Reducing Your Family's Exposure to Toxins

The results of a recent study show that prenatal exposure to phthalates is associated with language delays in children, which is the latest in a long list of medical conditions associated with these nasty chemicals. (You can read more about this study here).

Phthalates are found in food packaging, cosmetics, perfume, hairspray, plastic straws, vinyl flooring and wall coverings, and much more. Avoiding them can be overwhelming, but small shifts in your daily life can benefit the entire family.

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Here are my top tips to reduce your family’s exposure:

1. Avoid plastics with a 3, 6, or 7 in the triangle label (usually on the bottom or side of the container).

2. Look for personal-care products with "phthalate-free" on the label (EWG's Skin Deep database is a fantastic resource).

3. Avoid synthetic fragrances (listed as “fragrance” in the ingredient list). Look for products that are fragrance-free, unscented, naturally-derived, or plant-based.

4. Use glass bottles and silicone nipples for feeding baby.

5. Drink filtered water, and use glass or stainless steel water bottles.

6. Buy organic food whenever possible, join a local community-supported agriculture (CSA) group, shop at a farmers’ market, or grow your own.

7. Toss old toys and plastics obtained before 2008, when phthalates were banned.

8. Use glass or stainless steel containers for food storage, and never reheat food in plastic containers.

9. Ditch plastic wrap and bags in favor of reusable options. They're a bit of an investment initially, but you'll save money in the long run. I love

The Children’s Environmental Health Network has a great FAQ section for you to learn more about plastics (including phthalates) and how to avoid them.


Book Review--Healing Arthritis by Susan Blum M.D., M.P.H.

I received an e-copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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I've been a fan of Dr. Blum's work for a while, and this book didn't disappoint. It's a fantastic reference for both patients and practitioners. 
Things I love about this book:
1. She thoroughly outlines the different types of arthritis, including symptoms, diagnosis, and conventional treatments.
2. She clearly and concisely educates the reader on gut health and how it's applicable to these conditions and inflammation in general.
3. She offers a wealth of research to back up the information presented. I was especially impressed with the newer research on the possibility that we each have a gut bacteria enterotype that we might default to, depending on our diet.
4. She outlines popular diets to give readers a better understanding of why these diets may or may not be the healthiest option for their condition.
5. She offers a number of test recommendations and diet/supplement/mind-body protocols for different case studies, which practitioners and patients should find helpful.
6. Her 5 simple principles are: reduce processed foods, improve the quality of fats, improve the quality of proteins, increase fiber, micronutrients, and phytonutrients, and limit salt, food dyes and preservatives. 
7. She devotes a chapter to the impact of traumatic stress and ACEs on health. This topic needs more mainstream coverage, and I'm happy to see functional medicine practitioners taking the lead.

This book is a comprehensive resource I'll refer to again and again, and I've already recommended it for pre-order to a few colleagues and clients. It's well organized, easy to read, and covers everything you can think of and plenty you'll be happy to learn.

 

*This book review is also published on my Goodreads page.

Book Review--Keto for Cancer

I received an e-copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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This is one of the best books on the ketogenic diet that I've read, and I plan to recommend it often. Before I get to what I loved about this book, first let me acknowledge my appreciation for Ms. Kalamian sharing her family's experience with cancer and this diet. Her compassion and understanding of the trials a family will face when given a cancer diagnosis are clear from beginning to end. Her understanding of the ketogenic diet is impressive.

I loved everything about this book. She does a fantastic job outlining the science behind both cancer and the ketogenic diet. She covers supplements and nutrition thoroughly--more thoroughly than most. She devotes plenty of pages to contradictions and considerations, which highlights how seriously she takes this topic. Everything is presented in a concise and smart style that makes it easy for readers to understand. I also appreciate how she gives a nod to various other experts and books. She frequently recommends to readers to explore the information available, advocate for themselves, and always get a second opinion. 

This isn't your average diet book. It's a comprehensive look at how a ketogenic diet can be a helpful tool after a cancer diagnosis. Readers will come away with a solid understanding of how to work with their medical team to incorporate this diet. They'll have more tools to work with, including website and book recommendations, online nutrition software and calculators, and most importantly, a resource written by someone who truly understands their needs and challenges.

I highly recommend this book and plan to refer to it frequently in my nutrition practice.

*This review is also posted on my Goodreads page.

Beginner's Guide to Healthy Diets

Have you ever been overwhelmed trying to figure out the best (and healthiest) diet to try?

Everyone has an opinion, a success story, or a miracle product they're dying to sell you. Google a particular diet and you'll see a number of websites touting the life-changing reasons why you should start right away, and websites outlining the ways it will wreck your health.

The bottom line is that no diet works for everyone. One person's miracle plan will be another person's health crisis. As individuals, our bodies need different things and these needs can be compounded by nutrient deficiencies, medical conditions, health goals, and a variety of other considerations. I'm not a fan of diets in general, but I do recommend them to clients who want easy-to-follow guidelines, who need to out of necessity, or who are making the shift to a specific way of eating for personal reasons. With that said...

There is NO perfect diet. 

Over the years, I've followed a vegetarian diet, paleo diet, elimination diet, ketogenic diet, and a few others. Some due to health needs, some out of curiosity. From both personal and professional experience, I can say there are pros and cons to each. A number of diets have solid, smart guidelines. Others are harmful and rob you of key nutrients and enough calories for your body to function properly. Finding what works well for you can take a little trial and error (or the help of a nutrition professional, which I highly recommend if you have medical needs to address).

If you like to have diet parameters or want to shift away from processed foods, there are great diets you can start with. It's important to note your nutritional needs vary with age, changes in health or activity levels, and more. The diet that worked in your 20s won't necessarily work in your 40s. Along the same lines, the diet that worked for your neighbor, might not work for you. Other factors to consider:

  • How much time do you have for food preparation?

  • Do you have support?

  • What fits your lifestyle and values?

  • Do you want a short-term or long-term plan?

  • What are your health goals?

  • Do you have a medical condition(s) to accommodate?

I've created the following infographic to give you a brief overview of some of the healthier diets I encounter with my clients. This is by no means a comprehensive list. I covered the diets I'm comfortable recommending and those that have research showing benefits. Scroll to the end for a PDF you can download as well. 

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Do you need support making dietary or lifestyle changes? Please contact me at jessica@jessicatitchenal.com to discuss how I can help you.