Defeating the Curse of Halloween Candy

By Shannon Morehouse, MA, CHHC

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It’s almost here…the most frightening holiday for those of us whose children thrive on wholesome, organic, GMO-free, healthfully delicious food. My darling daughter Natalie turns 4 this month. Her idea of an amazing treat is fresh fruit with a small squirt of Ah!Laska Organic Chocolate Syrup. While this is the case, I am not going to deny her the trick-or-treating experience. She does love M&Ms after all. How do we manage the mountain of candy?

#1: We look at the ingredients and if they contain any of the following, we only keep 10 of them and she can only have one of them a day.

High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

High-Fructose Corn Syrup is so ubiquitous in candy because it is cheap. We know that too much sugar all together is a bad thing, but the reason why I am especially concerned with high-fructose corn syrup as a sweetener is because in addition to a ridiculously high content of fructose, it also contains other chemical toxins. What we know, for example, is that chloralkali is used in making HFCS, and it contains mercury. While some may argue that it is a “trace” amount of mercury, I am going to do whatever I can to limit the amount of mercury entering my daughter’s bloodstream.

Partially-Hydrogenated Oils

Partially-hydrogenated oils are trans fats and trans fats contribute to high cholesterol, obesity, and subsequently heart disease. It is also important for children to avoid trans fats because they block the utilization of healthy Omega-3 essential fatty acids that children need for optimal brain development.

Artificial Dyes

Commonly-used food dyes like Yellow #5, Yellow #6, and Red #40 are made from petroleum and have been shown to be carcinogenic in various research studies. Additionally, studies have shown that consumption of artificial dyes contribute to hyperactivity and behavioral problems and should especially be avoided by children on the autism spectrum or those who have ADHD. Note that “caramel color” is also an artificial dye.

#2: The Candy Fairy Visits

Natalie and I put the not-so-offensive candies back in the bag along with her 10 chemically-laden food picks. We take all the remaining chemically-laden food (there is a lot) and then lay them out for the candy fairy. She replaces them with stickers, temporary tattoos, and healthy dark chocolate (such as the Endangered Species brand we carry here at Natur-Tyme).

What Else you Can Do?

Check out halloweenbuyback.com. It is a national organization whereby participating dentists will pay your child $1 for every pound of candy they bring in. They then send the candy to the U.S. Military. Unfortunately, the closest participating dentist in this organization is in Binghamton. Talk to your dentist and encourage him or her to participate!

Give Away Non-Candy Options and Talk to Your Neighbors about Doing the Same

Here are some great non-candy options (mix and match to appeal to kids of all ages):

• Stickers

• Temporary Tattoos

• Bouncy Balls

• Halloween-themed Pencils

• Halloween-themed Erasers

• Halloween-themed rings (spiders—eek!)

• Bottled Water

• Swirly Straws

• Bubbles

• Glow sticks

• Whistles

• Crayons

“No, I won’t!” Homeopathy and Temper Tantrums

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Guest Article by  Joette Calabrese, HMC, CCH, RSHom 

Are temper tantrums a fact of life in your household?
The cantankerous two year-old.
The confrontational teenager.
But what if tantrums were actually beneficial?
Sounds peculiar that such behavior could be considered valuable, doesn’t it?

Well, temper tantrums are indicators that something is out of balance, not only behaviorally, but probably physiologically.  And since symptoms are the key to choosing the proper homeopathic remedy, then this aberrant behavior can actually become useful in addressing the underlying cause.

Many parents explain away their child’s behavior as simply an age-related stage.  Too often, they offer platitudes such as, “Well, of course he has temper tantrums.  He’s 3!” or “She has a terrible attitude, just like her dad!”

While it is true that these pathologies can be age or familyrelated, we should bear in mind that they are still pathologies. Therefore, even if they present, this doesn’t mean that they belong there.

Not every toddler throws a tantrum and not every teenager needs an attitude adjustment.  These problems are particular to the individual and are symptoms to which we ought to give our full attention.

They reflect an idiosyncratic personality that can be guided and brought to its best state through homeopathic remedies.

Homeopathy is gentle and won’t change your child’s personality.  When the remedy is chosen correctly, it will bring your child into balance both physically and emotionally.

Bye-bye temper tantrums!

Read through the following descriptions to find the remedy that best fits the entire “picture” of your child’s symptoms.  Administer one dose in the 30th potency every 3-4 hours until improvement is seen, then stop.  If no improvement after the fourth dose, try the remedy that seems to be the next best fit.  For more severe symptoms, the chosen remedy can be given every 1-2 hours.

Nux Vomica
This is the remedy to use for symptoms brought on by going “over-the-top.”  Ailments are brought on by too much sugar, too many drugs, too much stress, pressure, work, food, drinks, etc.  Irritability is a key factor in this remedy along with gastrointestinal issues such as gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.

Chamomilla
Although irritability is addressed by Chamomilla, it also encompasses symptoms that result from anger.  Symptoms include fractious behavior and acute sensitivity; that is, the reaction is far too great for the stimulus received. Words or physical touch which would normally cause a much less severe response will prompt testy and crotchety comebacks.  This remedy is also particularly useful in cancelling out the workings of unnecessary drugs.

Lycopodium
Individuals who might benefit from Lycopodium are generally insecure and cowardly and are typically afflicted by gastrointestinal complaints. Though they appear confident and self-assured, they worry about how they are perceived and judged by others.  Their worries increase when they are by themselves so just having someone nearby alleviates their anxiety. The behavior is often cross and cantankerous.

Coffea
As its name alludes, Coffea is made from coffee beans, and it addresses those pathologies which are similar to the ill-effects of caffeine. Though there isn’t marked anger or anxiety, which the former three remedies envelop, there is an inability to relax and the mind races. Despite these jittery thoughts, the disposition is quite even-tempered, though there might be some, though little, irritability. Because the mind is already quite excited, even the smallest pain causes inordinate distraction and there is an increased sensitivity to surrounding elements, such as noise, light, touch, etc.

When parents ask me what they should do until the remedy takes effect, I tell them to indeed discipline the child. Just because the behavior may have physiological roots, it doesn’t mean the child shouldn’t be held responsible and taught accordingly. We all have our bad days, and we need to learn how to adjust accordingly, so as not to disrupt family life and society in general.

Give the remedy most suited to your child and you might find that even if anger is still exhibited from time to time, it will be mitigated by an inner wherewithal that was previously absent.

Healthy Halloween Options at Natur-Tyme

By Laurel Sterling, MA, RD

Halloween falls within a time of year that I love…autumn! There are red and orange leaves, spicy aromas, pumpkin bread, apple picking, pumpkin carving, and corn mazes. It is also a bittersweet” time of year for me because of the endless stacks of candy and sugar you see everywhere in stores!

I remember after I got my Master’s Degree in Nutrition Science. I had a difficult time just handing out candy to children knowing what was in it. So I bought individually-wrapped popcorn balls to hand out, and kids LOVED them! They loved them so much that they told other kids on the block where to find them. I was shocked and pleasantly surprised.

Once I had my daughter and she came to the age of trick-or-treating, I was pretty strict about what I was going to allow her to have as treats. At a young age, she knew what was a “healthier, acceptable treat” versus one that had “icky” things in it.

There are many healthier treat options out there if you look for them, and we have many available right here at Natur-Tyme. My daughter loves to come shopping here with me. She gets the little shopping cart that is “just her size” and goes about finding her special treats!

Some of her favorites include:

–         Fruitabu Fruit Roll-Ups

–         Annie’s Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks

–         Froose Gummy Snacks

–         Yummy Earth Organic Lollipops

–         Sunspire Sundrops

–         Endangered Species Bug Bites Organic Chocolates

–         EnviroKidz Crispy Rice Bars

–         Clif Kid Z-Fruit Rope

–         Stash Honey Sticks (note: honey products should not be given to children under the age of one).

ImageOther healthy options include: ginger chews, natural honey chews, Panda Licorice, Glenny’s Brown Rice Marshmallow Treats, and Barbara’s Snackimals.

Now, we don’t have to worry so much about the Halloween treats available out there for our children. There are so many healthier versions available right here at Natur-Tyme. Go forth and trick-or-treat with your children’s health in mind!

The Benefits of the Superfood Maca

By Carol Blair, BA, DiHom, CNC

Raw Maca PowderMaca is both adaptogenic and restorative in that it helps the body to adapt to stress and can help to recalibrate the body’s hormones. Maca has an incredible nutritional profile of potent phytonutrients that include vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fiber, and fatty acids. This amazing plant can nutritionally fuel the endocrine system so that it is able to produce hormones regularly. Maca does not actually increase levels of any hormones, but encourages the body to produce them on its own. This is accomplished through maca’s targeted nourishment of the hypothalamus and pituitary glands (master glands of the body). These glands in turn regulate other glands, bringing balance to the adrenal, thyroid, pancreas, ovarian, and testicular glands. This can move the body toward a more optimal balance of estrogen and progesterone levels potentially reducing the severity and occurrence of migraine headaches.

Here are some additional bullets, reviewing the varying specific benefits of maca:

  • Great for menopause. Maca helps adrenals to naturally produce more estradiol, progesterone, and testosterone, as well as DHEA. Because maca works on the hypothalamus/pituitary axis, it is often helpful for hot flashes. The pituitary gets messages from the hypothalamus; the hypothalamus controls body temperature. Maca works quickly in helping reduce hot flash symptoms – often in 4-7 days.
  • Helps relieve hormonal depression.
  • Helpful for male impotence and erectile dysfunction; improves semen and motility.
  • Restores vaginal lubrication, libido, and endurance.
  • Helps with ovarian cysts, small uterine fibroids, endometriosis, and fertility whether because of low sperm or lack of ovulation.
  • Used in Peru to carry pregnancies to full-term (raises progesterone). Considered a nutritive tonic and adaptogen.

Dosage is difficult; more is not better. Men may need less than women. For women in menopause, start with one capsule. You may need to go up to 3-4 capsules.  If symptoms get worse, reduce dosage.

Don’t use maca with ginseng; it can over-stimulate and cause jitters or may elevate the cortisol levels.

Vegatarianism: Part 5 of 5

By Laurel Sterling Prisco, MA, RD, CDN

A vegetarian diet for children is safe and simple. As a matter of fact, raising children with a vegetarian diet has many health benefits as seen later in life. They tend to eat less saturated fats and cholesterol, and their diets are higher in folate, fiber, and vitamins C and E due to the foods they choose and avoid. These individuals tend to have a lower risk for heart disease, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, and colon cancer.

Some simple guidelines to follow for vegetarian children and teens include:

• Supply enough calcium with vitamin D3 for growing bones! Cow’s milk has both calcium and fortified vitamin D3, but too much cow’s milk can decrease iron absorption. So include other options like fortified almond milk, rice milk, or orange juice which contain calcium and D2. Also be sure to include other calcium-rich organic foods like: broccoli, kale, collard greens, sesame seeds, almonds, and most legumes.

• Make sure they eat vitamin C-rich food sources with iron-rich foods to help enhance iron absorption.

• Include several servings of protein-rich foods like: legumes, tempeh, low-fat organic dairy products, organic eggs, nuts, seeds, nut or seed butters, grains (quinoa, brown rice), greens, and nutritional yeast. I would minimize servings of unfermented soy for a growing child or adolescent.

• Nuts, seeds, and nut or seed butters are rich in not only protein, but also essential fats. Other good sources of beneficial fats are avocado, chia seeds, and flax seeds.

• Include foods rich in B12 like nutritional yeast, organic dairy, organic eggs, or fortified sources.

• Include plenty of fresh organic fruits and vegetables

• I would definitely recommend a multivitamin to cover possible inadequate intakes from diet. Also consider adding an additional calcium/magnesium/vitamin D supplementation.

Keeing Our Children Healthy

By Laurel Sterling Prisco, MS, RD, CDN

In recent years, many health concerns for adolescents have been cropping up at an alarming rate. Obesity, type-2 diabetes, ADD, autism, and allergies are just a few that have been on the rise. It is no wonder! Look at the quality of our food supply and the tampering of our foods. Fast food availability, vending machine accessibility in schools, and a dramatic decline in activity all compound the issue. This had led to an “overfed, undernourished generation.”

As parents, we need to try to do the best we can for our children at home. We can positively influence their choices so they choose wisely when venturing out in the world. Some things we can do at home include:

1. Encourage children to get involved in shopping and selecting certain meals.

2. Let them help in meal preparation.

3. Be a positive role model because your food choices influence theirs.

4. Try new foods together.

5. Teach children to honor their gut feelings and discourage “clean-plate club” mentality.

6. Encourage breakfast. A study of over 700 ninth graders found 19% skipped breakfast, and 1 in 3 breakfast dodgers had a significant iron shortage…twice the rate of their breakfast-eating peers! Zinc, calcium, and folic acid were much higher among those who ate breakfast, and fat consumption was lower. In other studies with children, eating breakfast has been shown to improve memory, grades, math scores, school attendance, and punctuality. Quick and nutritious breakfast ideas include:

• Healthy cereal with fruit • Whole grain toast with almond butter and fruit

• Smoothie

• Yogurt with grape nuts and fruit

• Whole wheat English muffin with and egg and cheese

• Cheese sticks with whole grain crackers

7. Provide healthy and nutritious snacks such as:

• Trail mix

• Fresh veggies with cottage cheese or salad dressing

• Turkey and cheese roll-up

• Fruit or veggie kabobs

• Veggie pizza on whole grain tortilla

8. Hydrate with water, tea, milk, or milk substitutes.

9. Maintain an appropriate amount of physical activity (varies with child’s age).

Additional things we can do for our children’s health include:

1. Support local, organic, free-range foods as much as possible.

2. Limit saturated fats (from animal products).

3. AVOID transfats (hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats).

4. Stress good fats like: nuts, seeds, almond butter, and avocados.

5. Reduce sugars and increase fiber in the diet through incorporating more fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and beans.

6. AVOID high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, and sodas.

7. AVOID food colorings, additives, and preservatives as much as possible.

Relying on food alone does not work for many young people these days. Supplementation may be required to help maintain proper health. Adolescents and teens typically fall short on calcium, iron, and zinc. Other crucial nutrients they should be getting enough of include:

1. Vitamins A, B, C, and D

2. Fatty acids (fish, flax, borage oils)

3. Magnesium

4. Iodine

5. Selenium

6. Potassium

7. Copper

I generally recommend supplementing your children’s diet with a high-quality, well-absorbed children’s or teen multivitamin/mineral along with a probiotic and an Essential Fatty Acid formula.

Infant, Toddler, and Preschooler Wellness Regime

By Laurel Sterling Prisco, MS, RD, CDN

There are a variety of health and safety issues one could be dealing with during these age groups (colic, acid reflux, vaccination reactions, eczema, choking, allergies, ADD, autism, colds, flu, etc). I would like to address some “core” supplements to help maintain a young child’s health and wellbeing.

In the previous blog, I stressed how beneficial breastfeeding is, and it is. Vitamin D levels in breast milk depend greatly on the mother’s Vitamin D level so it is important that mom have her levels tested and supplement with sufficient D while nursing. The American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends that all infants begin supplementing their diet with 400 IU of vitamin D daily a few days after birth and continue throughout adolescence (Pediatrics 2008). Vitamin D aids in calcium absorption for bone health, promotes muscle strength, and supports a healthy immune system.

Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) are highly beneficial to continue after breastfeeding. A 2005 study reported, that children between 20 months and age 3 who took fish oils daily, had positive transformation in behavior and learning abilities. There was another study performed in 2008 that showed a positive correlation in preschoolers’ listening comprehension and vocabulary with high blood levels of DHA through supplementation. It is recommended that infants 12-18 months take in 32 mg of EPA+DHA/lb of weight, and children 18+ months need 15 mg of EPA+DHA/lb of weight.

Probiotics were discussed briefly in the last blog. Babies’ intestines are the center of their immune system. The balance of flora in the gut plays a role in immunity, brain development, and digestion. There was a study that found supplementing infants with probiotics reduced colic symptoms by 95%. A Finnish study found that probiotics reduced the incidence of respiratory illness. Infants should only take probiotics specifically designed for babies because they require different amounts and strains of flora than adults. Probiotics from food sources (fermented foods like sauerkraut) are also recommended as baby becomes old enough to introduce solid foods.

Plus, consider adding in a multivitamin into their health regime. There are some great liquid multivitamins for 6 months and older. When the child starts chewing well enough, there are some great chewable options as well.

These supplements are what I consider the “core four” for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.

In my next blog, I will be discussing more on healthier food choices for children, weight issues, and nutrients to focus on for the older children (age 5 and up).