleaning and detoxifying your body.

Learn How To Do A Cleanse For Free

2. The second fundamental of a cleanse protocol is making sure your gut and digestive system is functioning optimally. This is an area of emerging research and understanding, but almost every digestive health expert agrees that some level of probiotic intake and digestive enzyme intake can help improve gut function. When your insides are functioning properly, you will absorb your needed micronutrients at a better rate!

Probiotics are widely available, though they vary widely in quality. Clinical research states that probiotics have a "variety of proposed beneficial effects, including promotion of gut health." New studies have been published in 2011 that even show a link between probiotics and lower risk of colorectal cancers and inflammatory bowel disease.

L-Glutamine is another supplement which is widely thought to help improve digestive function. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center:"Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid (building block of protein) in the body. The body can make enough glutamine for its regular needs, but extreme stress (the kind you would experience after very heavy exercise or an injury), your body may need more glutamine than it can make....Glutamine helps to protect the lining of the gastrointestinal tract known as the mucosa."

Many of us suffer from chronic stress, but if you eat a standard diet high in macronutrients and low in micronutrients, it is very likely that you are suffering from "nutritional stress."

3. Physical Rest and Stress Reduction. Even though the science is not yet crystal clear, many researchers believe that stress "may trigger allergic reactions in the gut and other organs, and depression or anxiety may worsen symptoms in inflammatory disorders of the intestine." Rest and stress reduction are an essential part of a cleanse protocol. As you increase the supplements to support your gut, you want to also make sure that you rest as much as possible, and generally remain aware about the negative role that stress plays in harming your health. Most people are simply unaware of this link, and find a level of relief when they start to take a supplement regemin that includes probiotics, L-Glutamine and Omega-3's.

Digestive rest is an important part of this cleanse equation. Blended drinks and soups, rich in foods that contain micronutrients will give you body what it wants and also give your digestive system a break.

4. Support The Liver. The protocol to make sure the liver is functioning as well as possible is fairly straightforward. You want to take the pressure off the liver, and make sure the liver is getting the nutritional support it needs. I don't think that anyone would argue that reducing or eliminating alcohol for a period of time would help the liver do a better job of detoxifying the body. Additionally, a micronutrient rich diet will provide the antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that the liver needs to do its job.

5. Exercise. You need to move as much as you can each day for optimal health. This you know and have heard before. What you probably struggle with is figuring out what kind of exercise is valuable, and how intense your workouts need to be, work on "Slow Burn" philosophy of exercise which focuses more on movement as a goal rather than intensity. For the purposes of a cleanse, increased circulation is the goal.

Strength training and load bearing exercise is helpful to increase bone density and muscle mass, but in the context of simply feeling better and detoxifying your body, you want to focus on movement not intensity. If you are successful at increasing your micronutrient intake (and especially green vegetables) your blood will become "nutrient rich" and the movement will help these nutrients flow through your entire body.

6. Hydration and Elimination. As you do all the things suggested above, you'll also want to make sure you have plenty of water so that the toxins released will be able to quickly exit your body. If you are eating plenty of fresh vegetables and some fruit, you will already be in pretty good shape because of the high water content in your food. Drink plenty of fresh water of course, and also work to get as much hydration as you can from vegetables. This combination should result in very regular elimination.

Conclusion

Obviously it is easy for most people to fall into the behavior patterns that lead to systemic stress. And much harder to permanently adopt behavior patterns that lead to less stress, more energy and a cleaner body. If the suggestions presented in this article sound familiar or even repetitive, that is our intention. Everything you do is designed to help you lean into negative inertia. There is no quick fix for anything. But there is massive benefit to a sustained commitment over a period of many years.

10 Proven Health Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin

Turmeric may be the most effective nutritional supplement in existence. Many high quality studies show that it has major benefits for your body and brain.
Here are the top 10 evidence-based health benefits of turmeric.

Turmeric Contains Bioactive Compounds With Powerful Medicinal Properties

Turmeric is the spice that gives curry its yellow color.
It has been used in India for thousands of years as a spice and medicinal herb. Recently, science has started to back up what the Indians have known for a long time… it really does contain compounds with medicinal properties. These compounds are called curcuminoids, the most important of which is curcumin.

Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric. It has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant.However, the curcumin content of turmeric is not that high… it’s around 3%, by weight.
Most of the studies on this herb are using turmeric extracts that contain mostly curcumin itself, with dosages usually exceeding 1 gram per day. It would be very difficult to reach these levels just using the turmeric spice in your foods.Therefore, if you want to experience the full effects, then you need to take an extract that contains significant amounts of curcumin.
Unfortunately, curcumin is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream. It helps to consume black pepper with it, which contains piperine… a natural substance that enhances the absorption of curcumin by 2000%.
I personally prefer to swallow a few whole peppercorns along with my curcumin supplement, in order to enhance absorption.
Curcumin is also fat soluble, so it may be a good idea to take it with a fatty meal.Desktop 1b (Top) - Responsive Rect.

Bottom Line: Turmeric contains curcumin, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Most studies used turmeric extracts that are standardized to include large amounts of curcumin.

2. Curcumin is a Natural Anti-Inflammatory Compound

Inflammation is incredibly important.
It helps the body fight foreign invaders and also has a role in repairing damage.Without inflammation, pathogens like bacteria could easily take over our bodies and kill us.
Although acute (short-term) inflammation is beneficial, it can become a major problem when it is chronic (long-term) and inappropriately deployed against the body’s own tissues.
It is now believed that chronic, low-level inflammation plays a major role in almost every chronic, Western disease. This includes heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s and various degenerative conditions.Therefore, anything that can help fight chronic inflammation is of potential importance in preventing and even treating these diseases.
It turns out that curcumin is strongly anti-inflammatory, it is so powerful that it matches the effectiveness of some anti-inflammatory drugs.
Curcumin actually targets multiple steps in the inflammatory pathway, at the molecular level.
Curcumin blocks NF-kB, a molecule that travels into the nuclei of cells and turns on genes related to inflammation. NF-kB is believed to play a major role in many chronic diseases.
Without getting into the gory details (inflammation is extremely complicated), the key takeaway here is that curcumin is a bioactive substance that fights inflammation at the molecular level.
In several studies, its potency has compared favorably to anti-inflammatory pharmaceutical drugs… except without the side effects.
Bottom Line: Chronic inflammation is known to be a contributor to many common Western diseases. Curcumin can inhibit many molecules known to play major roles in inflammation.

3. Turmeric Dramatically Increases The Antioxidant Capacity of The Body

Oxidative damage is believed to be one of the mechanisms behind ageing and many diseases.
It involves free radicals, highly reactive molecules with unpaired electrons. Free radicals tend to react with important organic substances, such as fatty acids, proteins or DNA.
The main reason antioxidants are so beneficial, is that they protect our bodies from free radicals.
Curcumin happens to be a potent antioxidant that can neutralize free radicals due to its chemical structure.
But curcumin also boosts the activity of the body’s own antioxidant enzymes. In that way, curcumin delivers a one-two punch against free radicals. It blocks them directly, then stimulates the body’s own antioxidant mechanisms. 336x280 - Middle of Page #2

Bottom Line: Curcumin has powerful antioxidant effects. It neutralizes free radicals on its own, then stimulates the body’s own antioxidant enzymes.

4. Curcumin Boosts Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, Linked to Improved Brain Function and a Lower Risk of Brain Diseases

Back in the day, it was believed that neurons weren’t able to divide and multiply after early childhood. However, it is now known that this does happen. The neurons are capable of forming new connections, but in certain areas of the brain, they can also multiply and increase in number.
One of the main drivers of this process is Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which is a type of growth hormone that functions in the brain. Many common brain disorders have been linked to decreased levels of this hormone. This includes depression and Alzheimer’s disease. Interestingly, curcumin can increase brain levels of BDNF. By doing this, it may be effective at delaying or even reversing many brain diseases and age-related decreases in brain function. There is also the possibility that it could help improve memory and make you smarter. Makes sense given its effects on BDNF levels, but this definitely needs to be tested in human controlled trials.
Bottom Line: Curcumin boosts levels of the brain hormone BDNF, which increases the growth of new neurons and fights various degenerative processes in the brain.

5. Curcumin Leads to Various Improvements That Should Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease

Heart disease is the biggest killer in the world. It has been studied for many decades and researchers have learned a lot about why it happens. It turns out that heart disease is incredibly complicated and there are various things that contribute to it. Curcumin may help reverse many steps in the heart disease process. Perhaps the main benefit of curcumin when it comes to heart disease, is improving the function of the endothelium, which is the lining of the blood vessels. It is well known that endothelial dysfunction is a major driver of heart disease and involves an inability of the endothelium to regulate blood pressure, blood clotting and various other factors. Several studies suggest that curcumin leads to improvements in endothelial function. One study shows that is as effective as exercise, another shows that it works as well as the drug Atorvastatin. But curcumin also reduces inflammation and oxidation (as discussed above), which are also important in heart disease. In one study, 121 patients who were undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery were randomized to either placebo or 4 grams of curcumin per day, a few days before and after the surgery. The curcumin group had a 65% decreased risk of experiencing a heart attack in the hospital. Bottom Line: Curcumin has beneficial effects on several factors known to play a role in heart disease. It improves the function of the endothelium and is a potent anti-inflammatory agent and antioxidant.

6. Turmeric Can Help Prevent (And Perhaps Even Treat) Cancer

Cancer is a terrible disease, characterized by uncontrolled growth of cells.

There are many different forms of cancer, but they do have several commonalities, some of which appear to be affected by curcumin supplementation.
Researchers have been studying curcumin as a beneficial herb in cancer treatment. It can affect cancer growth, development and spread at the molecular level.
Studies have shown that it can reduce angiogenesis (growth of new blood vessels in tumors), metastasis (spread of cancer), as well as contributing to the death of cancerous cells.
Multiple studies have shown that curcumin can reduce the growth of cancerous cells in the laboratory and inhibit the growth of tumours in test animals.
Whether high-dose curcumin (preferably with an absorption enhancer like pepper) can help treat cancer in humans has yet to be tested properly. However, there is some evidence that it may help prevent cancer from occurring in the first place, especially cancers of the digestive system (like colorectal cancer).
In one study in 44 men with lesions in the colon that sometimes turn cancerous, 4 grams of curcumin per day for 30 days reduced the number of lesions by 40%.
Maybe curcumin will be used along with conventional cancer treatment one day. It’s too early to say for sure, but it looks promising and this is being intensively studied as we speak.
Bottom Line: Curcumin leads to several changes on the molecular level that may help prevent and perhaps even treat cancer.

7. Curcumin May be Useful in Preventing and Treating Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease in the world and a leading cause of dementia.
Unfortunately, no good treatment is available for Alzheimer’s yet. Therefore, preventing it from showing up in the first place is of utmost importance.
There may be good news on the horizon, because curcumin has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier.
It is known that inflammation and oxidative damage play a role in Alzheimer’s disease. As we know, curcumin has beneficial effects on both. But one key feature of Alzheimer’s disease is a buildup of protein tangles called Amyloid plaques. Studies show that curcumin can help clear these plaques.
Whether curcumin can really slow down or even reverse the progression of Alzheimer’s disease needs to be studied properly.
Bottom Line: Curcumin can cross the blood-brain barrier and has been shown to lead to various improvements in the pathological process of Alzheimer’s disease.

8. Arthritis Patients Respond Very Well to Curcumin Supplementation

Arthritis is a common problem in Western countries.
There are several different types, but most involve some sort of inflammation in the joints.
Given that curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory, it makes sense that it could help with arthritis. Several studies show this to be true.
In a study of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, curcumin was even more effective than an anti-inflammatory drug.
Many other studies have looked at the effects of curcumin on arthritis and noted improvements in various symptoms.
Bottom Line: Arthritis is a common disorder characterized by joint inflammation. Many studies show that curcumin can help treat symptoms of arthritis and is in some cases more effective than anti-inflammatory drugs.

9. Studies Show That Curcumin Has Incredible Benefits Against Depression

Curcumin has shown some promise in treating depression.
In a controlled trial, 60 patients were randomized into three groups. One group took prozac, another group took a gram of curcumin and the third group took both prozac and curcumin.
After 6 weeks, curcumin had led to improvements that were similar to prozac. The group that took both prozac and curcumin fared best. According to this (small) study, curcumin is as effective as an antidepressant.
Depression is also linked to reduced levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor and a shrinking hippocampus, a brain area with a role in learning and memory.
Curcumin boosts BNDF levels, potentially reversing some of these changes. There is also some evidence that curcumin can boost the brain neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine.
Bottom Line: A study in 60 depressed patients showed that curcumin was as effective as prozac in alleviating the symptoms of depression.

10. Curcumin May Help Delay Ageing and Fight Age-Related Chronic Diseases

If curcumin can really help prevent heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s… then this would have obvious benefits for longevity.
For this reason, curcumin has become very popular as an anti-aging supplement.
But given that oxidation and inflammation are believed to play a role in ageing, curcumin may have effects that go way beyond just prevention of disease.

What are the benefits of ginger?

Ginger is a herb that is used as a spice and also for its therapeutic qualities. The underground stem (rhizome) can be used fresh, powdered, dried, or as an oil or juice. Ginger is part of the Zingiberaceae family, as are cardamom, turmeric and galangal. This MNT Knowledge Center feature is part of a collection of articles on the health benefits of popular foods.

According to the National Library of Medicine1, part of the NIH (National Institutes of Health), ginger is widely used throughout the world for treating loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting after surgery, nausea resulting from cancer treatment, flatulence, stomach upset, colic, morning sickness and motion sickness.
Some people find ginger helps them with the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection, bronchitis, cough, menstrual cramps, arthritis and muscle pain.
In some parts of the world, ginger juice is applied to the skin to treat burns.
Ginger is also used as a flavoring by the food and drinks industry, as a spice and flavoring in cooking, and for fragrance in soaps and cosmetics.
Ginger contains a chemical that is used as an ingredient in antacid, laxative and anti-gas medications.
According to Kew Gardens2, England's horticultural royal center of excellence, ginger has a long history of usage in South Asia, both in fresh and dried form

History of ginger

Ginger is widely used throughout the world for treating loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, flatulence, stomach upset, colic, morning sickness and motion sickness.

The University of Maryland Medical Center3 writes that ginger has been used in China for over 2,000 years to help digestion and treat diarrhea, nausea and stomach upsets.
The Mahabharata (circa 4th century BC), one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India, describes a stewed meat meal which includes ginger. Ginger has also been a key plant in Ayurvedic medicine, a system of traditional medicine native to the Indian subcontinent. Approximately 2000 years ago, ginger was exported from India to the Roman empire, where it became valued for its therapeutic as well as culinary properties.
Ginger continued to be traded in Europe after the fall of the Roman empire, where its supply was controlled by Arab traders for hundreds of years. During medieval times it became a popular ingredient in sweets.
During the 13th and 14th centuries ginger and black pepper were commonly traded spices. By the sixteenth century one pound in weight of ginger in England would cost the equivalent of one sheep.

Therapeutic benefits

Below are examples of some scientific studies on ginger and its current or potential uses in medical treatment.

Study carried out at the University of Michigan Medical School found that Ginger Root Supplement administered to volunteer participants reduced inflammation markers in the colon within a month.
The study was published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research. Experts say that inflammation of the colon is a precursor to colon cancer. Co-researcher Suzanna M. Zick, N.D., M.P.H., explained that by reducing inflammation in the colon a person reduces their risk of developing colon cancer.
Zick said "We need to apply the same rigor to the sorts of questions about the effect of ginger root that we apply to other clinical trial research. Interest in this is only going to increase as people look for ways to prevent cancer that are nontoxic, and improve their quality of life in a cost-effective way."

Muscle pain caused by exercise

Study involving 74 volunteers carried out at the University of Georgia found that daily ginger supplementation reduced exercise-induced muscle pain by 25%.
Patrick O'Connor, a professor in the College of Education's department of kinesiology, and colleagues carried out two studies on the effects of 11 days of raw and heat-treated ginger supplementation on exercise-induced muscle pain.
The volunteers consumed the ginger supplements for 11 consecutive days. On the 8th day they performed 18 extensions of the elbow flexors with a heavy weight. The aim was to induce moderate muscle injury to the arm. Each participant's arm function, inflammation, and pain levels were assessed before exercise and three days afterwards.
The researchers noted that the pain-reducing effect was not enhanced by heat-treating the ginger.
The study was published in The Journal of Pain.

Nausea caused by chemotherapy

Ginger supplements administered alongside anti-vomiting medications can reduce chemotherapy-induced nausea symptoms by 40%, a Phase II/III study carried out at the University of Rochester Medical Center found.
Lead researcher, Dr Julie Ryan, presented the study findings at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Orlando, Florida, in 2009.
Dr. Ryan explained that about 70% of cancer patients who receive chemotherapy experience nausea and vomiting. The vomiting is usually easy to control with effective medications. However, the nausea tends to linger.
Dr. Ryan said "By taking the ginger prior to chemotherapy treatment, the National Cancer Institute-funded study suggests its earlier absorption into the body may have anti-inflammatory properties.”

Ovarian cancer

Study found that exposing ovarian cancer cells to a solution of ginger powder resulted in their death in every single test. The cancer cells either died as a result of apoptosis (they committed suicide) or autophagy (they digested/attacked themselves). The researchers, from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center added that the ginger solution also prevented the cancer cells from building up resistance to cancer treatment. The study findings were presented at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting in Washington D.C., 2006.

9 Reasons why An Apple a Day Really Keeps the Doctor away

"An apple a day keeps the doctor away"… but why?
Do you really know what makes an apple so special? Why is it that we never hear an orange or a banana a day keeps the doctor away?
Apples have properties that no other fruits have and its benefits have been proven overtime.
You will be able to get the benefits of these properties individually with other fruits, but an apple combines everything and makes it simpler. It has been shown over and over that if it’s not simple, easy and fast, people won’t take care of their health.

1-Apples contains Vitamin C. Vitamin C helps greatly your immune system. A lot of people who lack Vitamin C in their diet have poor healing, bruise easily and have bleeding gums.
2-Prevent Heart Diseases. The reason it can prevent both coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease is because apples are rich in flavonoid. Flavonoids are also known for their antioxidant effects.
3-Low in calories. A regular size apple has between 70-100 calories. Eating an apple when craving for candy or chocolate can make the desire disappear since apple in itself contains sugar, but gives you only ¼ of the calories.
4-Prevent Cancers. Notice the plural. We all know that cancer comes in several forms and in different places. Apples target multiple cancers such as colon cancer, prostate cancer and breast cancer in women.
5-Apples contain phenols, which have a double effect on cholesterol. It reduces bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol. They prevent LDL cholesterol from turning into oxidized LDL, a very dangerous form of bad cholesterol which can be deadly.
6-Prevent tooth decay. Tooth decay is an infection that seriously damages the structure of your teeth, which is caused primarily because of bacteria. The juice of the apples has properties that can kill up to 80% of bacteria. So there you have it, an apple a day also keeps the dentist away!
7-Protects your brain from brain disease. This is something many people don’t know, and when you consider that your brain makes the person you are, it gives a whole new perspective. Apple has substances called phytonutrients, and these phytonutrients prevents neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinsonism.
8-Healthier Lungs. A research at the University of Nottingham Research shows that people who eat 5 apples or more per week has lower respiratory problems, including asthma.
9-They taste great! And not only that, they also come in many flavors and colors. Not in a mood for a green apple? Why not get a red one, or a macintosh! Their taste can vary greatly, but still give you all the apple benefits. Variety is an important element to maintaining your health. On average, Americans consume around 20 pounds of apples a year, which comes to around 1 apple a week. Unfortunately, while an apple a week is better than nothing, it is nowhere close to being able to extract all the advantages apples have to offer. Eating apples is part of balanced and healthy diet than will increase your longevity, so why limit yourself to only 1 per week?

The seed movement.. Chia, Flex & Hemp

Chia seeds were first used by Aztecs.

Chia seeds have been a staple in Mayan and Aztec diets for centuries. Today, they draw the interest of many people for their health benefits and uses in cooking. It turns out chia seeds are a rich source of nutrients and antioxidants.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Chia seeds are rich in polyunsaturated fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids. Chia seeds' lipid profile is composed of 60 percent omega-3s, making them one of the richest plant-based sources of these fatty acids -- specifically, of alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA. The omega-3s in chia seeds can help reduce inflammation, enhance cognitive performance and reduce high cholesterol.

Fiber

Fiber is associated with reducing inflammation, lowering cholesterol and regulating bowel function. Chia seeds are an excellent source of fiber, with a whopping 10 grams in only 2 tablespoons. That is one-third of the daily recommended intake of fiber per day.

Antioxidants

Chia seeds are rich in antioxidants that help protect the body from free radicals, aging and cancer. The high antioxidant profile also helps them have a long shelf life. They last almost two years without refrigeration.

Minerals

Two tablespoons of chia seeds contain 18 percent of the DRI for calcium, 35 percent for phosphorus, 24 percent for magnesium and about 50 percent for manganese. These nutrients help you prevent hypertension and maintain a healthy weight, and are important for energy metabolism and a part of DNA synthesis.

Satiety

Satiety is the feeling of being full and satisfied, which helps lower food cravings between meals. The combination of protein, fiber and the gelling action of chia seeds when mixed with liquids all contribute to their satiating effects.

Gluten-Free

Chia seeds contain no gluten or grains. Therefore, all of the nutritional benefits of chia seeds can be obtained on a gluten-free diet.

Egg Replacer

The outer layer of chia seeds swells when mixed with liquids to form a gel. This can be used in place of eggs to lower cholesterol and increase the nutrient content of foods and baked goods. To make the egg replacement, mix 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water and let sit for 15 minutes.

Can Be Digested Whole

Unlike flaxseeds, which are also high in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and minerals, chia seeds do not need to be ground in order to obtain their nutrient or egg- replacement benefits.

Dyslipidemia

A study published in the "British Journal of Nutrition" showed that chia seeds as a dietary fat source can lower triglycerides and cholesterol levels while increasing HDL or "good" cholesterol. The study also found that when substituting chia seeds for other fat sources, such as corn oil, the ALA was able to prevent high triglyceride levels and reduce central obesity.

Blood Sugar Regulation

Chia seeds can play an important role in regulating insulin levels. They can reduce insulin resistance and decrease abnormally high levels of insulin in the blood.

The benefits of flex seeds

Flax seeds have been consumed as food for around 6,000 years and may have very well been the worlds first cultivated superfood!
Flax seed benefits could help you improve digestion, give you clear skin, lower cholesterol, reduce sugar cravings, balance hormones, fight cancer and promote weight loss… and that’s just the beginning!
Flaxseeds, sometimes called linseeds, are small, brown, tan or golden-colored seeds that are the richest sources of a plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) in the world!
Another unique fact about flaxseeds is that they rank #1 source of lignans in human diets. Flaxseeds contain about 7 times as many lignans as the closest runner-up, sesame seeds.

Stunning Flaxseed Nutrition Facts

When you look at the nutritional benefits of flax seeds, there are many things that will catch your attention.
A 1 ounce (3 tbsp) serving of flaxseeds contains:
Omega-3 (ALA) 6,338mg
Fiber 8g
Protein 6g

  • Vitamin B1 31% RDA
  • Manganese 35% RDA
  • Magnesium 30% RDA
  • Phosphorus 19% RDA
  • Selenium 10% RDA
  • Also, flaxseeds contain a good amount of vitamin B6, Iron, potassium,copper and zinc.

This flax seed nutrition profile makes it easy to see why it’s one of the most
nutrient dense foods on the planet.

10 Flax Seed Benefits

1. High in Fiber, but Low in Carbs

One of the most extraordinary benefits of flax seeds is that they contain high levels of mucilage gum content. Mucilage is a gel-forming fiber that is water soluble and has incredible benefits on the intestinal tract. The mucilage can keep food in the stomach from emptying too quickly into the small intestine which can increase nutrient absorption. Also, flax is extremely high in both soluble and insoluble fiber which can support colon detoxification, fat loss and reduce sugar cravings. You should aim to consume 30-40 g of high fiber foods daily.

2. Healthy Skin and Hair

If you want healthier skin, hair and nails then consider adding 2 tbsp of flax seeds to your smoothie or 1 tbsp of flax seed oil to your daily routine. The ALA fats in flax seeds benefits the skin and hair by providing essential fats as well as b-vitamins which can help reduce dryness and flakiness. It can also improve symptoms of acne, rosacea, and eczema. This also applies to eye health as flax can reduce dry eye syndrome.
Flax seed oil is another great option since it has an even higher concentration of healthy fats. You can take 1-2 tbsp internally to hydrate skin and hair. It can also be mixed with essential oils and used as a natural skin moisturizer.

3. Weight Loss

A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that flaxseeds and walnuts might improve obesity and support weight loss.
Since flax is full of healthy fats and fiber, it will help you feel satisfied longer so you will eat fewer calories overall which may lead to weight loss. ALA fats may also help reduce inflammation.
This is important for weight loss in that an inflamed body will tend to hold on to excess weight. Add a couple of teaspoons of ground flaxseed to soups, salads, or smoothies as part of your weight loss plan.

4. Lower Cholesterol

The journal of Nutrition and Metabolism found that adding flax seeds into your diet can naturally reduce cholesterol levels.
The soluble fiber content of flax seeds trap fat and cholesterol in the digestive system so that it unable to be absorbed. Soluble fiber also traps bile, which is made from cholesterol in the gallbladder.
The bile is then excreted through the digestive system, forcing the body to make more, using up excess cholesterol in the blood and lowering cholesterol overall.

5. Flaxseeds are Gluten-Free

Using flax is a great way to naturally replace gluten-containing grains which are inflammatory where flax is anti-inflammatory. So, flax seeds are great for those who have Celiac disease or have a gluten-sensitivity. They may also be a good alternative to omega-3 fats in fish for people with a seafood allergy.
Another great aspect of flax being gluten-free is that it can be used as a grain-free option in cooking. I will often use it along with coconut flour in baking at home.

6. Flaxseeds are High in Antioxidants (Lignans)

Amongst its other incredible nutrition facts, flax seeds are also packed with antioxidants. Lignans are unique fiber-related polyphenols that provide us with antioxidant benefits for anti-aging, hormone balance and cellular health. Polyphenols support the growth of probiotics in the gut and may also help eliminate yeast and candida in the body.
Lignans are also known for their anti-viral and antibacterial properties, therefore consuming flax regularly may help reduce the number or severity of colds and flus.

7. Digestive Health

Maybe the biggest flax seed benefits come from it’s ability to promote digestive health. The ALA in flax can help protect the lining of the digestive tract and maintain GI health. It has been shown to be beneficial for people suffering from Crohn’s disease or other digestive ailments, as it can help reduce gut inflammation.
You can also take 1-3 tbsp of flax seed oil with 8 oz of carrot juice to help naturally relieve constipation.
Flax is also very high in soluble and insoluble fiber which can also improve digestive health and is one of the highest magnesium foods in the world.
Two tablespoons of flaxseeds contains about 5 g of fiber or 1/4 of the RDA. The fiber found in flaxseeds provides food for friendly bacteria in your colon that can help cleanse waste from your system.

8. Flax Seeds for Cancer

Flax seed benefits have been proven time and time again and even including fighting breast, prostate, ovarian and colon cancer.
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Cancer Research discovered that consuming flax seeds may decrease the risk of breast cancer. The three lignans found in flaxseeds can be converted by intestinal bacteria into enterolactone and enterodiol which naturally balance hormones which may be the reason flax seeds reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Another study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that the lignans in flaxseeds may also reduce the risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer.

9. High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

We hear a lot about the health benefits of fish oil or omega-3 fats. Fish oil contains EPA and DHA, two omega-3 fats that are critical for optimal health. Although flaxseeds do not contain EPA or DHA, they do contain ALA, another type of omega-3 fat.
A study published in Nutrition Reviews has shown that approximately 20% of ALA can be converted into EPA, but only .5% of ALA is converted into DHA. Also, surprisingly gender may play a big role in conversion where young women had a 2.5-fold greater rate than men.
Regardless of conversion, ALA is still considered a healthy fat and should be included in a balanced diet.

10. Menopausal Symptoms

The lignans in the flax have been shown to have benefits for menopausal women. It can be used as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy because lignans do have estrogenic properties.
These properties may also help reduce the risk of osteoporosis. It can even help menstruating women by helping maintain cycle regularity.
To experience the flax seed benefits for your hormones include 1-2 tbsp of flax meal in a breakfast smoothie along with 1 tbsp of flax seed oil.

How to Use Flax Seeds

There are many great ways to add these super seeds into your diet including adding them to homemade muffins, breads and cookies.
One of the most common questions about baking with flax seeds is, does baking have any effect on omega-3 fatty acid?
According to many studies, you can bake flax seeds at 300F for 3 hours and the omega-3’s (ALA) in flax seeds remained stable.
Tips for including flaxseed in your diet include:

  • Add 1-3 tablespoons of ground flaxseed to a morning smoothie
  • Mix a tablespoon in with yogurt and raw honey
  • Bake ground flaxseeds into muffins, cookies and breads
  • Add to homemade sprouted granola
  • Can be mixed with water and used as an egg substitute

Flax Seeds vs. Flax Meal vs. Sprouted Flax

Flaxseeds are best-consumed ground, as our bodies cannot access the nutrients if they are eaten whole and they will pass through undigested. You can grind the flax in a coffee grinder, this is best done immediately before eating them so they do not spend much time exposed to air or you can buy them pre-ground.
However the very best way to experience flax seed benefits is to consume them in their sprouted form. Soaking flax seeds and then sprouting them eliminates phytic acid and may greatly increase mineral absorption.
Like other sources of fiber including chia seeds and hemp seeds, make sure to take them with plenty of water or other fluids.

Hemp Seeds

Hemp Seeds are a gift of nature. They are the most nutritious seed in the world. Hemp Seeds are a complete protein. They have the most concentrated balance of proteins, essential fats, vitamins and enzymes combined with a relative absence of sugar, starches and saturated fats. Hemp Seeds are one of nature's perfect foods - a Super Food. This is one of the most potent foods available, supporting optimal health and well being, for life. Raw hemp provides a broad spectrum of health benefits, including: weight loss, increased and sustained energy, rapid recovery from disease or injury, lowered cholesterol and blood pressure, reduced inflammation, improvement in circulation and immune system as well as natural blood sugar control.

Hemp belongs to the genus Cannabis sativa and has been cultivated for thousands of years as a source of fiber, edible seeds, edible oil, lubricant, and as a fuel.

Benefits of Hemp Seeds

Hemp Seeds are a perfect and natural blend of easily digested proteins, essential fats (Omega 3 & 6), Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA), antioxidants, amino acids, fiber, iron, zinc, carotene, phospholipids, phytosterols, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin D, vitamin E, chlorophyll, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, copper, potassium, phosphorus, and enzymes. All amino acids essential to optimum health are found in Hemp Seeds, including the rarely found Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA). The 17+ grams of omega fats supplied by Hemp Seeds provides sufficient, continuous energy throughout your day. Many users also experience these health benefits:

  • Excellent source of essential fatty acids including Omega 3, 6 and GLA in the perfect balance.
  • More digestible protein than meat, whole eggs, cheese, human milk, cows milk or any other high protein food
  • Rich in Vitamin E
  • Can be eaten by those unable to tolerate nuts, gluten, lactose or sugar; there are no known allergies to hemp foods.

Essential Fatty Acids in Hemp Seeds

The oil contained in the hemp seed is 75-80% polyunsaturated fatty acids (the good fats) and only 9-11% of the lesser desired saturated fatty acids. Hemp seed oil is reputed to be the most unsaturated oil derived from the plant kingdom. The essential fatty acids (EFAs) contained in hemp seed oil are deemed essential because our bodies do not naturally produce them. This means that they must be obtained from the food we eat.

Most health organizations agree that the human body needs a 3 or 4:1 balance of omega 6 over omega 3. Hemp seed is the only seed where this ideal balance occurs. It does not occur in flax, almond, walnut, soybean or olive oil. Daily use of flax seed can lead to dangerous imbalances since flax seed oil has a balance of 1:4 instead of a healthy 4:1 omega-6 over omega-3.

EFAs are involved with producing life's energy throughout the human body and without them, life is not possible. In general, North Americans have a high dietary deficiency in EFAs due to their high intake of processed foods and meats.

Extensive studies have demonstrated that many common illnesses are related to deficiencies or imbalances of specific fatty acids in the body. Symptoms are often related to a lack of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids and their derivatives, the postaglandins.

It has been proven in several clinical studies that dietary supplementation with EFAs or their metabolites (such as GLA) will often prevent or even cure many forms of illness.

Hemp Seeds are about 1/3 oil and 1/4 protein --for cellular health and energy

Hemp Seeds greatly exceed most energy bars for energy and provides this energy in a better form - not sugar and saturated fats.
Four tablespoons Hemp Seeds(42 g), enough for a meal on cereal, fruit, yogurt or salad, contains:
240 cal energy
15 g essential fats(11.4 g Omega 6 and 3.6 g Omega 3)
2.7 g mono-unsaturated fat
2.1 g saturated fat

Hemp Seeds greatly exceed most energy bars for protein and provides a complete spectrum of vital, natural proteins. 4 Tablespoons contain:
15 g protein
2.5 g fiber
4.5 g carbohydrates
no cholesterol

Contains all the required proteins in the best proportions for human nutrition:

Hemp protein is also a complete source of all 20 known amino acids including the 9 essential amino acids (EAAs) which our bodies cannot produce. Approximately 65% of the protein in hemp seed is made up of the globulin protein Edestin, and is found only in hemp seed. Edestin aids digestion, is relatively phosphorus-free and considered the backbone of the cell's DNA. The other one third of hemp seed protein is Albumin, another high quality globulin protein similar to that found in egg whites. Hemp protein is free of the tryspin inhibitors which block protein absorption and free of oligosaccharides found in soy, which cause stomach upset and gas.

Hemp Seeds are a more digestible protein than meat, whole eggs, cheese, human milk, cows milk, or any other high protein food. They have a better spectrum of available proteins than soybeans--without the soybean anti-nutritional factors.

They are an excellent protein product for everyone - mothers, babies, body builders, convalescents, the elderly, EVERYONE.

The oil component consists of preferred ratios of all essential fatty acids (EFA's):

With 78% essential fats hemp oil greatly exceeds soy oil at 40%, canola oil at 30%, olive oil at 10% and other oils. Omega 3 and Omega 6 essential fats may reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, coronary heart disease and stroke. The 3:1 ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 EFA's in hemp oil is thought to be the best in nature for promoting cellular health. Hemp oil contains more "Omega 3" EFA components (19%) than are found in any fish and in most fish-oil supplements.

Hemp foods reduce inflammation and benefit those with arthritis, cardiovascular disease, psoriasis--even tuberculosis. By improving circulation and reducing inflammation, hemp products may be particularly beneficial for diabetics.

As a rare source of GLA, hemp seeds may be beneficial to those too ill to synthesize this EFA from other fats.

Hemp oil contains plant sterols which may reduce the risk of colon and prostate cancer.

Cellular Health:

There are many long-term health benefits that can be experienced. Hemp Seed is one of the best balanced sources of Omega 3 and Omega 6 essential fatty acids. Hemp Seed contains only small amounts of saturated and mono-unsaturated fats which can be easily converted to energy. Hemp Seed is also an unsurpassed source of the whole spectrum of required proteins, it promotes vigorous cellular development with diverse health benefits:

  • Reduced cholesterol and blood pressure after three months -- with decreasing probability of stroke.
  • Reduction in the inflammatory characteristics of many hundreds of diseases.
  • More rapid recovery from disease, from radiation treatment and from injury.
  • Improvement in circulation: Diabetics may notice warmer, then less discolored, feet.
  • More effective immune system with reduced incidence of all types of disease.

Recommended Intake

The recommended minimum daily intake of Shelled Hemp Seeds is a 42 grams (4 heaping tablespoons) serving. Larger individuals or those suffering with chronic health conditions such as arthritis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cardio vascular disease, acne, eczema, psoriasis, diabetes, circulation problems, intestinal problems, constipation, obesity or prostate problems (to name a few) may want to consider taking 55 grams (5 to 6 heaping tablespoons) a day.

Foods to Avoid When You're Pregnant

Pregnant? Think twice about these foods to avoid health risks for you and your baby.

When you’re expecting, what you eat and drink influences your child’s health, possibly forever. Everyday foods and beverages take on new meaning, as some may present a danger to your developing baby.
Whole and lightly processed foods, such as whole grains, lean meats, fruits and vegetables, legumes, and low-fat dairy should form the basis of your pregnancy diet. Here are items that you may want to avoid while you're pregnant.

Raw or Undercooked Food of Animal Origin

Undercooked animal foods -- such as rare meat, raw oysters, clams, sushi, unpasteurized eggs, raw cookie or cake dough, and homemade eggnog), may contain an array of bacteria, viruses, and parasites. To reduce your risk of foodborne illness, test the doneness of meat, poultry, and fish with a food thermometer, cook eggs until they are no longer runny, and follow baking instructions -- don't eat raw dough.

Hot Dogs, Luncheon Meats, and Unpasteurized Dairy Foods

These foods are prone to Listeria monocytogenes, a bacteria that causes listeriosis, which may result in miscarriage, stillbirth, or other serious health problems.

Besides hot dogs and luncheon meats --- which include deli ham or turkey, bologna, and salami -- other processed meats and seafood that may contain listeria include refrigerated pates or meat spreads, and refrigerated smoked seafood (such as salmon, trout, whitefish, cod, tuna, or mackerel). These items may be labeled as "nova-style," "lox," "kippered," "smoked," or "jerky."
Refrigerated smoked seafood is safe when it's part of a cooked dish, like casseroles. Luncheon meats and frankfurters are OK to eat if you reheat them until they are steaming hot, says Michael Lu, MD, UCLA professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and public health and author of Get Ready to Get Pregnant: Your Complete Pre-Pregnancy Guide to Making a Smart and Healthy Baby.
"Pregnant women should avoid getting the fluid from hot dog packages on other foods, utensils, and food preparation surfaces, and wash their hands after handling hot dogs, and deli luncheon meats," to further decrease potential contact with listeria, Lu says.
Unpasteurized dairy foods are also prone to listeria.
Avoid raw milk and dairy products made from unpasteurized milk, such as Brie, feta, Camembert, Roquefort, blue-veined, queso blanco, queso fresco, and queso Panela.

Certain Seafood and Fish

Large fish -- such as swordfish, shark, tilefish, and king mackerel -- harbor higher concentrations of mercury, compared to other fish. Mercury is a byproduct of coal-burning plants that interferes with the normal development of a growing child's brain and nervous system.
According to the FDA, pregnant and nursing women may eat up to 12 ounces weekly of seafood low in mercury, including salmon (farmed and wild), shrimp, canned light tuna, pollock, sardines, tilapia, and catfish. Because albacore (white) tuna has more mercury than canned light tuna, the FDA recommends that pregnant women limit albacore tuna to no more than 6 ounces a week, and include it in the 12-ounce limit.
Fish caught for sport in rivers, lakes, ponds, and streams may also contain industrial pollutants that play havoc with a developing nervous system. Recreational anglers should check the safety of waterways with their local health departments.

Raw Vegetable Sprouts

The FDA advises everyone, regardless of pregnancy, not to eat raw sprouts -- including alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean sprouts.
The reason: Bacteria can get into sprout seeds and are "nearly impossible" to wash out, states the FDA's web site. The FDA recommends that pregnant women request that raw sprouts not be added to your food.
It's OK to eat thoroughly cooked sprouts, according to the FDA.

Drinks to Limit or Avoid

Alcohol (beer, wine, or spirits) robs developing cells of oxygen and nutrients, preventing normal fetal development. The effects of alcohol exposure in the womb on intellectual abilities and physical growth are permanent.
According to the CDC and the March of Dimes, there is no level of alcohol consumption that's known to be safe at any time during pregnancy.
Unpasteurized juices, such as cider purchased from roadside stands, at farms, or in stores. These products are prone to germs, including E. coli. Check the label to be sure juice is pasteurized.
Lead is linked to low birth weight, preterm delivery, and developmental delays in children. If you have an older home with pipes made of lead, it can leach into your tap water, and home filtration systems may not prevent it from reaching you.
If you’re in doubt about your tap water, have it tested.
Bottled water isn't necessarily purer; it's often repurposed municipal water.
Caffeine from coffee, tea, soft drinks, energy beverages, and other sources may increase the risk of miscarriage, reduced birth weight, and stillbirth, but the research is conflicting. The March of Dimes recommends limiting caffeine consumption to 200 milligrams a day. That's about the amount found in 12 ounces of coffee.

Bisphenol A (BPA)

BPA is an industrial chemical used to make many hard plastics and the liners of many canned foods. It's an endocrine disruptor that could disturb normal fetal development, Lu says.
The FDA is studying BPA and has not recommended that pregnant women avoid BPA. But in January 2010, the FDA stated that "recent studies provide reason for some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland of fetuses, infants, and children." Most of those tests have been done on animals, and the FDA says there are "substantial uncertainties" about BPA's effects on human health. The plastics industry has maintained that low levels of BPA exposure are safe.
If you choose to avoid BPA while pregnant, a wide range of BPA-free plastics and glass containers are available.

Herbal Teas and Supplements

Herbal teas are caffeine-free, but their safety is unclear when you’re expecting. There are no reliable human studies on the safety of herbal preparations, including supplements such as Echinacea and St. John’s wort, during pregnancy.The FDA does not routinely monitor the quality of dietary supplements.
"While it’s probably safe to drink the herbal teas found on supermarket shelves, pregnant women should avoid large quantities of herbal tea, and completely avoid herbal supplements," Lu says.
Duffy MacKay, ND, is the vice president of the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a trade group for the supplements industry. MacKay states that "there are herbs and other supplements that can be used safely to support a healthy pregnancy” but tell your doctor or midwife about any supplement use during pregnancy.
MacKay says there is "scientific consensus" that these common herbs and supplements should be avoided during pregnancy:

  • Herbs that contain stimulants or caffeine-containing supplements, especially those that are intended to promote weight loss, guarana, kola nut, betel (Piper betle), Citrum aurantium, yohimbe, theobromine (cocoa extract), Garcinai cambogia.
  • Other botanicals to avoid while pregnant include golden seal, Cascara sagrada, black walnut, wormwood, tansy, pennyroyal, senna, saw palmetto, pao d'arco, MacKay says.

MacKay also advises women who are pregnant, or who could become pregnant, not to take 10,000 or more IU per day of vitamin A because of the risk of birth defects. And MacKay says that "many newer and specialty nutrients have not been proven safe for use during pregnancy and should be avoided."
The bottom line: Talk to your obstetrician about any herbal supplements or vitamins before taking them during pregnancy.

Foods That May Cause Food Allergy

If you, your child’s father, or one of your other children has allergies, your baby is more likely to have food allergies.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says that avoiding certain food allergens, such as peanuts and peanut products, during pregnancy and when nursing a child may reduce allergy in susceptible children.
But there’s little, if any, benefit to avoiding allergens during pregnancy and breastfeeding for everyone else. Before changing your diet, talk to your doctor about your family history of allergies and asthma, and speak with a registered dietitian who is knowledgeable about food allergies.

Excess Calories

You’re eating for two now, but you don’t need twice the calories. Gaining too much weight threatens your health, and may increase the risk of childhood overweight in your future child.
In the second trimester, add 340 calories a day to your pre-pregnancy calorie needs, and 450 a day more in the third trimester. But if you’re very overweight at conception, or if your physical activity level drops, you may need fewer calories during pregnancy. Still, pregnancy is not a time to try to lose weight. Ask your doctor or dietitian what calorie level is right for you.
There is room for treats like ice cream, chips, and cookies during pregnancy, but it’s important to choose foods that do double duty by providing the additional calories you need, as well as the extra nutrients that maximize your baby’s development.

Ripe and Right

Learn how to choose the right and ripe veggies and fruit

1. MANGO

Season: Mostly imported from tropical climates and can be found year round.

Continues to ripen after picked: YES, mangoes ripen and get sweeter.

Look: Avoid any with bruising, soft spots, or wrinkled skin. Mangoes come in many colors, but the most common ones turn mostly yellow, orange or red when ripe.

Touch: A ripe mango should be firm yet yield somewhat when gently pressed. Avoid any that give too easily as they are likely overripe and stringy.

Smell: It should smell sweet and fragrant, especially near the stem.

Ethylene: Producing.

When overly ripe: Make mango paste or freeze for smoothies.

2. WATERMELON

Season: Summer

Continues to ripen after picked: NO.

Look: Avoid any with bruising, soft spots, or cracks. Look for one that has a creamy yellow “field spot” (the spot where it was sitting on the ground)—if this is white or non-existent it will probably be under ripe. Look for one that is dark green but has a dull rather than shiny appearance, and is a nice uniform shape.

Touch: Pick it up! It should feel heavy for it’s size. Knock with your knuckles—this trick is heavily debated, but we find that if it sounds hollow, it’s probably ripe.

Smell: Watermelons don’t have a strong scent.

Ethylene: Neutral.

When overly ripe: Make watermelon aqua fresca.

3. PEACHES

Season: Summer

Continues to ripen after picked: YES, peaches get softer and juicier but not sweeter.

Look: Avoid any with bruising, soft spots, or dents. Look for peaches with a deep orange or yellow hue, and be sure to check near the stem, as any green or white color here means it’s underripe.

Touch: Should be firm but give slightly when pressed.

Smell: A ripe peach smells like great. If it doesn’t smell delicious, it’s not ripe.

Ethylene: Neutral.

When overly ripe: Make jam, a pie, or freeze for smoothies.

4. CANTALOUPE

Season: Summer

Continues to ripen after picked: YES, cantaloupes gets softer and juicier but not sweeter.

Look: Avoid any with bruising, soft spots, or cracks. The surface of the melon (under the web-like outer cage) should have a golden rather than white or green hue.

Touch: Look for one that is heavy for its size and has a little give at the base opposite the stem, called the “blossom end.” Make sure there is no mold or discoloration here.

Smell: Should have a fresh sweetmelon-y smell, especially at the “blossom end.” Avoid any melons with an overly sweet/fermented smell, though, as this is a sign of decay.

Ethylene: Producing.

When overly ripe: Freeze for smoothies.

5. PEARS

Season: Fall/Winter

Continues to ripen after picked: YES, pears get softer and sweeter.

Look: Avoid any with bruising, soft spots, dents, or wrinkled skin. Check at the stem to make sure the skin looks firm and fresh.

Touch: A perfectly ripe pear should feel firm but yield to gentle pressure at the base.

Smell: Ripe pears smell sweet and delicious.

Ethylene: Neutral.

When overly ripe: Make pear butter.

6. AVOCADO

Season:Spring/Summer

Continues to ripen after picked:YES, avocados ONLY ripen off the vine.

Look:Avoid any with bruising, soft spots, or cracks, but size, shape and color are not great indicators of quality or ripeness.

Touch:A perfectly ripe avocado feels firm with just a little give, and the flesh is pressed up tight against the skin. If they are very soft and the flesh feels separated from the skin, they are overripe. If they are rock hard, they will ripen, but don’t plan to use them for at least a couple of days.

Smell:Avocados develop a scent only when they are overripe. Look for ones that have no smell

Ethylene:Producing.

When overly ripe:Make guacamole or freeze for smoothies.

7. RASPBERRIES

Season: Summer/Fall

Continues to ripen after picked: NO.

Look: Look for a uniform deep red color. They should look plump, dry and firm. Avoid any that are mushy, moldy or leaking.

Touch: If they are in a plastic clamshell, give it a gentle shake to make sure they move freely. If not, there are likely moldy or soggy berries hiding in there. Check the bottom of clamshells and avoid any with stickiness or stains.

Smell: Should smell subtly sweet and fragrant.

Ethylene: Neutral.

When overly ripe: Freeze for smoothies or make a compote to pour over ice cream or pancakes.

8. PINEAPPLE

Season: Mostly imported from tropical climates but peak season is March-July

Continues to ripen after picked: NO.

Look: A ripe pineapple can be uniformly green in color, but your best bet is to look for one that is a nice yellow color at the base, if not all the way up the fruit. The leaves at the top should be green and the skin should look firm.

Touch: Should be firm but not rock hard. A little give when pressed indicates juicy ripeness. Check the bottom of the pineapple to make sure there is no mold or discoloration.

Smell: It should smell sweet and fresh, but not at all sharp or fermented, as that indicates decay and over-ripeness.

Ethylene: Neutral.

When overly ripe: Freeze for smoothies or use in piña coladas.

9. STRAWBERRIES

Season: Spring/Summer

Continues to ripen after picked: NO.

Look: Look for strawberries that are uniformly red—any white or light green means they were picked too early. Check to see that none are moldy, squashed or leaking liquid.

Touch: If they are in a plastic clamshell, give it a shake to make sure they move freely. If not, there are likely moldy or soggy berries hiding in there. Check the bottom of clamshells and avoid any with stickiness or stains.

Smell: Ripe strawberries smell delicious, sweet, and very fragrant.

Ethylene: Neutral.

When overly ripe: Make jam or freeze for smoothies.

10. FIGS

Season: Two seasons (early summer and early fall)

Continues to ripen after picked: YES, figs gets softer and juicier but not sweeter.

Look: Look for smooth, firm skin. Small cracks are okay as long as they are not leaking. Make sure none are moldy, have soft spots, or are leaking liquid. Avoid any exuding a milky substance at the stem.

Touch: A perfectly ripe fig will be plump and juicy; it will hold its shape but feel tender when lightly squeezed. If too firm, they are likely underripe and/or dry inside but if overly soft, they are most likely too mature.

Smell: Ripe figs will smell fresh and mildly sweet.

Ethylene: Neutral.

When overly ripe: Make fig jam or quickly poach for dessert.

11. CITRUS

Season: Winter

Continues to ripen after picked: NO.

Look: Look for firm skin and avoid any with bruises, visible mold, or soft spots.

Touch: Ripe citrus tends to feel heavy for it’s size.

Smell: Not a great indicator, but might smell sweet near the stem.

Ethylene: Sensitive.

When overly ripe: Make fresh OJ or use the juice for cocktails or granita.

12. APPLES

Season: Fall

Continues to ripen after picked: YES, apples get softer and sweeter.

Look: Avoid any with bruising, soft spots, dents or wrinkled skin—whether the skin is shiny or matte doesn’t matter.

Touch: Should be extremely firm—press gently with your thumb. If you make an indentation, skip it.

Smell: A ripe apple will have a pleasant and subtle smell, but an over-ripe apple will smell strongly sweet and slightly fermented. Less smell is better.

Ethylene: Producing.

When overly ripe: Make applesauce, or roast with brown butter and sugar for dessert.

13. BLUEBERRIES

Season: Late Spring/Summer

Continues to ripen after picked: YES, blueberries get softer and juicier but not sweeter.

Look: Avoid any that are moldy, overly soft, leaking, or have wrinkled skin. They should be a deep blue color and often have a slightly chalky wash or hue.

Touch: If they are in a plastic clamshell, give it a gentle shake to make sure they move freely. If not, there are likely moldy or soggy berries hiding in there. Check the bottom of clamshells and avoid any with stickiness or stains.

Smell: They are not particularly fragrant when ripe.

Ethylene: Neutral.

When overly ripe: Freeze for smoothies or use in pancakes.

14. GRAPES

Season: Fall

Continues to ripen after picked: NO.

Look: Look for plump, firm grapes that are strongly attached to fresh-looking stems, don’t have wrinkled skin, and don’t have any bruising or brown spots. Make sure the skin around the stem is not brown or leaking.

Touch: Depending on the variety, some grapes are naturally softer than others, but they should always feel relatively firm and springy.

Smell: Not a great indicator for grapes, but avoid any that smell overly sweet or fermented.

Ethylene: Neutral.

When overly ripe: Freeze and eat as a snack, or roast and use to garnish a cheese plate.

The dangers of going gluten-free

It’s the biggest health craze of our time, though some doctors fear it’s creating real problems. (Even the Wheat Belly guru is worried)

The first time Margaret Dron organized the Gluten Free Expo early last year, it was inside the gymnasium of a small community centre in east Vancouver. She had recruited one volunteer, two speakers, 38 vendors and expected 500 attendees. There was no entrance fee—instead, people were to bring gluten-free goods for the local food bank; three boxes were set aside for the collection. Six hours later, more than 3,000 people had turned out, and the volunteer had to call a one-tonne truck to pick up the donations. In one Sunday afternoon, Dron realized, “there is some serious potential here. So I quit everything I had, got an extension on my mortgage, and just dove in.” Since then, “it has blown up.” That is to say, the Gluten Free Expo is now an annual affair in Toronto and Calgary, besides Vancouver. Next year, Edmonton and Ottawa will join the roster. About 10,000 people attend each weekend-long event, which is usually held inside a 60,000-sq.-foot convention centre. “And that’s getting tight,” says Dron. More than 200 vendors sell their offerings, mostly food items but also skin-care products and nutritional supplements—all made without gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, and blamed for many digestive problems. Food donations are still accepted, but a $12 to $15 entrance fee has been implemented. “It’s gone from me begging [for] volunteer speakers to chefs and authors from all over North America requesting to come out,” says Dron. “It’s amazing.”

“Amazing” meaning lucrative, of course. Gluten-free products are a $90-million enterprise in Canada alone, and the sector is expected to grow at least 10 per cent each year through to 2018—an astounding feat for what is primarily a food-based category. In the United States, the market is valued at $4.2 billion and climbing. A landmark study by researchers at Dalhousie University in Halifax, published in the Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research in 2008, revealed that gluten-free foods were, on average, 242 per cent more expensive than their “regular” counterparts, and up to 455 per cent pricier in some cases. “If I was to manufacture a product,” says Dron, “there is no way that I would not have a gluten-free option in today’s day and age.”
Manufacturers are getting the message—and not just small fringe businesses, but behemoth multinational corporations, too. Kellogg’s revamped its Rice Krispies recipe, first concocted in 1927, by removing barley malt (the source of gluten in the original) from its gluten-free version so it could advertise as a cereal “that’s easy for kids to digest.” Campbell Company of Canada claims to be the “first mainstream brand” to feature a gluten-free symbol on its soups and chilies. Tim Hortons hailed the introduction of a gluten-free menu item in mid-July—a chewy coconut macaroon drizzled with milk chocolate—as nothing short of a “defining moment in our Canadian dining history.” Wal-Mart Canada started selling gluten-free goods online this summer and offers free shipping no matter the order size. “They want to be the Amazon.com of gluten-free,” says communications specialist Tricia Ryan, who founded the Gluten-Free Agency in Toronto last August to help companies market their new products.
Business is booming for her, too, as the variety of products expands far beyond the oxymoronic “gluten-free pasta” and “gluten-free bread” lines. Items that consumers might never even think of as containing gluten are being tweaked, or at least rebranded, to meet the demand: soy sauce, salad dressings, potato chips, hot dogs, veggie burgers, licorice, pickles, spices, beer, vodka, toothpaste, makeup, protein powders, medicine, even playdough. Indeed, nothing is so sacred it can’t be reworked. Canadian churches can now purchase gluten-free or low-gluten Eucharistic wafers: $22.95 for 100 pieces.
With all these products, one might assume the need for gluten-free items is epidemic in Canada, that without them a public health crisis could emerge. In reality, the explanation for the recent explosion in demand is a spectacular mix of real medical concerns, changing views on what accounts for a healthy diet, savvy marketing and celebrity influence. Sports stars Steve Nash and Novak Djokovic insist going gluten-free has turned them into the finest and leanest athletes in the world. Public health messages have shifted focus from low fat and sugar-free to low-carb, partly to stave off rampant obesity. And the best-selling book Wheat Belly, by American cardiologist William Davis, published in 2011, has convinced millions to stop eating, as the author puts it, “a perfectly crafted Frankengrain” that “has exerted more harm than any foreign terrorist group can inflict on us.”

In the midst of this frenzy, it’s easy to forget the fact that only a tiny segment of the Canadian population is strictly prohibited from eating wheat by medical professionals—the roughly 35,000 people diagnosed with celiac disease. Another 300,000 are believed to be afflicted but undiagnosed. Their plight is severe: Just one bite of a glutenous food damages their small intestine and can cause a range of symptoms including abdominal pain, gas, bloating, diarrhea and constipation. The disease can lead to problems including “osteoporosis, anemia, sterility, even carcinoma,” says Peter Taylor, executive director of the Canadian Celiac Association. For them, “every day, every meal, every mouthful” is a matter of sickness or health.
But they are a small lot, certainly “not enough to make a business,” says Ryan. Rather, it appears that the gluten-free craze is being fuelled by the dietary choices of a much larger group of individuals known as “gluten avoiders”—seven million strong in Canada alone, the majority of whom do not have celiac disease or any other medically prescribed reason for eliminating gluten from their diet. Many say they experience gut problems, but their doctors can’t explain why or what to do about it. Some of these individuals turn to blogs and books for guidance on how to go gluten-free. In the process, they may learn of other rumoured benefits: weight loss, chief among them. They share their story with family, friends and co-workers, who in turn try going gluten-free, too. It’s for this crowd that the market grows. The gluten avoider group “is the driver for the gluten-free category,” says Ryan. “It’s the one that substantiates businesses making [these products].”
It’s also the segment of the population that has an increasing number of doctors across Canada confused and worried about the possible dangers of patients going gluten-free without talking to a health professional first. Gluten avoiders may spend money on foods that they don’t really need to eat, that may actually be lacking nutrition and causing them other problems. They may also miss out on important diagnoses, especially if they do have celiac disease and aren’t tested. All this has led doctors to debate in the pages of scientific journals and even out loud: Is Canada facing a new medical emergency about which little is yet understood or is this just the latest health fad gone wild? And most importantly, are gluten avoiders doing themselves more harm than good?
Long before he became the head of the celiac association, Peter Taylor knew all about the torture that gut problems could inflict. For five years, he suffered seemingly inexplicable bowel pain and a terrible skin rash, which he could not cure. He lost 40 lb., because, Taylor later realized, his body couldn’t process his “carb-rich diet.” When his family physician learned of his symptoms, an assortment of possible causes was considered, including irritable bowel syndrome, gall bladder trouble and an ulcer. It wasn’t until a year and a half later that celiac disease came up, and was finally diagnosed. (It’s done using a simple blood test; if a particular antibody is detected, a biopsy is done to confirm bowel damage. This is covered in every province, except Ontario, where the blood work costs about $120.) Within three months of eliminating gluten, his symptoms disappeared. “The irony,” says Taylor, recalling his frustration at how long it took to figure out, “is that my doctor at the time was a celiac.”
However vexed Taylor felt, his experience was resolved pretty quickly by comparison: It takes, on average, a stunning 12 years for patients to be diagnosed with celiac disease from when they first start feeling sick, according to a study in a recent issue of the Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology. That’s largely because the symptoms are so ubiquitous they could hint at any number of disorders. “Gut problems are actually the most common symptoms the population has,” says Mohsin Rashid, a pediatric gastroenterologist and professor at Dalhousie, who co-authored the gluten-free cost comparison study. “That’s why celiac disease is underdiagnosed,” adds Taylor. “It’s masked by the perception that it’s something else.” In fact, “essentially two out of three Canadians every year will have some sort of digestive problem,” says Catherine Mulvale, executive director of the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation, and many don’t know what’s wrong. “Because they can’t get answers, they are scared.”
In the absence of a definitive diagnosis from their doctors, these individuals invariably take matters into their own hands. That usually involves cutting out foods that have been popularly vilified—especially grains. Often, people perceive an improvement in their symptoms, says Rashid, and return to the doctor’s office to confirm that gluten is the problem. Except now, diagnosing celiac disease is all but impossible: A patient must consume gluten every day for at least a couple of months or even up to a year before getting tested. As such, some people are wrongly informed that they don’t have the disease. Others refuse to start eating gluten again so they can be tested accurately—they feel their personal experiment is evidence enough of a gluten problem. “That’s a big pitfall,” says Rashid. “All gastroenterologists are seeing this phenomenon, and family doctors too.”
This disconnect between doctors and patients about who should go gluten-free and when prompted a sharply worded article in the April issue of the B.C. Medical Journal entitled, “Gluten elimination diets: facts for patients on this food fad.” Co-authors Kathleen Cadenhead and Margo Sweeny, both Vancouver physicians and members of the British Columbia Medical Association’s nutrition committee, note that, “Wheat, and gluten in particular, has been given pariah status by the millions who are on the low-carb diet bandwagon, particularly those who believe they are allergic or sensitive to gluten.” But, they insist that “there is no need for patients to avoid gluten” or wheat unless they’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease or an allergy because, the doctors argue, “most of the evidence against wheat or gluten is unsubstantiated by science.” The article ignited a fiery debate. “I did push some buttons in writing this,” admits Cadenhead, but “we were trying not to be wishy-washy and say, ‘Look . . . the evidence is not there yet.’ ” Specifically, when it comes to a new medical phenomenon that’s being called “non-celiac disease gluten intolerance” or gluten sensitivity. Within the last five years or so, a handful of studies have proposed the emergence of this condition, which may affect as many as two million Canadians. They are thought to experience the same symptoms as celiacs after eating gluten. The trouble is diagnosing it; to date, there is no test that can detect gluten sensitivity. Rather, patients may consider themselves to have the condition if they have tested negative for celiac disease or a wheat allergy, or if they simply “feel better” or symptom-free when they don’t eat gluten.

Given how little is understood about gluten sensitivity, many doctors are hesitant to bring it up with patients, and some even question whether the condition is real. “We are describing a disease that is new altogether. It’s very difficult,” says Rashid. “We don’t know whether it’s a permanent thing; maybe it’s transient. Maybe it’s a dose-related phenomenon, [so] you can take some gluten. [There are] a lot of unknowns.” There is even suspicion that a “placebo effect” may be at play, adds Vincci Tsui, a registered dietitian in Calgary. “Because when people do switch over to a gluten-free diet, a lot of times it does mean eliminating fast foods, processed foods, refined grains, or it means cooking at home more often, eating more vegetables and fruits,” she explains. “They feel better and they think it is the [avoidance of] gluten when really it may be the fact that they are eating better in general.”
The notion that gluten avoiders are eating more whole foods and cooking healthy meals is really a best-case scenario, though. Many medical professionals are actually seeing eating habits take a turn for the worse once individuals avoid gluten. That’s because they are relying on processed gluten-free foods that often lack important vitamins, minerals and fibre, and are made with substitute starches such as rice and tapioca flour that “really have no nutritional value at all,” says Dron. “But they have really high glycemic indices.” In fact, a forthcoming study examining the nutritional content of gluten-free foods by Rashid found that these products may be higher in fat and lower in protein than their “regular” counterparts. “We have a tendency to think that gluten-free is healthier,” says Meghan Walker, a naturopathic doctor in Toronto. “And that is certainly not the case.” In fact, “a lot of people put on weight when they go on a gluten-free diet,” says Rashid.
Further complicating matters is the fact that “most people who think they’re on a gluten-free diet aren’t, unless they’ve really done their research,” says Cadenhead. “If they’re just avoiding pasta and bread,” that’s not enough. “Gluten is in almost everything.” It may be used as a thickener or stabilizer in soups, spreads and sauces, for flavouring in cereals or noodles, spices, teas and coffees, or as filler in processed meats, imitation seafood or vegetarian substitutes. Reading labels may not always make the presence of gluten obvious, either. It may appear in Latin as triticum vulgare or hordeum vulgare or secale cereale. Or the label may feature ingredients that people don’t realize contain gluten, including bulgur, couscous, farina, malt and seitan. Gluten “can be modified to give you all kinds of different properties,” explains Ravindra Chibbar, Canada Research chair in crop quality and a professor at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. “It is a readily available, inexpensive component and industry want to get their money’s worth. That is why people are working to get more and more products out of gluten components.”
That makes good business sense, of course. But it may not serve customers so well—those who don’t realize that they’re consuming gluten, or those who are buying gluten-free foods that are poor substitutes. The whole situation makes doctors such as Cadenhead shudder. “Whenever you see nutritional issues being heavily marketed, it makes me want to protect people from being ripped off,” says Cadenhead. “I would like people to be obtaining the best nutritional value for their food dollar.” Unbeknownst to many gluten avoiders, that may not be happening.
One of the most baffling aspects of the gluten-free phenomenon is how much influence a singular book has had on the diets of so many people. Wheat Belly has been heavily criticized by scores of physicians and lauded by many, many more gluten avoiders as proof their dietary restraint is justified. The irony, however, is that William Davis detests his new-found role as poster boy for the gluten-free food industry—and actually discourages people from buying these products because of their low nutritional value. “This has nothing to do with gluten,” he tells Maclean’s. Instead, he takes issue with how wheat has been grown, and altered through hybridizations over the last several decades, which he believes is harmful to human health. “If we view wheat as nothing more than a vehicle for gluten we are not going to understand all the issues that are important about modern wheat.”
It’s a highly inflammatory view, and crop experts such as Chibbar insist it is without merit. Hybridization means “you take one plant that has a feature you like, you cross it with another one and you get a progeny that has characteristics that you want,” he explains. “It has been going on for tens of thousands of years. It happens with all the crops, it’s not just wheat.” Others, such as Earl Geddes, CEO of the Canadian International Grains Institute, argue that consumers are missing the real problem with the country’s food supply: “Here in Canada we go to the grocery store once a week and we want to buy something that will sit in our cupboard for a week and still be good,” he says. “That’s got nothing to do with the wheat that’s in the product. That’s all the other stuff that we as consumers have insisted gets put into the product.” While experts debate to what extent the war on wheat is warranted, millions of Canadians are struggling with debilitating gastrointestinal symptoms. Whatever the cause, their pain can’t be ignored or downplayed, says naturopath Walker. “If people articulate that they don’t feel well on a type of food and that is dismissed, I think there is a real danger that they will wind up with chronic issues,” she says.
But there are signs that the situation may be improving for gluten avoiders. Dron notes that an increasing number of manufacturers have heeded calls for healthier gluten-free options, and are launching nutrient-rich products such as quinoa pasta. And at an international celiac symposium in Chicago in September, Rashid will present his latest cost-comparison study, which shows that gluten-free foods are equalizing in price with regular foods—they are now 162 per cent more expensive, on average, rather than 242 per cent. He believes more competition in the market has driven down cost.
In this way, the more gluten avoiders demand information and options for themselves from doctors and manufacturers, the better their prospects for a healthy future. It just won’t happen overnight. “All kind of questions are coming about for which we really don’t have good answers,” says Rashid. “Our problem is people going [gluten-free] without being properly counseled or checked out. It becomes problematic.” He wants patients to request celiac testing before starting this new diet. “It will take some time to sort this out,” he acknowledges, and sometimes “patients can’t wait. They want to get better.” But they may, in fact, make matters worse.

A Solid Start: Introducing Baby to Solid Foods

Everything you need to know to begin your child on baby foods and other solids.

There’s nothing more adorable than a picture of a happy baby contentedly smearing food on his face -- and everywhere else. (Until it’s time to clean up, of course.) Starting your baby on solid food can be fun, playful, and messy! For some parents, introducing solid foods can also be confusing. When should you start? How much should you offer? What comes first?

Feeding baby solids doesn’t need to be a challenge. There are just a few simple rules and milestones to keep in mind to make sure your baby’s food is just right to grow on.

Baby’s First Foods: When to Introduce Solids

When today’s parents were small babies, pediatricians often recommended starting them on cereal and other solid foods at just a few weeks old. “It’ll help him sleep through the night!” parents were told.
Now we know that’s not true, and for most babies, cereal in a bottle at 6 weeks is no way to start solids. (Some babies with bad reflux may benefit from cereal in a bottle, however. Ask your pediatrician.)
Between the ages of 4 and 6 months, most babies are developmentally ready to get their first taste of solid foods. At this point, they lose the extrusion reflex that is beneficial for sucking a breast or bottle but can shove a spoonful of baby cereal right back out.

Starting Solids: How to Know When Your Baby Is Ready

Here are some signs that your child is ready to try solids:

  • She can sit up (with support) and can hold her head and neck up well.
  • Her birth weight has doubled.
  • She’s interested in what you’re eating and may even try to grab food from your plate.
  • She can keep food in her mouth rather than letting it dribble out.
  • She shows signs of being hungry for more than she’s getting by clamoring for more when her bottle is empty or wanting to nurse more often.
    "The pendulum has swung back and forth a lot on when to start solids,” says Jennifer Shu, MD, a pediatrician in Atlanta and co-author of Heading Home with Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality and Food Fights: Winning the Nutritional Challenges of Parenthood Armed with Insight, Humor, and a Bottle of Ketchup.
    "We now know that 4 to 6 months seems to be the best time, when the baby’s digestive system can handle solids and they don’t impact allergies for the worse,” Shu tells WebMD. “If you wait until your baby’s much older than 6 months, she may reject the texture."
    "My son started at 5 1/2 months, and he was so ready!” says Erika Radtke, the mother of a 4-year-old son and newborn daughter in Carlsbad, Calif. “He stretched his mouth wide open like a baby bird's when we started him on cereal, and he had no problem swallowing. At that age, it's really just for practice and for learning to eat solid food. And it's fun! Who doesn't want that money shot of their little baby with goop all over their face, bib, clothes, and high chair and none of it in their mouth?"
    Some experts cite another important reason to start solid foods by 6 months: That’s when babies’ natural stores of iron begin to deplete, and some babies may not get enough iron in their liquid diets to replace them. (There is more iron in formula than in breast milk, but the iron in breast milk is more readily absorbed.) Iron-fortified baby cereals are a good early source of iron, but once your baby is eating a variety of foods, there are several iron-rich options, including meats, beans, and spinach.

    Feeding Baby Solids: What Foods to Start With


    A common first baby food is a single-grain, iron-fortified cereal such as rice cereal or oatmeal. These baby cereals have the advantage of boosting your baby’s iron intake, and they’re easy to digest. Just mix with a little baby formula, breast milk, or even water on occasion.
    In addition to baby cereal, you can start your baby out with pureed fruits and vegetables. What kind? It doesn’t matter that much, as long as you offer a variety, says Shu. Options include carrots, pears, prunes, sweet potatoes, avocado, bananas, peaches, and much more. You can either buy premade baby food or make your own.
    "Both of my babies didn’t much care for the cereals and vastly preferred applesauce, which was the other solid food I offered early,” says Cynthia Schames, the mother of 8-month-old twins in Chappaqua, N.Y.
    Some parents think that you should offer fruit before vegetables so the baby doesn’t reject the veggies for the sweeter fruits, but that’s not how it works. "All babies have a preference for sweet tastes,” Shu says. “You just have to keep giving them both fruits and vegetables."

    The Big Day: Strategies for Introducing Solid Foods


    When you offer baby that first taste of something other than breast milk or formula, it’s a huge event. To increase the likelihood of success, offer the first solids when baby isn’t full (if she's not hungry, she won’t be interested) or ravenous (she’ll be frustrated that she’s not getting as much as she wants right away). Instead, fill her up a little with liquid and then let her have a taste.
    Other than that, it doesn’t matter too much whether solid or liquid comes first in the meal, say many experts. “Some parents like to offer the bottle or breast at the end of the meal because of the comfort factor, especially if naptime or bedtime is coming soon,” says Steven Parker, MD, director of the division of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Boston Medical Center. “But it doesn’t really matter which comes first."
    "Early on, I always nursed first until my son was pretty much done and then offered the solids as ‘dessert,’” recalls Radtke.
    As with all new experiences, it’s also best not to spring solid foods on your baby when she’s tired, cranky, or sick. Offering a new food in the morning or early afternoon also gives you plenty of time to watch for allergic reactions.
    What if your baby rejects the new food? Don’t worry, says Shu. “Try again later. You might want to wait a few days until your baby has forgotten the experience. It’s not so much that they hate the food -- it’s just that it’s unfamiliar to them."

    Baby Feeding Gear: The 3 Essentials


    The feeding aisle at your local baby store is crammed with gear, but you don’t need that much to feed a baby. Small, soft-tipped spoons are best, says Shu, because they’re gentle on baby’s gums. (Some manufacturers now make spoons that are heat-sensitive, changing color if baby’s food is too hot.)
    Other than that, you’ll want:
  • A high chair or other secure seat that holds your baby upright to eat
  • Plastic or other waterproof bibs, which are easy to rinse off (those with a big trough at the bottom are particularly handy to catch falling bits when baby starts feeding herself)
  • Unbreakable plates and bowls that won’t shatter when they’re knocked off the high chair tray

    Feeding Baby Solid Foods: When to Move On


    Once your baby has gotten used to her first solid food, she can begin to move on to more exciting options. As babies develop more teeth and chewing skills, you can offer them foods with more texture: Instead of pureeing veggies and fruits, try giving them in mashed-up form.
    There’s no hard and fast age rule for when this happens -- just watch your baby. Although some babies get teeth at 6 months (or even earlier), and some don’t get them until nearly a year, their hard, sharp gums can often mash food very efficiently.
    Each time you introduce a new solid food, wait about three days to see if it causes an allergic reaction. Don’t introduce anything new during that time; this way, if your baby develops hives, a rash, or a more serious reaction, you’ll know which food caused it.
    “Once you start introducing a host of foods to your baby, you can have a lot of fun mixing them,” says Myra Bartalos, the mother of a 20-month-old girl in Brooklyn, N.Y.
    If your baby has moved past purees, she can also begin to try other table foods, such as meats and poultry, eggs, dairy products, and beans. Just cut or mash the food into a size and consistency that she can chew or gum (when in doubt, make the pieces a little smaller than you think necessary), and feed away. “Really, anything that you can put in baby’s mouth, if it’s nutritious and they won’t choke on it, is okay,” says Rachel Lewis, MD, an assistant professor of clinical pediatrics at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. If your baby doesn’t like a particular food, don’t give up on it. “It often takes a child a dozen or more times of being offered a food to decide that he likes it,” says Shu.

    Preventing Choking


    Whether your baby is eating purees or food with more texture, it’s always important to watch carefully and take precautions to prevent choking. Babies should always be fed sitting upright in a high chair, not reclining in a swing or car seat. And never offer a baby foods that are clear choking hazards, such as whole grapes, hot dogs, or popcorn. Foods such as carrots, while great in cooked and mashed or pureed form, should only be offered to babies as finger food when cut into very small chunks.
    You’ll want to continue to cut firm, round foods such as hot dogs and whole grapes into small pieces long after your child hits that 1-year mark, as they are still a choking hazard. “I would keep cutting these small until about age 4, when kids have all their molars and the mental maturity to know not to run around with them,” says Shu. She also recommends waiting until preschool age for popcorn, which is easily inhaled into the windpipe.

    Finger Foods and Self-feeding


    When can your baby try feeding herself with finger foods, like o-shaped whole-grain cereals or cereal puffs, cut-up pieces of cheese, small chunks of banana, or sliced-up cooked pasta? The answer really depends on how much mess you’re willing to tolerate.
    Sometime between about 9 and 11 months, most babies develop the “pincer grip,” which allows them to pick up small objects between their thumb and forefinger. That’s when self-feeding becomes really satisfying. They can try finger foods before that, but they’ll mostly just sweep them up in their palm and try to shove them into their mouth that way.
    As your baby gets older, she’ll probably want to start trying her hand with a spoon. Expect some mess, and let her go. Shu says a good way to start is to give baby a small soft-tipped spoon to hold while you’re feeding her. It lets her practice handling a utensil while keeping her from yanking the spoon from your hand. Another tip: Try putting a dab of something thick, such as cream cheese, on the baby spoon and sticking a few pieces of o-shaped cereal to it. Baby can try feeding herself with something that’s less likely to fly off the spoon and land on the walls.

    Babies and Solid Foods: How Much Is Enough?


    Many parents worry that they may be feeding their baby too much solid food, or not enough. You’ve just gotten the hang of tracking your baby’s needs for breast milk or baby formula -- and now you have to balance that with solids? Fortunately, it’s a lot less complicated than you think.
    When you first start out, introduce solid foods once daily -- or even every couple of days if your baby seems reluctant at first. At these feedings, your child may only take in a spoonful or two of rice cereal, mashed banana, or pureed sweet potato. But she’ll soon work her way up!
    At about 6 months, most babies are getting between 24 and 32 ounces of formula or breast milk a day. By about a year, that amount will go down to 16 to 24 ounces, and they’ll be getting the rest of their nutrition from solid foods. Generally, by around 8 or 9 months, babies will be eating three “solid” meals a day. How they make the transition is very individual.
    “Let your child do the regulating,” says Lewis. “They don’t eat for pleasure at this age; they eat because they’re hungry. An hour or two after their morning bottle or nursing session, offer solid foods and let them eat as much as they want. To some extent, you don’t need to do anything except offer your child something that’s nutritious, and not force it on them.”
    Shu agrees. “Lot of parents like to know how much their child is eating and follow some kind of formula,” she says. “But it’s the child’s job to determine how much to eat. It’s the parent’s job to give them healthy foods. A child’s appetite does not always neatly coincide with the size of a jar of food or the amount of cereal you mix up. From babyhood, we should encourage children to eat when they’re hungry and stop when they’re full.”

    Baby Food Allergies


    Until very recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended waiting until at least a year to offer babies certain highly allergenic foods, including wheat, eggs, fish and shellfish, and peanuts and tree nuts. But in early 2008, it revised that recommendation, saying that there is no evidence that waiting to introduce these foods makes babies less likely to develop allergies. In fact, there is some evidence that eating some of these foods earlier may protect babies against allergies.
    So you can decide to give your baby wheat, eggs, and fish before she’s 1 year old unless she’s at high risk for allergies -- for example, if a parent or sibling has them. But there’s also no harm in being a little conservative, says Shu. “It’s not a bad idea to wait until your baby is a little older -- say, 9 or 10 months -- before offering something like shellfish. It’s not that you’ll cause allergies, but if the baby is allergic, a reaction is a lot easier to deal with in an older baby than a younger one.” And pediatricians such as Parker still advise waiting even longer with peanuts. “The jury is still out -- some evidence says you should wait until age 3 or older, while some says introducing peanuts earlier can help prevent allergies,” he says. “Since an allergic peanut reaction is particularly dangerous, I think it’s safer to wait.”

    Feeding Baby: What Foods Should You Hold Off On?


    There are some foods that you should definitely wait on. Honey is one -- it can cause a potentially dangerous disease called infant botulism and should not be given to a child younger than one year. Whole cow’s milk is another, because the milk proteins and fat can irritate a baby’s stomach. (Other dairy products have these proteins broken down, so they’re less likely to cause tummy trouble and can be introduced earlier.) Popcorn and other foods that are choking hazards should not be introduced until later.
    Some pediatricians recommend waiting until baby is 1 year old to introduce citrus fruits because the acidity can be irritating. Shu thinks it’s up to the parent. “There’s probably no harm in letting your 8-month-old try a small cut-up piece of orange,” she says. “Just be forewarned that there may be a little rash or some stomach upset.”
    What about sweet treats, like sugar? Babies do not need them and shouldn’t be offered these foods regularly, says Shu. But what if you’re at a birthday party for an older child and your 11-month-old is reaching for a taste of cake? “One bite isn’t going to hurt," she says. "Don’t make it a habit, and they won’t develop a preference for sweet things like cake or juice. I’m a fan of moderation, not deprivation or excess.”